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CDG to Loire or to Normandy?

Hi folks! We are experienced Europe travelers, a family of 4 with two near teenagers, and enjoy hopscotching around Europe to see different parts of countries as part of our every other year vacations.

This summer, we are planning to fly in to CDG (from a different part of Europe). and would like to visit Normandy, Brittany AND the Loire Valley, then come back to Paris for a few days. My question is - which order should we do them in? Should we go from CDG directly to Normandy then a bit of Brittany and on to Loire, or CDG directly to Loire and then later drive on to Brittany and Normandy? We have planned for about 5 days to see Loire and Normandy. I know that's not a ton of time, but I am hoping we can hit the highlights well.

Considerations - it looks like from CDG we can get a direct TGV to Tours - so starting in the Loire Valley seems better. If we go to Normandy first from CDG, it looks like we take an RER into Paris, and then transfer to another station, where we take a TGV. I assume renting a car in either Tours or Caen or Rouen is roughly the same. After we spend time in the Loire Valley-Brittany-Normandy we will spend a few days in Paris, so it seems like going to the Loire Valley seems best, just efficiency wise. But I'm asking here to see if folks have other opinions or other suggestions.

Thanks!
Dex

Posted by
613 posts

Why not rent a car at CDG? Having driven thru these regions, I can't see that direction makes any difference.

Posted by
798 posts

I’ll throw out a different idea, which we did a few years ago. Arrive at CDG and rent a car, then drive to the Chateau of Guedelon where they are building a castle using plans, materials, and techniques from the 13th century. We were there in October so no English tours but if you go in summer I think English is an option, and the craftsmen and women may speak English as well. There’s also a working medieval flour mill. I would expect your near-teens would enjoy it - mom and I did!!

We drove from CDG to a small b&b near St. Favreau, drove to Guedelon the next morning for our visit and on to the Loire chateaux in the afternoon to spend several nights. Happy planning!

Posted by
438 posts

Did this same trip 3 years ago......flew into Paris, rented a car, drove to Giverney (Monet), then through Rouen, Etratet, on our way to Honfleur for a night.....then to Bayeux for 3 days of Normandy. We then did MSMichel for a night, drove to Amboise, did the Loire Valley and back to Paris for 5 nights and flew home. It was a great trip and we loved that our plans turned out so well. Our only hitch was this was the summer the Seine flooded and Chambord was closed due to its moat flooding. We missed it but saw the others.....don’t miss Villandry!......and then enjoyed a few final days in Paris. We loved having a car to take our time and see what we wanted at our leisure.....and the drive to these places was beautiful.

Posted by
3283 posts

We avoid renting a car in any big cities or airports. When we went to Loire/Brittney/Normandy, we took a train to Chartres and rented from there. We returned in Vernon, near Monet's garden. This worked well for us, however, there are limited car rentals in Vernon and Chartres, we rented from Hertz, thru Auto Europe. On another trip we had rented in Alsace and returned in Tours. St. Pierre des Corps. Its a large train station with about five or so car rental companies to choose from. The train station is on the edge of town and we had little difficulty getting in and out of the train station. The high speed train made it fast and easy to get back to Paris

Posted by
320 posts

Andrew,

I'll be bicycling for the firist time along the Loire River Valley, then into Brittany and Normandy for four weeks this July-August. I've traveled by bicycle all over Europe for years and know how to handle all kinds of weather, terrain and wind conditions. Heading west from Orleans along the Loire and then to Brittany, generally just how frequent and strong are the headwinds blowing in from the coast?

Posted by
4264 posts

Since you won't be jetlagged when you land, I'd suggest getting the car right at CDG and driving to whatever Normandy destination you choose. It will cost more to rent from the airport, but you'll save money and probably also time by avoiding the trains. There are fast trains between CDG and Tours (nearby St-Pierre-des-Corps, to be exact), and maybe you'll be confident enough about landing time and airport time to make reservations, but the car is most flexible so why not?

I don't think it matters whether you start with the Loire or Normandy. Brittany is fine, but may be "a bridge too far" with only five days. Guedelon is also a fine place to visit but considerably out of your way -- not for this trip unless you want to rethink it entirely (Burgundy? Dordogne? Champagne?)

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all for your comments! A couple things I hadn't considered:

  • it's not as easy to link up with the TGV when you're arriving on a flight - uncertain timing. So just renting a car direct from CDG has a benefit to it. (and I can handle city like expressway traffic, we live in a big city). Probably we'll just rent and drive away.
  • Loire, Normandy and Brittany. Probably a "bridge too far" :) in 5 days. Thanks for that feedback. In thinking about it, we might just enjoy our time more just spending some time in Normandy and Brittany. Mainly Normandy, and probably just 1.5 or so days in parts of Brittany. So now I'll look for a reasonable home base that allows us to see Normandy and is close enough to drive in to Brittany as well.

Thank you all!

Posted by
4264 posts

Consider spending one night at, or very close to, Mont-St-Michel. You'll see the Mont in evening and morning without the crowds, and it would be a convenient stopping place between Normandy and Brittany. Nearby St-Malo also has its devotees.