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i am being naive?

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Irving, TX
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i am being naive?

we are arriving in Paris with 5 days to drive around. First, Normandy. My bride volunteers for the USO and my father is a veteran. Second, Mont Saint Michel. Then flying by the seat of our pants until we get Paris where we rented an apartment. The question is. Am I naive to think I can drive to a village or town, go to the tourist office, get suggestions, and find a place to stay? Our intention is to show our teenage daughter how to relax, adapt, and enjoy by making the best of what is presented. all opinions appreciated.

New Hampshire
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1. Re: i am being naive?

I would just point out that checking out of and into lodgings every day or so during a road trip is time consuming enough without spending valuable time looking for a place in each destination to spend the night, particularly if you have a fairly set itinerary.

If you research and book ahead, you know exactly what you're getting, what you'll pay, and can determine what's nearby for a nice dinner.

Are you assuming that there's a "tourist office" in every village or town you might visit and/or that someone there will be fluent in English?

Being a planner, I don't understand the concept of "relax, adapt, and enjoy by making the best of what is presented".

los angeles
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2. Re: i am being naive?

Depending upon when you're visiting (high tourist season?), finding a place to stay could present some difficulty in the highly touristed (Mont St Michel and D Day Beaches) area/s. If the rest of your driving time is truly a "play it by ear" meandering, then you could take your chances on that part. (But remember that taking one's chances may include paying thru the nose if only the most expensive lodging is what's available at the "last minute.") In addition, a triple room (you, your wife, your daughter--who will be counted as a third adult) is more difficult to find than a double.

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: i am being naive?

I have done just what you are considering in August 2008 driving between Nice and Paris via the Pyrenees. So you can do it even in peak season. I would suggest having a cell phone and a couple of books put out by hotel chains listing all their member hotels... makes accommodation much easier to find on the fly.

Sometimes a triple might be a problem. On the other hand, the hotel Ecu de Bretagne in Beaugency solved that problem by offering us a second single room for our 16 year old daughter for the same rate as they'd normally charge for a triple. She was thrilled to have her own room.

And yes, the flip side is you can pay top dollar... we don't regret what another hotel assured us was the best room in le Puy as it was the only room available in town... worth every penny!

Have a great trip!


Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: i am being naive?

you may be great at this. I have found that when we pick up rooms on the fly that we tend to waste time and get crummy overpriced rooms. I am quite talented at planning trips and getting great places to stay -- this talent totally deserts me when trying to book on the fly.

learning to plan is a useful talent as well as learning to accept whatever room is left.

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5. Re: i am being naive?

We would be too stressed out worrying if we'd get acceptable accommodations if we were to book on the fly. That's the reason why we need to reserve hotels before arriving. I don't think it would be a good if you want to have a relaxing vacation. Maybe if it's one person it's okay, but for a family it's too risky.

Paris, France
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6. Re: i am being naive?

Going against the consensus, I think that in May you should be able to find lodging easily especially this year when there are no holidays in may, yet all lodging will be open for the season.

If not in one town, then in next.

Driving across Normandy to the Mont Saint-Michel (and maybe beyond? Saint-Malo, Dinan, are nice too) is not a particularly ambitious trip either (in kms), so you'll have time to look around and drive to the next little town if you don't find anything somewhere.

Don't miss the Bayeux tapestry, the story is about a landing too... but 900 years ago.

However, do plan the first night. It's more diffcult to keep an open mind and calm when you're tired.

Edited: 11 May 2011, 06:11
the big blue marble
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7. Re: i am being naive?

I'm with Flore. I think its worthwhile to adventure it a bit from time to time. Means you'll actually meet some people and learn more about the region.

In the days of the internet it is very easy to do it all before you depart, which is great, but sometimes it is fun to do it another way.

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8. Re: i am being naive?

Is this trip in May? May 2011?

In May you could well find places to say, although these days I prefer to know where I'm going to lay my head at night. If it's in high season I'd definitely get accommodation booked. We once had to phone around 20 places in August - in the Auvergne! I wouldn't want to repeat that.

Paris, France
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9. Re: i am being naive?

I agree that it is very easy to find lodging when driving around France as long as you do not wait too late in the day. Yes, it can happen that suddenly everything is full due to a reason unknown by you, but this is quite rare. If you like the adventure of improvising your trip, it can be extremely rewarding when you are not locked into a specific plan.

Some people overplan everything so much that they are obliged to leave places that they love, or on the other hand are obliged to stay in a town which they discovered to be much less interesting than expected. The weather can also make you want to change plans...

Loire Valley
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10. Re: i am being naive?

Nope. I like the idea, and it's one I used to use all the time. Mrs Wiz isn't such a fan, so these days unless I am alone I tend to book ahead.

Once you start sightseeing after lunch just keep an eye open for signs pointing to chambres d'hote. If you see one that appeals call in and ask.