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Paris to Brittany to England

Would love some advice on our trip from New Zealand in October.

We're planning on staying in Paris for 4 nights, then want to visit Brittany. Have allowed 5 to 6 nights (but flexible). The main sites we want to see are coastal eg. Mt St Michel, Honfleur

Do we need a car?

Where would be a good place to base ourselves? We love to stay in places that have the character of the area, and food within easy access.

What's the best way to get to England (where we'll hire a car) from Brittany?

Any must sees in Brittany?

Is it worth spending some time in Loire Valley? We've spent time at Dordogne in the past, so thought Loire may be very similar to that. Is that the case?

Thanks so much for your help.

Posted by
5247 posts

I can help with some of your questions but I haven't been in Brittany in over 50 years. Many posters here like Dinan and St-Malo a lot, close to Mont-St-Michel. Honfleur is a good place to visit but it's in Normandy. You could visit there on your way to MSM if you don't mind taking a slower route from Paris.

Apart from being valleys of west-flowing rivers, the Loire and Dordogne aren't much alike. Most of the Loire chateaux aren't fortified like the Dordogne castles, having been built much later. The land is generally not as hilly and the major roads are probably faster. It's an important wine region but I don't think it's especially known for particular regional foods. (But others who are more into food may differ.)

Rome2rio would help you figure out how to get from Brittany to England (where in England?). There are ferries which take longer and may not sail in bad weather, or there are flights. Use your carrier's website to make any reservations, R2r is good for identifying options but not necessarily reliable for exact schedules.

As for "must sees in Brittany," you must have reasons for wanting to go there, so those would be your "must sees." A guidebook could help you find others that matter to you.

Posted by
8 posts

That's helped alot already thank you

It seems like it's Normandy we may be visiting. Would appreciate any advice on this.

Our main interest is quaint historical villages/towns where we can explore then sit in a nice cafe sipping coffee and eating pastries and absorbing the atmosphere.

While we love seeing chateaux we're not the type to need to tour them.

Could anyone suggest an itinerary 5 to 6 days of the general area...Brittany, Normandy, Loire?

Big kiwi thanks!

Posted by
5247 posts

Here's what our host would tell you about the areas you're interested in. Besides Brittany, Loire, and Normandy, click on Bayeux and D-Day Beaches (both in Normandy) if they interest you. A 4-5 day trip (that's full days between your 5-6 nights) would probably be most enjoyable if you focus on just one, or maybe two, of those choices. Moving from one region to another will take most of a day (not just the driving, the packing, checking out, moving, checking in, unpacking and such). So about half your days could be moving days, with less time for that cafe-sitting and people-watching that make a France trip so special.

Posted by
5532 posts

With only 5-6 nights, you don’t have time for Normandy, Brittany and the Loire.

I am heading to Bayeux on Sunday for probably 5-6 nights (in a caravan so we are flexible). We plan to cover the D-Day landings, the museums in Bayeux and walk/cycle round some of the pretty villages. We aren’t taking a tour as we are Covid risk averse and don’t want to spend the day in close proximity to others.

From there we are heading to Ploermel on the Canal du Midi in Brittany, but the places you mention are in Normandy.

I liked St Malo and Dinard - close but very different. If you are staying near Pontorson (for MSM) and heading there, take a look at the very pretty Dol-de-Bretagne en route. I found MSM to be a big disappointment - the atmosphere has been ruined since they built the road across the tidal causeway. It’s full of tacky shops selling snow globes and the worst cafes of the 6 week trip. They know you won’t be regulars, so they don’t care.

Posted by
26 posts

If you decide to spend time in Brittany rather than Normandy, Dinan is very charming. It's also close to St Malo, from where Brittany Ferries will take you to Portsmouth (south coast of England). You can also take a ferry from Roscoff, a little further west in Brittany.
I think it would be extremely useful to have a car in Brittany, particularly if you want to visit small charming villages. The main cities have good rail service, but there's very little outside them.
The Loire and Dordogne feel very different, in my opinion. Both charming, but I don't think you have time to add them on to this trip.

Posted by
24 posts

Many years ago we took the train from Paris to Rennes and began our travels in Brittany from there. I thought Rennes was really a great city, perfect for day trips to interesting villages, churches etc.

Posted by
658 posts

While MSM is technically (though barely) in Normandy It is at the far end of Normandy from Honfleur. Without a car, you practically have to go back to Paris to get between the two locations. So this is driving territory. However, many would recommend against renting a car in England for use in France or vice versa. There are rental restrictions, and the hassle of driving on the wrong side of the car (or the road). There are ferries from near Caen to Portsmouth, UK. And you don't have to take a car on them. IMHO, it is better to do separate car rentals in France and the UK. I can't personally speak to the Loire section of your trip.