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Seniors in Normandy/Brittany 7 Days??

Seeking advice from y'all familiar with northern France. My hubby (who struggles walking long distances) and I are heading to north western France July '23 for 6 days. His ancestry is from Rouen so plan to definitely spend a day there & another day Etretrat & Fecamp. Logistically it looks best to drive from Charles de Gaule to Honfleur for our base of 3 nights. ( We're Seniors so not crazy about moving every night.) Next two nights maybe stay in Bayeaux to experience the town with next day for D-Day tour. Thought is to join a group so not have the hassle of driving all around plus learning more. After that I'm stumped - Do want to see Saint Malo, Dinan & other beautiful towns. We'll have 2 more nights before heading to Paris for third night, flying out following AM. A thought is to see Versailles on our way into Paris. Walking through Mont St Michel is not on our to do list. Seeing Napoleon's Palace would be of interest, maybe instead of Versailles? Just need to arrive in Paris to check into our airport hotel to be ready to fly out the next AM. Suggestions??

Posted by
8926 posts

You may be driving past Mount St-Michel enroute to Brittany and that is the best view, from the shoreline.
Both Honfleur and Bayeux are lovely places to stay in Normandy. Overlord Tours are highly recommended.
Then you could continue on to Brittany. Can you add more days?
Which of Napoleon’s Palaces are you referring to, interested in visiting? We enjoyed Fontainebleau.

Posted by
5679 posts

A couple of thoughts:

If you'll have flown overnight from North America, unless you got a good night's sleep on the flight, it's risky to drive on your arrival day. I suggest you take a taxi to Gare St-Lazare in Paris, then a train to Rouen (no need to reserve seats). Spend that first night in Rouen, then get the car and continue as planned. It means a one-night stand, but a less stressful and safer arrival day. You'll save some money on the car rental too, and you could return it in Versailles or elsewhere, including CDG.

Fontainebleau is great, but all the way on the other side of Paris from both Normandy and CDG, a big detour on what's already a very busy trip. You might be thinking of, or prefer, the Chateau de Malmaison, just west of Paris.

Posted by
4 posts

We'd be arriving from Dublin so no need to worry about jet lag. In our business life we're used to drive 6-8 hours/day so driving is not a problem. My question is where to stay after leaving Bayeaux, driving by Mont St Michelle, seeing Dinan, Saint Malo and the beautiful towns. Just need to stay by the airport night before flying back to states. We have 2 nights to be decided.

Posted by
298 posts

Fourges and Vitre are both beautiful towns in W. Brittany not far from Dinan. Do your driving and dump the car in Rennes and train back to Paris.

Posted by
7017 posts

I'd spend3 nights in St. Malo-- or two -- you can take the bus from the St. Malo train station to Dinan if you want to visit there -- St. Malo itself doesn't require a lot of time but is quite beautiful. Be sure to reserve restaurants a day or two ahead; there are lots of really wonderful tiny restaurants and a bunch of not great tourist trappy restaurants and the good ones do book up.

I loved MSM BUT it is a long walk uphill to the Abbey. You might settle for driving by and seeing it at a distance which is actually the most fabulous part.

Posted by
787 posts

If Rouen is a definite on your list, why not use that as your base instead of Honfleur? Rouen is a wonderful small city and somewhat central to Northern France. Bayeux is also a great location.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for the suggestions.. Changed our first two nights to downtown Rouen... full day in Rouen, then drive to Fechamp, Etretat over to Honfleur for one night. Now to decide lodging.... Following two nights will be in Bayeaux - hotel suggestions? Will do maybe half or full day D-Day tour? to have a half day to explore Bayeau.?.. Then it's driving by Mont St Michel, stopping for Oysters at Cancale, drive by Saint Malo -( Seniors walking around a walled city not of interest)..on the way to Dinan where we'll stay for one night. Lodging suggestions? Next day we'll drive to Versailles via Rennes & Charles and see Versailles late afternoon, staying in Versailles area. Next day thought to visit Fountainbleau then end up at Charles de Gaulle airport hotel before flying back to the states around noon the next day... What do you think?

Posted by
25 posts

Hi Gale, you mentioned that your husband struggles walking long distances. I was just at Versailles, and even though I had read up on it ahead of time I was surprised by it's size. Walking across the entry courtyard to security is on large cobbles. Walking inside the palace is smooth, but long distances. To get from security to the hall of mirrors took a good 10 minutes at a decent clip! That was me bypassing the suggested route, but with ~20 minutes of an almost empty hall and adjoining rooms. When I visited the lower section afterwards it was busy, and challenging to get through due to the number of visitors.

If you are interested in seeing the garden there's an option to rent a golf cart, makes getting around much easier.

Here's another option: visit Vaux le Viscomte, located in Melun. This chateau inspired the building of Versailles. Close to Fontainebleau... Vaux is much smaller in scale, and they provide a really neat audio experience that makes you feel like part of history. No crowds on a rainy November day, but even in summer they do not get the throngs of people that will be at Versailles. Highly recommend!

Posted by
22593 posts

I urge you to take a full-day D-Day tour rather than settling for a half-day tour. Although Bayeux is an excellent base for seeing that part of Normandy, and most of the tours begin there, the sites visited are some distance away. On a half-day tour, far too much of your time will be spent driving from Bayeux to your first stop and returning from your last stop to Bayeux.

My Overlord Tour took its lunch break at St-Mere-Eglise. There was about enough time to see the Airborne Museum there or to sit down for lunch in one of the local restaurants; there was not time to do both. I grabbed a pre-made sandwich at a bakery and wolfed it down while sitting on a bench, but I could have saved at least 5 minutes by picking up something for lunch before heading out on the tour. You can't eat in the tour van, though.

The town of Bayeux is definitely worth some time itself--the tapestry, the cathedral, the historic center, and the invasion museum on the outskirts of town (perhaps a 15-minute walk from the tapestry museum, which you might not want to tackle).

Posted by
4 posts

Your suggestions are well advised. Versailles walking might just do him in especially as it will be the end of our 33 day trip. Your insights just might well have saved our marriage!! LOL-What about visiting Honfleur in half a day while luggage is in our rental car on our way to Bayeaux for 3 nights for full day D Day tour, and day seeing Bayeau? Now thinking of 2 nights in Rennes or Dinan? - not big on museums or big cities? Monday - seeing ?? & stopping for lunch -? on way to Vaux le Viscomte in Melun for last 2 hours open.. End up day/trip with last meal in France (?) dropping car & staying at airport hotel. Hubby will be glad to be off our travel merry go round..

Posted by
298 posts

Half a day is fine for Honfleur. For me it was basically eye candy, cute as can be but not much else besides the quay, but it is cute! 2 nites in Dinan will not disappoint, plenty to keep you entertained for a couple of nites. Lehon is about 1 mile walk or drive upstream.

Posted by
25 posts

I can vouch for Bayeux, having just spent a couple of days there. It has a fairly compact commercial center, and the main sights are close together. The cathedral and the Musée d'art et d'histoire de Baron Gérard (MAHB) are next to each other. Loved this museum, it covers history of the area, Bayeux lace making, ceramics. They did a great job presenting information in both english and french. The cathedral is magnificent, and we'll worth a visit in context of seeing the Bayeux tapestry.

The tapestry museum is a gem all by itself. You see the nearly 1,000 year old tapestry while listening to a recording. I suggest reading up on it ahead of time, it'll make it a more enjoyable experience. In addition, exhibits related to the events in 1066 are available, well worth it. This museum is about 5 minute walk from the cathedral and MAHB.

Feel free to contact me directly if you'd like more detailed information!