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7 day Paris - Normandy - Loire itinerary - too much?

Traveling to France for 7 days, 6 nights. Middle-aged couple, he's been to France several times, she's never been outside of the US. Hoping to see highlights of Paris, Normandy and Loire Valley - but wondering if too aggressive/exhausting? We know that many say that our entire time could be well-spent in Paris just exploring there, but would love to have her see some of the non-city France too... We'll be traveling in early August. Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions.

  • Day 1 (Fri) - arrive Paris AM (will be jet-lagged)
  • Day 2 (Sat) - Paris
  • Day 3 (Sun) - Paris
  • Day 4 (Mon) - Rent car AM, drive or train to Bayeux, tour D-Day beaches afternoon, stay overnight
  • Day 5 (Tue) - Drive to Mont Saint-Michel, stay overnight
  • Day 6 (Wed) - Drive to Amboise, see Chenonceau, Chambord and/or Cheverny, stay overnight
  • Day 7 (Thu) - Drive to Paris, depart
Posted by
9429 posts

Way too much on your list for 5 full days + jetlag imo.

Posted by
3962 posts

Your instincts are spot-on, this is way way way too much to jam pack into 6 nights. I would choose Paris (3-4 nights min) and 1 other place, either Normandy or Loire Valley (2-3 nights), but most definitively not all 3.

Posted by
27359 posts

I'm one of those who thinks (assuming neither of you is a WW II scholar) you need to take a tour of the D-Day area to make the trip up to Normancy really worth your while. The driving time (whether by yourself or in a tour van) from Bayeux up to the coast is such that a half day seeing the D-Day sights gets you little. You won't have anything like half a day at the invasion sites. You need a full-day tour in my view.

ViaMichelin estimates the drive from Pontorson (not where your car will be parked for Mont-St.-Michel) to Amboise at 3 hr. 18 min. with no stops, getting lost, looking for parking, etc. Now you have to navigate to multiple chateaux and see them. Plus somewhere along the way you'll need breakfast and lunch. I think that would be a rushed day.

I don't know where you anticipate staying on your last night, but ViaMichelin says driving from Amboise to the airport will take about 2 hr. 47 min. Of course that doesn't include the car-return procedures or getting yourself to the check-in desk for your flight. I wouldn't want to be that far from my departure airport the night before my flight.

There's so much to see in Normandy, why not hold that area for your next trip and give yourself a bit more time in Paris and the Loire?

Posted by
676 posts

Definitely pick one or the other. We’ve had two separate ten day trips, one was Paris plus Normandy and the other was Paris plus the Loire Valley. There’s an incredible amount of things to see and do and we could have benefited from additional time each trip. You will have a fabulous time with either choice.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks to you all - we will cut the Bayeux and Mont Saint-Michel nights, and replace them with an additional night in each of Paris and Amboise. Normandy next time! :-)

Oh and re: departure date, our flight leaves mid afternoon, so I'm thinking that travel back to Paris from Amboise that AM should still be do-able. I will double check the timing though, thanks for the heads up.

Posted by
27359 posts

It depends on your risk tolerance. There can be accidents on the road. Heck, there can be accidents on a train. The cost of having to buy a last-minute replacement one-way ticket home could be many thousands of dollars per person. Not worth the risk to me. My rule is to be within an affordable taxi ride of the departure airport the night before.

Posted by
6492 posts

I would be a nervous wreck if I wasn't staying in Paris or at airport night before a flight home.
Why not do
Paris 3 nights
then Amboise 2 nights.
Visit Amboise, Clos de Luce, Chenonceau and Day 1 Amboise.
Leave Amboise on that last day and hit some chateaus on your way back to Paris- (Chambord, Cheverny, Blois?) arriving Paris in the evening. Spend last night in Paris.

We found 2 chateaus a day was enough for us- anything more would have been overkill and exhausting.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks, have already sold myself on that plan as well....

Posted by
73 posts

We are taking 16 days to do a similar itinerary. We want time to relax and not always be on a timetable needing to get to the next place. I think you need at least a day and a half in Normandy to make it worthwhile (unless you do not plan to visit any of the museums).

Posted by
6625 posts

I agree with others that the original plan tries to do too much. I'd suggest Paris + Loire. You might save a lot of time and driving by taking a TGV train from Paris (Gare Montparnasse) and St-Pierre-des-Corps (near Tours), renting a car there for your Loire explorations, and taking another TGV from St-Pierre direct to CDG airport. That might work if your flight isn't too early in the day -- or, if it is, you could spend that last night at an airport hotel. That TGV might work for you with a late-in-day flight, but otherwise it's a big risk to try to get from the Loire to CDG on the same day you're flying out .

Posted by
15 posts

That's a great idea re: TGV straight back to CDG, will definitely look into, thanks!!

Posted by
885 posts

Sounds good to do just Paris and the Loire Valley, which we LOVED......but do not miss Villandry......it was outstanding. We also loved coming home each night to Amboise.....a charming little town where we stayed at night and toured during the day......do you need a place to stay in Amboise?

Posted by
885 posts

The hotel where we stayed in Amboise was Hotel Le Manior les Minimes. It was LOVELY. It’s an old estate that has been turned into a hotel......beautiful rooms, breakfast area and grounds. We loved the charm of Amboise, visiting the castle there, the small chapel on its grounds where Leonardo Da Vinci is buried......and grabbing pastries each day in town at a bakery after touring all day. It was a wonderful home base for touring the chateaus.
We stayed on Mont St. Michel the one night we were there and felt it was so worth it. Get your room early.....they get taken quickly. It was a bucket list thing for us and a memory we will cherish forever.

Posted by
2577 posts

I would have no problem driving from the Loire Valley to CDG for a flight. I have done it many times. Plan to be at CDG, 3 hours before a transatlantic flight and allow 3½ hours on the road. Take A10 to the Francilienne, A 104, and orbit to the east around Paris. (A86 may also be a good choice). Near Mitry Mory on the north-east side of Paris, there is a station where you can fill your rental car with gas. Take the N2 exit and travel north to approach CDG from the east side, N1104, avoiding all the A1 traffic at CDGs main entrance.

There is never any guarantees of a seamless trip to the airport from anywhere, including from Paris. My last trip, several weeks age, from the Left Bank to CDG included my wanting to take M4 to Châtelet and connecting to the RER B. Métro 4 was closed due to an accident, the RER B had power failure and was not running to the airport. Uber wanted 100€ to take me to CDG. I flagged a taxi down from the street, paid 50€, and was able to make my flight with minimum time to spear.

The key to reaching CDG for an important flight is to allow extra time no matter from where you start.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks for to you both for the great suggestions - so much excellent info in the thread, thank you again to all!

Posted by
2005 posts

For driving around Paris I prefer taking the A86 and in some cases the A104/N104 and most of the time it goes well. But in 2015 it went completely wrong thanks to an accident at an intersection, lost a few hours and missed my appointment. For not missing a flight I would stay the last night as close as possible to the airport like in Goussainville, taking the RER to finally visit Paris for the time left that day. The day of departure you can drive to the airport and drop the car there, if having enough time you can visit Chantilly and/or Senlis in the morning, about a half hour from CDG.