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Old 11-07-2017, 10:05 PM
 
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DW and I are planning on a trip to Paris and Normandy in May of 2018. We generally travel about once a year to Europe and considerable ourselves fairly experienced travelers. For anyone who has made this trip, I have some questions:

1. We like--when possible--to do our own tour. What is like to rent a car and drive from Paris to Mont St. Michel and through Normandy? Are the roads good? Are there any special hazards?

2. Besides Mont St. Michel and the memorials to the men who invaded Normandy in World War II, what else can you recommend for sightseeing?

3. I gather a lot of people want to see Mont St. Michel. Should we try to buy tickets in advance?

4. What else do you think is important to tell us about this area?
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Old 11-08-2017, 12:55 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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I never have got to Mont St. Michel, (yet) but... really enjoyed Normandy and rural France. Do take the time to meet local people and have a nice LONG french meal with them! They were so nice and informative to our kids! You will find plenty to do in the region for a week or so. Cemeteries and memorials and war related might be 1/2 your time.


We have driven all over France (mostly 25 ys ago, but again did northern part last yr.) Will definitely be going back ...as much as possible!, especially SW France.

Only issue with driving is reading street signs and keeping enough cash to pay tolls!

GPS / Cell phone makes it pretty EZ. (We like Maps.me app) It lists places of interest which will not be noted on signs / maps.
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Old 11-08-2017, 02:54 AM
 
Location: SW France
14,246 posts, read 14,130,781 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
DW and I are planning on a trip to Paris and Normandy in May of 2018. We generally travel about once a year to Europe and considerable ourselves fairly experienced travelers. For anyone who has made this trip, I have some questions:

1. We like--when possible--to do our own tour. What is like to rent a car and drive from Paris to Mont St. Michel and through Normandy? Are the roads good? Are there any special hazards?

2. Besides Mont St. Michel and the memorials to the men who invaded Normandy in World War II, what else can you recommend for sightseeing?

3. I gather a lot of people want to see Mont St. Michel. Should we try to buy tickets in advance?

4. What else do you think is important to tell us about this area?
Renting a car is no problem. Be aware of laws related to driving, which include things like if you wear prescription spectacles have a spare pair to hand. Google other requirements but issues like having Hi Vis jackets to hand should be covered by the car hire company. Just make sure they are in the vehicle.

Most cars over here (I live in France) are stick shift, so if you want auto then specify it in advance.

I don't like driving in Paris. Maniacs. Maybe pick up a car on the outskirts?

Roads are very good, drivers in my opinion are not. That said driving is generally hassle free. Make sure you know your road signs. Most are not difficult to work out BUT there is one which even non French who have been here for a long time are not aware of. It's a X in a red triangle, and is seen on the smaller roads. It means that you do not have priority at the next junction on your right- the side road, or track does. It's typically French in that some people obey it and some don't! Don't get paranoid about it but be aware.

It's been a long time since I've been to Mont St Michel and the set up has possibly changed. I can't recall requiring tickets to go there when I did but that doesn't mean you don't now.

Edit- regarding tolls on the Autoroute- they take credit or debit cards. We have a Sanef Toll Pass but that may not be practical for you.

Enough for present. I'll follow the thread.

Last edited by Jezer; 11-08-2017 at 03:13 AM..
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Old 11-08-2017, 04:14 AM
 
Location: Amelia Island
2,974 posts, read 3,954,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
DW and I are planning on a trip to Paris and Normandy in May of 2018. We generally travel about once a year to Europe and considerable ourselves fairly experienced travelers. For anyone who has made this trip, I have some questions:

1. We like--when possible--to do our own tour. What is like to rent a car and drive from Paris to Mont St. Michel and through Normandy? Are the roads good? Are there any special hazards?

2. Besides Mont St. Michel and the memorials to the men who invaded Normandy in World War II, what else can you recommend for sightseeing?

3. I gather a lot of people want to see Mont St. Michel. Should we try to buy tickets in advance?

4. What else do you think is important to tell us about this area?
If you consider yourself fairly experienced travelers you will have no problems what so ever.

We did this trip in fall of 2016 and had an amazing time. We flew into Paris and immediately picked up our rental car and headed out. As mentioned in the other posts there is more to see in the small towns and country sides than you will have time for. We spent two weeks and visited Fontainebleau along with many other castles and cathedrals and also Carcassonne, France was beautiful.

For me I am a bit challenged as far as steep elevated steps and long walking distances but we found happy medians or I kicked back when my buddy did the few strenuous climbs to the tops of some of the small monuments and castles.

Mont St. Michel was one of those places that the memories will stick with me for a while as well as visiting Pont du Gard, dipping into Spain on the Tour de France route and cutting through Andorra. Oh. at Mont St. Michel we paid for parking and walked to a bus which took us to it and then same way on the return. There were horse driven carts you could take also if so inclined.

Roads were great and our European updated Garmin worked like a charm. We did not have data phones and that would of helped but we planned each day out in advance with wifi at night. Lots of small town lodging in the heart of these small towns and everything was walkable. Our go to hotel in the event we were unable to find something to stay in was the IBis chain. Very small clean rooms at a great price with a good compliment of light breakfast items for about 3-4 Euro.

PS. The smaller car you get the better, roads are narrow and sometimes parking is next to impossible to find. We also hit the grocery stores to grab fruit, bread, etc. for lunches, snacks and sometimes dinner.

Good luck and seriously you will have a great time!

One more thing, the tolls kicked our azz, we could not figure out why some tolls would take credit cards (very few) and soon learned after trying quite a few that our USA cards were not being recognized and cash was the best way. Thanks To Google it explained this to us.

One more thing.........traveling through these small towns as approaching it will go from 90 km to 70 to 50 to 30 and these towns are extremely small. On one occasion we saw a flash..........figured we got piced, sure enough a few weeks after we got back we received a ticket for 100 Euro
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Old 11-08-2017, 07:40 AM
 
Location: Howard County, Maryland
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OK, so it was way back in 1982 when I was there, and I was on a tour (not independent travel), so my usefulness to this thread will be very limited here. But I figured I'd toss this in:

1. Mont St. Michel is a truly amazing place. I honestly can't think of anything quite like it. The area around it is flat, but then as you approach you'll see this mountain loom up in the distance. Everything about it is just so interesting and unique. Prepare to be amazed!

2. IIRC, the parking area is located in the tidal flats, meaning that at certain times of the day, the tides roll in and submerge the lots. I would have to assume that they give warning as to when it's safe to park there and when you need to move your car, but I don't know for sure. Probably would be a good idea to check that out.

3. My memory has it that the town of St. Malo is somewhere nearby. I recall walking atop the wall that surrounded the city and thinking that it was a neat thing to do.
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Old 11-08-2017, 07:52 AM
 
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DO NOT miss Mont St. Michel, it is one of the most fascinating places I've ever been to. It's a heck of a climb up those stairs but worth every bit. Try to imagine how they built that thing on that rock. Be sure to take the tour down through the lower parts. And don't miss visiting the WWII museum at Caen, it is unbelievable. Normandy is a very interesting area and well worth the visit.

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Old 11-08-2017, 08:59 AM
 
Location: Amelia Island
2,974 posts, read 3,954,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bus man View Post
OK, so it was way back in 1982 when I was there, and I was on a tour (not independent travel), so my usefulness to this thread will be very limited here. But I figured I'd toss this in:

1. Mont St. Michel is a truly amazing place. I honestly can't think of anything quite like it. The area around it is flat, but then as you approach you'll see this mountain loom up in the distance. Everything about it is just so interesting and unique. Prepare to be amazed!

2. IIRC, the parking area is located in the tidal flats, meaning that at certain times of the day, the tides roll in and submerge the lots. I would have to assume that they give warning as to when it's safe to park there and when you need to move your car, but I don't know for sure. Probably would be a good idea to check that out.

3. My memory has it that the town of St. Malo is somewhere nearby. I recall walking atop the wall that surrounded the city and thinking that it was a neat thing to do.

No more tidal flats parking. It only seems to be a very select few who park near the entrance, police, etc.

There are trolley like busses that pick you up from an area a short distance from the parking lot. The busses have controls in the front and back. The driver uses the one based on direction you are going. Lots of shops and dining........also very small inns. The climb to the top is fantastic.
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Old 11-08-2017, 01:19 PM
 
Location: SW France
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Just to throw my tuppence worth in- we live around five/six hours drive south of the ports of Normandy.

In May the weather should be perfect, generally better than Normandy, and the area round here, save for the very popular tourist hot spots, is very quiet and the scenery is gorgeous. But then I'm biased.
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Old 11-18-2017, 02:22 PM
 
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We did a similar independent trip a few years back. Paris for 6 days, train out to airport to pick up small rental car. Three nights in Bayeaux. Then 2 nights at Mont St Michel and a week in the Loire Valley. Left car at CDG final night stayed at airport hotel. Wonderful trip. We also took our own GPS for car with all the addresses (hotels and sites) preprogrammed.
Wee loved Bayeaux, the cathedral, tapestry and food! If you don’t want to drive out to the beaches there are many tours. We drove through the hedgerows following the signs detailing where the Allies marched. The American cemetery is not to be missed.
We loved the Loire and learning about wine, favorite area is where they make Vouvrey, visiting the wine co-ops. Wound up in a splendid little town of Brisic-Quince for the night eating buckwheat galettes and never hearing a word of English for two days!

Last edited by Jstarling; 11-18-2017 at 02:35 PM..
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Old 11-19-2017, 07:11 PM
 
Location: Portugal
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I am so envious, I've always wanted to do the Normandy thing and for whatever reason have never gotten around to it.
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