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Favorite obscure, smaller villages of Normandy & Brittany?

I'll have 3 weeks in both Normandy & Brittany. I'm renting an apartment for a week in Honfleur, but will meander there from Paris, more or less following the Seine till Rouen, east of which I've already identified a few villages to see, B&B's to try. (I'm not doing main tourist areas by and large, like D-Day, Mont St.Michel, etc.) I'm even wrestling whether I want to do Rouen, which as a solo traveler, might be tricky and lodging is expensive. Areas of Normandy so far less represented include: S, SE & W of Caen; W from Alencon to Fougeres; area between Etretat & Honfleur. In Brittany, I've got a week rental near Dinan, another in Pointreaux (NW of Dinan), and a probable third near Josselin. Less represented here are Ille-et-Vilaine & W part of Loire-Atlantique between Rennes & Nantes. A general note: I live near the N California coast, so am less motivated by coastal beauty than some might be. Also not hugely into churches, having 'Italy'ed' myself out over the years. But I'm open to any and all favorite suggestions anyone may have. Thanks, Karen P.S. These 6 weeks will be followed by 12 nights in Paris, 2 weeks in Prague & 2 weeks in Barcelona. So if anyone has any 'special village' recommendations re: those places, I'm open to that, too

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10 posts

Thanks, James. Nothing against Bayeuxjust not interested in the war stuff. I'm interested in colorful beauty, old architecture, charm and all that. Having now looked into Bayeux, I'll probably go there. I'm using Honfleur as a base from which to visit many villages to its south & east. Part of my dilemma is having no idea how the distances will workhow many villages a day I can visit, walk around and photograph, and return to my base by. And, you always have to leave time for surprise stops en route. I'll check your links. Merci.

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6513 posts

Karen, I'm not sure if you're into using the library for research but I'm researching my trip to Normandy and Brittany and I recently borrowed these books from my Library and found some places I definitely want to get to. The Most Beautiful Villages of Normandy by Hugh Palmer (May 2002) The Most Beautiful Villages of Brittany by James Bentley and Hugh Palmer (Sep 1, 1999) They had lots of good information in addition to pictures of the villages. Really whetted my appetite. I've also been using the website:
http://www.francethisway.com/regions/brittany.php Happy planning, sounds like a wonderful trip.

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10 posts

Hi, Nancy. I have the Most Beautiful...Normandy book out from the library right now, but they don't have the Brittany version, and I didn't want to buy it. I've also stumbled onto FranceThisWayit's great. I have another out from the library called '101 Beautiful Small Towns in France'. So yes, those are terrific ideas. And maybe I already have enough villages marked to visit, and this inquiry is overkill! By the way I found a wonderfully manageable-sized map of Brittany folded into the back of 'Insight Plus Guide to Brittany'. It allowed me to hold the map on my left, with my laptop/internet search center, and my collection of various colors of highlighters in a box on the right. I marked 'must see's with one color, 'places to stay' in another, routes in yet another. I could then transfer my markings to the Michelin maps. It really helped with Brittany. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the same item for Normandy which included the same kind of map. Happy travels to you, too! Karen

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8510 posts

For the most information on what is special to see in each village and hamlet in Brittany, or Normandy for that matter, the Michelin Green Guides are the most detailed. You can get the English translations. These are the publications most of the French use when traveling in France and abroad.

Posted by
8419 posts

Mostly just wanted to say "hi" cuz we're neighbors :) and to say I think Bayeux is worth a visit. We really love the town - great architecture, lots of flowers, very charming. You don't have to be interested in WWII history to enjoy it. We didn't care for Rouen, and didn't love Honfleur. What we do really enjoy when staying in Bayeux (and we did this on the drive from Honfleur to Bayeux), is driving out towards the ocean on the two lane country roads and just exploring, going through little villages, stopping at tiny churches with small graveyards, old chateaux, and even happened on a several hundred years old farm that was open to the public (but almost no one there). We have the best time just doing that with no destination in mind. Sounds like a great trip - enjoy!

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10 posts

Hi, Susan. Yeah, seems like there are several RS sorts in our neck of the woods! I, too, love to wander. I did that a lot in France on a very long trip in 2006. The Gites de France book had so many small, inexpensive places run by old French ladies or young couples. Seems like now it's all gotten so gentrified and fancy and expensive. But I contradict that inclination by getting all ensconced in research which seems to never end. Why don't you like Honfleur and Rouen? Karen

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2297 posts

I'm not into WWII/Dday sites myself but Bayeux was by far my highlight of our Normandy/Brittany trip. Just for the tapestry alone this is a worthwhile stop! Have you looked at the small villages in Brittany with the enclosed parishes? You can see several ones in a day, just pick a few on your route. I think my favourite one is in Lampaul-Guimiliau. I love the drive along the Cote du Granite Rose with a stop at Fort La Latte. http://www.guide-to-castles-of-europe.com/fort-la-latte.html Our favourite B&B is located just outside of Dol-de-Bretagne in an old Norman farm house that dates back to the 13th century, a bit out of the way but still easy to get to lots of other sites from there:
www.manoirdelagrandemettrie.com

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23 posts

We had the most fabulous experience staying at Le Manoir d'Herouville in Litteau. The owners are two English couples (the women are sisters) and they are extraordinary hosts. We stayed here a few years ago and we reminisce about the food frequently. Here is the website: http://www.herouville.biz

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10 posts

Beatrix, I've already reserved 2 rentalsone week near Dinan and another west of there in Pointreaux. I'm familiar with the close parishes, as someone on another site has a great album of their 3 week trip to explore them. Let me know if you'd like the link. Enough have recommended Bayeux that I'm sold. I'll figure a way to include it. Danielle, Le Manoir d'Herouville in Litteau is over the top beautiful and such finery! For the price it's remarkable. Looks like a delightful adventure. I may have to rethink my plans to stay a whole week in Honfleur as a base and think more of doing a route from there which can include Bayeux. So enjoy your input. Exploring options is almost as much fun as the trip will be. Thank you.

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24 posts

I've been there several times and 2 not-to-be-missed sights are Mont-St.-Michel, the Abbey on an island just off the coast and Honfleur, the charming seaside town to the west.

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8419 posts

Hi Karen, I'll send you a pm to answer your question :)

Posted by
26 posts

Do I understand correctly that you are ONLY interested in visiting villages? I can list a few ones which have some quaintness and charm quality in the area you are visiting, but if I may give you a personal opinion, you will be missing a lot of what makes the beauty of that region. Anyway, here is the list: - Combourg (home of the XIX century writer Chateaubriand). You can even visit his castle. - Bécherel (north of Rennes), famous locally for its second hand book stores. If you are interested in finding the original edition of Hugo's Les Miserables, that's the place to go. - Malestroit - Rochefort en Terre (My personal recommendation) - Paimpont (at the heart of the Brocéliande Forest)
- La Gacilly (home of the Yves Rocher cosmetics company)

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10 posts

Hi, Paul, Thanks for your list. I have most of them marked, but not all. I will visit some cities or larger townsDinan, the old part of QuimperI'd love to locate the part of town which has actual ceramic workshops in it. But my interest in villages is varied. First, traveling alone, I don't like getting into an unfamiliar city with one way streets, not knowing how to get from Point A to Point B and find parking. Second, my favored style of photography is quirky details from back alleyways, small view old architecture, wandering shortcuts locals take into town with old ladies tending their gardens, small ports with colorful boats, small places on canals and waterways...that sort of thing. Although I like some museums, I hate crowds of tourists, and I only go if it's something I really want to see. And, I'll have 12 nights in my beloved Paris, 2 weeks in Prague, and 2 weeks in Barcelona, all fairly big cities. I'm open to any input you have, villages or other.

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26 posts

Hi Karen, I'll give you a few more suggestions then. - Lehon near Dinan. You can reach it by walking 2 or 3 kilometers from the port of Dinan on the left bank of the river looking upstream. There another Roman bridge and a semi destroyed anciant Abbey. - Saint Suliac with a charming little port on the Rance River. - Pont Réan, by the Vilaine River. From there you can also walk along the river to Le Boël. - The Moulin d'Apiginé near Rennes.
- The "13 écluses" in Hédé. 13 locks in a row on the canal. That's all I can think of for now. All these places are popular on sunday afternoons so it's better to go there during the week or on sunday morning if you want to catch some good pictures.

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1157 posts

Check out www.bandbnormandie.com. We stay there with Odile and Jacques and sons whose families have farmed there for 200 years. It's on the outskirts of Villers-Bocage, about 12 miles from Bayeux. We love to drift along the narrow back roads, stopping to sample local cheeses, Calvados, and picnic along the way.

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512 posts

I really enjoyed the picturesque village of Veules les Roses. It is not too far from Dieppe nor Rouen. We stopped there on the way to catch the ferry in Dieppe and spent several hours wandering around. It is a coastal village but it was the village itself, not the beach, that was so pretty and quaint. There were lots of footpaths that follow the river in the village and several beautiful waterwheels. Flowers everywhere, gorgeous, quaint cottages. Easy to walk and explore. Great for photography.

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10 posts

Thanks to all of you. I am so enjoying researching your recs. Veules de Roses sounds right up my alley. When I saw pics of Etretat, I was less interested in the big hole in the rock than wandering its back alleys. And, I'm marking your pubs and restos and B&B's. Paul, I appreciated your rec re the smaller waterways/ports--I plan to walk along the Rance areas. (By the way, looking at the map, is 'upstream' north or south? Dumb question--probably south, right? Downstream would be towards the sea...) You Bayeux lovers, do mention any villages or hamlets en route to it--especially the whole swath to its south, both SW & SE.

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26 posts

Yes, upstream is South in that case. The river flows North to Saint-Malo. And by the way, there are actually 11 locks in Hédé, not 13. Sorry for this small mistake.