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Driving Normandy

GAJ
CT
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115 posts
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Driving Normandy

Hi - We are trying to plan a last minute trip to Europe. Thinking of flying to France and driving around Normandy and wondered what suggestions would be for places to stay, How long to spend ect.

Also - what would be a good driving tour for a 10 day trip. Open to going to other countries too.

Thanks!

MD
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700 posts
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1. Re: Driving Normandy

Normandy is big. You can spend ten days driving around inland and coastal Normandy and still not see it all. Can you get hold of an Eyewitness Guide to Normandy or Michelin green guide to Normandy? You'll get a ton of ideas there.

Check out a website of the most beautiful villages of France and try to see some (or all!) of the ones in Normandy. I don't know how to do tiny URL, so I'll break up the name of the website here:

www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france

.org/en/taxonomy/term/140

St Ceneri le Gerei is off the beaten path, but what a charmer!

Another thing I check on in advance is the Villages Fleuris, an award given to towns that knock themselves out decorating with flowers and shrubs. Juvigny in the Orne is one of the best we've seen; also Saint Fraimbault.

http://www.villes-et-villages-fleuris.com/

The best advice we ever got about traveling by car in France is, "always take the smallest road." Michelin maps mark the scenic routes in green. Mostly these are lightly traveled so they're perfect for dawdling, picnicking, stopping for photographs.

Prepare a list of what day the weekly market is for the towns you'll be traveling near. A market is a morning's entertainment right there. And you'll then be set for a picnic lunch.

Of course, the weather will affect your trip. As much as I love Normandy, if the weather there was lousy, I would head somewhere else.

California
Destination Expert
for Grasse
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2. Re: Driving Normandy

Send me a private message and I'll give you some information on our own itinerary for six days in Normandy.

Phoenix, Arizona
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3. Re: Driving Normandy

We did a two week driving trip in Normandy in 2008. I would be happy to e-mail you my trip report and maybe it will give you some ideas. You can reach me via TA or at arizonatraveler8@yahoo.com

We thoroughly enjoyed our driving trip! Plan on going back and doing another part of France. You'll have fun.

California
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for Grasse
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4. Re: Driving Normandy

Please, please do NOT post your actual e-mail address! That just asks for spam.

Alencon, France
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5. Re: Driving Normandy

I second what Cloverdale says - if you're planning a touring holiday, then the Michelin Green Guide for Normandy is ideal.

However, I would beware of staying in a different place every night, which is what the actual "driving tours" in the Green Guides tend to suggest - you'll waste a lot of time checking in and out, unpacking and packing, with no time to relax and get "anchored".

I would pick a small number of bases and do day trips out from those - maybe one base on the coast (Bayeux for example) to do the usual Landing Beaches and MSM, and a couple of places inland. Maybe one near Rouen (for Rouen itself plus Champ de Bataille, Les Andelys and Monet's Garden at Giverny) and another in the south-east for the forests, gardens and châteaux around Alençon, plus the Alpes Mancelles with pretty villages like Saint Céneri-le-Gérei (also suggested above) and Bourg-le-Roi.

Phil

Surrey UK
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6. Re: Driving Normandy

I totally agree with the idea that you should not be too ambitious in covering too many places in 10 nights.

I'm no expert on Normandy but can recommend staying about 3 nights in Fougeres (which might be in Brittany). very nice town to wander about and good day trips from there. Could even drive up to Mont St Michel (bit of a tourist dump) if you insist!

Bayeux, France
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for Bayeux, Basse-Normandie, Mont-Saint-Michel, Caen
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7. Re: Driving Normandy

"Mont St Michel (bit of a tourist dump)"

Such heresy; MSM is only the eighth wonder of the world. Go early or late in the day. But don't miss it.

Alencon, France
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8. Re: Driving Normandy

Yes, Fougères is in Brittany.

California
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for Grasse
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9. Re: Driving Normandy

Mont St-Michel a tourist dump? Well, I suppose you could say that about any church that's been a pilgrimmage site for centuries, as pilgrims were really the first tourists.

Mont St-Michel is special, as are Rocamadour and the Basilica of Ste-Madeleine in Vézelay.

Alencon, France
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10. Re: Driving Normandy

I saw Rocamadour in the 1970's as a teenager - it was brilliant. Utterly awe-inspiring. When I saw it in the 1990's I thought it was tacky - crappy souvenir shops all over the place - but still enjoyed the visit. Maybe people who went there in the 19th century would have thought the 70's experience was appalling. Who cares - I liked it.

MSM has always had a beady eye on the quick buck since the medieval pilgrims. Call it tacky, call it profiteering. But it is still spectacular.

Yet while I defend them, these are parts of France I don't even care for that deeply - there are REAL places to visit if you open your eyes and get out away from the herd.

If you've been to Paris, MSM, Bayeux and the usual tourist traps you still haven't experienced the real France. You've seen the tourist spots.

Pleasant But Sad.

Phil

Edited: 11 June 2010, 20:23