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April 2012: Paris, Normandy,and Loire Valley.....Continued

We reserved a compact car from the States, being careful to find an agency near a metro stop (Porte St Cloud, line 9) with easy access to the freeway (E5). With some study of French road signage, driving in France offered no unusual driving problems. Warnings about priority right access from secondary roads and on traffic circles were not an issue. Diesel fuel cost 86 euros. Our first attempt at getting fuel proved problematic as we used a pump line for credit card which would not work wthout security chip. However, we learned other lines operated by pumping first and pulling forward to an attendant where you could use either cash or American credit card. Our itinerary, April 14 to 26, included several days in the Pays d'Auge and Honfleur, four days for D-Day sites and museums, a day each at Mont St Michel and Dinan in eastern Brittany, several days for Amboise and Loire Valley Chateaux, and a final day in Chartres. Four of the six accommodations were RS suggestions- all excellent rooms in historic buildings with friendly, helpful staff. We used the Michelin site to pre-plan our route and avoided most tolls. Back in Paris for the final seven nights at a Home Away rental, a one bedroom apartment in the Rue Cler area. A plug for Paris' free museums: the Bourdell (sculptor) Museum near Montparnasse, the Carnavalet in the Marais devoted to the history of Paris. Also free: a walk along the St Martin Canal in the northeast part of the city. Not free with extra long inoperable elevator... the Eiffel Tower on Labor Day, May 1; we purchased a stairs ticket to level two which could have included an elevator ticket from there to the top. All in all, a very pleasant, enjoyable trip!

Posted by
11503 posts

Thanks for posting Marion,, you sounded like you did a lot of prep work that really made the trip work.

Posted by
42 posts

I heard that Chartres was 50% covered with restoration materials and not worth going to in 2012. Do you feel the same way?

Posted by
49 posts

Sorry for the slow reply....out of town several days. Yes, the church is undergoing extensive restoration behind the altar; you can see the upper part of that area, cleaned and now pale limestone colored. Behind the main altar was blocked to visitors in late April 2012, but we enjoyed seeing the massive columns and the immense size of the church, absorbing the history, the carvings on the exterior. If we were going just for the church, we'd have second thoughts; however, our stop overnight was on the way back to Paris and we wanted to be fairly close to drive in next morning. I wonder if the situation has changed by now? You might ask this question under "To the West" and perhaps you'll get more current May and June details.