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Traveling from Honfleur to Avignon, France, then to Erlangen, Germany

After crossing the English Channel we are planning Reims (1 night) and Paris (3-4 nights including a day trip to Giverny). We will explore Normandy from our home base in Honfleur (4-5 nights). From there we will head south through Chartres (1 night) or should we consider Chartres as a day trip from Paris? Thinking we could save on lodging and enjoy the smaller city by night.
Traveling from northern France to Provence (5-6 nights including Arles and Aix en Provence), we welcome recommendations for breaking up the train travel on that route.

After our explorations on Provence we will head to Erlangen, Germany where our daughter and her husband teach. That's a lengthy train trip. We have time so, we would be grateful for any suggested routes with a few back door stops along the way. 2 years ago we spent amazing time traveling through romantic northern Italy, so for this journey we are looking for other new experiences.

Posted by
17089 posts

I found Troyes a good stop. Lots of half-timbered buildings. The tourists seem to be French or German. No evidence of bus tours. Then you have Dijon, Beaune and Lyon.

Posted by
3340 posts

Between your Normandy locations and Arles, there's fantastic Avignon, reached by train but which could also serve as a bus hub for taking non-train trips to other places around the Luberon Hills and other parts of Provence.

Posted by
4656 posts

There aren't direct trains between Normandy and Chartres, you would have to travel into Paris and cross between two stations by Metro (St Lazare to Montparnasse - it's a single-leg journey by Line 13). Similarly from Chartres towards Provence you would have to cross Paris from Montparnasse to Gare de Lyon.

Posted by
4125 posts

Since you are apparently not driving, see Chartres as a day trip from Paris, which is pretty straightforward.

I'm on less firm ground with suggestions for the German leg of your trip, but you might consider spending the night in Besancon, in French Comite, or is Strasbourg, to break your trip. It really depends on what you like.

Posted by
12135 posts

I would suggest Troyes too. There is a bus from Troyes to Brienne au Chateau, where one main feature is the Napoleon Museum and where he went to school. In 1814 Napoleon's the first battle with the Prussians invading France took place at Brienne.

Posted by
4701 posts

I personally would not detour to Provence on this trip, because Strasbourg, Basel, Zurich are such good cities. You are spending a lot of time on travel. I second Besancon. Someone posted train and foot directions here for Perouges, which is very attractive and quiet. Museums I haven't seen are in Lens and Metz. Chartres is considered a possible day-trip from Paris. Are you crossing the Channel on a ferry or a plane, directly to a coastal city?

Posted by
243 posts

After building awareness of Dunkirk, we are planning to cross by sea to honor the soldiers and the citizenry who contributed to bringing the soldiers home. Over 30 years ago we crossed from Dover to Calais by ferry on seas so rough they shut down ferry crossings for 2 days. Nevertheless we will cross by sea.

Posted by
6907 posts

I don't think there is any train service in Honfleur. To check transportation possibilities try rome2rio.com.

Posted by
17089 posts

Gosh, Bets is right. I should have thought about that. There are buses to Caen and LeHavre from Honfleur. The Caen buses hit various towns along the way, including Cabourg and Deauville/Trouville. It would be prudent to search online for bus schedules to your intended destinations so you see what you're in for.

I originally intended to make a day-trip from Rouen to Honfleur but found the train and bus schedules didn't mesh well going in that direction. Honfleur to Bayeux would normally require a switch from bus to train in Caen, because the buses are infrequent and slow. The two stations are side-by-side in Caen, but I don't know how well the schedules fit together.

Keep in mind that buses are often a bit late. I wouldn't be very confident of making a connection of less than 20 minutes, and there would be no guarantee even then. Except for the express bus to Caen, the westbound buses out of Honfleur are subject to significant traffic delays.

Also be careful about Sundays and holidays. Bus schedules are usually thinner then, and there may be fewer or no express options.

Posted by
3455 posts

In my experience, hotel rates are not necessarily lower because the town is smaller. The big city benefits from price competition and wider choice. You are looking at a busy trip so saving time with an efficient route may outweigh trying to cut corners financially.

Posted by
4701 posts

Zagfam, you may wish to search past posts here about Normandy beaches without a car. I would not spend 4-5 nights in Normandy (... the Province, as opposed to meaning D-Day Beaches) without a car. The car was helpful to us even while in Bayeux. Month of year?

Posted by
243 posts

Thank you these travel logistics insights. Our hopes were to experience The charm of Hanfleur, visit the war memorials at Normandy, explore Mont St Michel, perhaps visit St Malo (inspired by our reading of All the Light...). Reims Cathedral is a priority inspired by Joan of Arc. We were in magnificent Paris 30 years ago and it knocked us around a bit. We are bigger and tougher and more informed, so we are more confident in going deeper in the city of Lights. Who has experienced sunset from Sacre Coeur Cathedral? Hope we do this trip. Thank you for the valuable city vs small town lodging economy advice. The transportation challenges are better learned in the forum than when we are fumbling about in reality. I will look into Rick Steve's tours that might support fulfilling our aspirations in the Normandy area. Regarding Provence, we are considering a next time journey. Bruges and Ghent are is our sites. Thank you for the recommendations guiding us east to Germany through Switzerland. Interlocken and Grindlewald remake precious in our past travel experiences.

Posted by
243 posts

We will be traveling to northern France towards the end of September.