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Paris - Normandy - Loire Valley in June

My husband and I are taking our 18 year old daughter and her best friend (also 18) through France for their graduation trip. We have an apartment in Paris (Palais Royale), Hotel d'Argouges in Bayeux, and Chateau de Pray in Amboise. Need help with the itinerary to make sure we balance museums, history, and teenagers. Any suggestions will be appreciated as no tickets purchased yet (except in Normandy), just the hotels.
Monday - Day 1 - arrive, chill, knock around, maybe find a market (Rue Cler?), maybe a TukTuk tour? Get the navigo decouverte pass?
Day 2 - Notre Dame, Ste Chappelle, Ile de St. Louis, maybe a Paris Walks tour on Chocolate, Seine River tour in the evening?
Day 3 - Champs Elysee, Picasso, Arc de Triumph in morning; Versailles in afternoon
Day 4 - Muse d'Orsay, L'Orangerie, Rodin, Marche Saint Eustache-Les Halles for fresh market stuff
Day 4 - Louvre, Montmarte, Sacre Coeur, try for the Eiffel Tower at dusk
Day 5 - maybe let girls strike out on their own for a bit? (they want to do the Paris Catacombs, hubby and I not into that
Day 6 - leave Paris renting car at CDG, go to Giverny then to Bayeux by dinner (tapestry maybe) - Hotel d'Argouges for 2 nights
Day 7 - Normandy Tour with Overlord Tours - full day
Day 8 - leave for Mont St. Michel, then make our way to Amboise (Chenonceau & Chambord?) to 1 night at Chateau de Pray
Day 9 - leave to return to Paris - maybe to Chateau Cheverny to catch them feeding the hunting dogs at 11:30? Return rental car to CDG by 7pm, staying at CDG Hilton
Day 10 - depart for home at 10am
We are considering the Museum Pass for flexibility, not the Paris pass, not a hop on hop off bus, but I would like to do a fun tour and heard some great things about TukTuk. Always up for restaurant tips, too. Thanks for any and all suggestions!

Posted by
165 posts

You have a lot scheduled for Paris, but if you're high energy people, you can probably do it and enjoy it all Just don't rush so much that you're too tired. If you do fee like it's too much, just take a bit of time for a rest in Luxembourg Gardens, I would however, skip versailles unless you are willing to give it a full day. I would get the museum pass - it helps with lines and should save you money too. I would not worry too much if you don't get to the top of the Eiffel Tower - I've done it, but really the view of it is better than the view from it. I'm going to be at Chateau de Pray for 4 days in June myself. Enjoy!

Posted by
9773 posts

Day 3 especially looks near-impossible to accomplish. The Champs-Elysees and Arc de Triomphe can be done together easily in a morning (although I can think of lots of places I’d rather spend my time than the Champs-Elysees),but the Picasso museum is back in a totally different neighborhood, and Versailles usually takes a day in and of itself.

Posted by
45 posts

Thank you both for the comments. You are probably right - less is more. I had not thought about NOT going to Versailles, so a really good consideration. Any other must-do items for 18 year girls?

Posted by
6622 posts

Re Day 8 -- According to Via Michelin, the drive from Bayeux to MSM to Amboise takes nearly seven hours, plus whatever stops and traffic delays you might have. That doesn't leave much time for the Mont itself, and you'd be there in the middle of the day when it's most crowded. Plus you're thinking of Chenonceau and Chambord that same day? Can't be done. At best you'd get close enough to the Mont to see the iconic view from the shore, and maybe drive to the chateaux without going inside. (But you can't see Chenonceau from the road, and maybe not Chambord either, I don't know.)

On Day 9 you have about a three-hour drive from Amboise to CDG (with the same caveats), so time to visit Chenonceau and/or Chambord. Cheverny is also a nice chateau, though we found the dog-feeding kind of grotesque. But this will be a rushed day. You might consider just the Amboise chateau and maybe nearby Clos Luce to save driving time.

I'd really suggest you choose either Normandy or the Loire, instead of trying to visit both regions in just a few days.

Your Paris plan seems doable, especially with the unstructured Day 5 in case other days prove un-doable. I agree that the Champs Elysees is overrated, but maybe not for teenagers. Start at the Arc and work downhill toward Place de la Concorde, then Metro to St-Paul or Chemin Vert, the closest stops to the Picasso Museum.

Posted by
45 posts

Great point on the travel time, Dick. Thank you. I just learned about the inaccuracies of Google Maps in an earlier post on another thread and did not realize that. Definitely will adjust. And good point about feeding the hunting dogs. So, I still think I prefer getting to see MSM. And not sure I could get another hotel at this time in Normandy area as we are within days of the big 75th Anniversary timing. We still want to see a Chateaux or two, so if we end up having to drive down to Amboise because of the hotel reservation, could you give me a ranking of the Chateaus nearby as a must-see?

Posted by
9773 posts

There’s a separate thread on the France forum right now where another poster asks exactly that question — which chateaus people prefer and why. You might check it out.

Posted by
45 posts

And here I thought I had read all the posts in this thread for the last 6 months - I had not seen the Loire Chateau question - thank you, Kim. That was great!

Posted by
24 posts

I think you have too many activities here. I think your group will appreciate more unscheduled time. This is where you find those magic moments and have time together. This is most important for building those great memories.

Day 1: If you are coming in from the US, a walk around a market is reasonable. You know your daughter best, but I suspect she and her friend will want to explore on their own a bit.

Day 2: Reasonable

Day 3: Versailles takes a long time to get there, see, and get back. The lines can be very long and it can be very crowded. Since you are headed to Normandy, you might consider taking a night off Paris and sleeping in Versailles one night to get an early start.

Day 4: Possible-a little art heavy

Day 5: sounds good (catacombs do not take that long-could easily fit one of the museums or the river cruise that day)

Day 6: Giverny is nice, but gets crowded-best to go early. Tapestry is great. Would try to see some of the sights the Overlord tour will not cover if possible.

Day 7: good choice

Day 8: This is totally impossible. It is not even close to realistic. I would scrap the Loire valley altogether and spend the night in MSM. Perhaps the morning of Day 8 you could visit either the tapestry or some of the D-Day sights you missed (one day will not cover everything, regardless of which tour you take as things are far apart). Then you could wake up Day 9 in MSM and make your way back to Paris, possibly stopping at Rouen. You could also do Giverny this day to clear up time Day 6. Chartres cathedral is also on the way. You could also reshuffle and do your Versailles day between MSM and Paris.

I promise you-less is more.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
45 posts

I want to thank all for your comments and suggestions. The most apparent to me has been the drive we had for Day 8. I appreciate the heads up, especially in using ViaMichelen.com instead of Google Maps for timing. I think we are still going to do the trip from MSM to Amboise, but just not planning on any Chateaux on Day 8. Going to Chenonceau on Day 9 before leaving the area to go back to CDG by 7pm. Does that sound more reasonable?

What about renting a car in Paris (instead of all the time to go out to CDG) on Day 6? I feel like we could save a smidge of time, especially if that is a Sunday, and potentially less traffic?

Posted by
24 posts

Yes, that is more reasonable.

I would not want to discourage you from visiting Amboise-it is a lovely place. You will have to make a choice between tacking on Amboise/Chenonceau and feeling like Normandy was more finished and less rushed. Staying in Normandy will allow you to see a bit more of the D-day beaches and to spend the night in MSM which is a good experience.

Either way, have a good trip.

Regarding the rental, you could also try picking up at Orly airport (and return to CDG).

Posted by
1100 posts

I like your revised day 8 and 9. We did the same for our Bayeux and Amboise trips, but we elected to skip MSM for the same reasons noted here. Chateau de Prey is great and relaxing. Be sure to book the restaurant for dinner.

Posted by
5941 posts

You might considering just going to Versailles gardens. I would only do Mont st. Michel, late in the day or right away in the morning, or both. You all will enjoy Chateau de Pray. You might consider the gardens only of Villandry in Loire. I didn't love Chambord, but the outside is interesting and massive. Since you will stay in Amboise, consider DaVinci's chateau, Clos Luce. I spent 3 days in Paris with my 20 yr old daughters. They loved it. One was so excited by the art museums. The other, the opportunities for photographs. markets, river, gardens, buildings, doors, Eiffel, Arch de Triomphe

Posted by
118 posts

I would definitely recommend Chenonceau and also the Internationl festival of gardens at Chaumont-sur-Loire in the Loire valley
Both were excellent

Posted by
45 posts

Thank you all so much for the continued feedback and suggestions. It is very much appreciated! The whole family is so excited, and the girls are the ones who want to do the Chateaux, that is why we are choosing a bit more on that side than the history in Normandy (ampsj - I am the history-buff and could spend days in those museums, I am sure. I will just have to take Rick Steves' advice and plan on more of that for the next visit!)

And great reminder on reserving dinner at Chateau du Pray. It will be sort of our last night in France (other than at the airport), so that may be our splurge night.

Looking for more advice, always - thanks!!

Posted by
1129 posts

Why don’t you rent a car at Orly instead of CDG? It’s alot closer to Paris then return it to CDG. We returned our car to Orly after driving in from Normandy then took a cab to our Paris apt.

Posted by
243 posts

As other posters have noted Orangerie, Musee Rodin, and Musee Orsey is a big day and maybe too much. I am not sure how you narrow it down as all three are incredible.

I did see that you like history so I would definitely try to fit in the Bayeaux tapestry. I also want to recommend Les Invalides. They had exhibits about WWI and another about WWII which we found very interesting. So much so that we visited one exhibit on one day and another the next day. We had the museum pass so this was a no brainer for us. We visited Les Invalides at least 15 years ago.

Not sure if this would be fun for the 18 year olds but Paris did have a Friday night roller blade event down the streets which are closed off to traffic. I think this was a 10 pm or midnight event.

Posted by
613 posts

Versailles requires 2 days-- and for the buildings & one for when the fountains are operating

Posted by
45 posts

Again, more great advise and suggestion - thank you all!

Nick - any suggestion on finding out about this nighttime roller skating thing? I think the girls would love it - I probably am the one that needs to get comfortable with them skating away on a summer Friday night in Paris by themselves! I would like to explore more about it, though. Thanks!

Posted by
5 posts

We are doing the same itinerary in July. Great food for thought!!! Rethinking adding a day stay between Normandy and Loire valley.