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Trip planning help!

Good Day All,

I've relied on this forum in the past and input received here made a positive impact on my honeymoon. So I'm coming back to the well...

My wife (married almost 2 years now) are planning a trip with two friends from Sept 1st-Sept 11th. Here's the itinerary as it stands:

Sunday Sept 2nd - land and board train to Bruges - walk around and hit the hay early
Monday Sept. 3rd - Bruges all day - tour brewery, go up belltower etc.
Tuesday Sept 4th - Bruges in the morning (museum in city center) and leave midday for Normandy (Bayeux)
Wednesday Sept 5th - Band of brothers or other WWII tour like D-day beaches which will absorb most of the day
Thursday Sept 6th - See Tapestry and possibly WWII museum in Bayeux - and then?
Friday Sept 7th - ?

Here's where I need some help. We have Thursday and Friday to see Normandy sights. We want to see the tapestry and perhaps WWII museum in Bayeux, but also have Mont Saint-Michele on the agenda which appears to be a 1.5 hr drive from Bayeux. Originally we were going to get up early Thursday and head to Mont at 7:00AM by rented car, then return the rental car and hop a train to Paris. However, we just extended the trip by a day, so now I'm wondering if we should spend the night there. The hotels appear lackluster on the Mont and I'm not sure if there is a whole day's worth of sightseeing to be done. We could go to Saint Malo to stay the night Thursday and then take rental car to the Mont early Friday and then make our way by train from Saint Malo to Paris? We just need to be in Paris by Friday night so we'll have three full days there and then the morning of our departure.

Saturday Sept 8th - Paris
Sunday Sept 9th - Paris
Monday Sept 10th - Paris
Tuesday Sept 11th - Fly home

Any in the Normandy leg of this trip?

Posted by CJean
Ontario, Canada
1335 posts

Seeing the tapestry and museum will fill the morning on Thursday, and is certainly worth the time IMO. Then you'll need lunch. So it would be mid afternoon before you got to MSM. Not a good time to arrive - when the crowd is at its peak. Going to St. Malo and exploring it might be a good idea. Then get up early and visit MSM on Friday morning before heading for Paris in mid to late afternoon.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
9024 posts

There are lots of attractive places in eastern Brittany that might be options, depending on your precise timing and the route you choose to take back to Paris. I believe you could spend a couple of hours wandering around most of these places (unless the tourist throngs in the busier ones get to you); I think they're all worth a stop.

St. Malo is super-touristy, considerably beyond the point at which it affected my enjoyment of the town, but it is picturesque, and you can walk around (on top of) the walls.

The town of Dinard right across the river from St. Malo doesn't get as many tourists, though it is far from undiscovered. It has both upper and lower tourist districts.

Dinan is just a short drive south of St. Malo and Dinard. Very pretty and with a lower concentration of tourists.

Farther inland and roughly south of Mont-St.-Michel are the towns of Fougeres and Vitre. More peaceful and I preferred them for that reason. No coastal views, of course.

In the other direction, east of Bayeux, there are some attractive coastal towns. Honfleur is very picturesque and very popular. The large resort of Deauville is pretty and also gets a lot of tourist traffic; 19th/20th Century architecture. Cabourg doesn't get as many tourists.

Posted by Adam
Boston
3725 posts

If you go to MSM and can make it work, I would spend the night.

If you spend the night, I would not arrive until the afternoon. Find a nice place enroute to spend the morining and have lunch.

After that, dropping the car at the train in Rennes makes good sense. Q: I assume you are picking up the car in France to avoid massive drop-off fees—yes? Either way, Bruges - Normandy is a long haul.

Posted by Matt OP
St augustine, Florida, United States
15 posts

Yes, we'll be taking a train from Bruges to Bayeux. We'll pick up the car on Thursday and return it on Friday I imagine. I'm just not sure where we'll return it yet. Will look into Rennes.

I appreciate all the feedback thus far and will be googling in the coming days to see what makes most sense and what rallie support among my fellow travelers.

Posted by Matt OP
St augustine, Florida, United States
15 posts

Alright...I think we have it.

9:00AM - Bayeux - Tapestry viewing in a hurry
10:00AM - Battle of Normandy museum also in a hurry
12:00PM - Rent car and drive to Arromanches just for lunch and for quick takey the pictures on the cliff
4:00PM - Depart Arromanches
6:00PM - Park and walk to MSM for evening stroll post-mob
10:00PM - Check into Hotel Vert and make the sleep
7:00AM - Walk back to MSM for morning pre-mob photo splendor
10:00AM - drive to St. Malo and return car
5:00PM - Train to Paris to arrive around 9:00PM.

Too Ambitious? Insane?

Posted by Adam
Boston
3725 posts

Matt,

Okay, I'll bite. For your day in Bayeux, those times are too tight. Can you visit one of those sights the night before? Which one is most expendable? Does all of your party share these priorities?

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
9024 posts

Have you verified that the Bayeux car-rental place doesn't close for lunch?

I, too, don't think you can accomplish all you plan in Bayeux that quickly. The tapestry is not housed near the museum, and the Hertz car-rental place is at least a mile from the museum.

Posted by Bets
Deep in the heart of Indiana
5329 posts

After MSM and St. Malo the best car return would be the Rennes train station. You can then take the TGV back to Paris.

Posted by Matt OP
St augustine, Florida, United States
15 posts

Okay...going back over these details to see what I can alter so we aren't over ambitious. There is also a car return in St. Malo, why not return there instead of Rennes?

Posted by Joanne
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
124 posts

Are you sure you want to spend that much time in Bruges? We visited Belgium for six nights, stayed in Ghent and did a daytrip to Bruges and a daytrip to Ypres to see the battlefields. Had a fantastic guide. Of all our days, one day in Ghent and our day in Ypres top the list. Bruges was ok. It was incredibly crowded and to me, Ghent was just as beautiful. Just a thought that you might wish to branch out a bit in Belgium.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
2992 posts

I don't get why you're going to Arromanches on that busy day between Bayeux and MSM. Won't you see lots of WWII beaches and have lots of photo ops on the tour the day before? If the tour doesn't include Arromanches (and I'll bet it does) you'll have seen a lot else like it. The museum at Arromanches is good but I don't think good enough to shortchange your morning in Bayeux. Besides the tapestry (which has very good related exhibits) and the WWII museum (which I haven't seen but I understand is also very good), there is the amazing Norman cathedral, where the tapestry was displayed for many years.

So I'd say skip that Arromanches lunch, leave Bayeux when you're good and ready, eat there or wherever you want along the way, and arrive at MSM (ideally) just as the last big bus is pulling out of the parking lot and there's no one on the island except you and the band of brothers and sisters toting Rick Steves guidebooks. ;-)

Then you have the evening and following morning for MSM, and on to Rennes to drop the car and fast train to Paris. Voila!

Posted by geovagriffith
1593 posts

The Bayeux Tapestry is fantastic and getting there and seeing it and out may take more than an hour. Also, stop and see the Cathedral in Bayeux that was built with riches the Normans gained in England.

D-Day beaches are a must see as are the American Cemetery. Also, go to Arramaches.