I am traveling to France with my daughter in April. She is going for one year as an Au Pair. We are planning on staying in Paris a couple of days, then taking her to her host family in Pordic, Brittany. I would like to take a 1 or 2 day trip to Normandy by myself before returning to Paris for my flight home. I am having a hard time figuring out how the rail system works. Do I have to go back to Paris to take the train to Normandy? Or can I go straight from Brittany? Alternatively, is there a travel agency that specializes in custom tours anyone would recommend? I've never been to France, so I am freaking out! With only a week, I don't want to waste anytime wandering around aimlessly. Thanks!
Especially if time is at a premium, you will want a car to do this. As you have noticed, the logic of rail in France is a hub system with Paris at the center. Connections from spoke to spoke are either slow and infrequent or nonexistent. For example, I think you might be able to get to Pontorson from Rennes by bus, and then find a train to Bayeux, but it will likely take you all day. When time is of the essence and you want to see stuff in the countryside, a car is really invaluable.
Thanks! I checked into a rental car and it will be about the same cost once I pay for gas and incidentals as going by train and I will have so much more flexibility! Feeling much more comfortable about my trip now. :)
We like to train to Caen and fetch our reserved rental car right across the street from the Caen RR station. There are many trains daily Paris to Caen. We drive to Bayeux, about 15 miles, overnight there, then head to Mont St. Michel, about 3 hours by motorway. I'm not sure how far it might be to Pordic but you will be in the heart of Brittany by just going around the bay from MSM. Driving is a breeze in France but get a GPS and learn to use it. You are a bit late in planning for an April trip so you'll need to reserve a car soon and a hotel in Bayeux, a popular place for Normandy tourists. Check the Churchill Hotel in Bayeux. Autoeurope is based in Maine and they can help you by phone arrange a car. Don't freak outhaving a car puts all of Normandy and Brittany at your feet to go when and where you want.