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Driving in Normandy

Arlington, Virginia
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Driving in Normandy

I'm planning to drive through Normandy this coming June 2012. May be able to spend up to 3 weeks. My major question is whether to drive every day or so to a new destination or find some places to stay perhaps 3, 4, 5 days from where to take day trips. Trying to make it a true vacation and not a driving marathon. Plus avoid packing and unpacking every day. Thanks.

Tampa, Florida
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1. Re: Driving in Normandy

If you don't want to pack and repack every day, then pick a couple of areas to base yourself in and make day trips from there.

Paris, France
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2. Re: Driving in Normandy

Three weeks is a luxury of time and 1 base each week would be fine. You could consider splitting that time between Normandy and Brittany.

3. Re: Driving in Normandy

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Paris, France
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4. Re: Driving in Normandy

The only roads in France that are not free are the autoroutes and they are all toll roads, except in Brittany.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Driving in Normandy

In July we spent 5 nights at a lovely B&B just outside Bayeux. We visited Honfluer, Trouville/Douville, Mont St Michel, St Malo as well as some of the war memorials & landing beaches using our B&B as our base. As you have 3 weeks I would absolutely recommend having a base for at least 5 - 7 nights exploring that area then move on to your next base. We have had 3 trips now to Europe with the previous 2 trips doing the drive - stop for 1 maybe 2 nights - look around drive again type trip. FANTASTIC trips however I definately think that basing yourself for a decent stay is much more enjoyable and probably less stressful and having now travelled that way will do that again next time. Goodluck & enjoy

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Driving in Normandy

Not all the autoroures are tolled, even outside Brittany. The A20 is free between Vierzon and Brive-la-Galliarde and, apart from the Millau Viaduct, the A75 is free from Clermont-Ferrand to Montpellier.

This is, of course, irrelevant to travel in Brittany, but is just to make things clear to any reader who may be travelling elsewhere.

England, United...
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7. Re: Driving in Normandy

The A28 between Abbeville and Rouen is free, most of which is in Normandy. There are also some motorway stretches in Western Normandy that are free.

For details of which autoroute stretches in France are free, and which are payable, look at the second map on this site:

http://franceautoroutes.free.fr/reseau.php#PG

Bucks, UK
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8. Re: Driving in Normandy

Definitely choose a couple of bases and drive from there when you feel like it. Think about renting an apartment or villa - it will be cheaper than a hotel and you can experience the pleasure of going to the local boulangerie for your morning croissant, having an aperitif in the local cafe and doing all the other things that will ease you into the rhythms of French life which would be harder to do if staying in a hotel.

MD
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9. Re: Driving in Normandy

Normandy is huge, but in three weeks you should be able to see quite a bit, even if you’re meandering.

You might consider choosing five different locations to stay in, one in each department that makes up Normandy: Calvados, Eure, Manche, Orne, and Seine-Maritime. You have plenty of time to do advance research and pick really nice places where you’ll be happy to stay 3-4-5 days. If you compile a list of lodging options before the trip, then you can more or less wing it while you’re there. If you’re having a great time where you are, extend your stay; if not, move on. However, usually weekends book up in advance, so you may want to lock in each upcoming weekend by Wednesday.

For one person, an apartment won’t necessarily be cheaper than a hotel or B&B. Also you’re on your own in an apartment, whereas you have more chances to interact with other people in a B&B or hotel. The breakfast table at a busy B&B is a great place to hear about other people’s travels. B&B owners are experts on their particular area. Ask them about anything special in the immediate area that most visitors won’t know about.

Since you are driving, you can explore the back roads. Do a search for the trip reports of FMT (French Mystique) on this board. He is the king of the backroads, especially close to Paris but as far west as Giverny.

We like the back roads too. The only crazy fast roads we take are when we leave or return to the airport. As soon as we can (usually at Cergy-Pontoise) we get off the main roads and from there on, it’s slow, peaceful, and scenic. We haven’t taken a toll road in years.

Be sure and write a trip report when you come back.

10. Re: Driving in Normandy

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