Hi - In July, my husband and I are spending 5 nights in Loire, then driving to Saint Malo and spending one night there. We plan to spend the morning exploring Saint Malo, then take the scenic coastal drive to Mont St Michel (but not go into the town). We would like to spend time in Giverny the following day before heading to Charles de Gaulle to drop off our rental car and spend our last night in the Airport Hilton before our morning flight home. Any recommendations for where we should spend the night between Mont St Michel and Giverny? I'm thinking a smaller town that won't be a hassle to drive/park in. There doesn't need to be much to do or see since we won't be spending a lot of time there, but I'd love to find a small, quaint town to have a nice dinner, a relaxing morning, and some good ambiance for our final evening & morning in France. I was looking at Honfleur, but that might be a bit too much to deal with for the short time we're there (parking hassles, crowded, expensive hotels), or maybe it's not...? Any other suggestions? Also, anyplace else worth stopping between Giverny & CDG? Thank you!
It's a lot of driving to go from the Loire to Saint-Malo to spend only one night and then take the scenic coastal drive but not go into town (Mont-Saint-Michel). I can't imagine coming from wherever you are coming from and getting that close to Mont Saint-Michel and then drive by it to look at it from a distance and then leave without actually doing a visit. It's not a town but a tiny little village on an outcropping of rock that isn't larger than a few dozen acres. See its tourist office website:
The fastest route between Mont Saint-Michel and Giverny is going to bring you right past Honfleur and sure, it's very touristy but there's a reason for that and it's because it's worth a visit. I'm sure you'll find parking if that's your concern but obviously July is high season and parking is going to be an "issue" in any major tourist town at that time of year. See its tourist office website:
There are also the equally touristy but lovely towns of Deauville and Trouville:
If you want to go the long way and stay in a tiny, quaint village with not much going on then you can go to the Pays d'Auge region south of Honfleur and consider places like Beuvron-en-Auge, Beaumont-en-Auge, Cambremer, Bernay, Pont-l'Evêque, Pont-Audemer, Cormeilles etc.
I'm not quite clear on your time line and how many days you'll have to get between Saint-Malo and CDG but since you asked for someplace to visit between Giverny and CDG there are plenty of scenic drives on country roads you can do east of Giverny and towns you can visit would be La Roche-Guyon and Auvers-sur-Oise:
I agree with Mystique! It would be a shame to drive all the way from the Loire to St Malo, and "just" drive the few miles of coastal road south of Cancale with distant views of Mont Saint Michel. You should carve out a few hours for the visit of the Mont, in my opinion.
The best way to do this is perhaps to extend your St Malo stay to two nights, because 4 nights in the Loire instead of 5 would not "shortchange" the Loire. Many people spend less time than that.
Alternatively, you could drive straight from St Malo to Giverny, without spending a night on the way. Even if you do not take the motorway and cut across the charming Normandy countryside (Domfront-La Ferté Macé-L'Aigle-Evreux is a nice route), you have plenty of time to complete the trip in a single afternoon.
And if you do stop, then I really like Mystique's suggestions. Nothing to add.
sbraatz, welcome to this newsboard with your very first post.
It seems odd that your inquiry doesn't mention either D-Day Beaches or Bayeux. Have you used, say, Google Maps to get some (roughly) estimated driving times? A big plus for Honfleur is how early it gets you to Giverny. Have you considered Chateau Chantilly after Giverny? Coutances and Vitré are nice towns but not on the way to CDG.
Are you aware that you can walk on MSM without visiting the Abbey, if that is your preference? The massive parking lots are absolutely ready for visitors.
Thanks for your replies all! I will check out all the recommendations. I am someone who would much prefer to under-schedule than over-schedule on vacation so we can enjoy a leisurely breakfast and walk on the beach in Saint Malo, explore the town, and make as many stops as we want on the drive to Mont St Michel. If we have time and energy to stop at MSM and walk into the village, we certainly will. But, we will probably be getting there late afternoon at the height of the crowds, so not sure if we'll want to stop or admire it from the outside and then continue on our drive. We were at the Normandy/D-day beaches last year, stayed in Bayeux, and it was a spectacular trip - I would absolutely recommend it to anyone and everyone - amazing! We were disappointed that we did not make it to Saint Malo or Giverny that trip, thus the side trips there after our time in Loire. Thanks again!
You say you may make "as many stops as we want on the drive to Mont St Michel." Is this from St. Malo? It is only 45 minutes between the two towns. Even if you hug the coast, it is only an hour and a quarter (and if so, Cancale is worth a stop), and you won't get any views of MSM on this route until you come back from the coast and then start approaching the island on the main road from Pontorson. There are arguably better views on the road away from MSM towards the East and Avrannches. It is much farther to drive between MSM and Giverny (maybe 3-1/2 hours?). The advice to check driving times and locations between your stops on something like Google Maps is well to heed.
I like balso's additions to my post. Thanks for the approval balso! :)
But seriously, balso raises some excellent points and provides other options that you can consider.
"If we have time and energy to stop at MSM and walk into the village, we certainly will. But, we will probably be getting there late afternoon at the height of the crowds, so not sure if we'll want to stop or admire it from the outside and then continue on our drive."
The crowds and tourist buses are usually leaving MSM at some time around 4PM. Check the website to see the hours that the abbey is open. Personally, I would enjoy a visit to the Mont even if I couldn't visit the abbey.
I still don't understand the whole time frame of your voyage between Saint-Malo, Giverny and CDG but if you've got it under control then you don't need further advice.
Have you considered staying overnight in Giverny? When my husband visited in 2019, we stayed overnight in a nice little B&B in Giverny that's recommended in Rick's guidebook. Can't remember the name right now, but the woman who runs the place is Australian and it was nice speaking English with a native speaker. The B&B was entirely charming, and because we were staying overnight we got to see Giverny later in the afternoon after all the tour busses and crowds had left. And we had a wonderful dinner at one of the local restaurants. Giverny is tiny, everything was within walking distance.
I had a similar dilemma in my trip planning and opted for a night in Chartres between MSM and Paris. Makes for a quick trip into Paris and you have the advantage of being in Chartres to watch the Sound and Light show (which is starting at 10:45 pm when we are there, so quite late!).
If you would prefer to get most of your driving done before Giverny, we really enjoyed staying in Les Andeleys. The town is situated on a pretty bend of the Seine and also has a huge ruined castle. Giverny is only about 90 minutes from CDG.