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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2019, 06:47:19 PM »
On the Trip Advisor forums, I was advised, ordered, commanded to RENT A CAR for exploring Brittany, and to do it by taking the Train to Rennes and picking it up, and then driving to the St. Malo area (the alternatives Papa Oli recommended sound really good!) I realize that public transport and /or cabs are in short supply in the more rural areas, however, given that the St. Malo/Dinard/Cancale area is a huge tourist mecca, I would think we would be ok to take the train to Rennes then on to St. Malo, hang out a few days, and THEN rent a car to explore, and then drive down to Carnac.

AT this point I'm envisioning:

Paris: 9 nights
- Train to Rennes, St. Malo
St. Malo area: 5 nights
-drive to Carnac-
Carnac: 4 nights
-drive to Rennes or Vannes to drop off the car, then train to Paris
Paris: 3 nights

Is that reasonable?

We also want to see Chartes cathedral--I guess there are tours from Paris, but maybe it would be worth a night?
« Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 06:56:47 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
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Offline Ken B

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2019, 06:59:55 PM »
On the Trip Advisor forums, I was advised, ordered, commanded to RENT A CAR for exploring Brittany, and to do it by taking the Train to Rennes and picking it up, and then driving to the St. Malo area (the alternatives Papa Oli recommended sound really good!) I realize that public transport and /or cabs are in short supply in the more rural areas, however, I given that the St. Malo/Dinard/Cancale area is a huge tourist mecca, especially with MSM so nearby--I would think we would be ok to take the train to Rennes then on to St. Malo, hang out a few days, and THEN rent a car to explore, and then drive down to Carnac.

AT this point I'm envisioning:

Paris: 9 nights
- Train to Rennes, St. Malo
St. Malo area: 5 nights
-drive to Carnac-
Carnac: 4 nights
-drive to Rennes or Vannes to drop off the car, then train to Paris
Paris: 3 nights

Is that reasonable?

We also want to see Chartes cathedral--I guess there are tours from Paris, but maybe it would be worth a night?

I have never been to France but I would kick myself if I missed Chartres. Salisbury was a highlight of being in England, and I was able to do it in a day trip from London, but it was a tad rushed. We stayed in York and so saw the monster at length, which was better.  Chartres will be crowded too, so more time might be a good idea.
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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2019, 07:06:50 PM »
I know what you mean, but there are tours and there are tours. Some tours herd you around like cattle giving you little time to explore or step out of line. I hate those generally, although sometimes they are the only way to go--in so many European countries, there is just so much to see, and we have limited time, money, and knowledge, and willingness to drive, park, figure out access, etc.

Then there are tours like some of the ones we took in Ireland: from Dublin to Glendalough was just a bus that dropped you at Glendalough and you were on your own for four hours to do whatever. I felt it was enough time, but there are certainly things I'd like to explore more next time. But by god, in Ireland, when they say the bus is leaving at 3, they mean the doors are closed and the driver is flooring the accelerator at 2:59:59! We took another tour to Newgrange with great tour guide who let us take our time. Also, she had guaranteed entry to the tomb, whereas if you just show up, you MAY get in or maybe not; they limit the number of people admitted.

Research pays off though to distinguish what type of tour it really is. We will be on our own 90%+ of the time though!

In England, we took the Stonehenge/Salisbury tour and it was a bit rushed. Like you, I was in York later on (Different trip) and took most of the day to train from Manchester and explore the York Minster at my own pace, followed by a pub lunch! Great day!

[in Manchester in 2012]
XB-70: What is there to see and do in Manchester?
LOCAL semi-acquaintance: Hmmmmm, don't know! Why don't you... Why don't you go to YORK for the day!? Oh, it's lovely!


« Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 07:09:50 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline André

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2019, 07:22:20 PM »
Will you cut across from St-Malo to Carnac, or follow the coast toward Brest, and then drive on the south coast toward Carnac-Quiberon ?

Chartres is not far from Paris and AFAIK there is not much else to see around. Unless you fancy a visit to the Maison Picassiette... recommended by Trip Advisor. Millions of ceramic scraps make up the building, furniture, gardens, etc.


Offline Biffo

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2019, 02:15:52 AM »
On the Trip Advisor forums, I was advised, ordered, commanded to RENT A CAR for exploring Brittany, and to do it by taking the Train to Rennes and picking it up, and then driving to the St. Malo area (the alternatives Papa Oli recommended sound really good!) I realize that public transport and /or cabs are in short supply in the more rural areas, however, given that the St. Malo/Dinard/Cancale area is a huge tourist mecca, I would think we would be ok to take the train to Rennes then on to St. Malo, hang out a few days, and THEN rent a car to explore, and then drive down to Carnac.

AT this point I'm envisioning:

Paris: 9 nights
- Train to Rennes, St. Malo
St. Malo area: 5 nights
-drive to Carnac-
Carnac: 4 nights
-drive to Rennes or Vannes to drop off the car, then train to Paris
Paris: 3 nights

Is that reasonable?

We also want to see Chartes cathedral--I guess there are tours from Paris, but maybe it would be worth a night?

Carefully check your train times as services in Brittany outside peak times are pretty hopeless.
Visiting St Malo, Dinard and Cancale without a car is a non-starter
Plan your journey from St Malo to Carnac using a route finder such as Michelin
I don't know what your driving experience is like but drop your car off in Vannes if possible, driving in Rennes is hell.

I hope that doesn't put you off, there is so much to see in Brittany.


Offline Papy Oli

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2019, 03:19:06 AM »
On the Trip Advisor forums, I was advised, ordered, commanded to RENT A CAR for exploring Brittany, and to do it by taking the Train to Rennes and picking it up, and then driving to the St. Malo area (the alternatives Papa Oli recommended sound really good!) I realize that public transport and /or cabs are in short supply in the more rural areas, however, given that the St. Malo/Dinard/Cancale area is a huge tourist mecca, I would think we would be ok to take the train to Rennes then on to St. Malo, hang out a few days, and THEN rent a car to explore, and then drive down to Carnac.

AT this point I'm envisioning:

Paris: 9 nights
- Train to Rennes, St. Malo
St. Malo area: 5 nights
-drive to Carnac-
Carnac: 4 nights
-drive to Rennes or Vannes to drop off the car, then train to Paris
Paris: 3 nights

Is that reasonable?

We also want to see Chartes cathedral--I guess there are tours from Paris, but maybe it would be worth a night?

one possibility : After your tour in the carnac/quiberon area, why not continue down towards Guerande et Le croisic/pornichet along that coast on that last day then end you car trip in Nantes (instead of Rennes). you can then get a direct train from Nantes to Chartres easily one morning, visit Chartres in the afternoon and get an other train to Paris that same evening or next morning.
Olivier

Offline Marc

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2019, 10:54:55 AM »
I've only ever been to Paris, although not to work (ZOMG he never shot fashion in Paris?!) but I did have a girlfriend who was from Millau - the place with the viaduct - and so I've nothing to offer the thread in a geographical sense.

But my reason for posting is because I know XB-70 Valkyrie is a photographer and although he'll probably already be well aware, when he's shooting stuff he shouldn't put all his eggs in one basket. That is, although I've never, ever had any brand of card fail on me I'd rather shoot a bunch of 32 MB cards than a smaller number of 64s.
Apart from that, enjoy your trip.   8)

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2019, 11:59:23 AM »
Just checking in quickly--will write more detailed replies later.

Yes, it's certainly good advice about the cards. The largest ones I use are 32 MB and I back up all photos onto my laptop at the end of each day--if I'm not too exhausted from sightseeing. I am not impressed with the huge cards--256 Gb and such. Maybe if you're just shooting 8 fps all day long at 50 MP or hours of 4K video, I'm sure these are useful. For a landscape/travel/nature photographer who takes his time, it is certainly too many eggs in one basket.

In answer to another question--we will likely just drive from St. Malo area to Carnac and stop along the way for lunch and sightseeing. Maybe there is a town in between we should check out for an overnight stay. It looks like maybe 150-200 km, depending on the route. We would not plan on driving more than that in a single day in Europe. It is very tempting to head out west, but time and money are always a consideration...As it is our plans extend to three weeks.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 12:13:26 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline The new erato

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2019, 01:40:20 PM »
I drove  St. Malo (superb city) area to Carnac this summer With a stopover in Quiberon.

After Carnac we drove up the Loire with its magnificent castles, stayed the night in charming Chinon before arriving for a week in Paris. Very nice and rural drive with the possibility of fitting in Chartres, one of my favorite European cathedrals.

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2019, 01:52:36 PM »
Sounds like a great trip. How did you enjoy the Carnac Menhirs (I assume that's why you were there)? I am thinking of three or four nights in Carnac. I will look into Quiberon--what is there to see/do there for an afternoon/evening?

I think we are going to take a train day trip from Paris to Chartes and back in the late afternoon/early evening if the train schedule permits. I do not like tours for churches--for St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London, St. Isaac in St. Petersburg, etc. we took several hours and don't like to be rushed. On one day in Manchester (business trip) I took the train to York and back, spent a few hours at York Minster followed by a lovely walk around town and train back in the evening--I hope something like this will work out for Chartes.

I would love to go through Loire as I love Vouvray (wine), but, maybe another trip.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 01:54:59 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
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Offline The new erato

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2019, 03:14:02 PM »
It was just a convenient way to go to the Loire. I,'ve seen the menhirs and Quiberon i n the 7ies.

Offline Biffo

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #32 on: March 08, 2019, 01:50:15 AM »
Sounds like a great trip. How did you enjoy the Carnac Menhirs (I assume that's why you were there)? I am thinking of three or four nights in Carnac. I will look into Quiberon--what is there to see/do there for an afternoon/evening?

I think we are going to take a train day trip from Paris to Chartes and back in the late afternoon/early evening if the train schedule permits. I do not like tours for churches--for St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London, St. Isaac in St. Petersburg, etc. we took several hours and don't like to be rushed. On one day in Manchester (business trip) I took the train to York and back, spent a few hours at York Minster followed by a lovely walk around town and train back in the evening--I hope something like this will work out for Chartes.

I would love to go through Loire as I love Vouvray (wine), but, maybe another trip.

Looking again at the route planner the journey should take you 3 hrs max  which I don't think is too bad, add in some time for a meal or coffee. You might consider stopping for a break in Pontivy. It is a pleasant town though its most noteworthy site, the chateau, is closed - part of it collapsed into the moat after heavy rain. The major problem with most French towns is finding somewhere to park; most have ample provision but it always seems to be full.

As a Yorkshire chauvinist I could say that now you have seen York Minster you can die happy. However, Chartres really is worth a visit - absolutely stunning.

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #33 on: March 25, 2019, 06:44:00 PM »
Hi,

Have been meaning to get back here for a while. We bought our plane tickets--three weeks in June-July. (saved about $500 on Norwegian vs Air France, even after adding luggage, priority boarding, seat assignments, meals) I am told the weather will be pretty nice then, and the really hot weather often happens in August. I would imagine it would be cooler on average in Brittany. As much as I love rain, I am hoping for not too much on this trip. We also just booked a great AirBNB in Paris very close to the Louvre.

We did find out that Chartes is an easy day train trip to/from Paris and there is Malcom Miller, who has been giving tours of the cathedral for 60+ years. We will definitely try to go on one of his tours, or maybe even book a private on in advance. We are also taking the train to Giverny and Reims on different days.

I am still really confused about the need for a car in St. Malo area and Carnac. I certainly understand the need for a car if exploring the countryside, but St. Malo area is quite touristy, and I'm told that cabs and busses (e.g., bus from ST. Malo to Mont St. Michel or to Dinan) are readily available. Still, some have said that a car is a "must" in St. Malo--but another very experienced travler in this area told us it is not! What am I missing here? I would not mind renting a car on our last day or two in St. Malo area, driving out west a bit to explore some beaches and towns. Then we will drive to Carnac or Vannes for our stay there. Any more thoughts on the rental car?

Also, we are now looking at lodging in Brittany, and some of the advice here--St. Lunaire, etc--sounds really great. We are trying to figure out how to divide our time in Brittany, and I think five nights in St. Malo area and three in Carnac would likely do the trick:

 We were thinking

Day 1: Dinan, St. Malo sightseeing

Day 2: MSM, followed by more wandering around, Cancale oysters

Day 3: Day trip to Guernsey (??)

Day 4: Drive out to the west and explore beaches, coastline

Then, drive to Carnac and have two days to explore the Menhirs, coastline, and maybe some time in Vannes.

Any suggestions? Thanks!
« Last Edit: March 25, 2019, 06:50:51 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline André

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #34 on: March 26, 2019, 05:13:59 AM »
If you rent a car, a side trip from Vannes to Guérande (a one hour drive) might be worth your while. Two of my cousins traveled the area and said it was one of the highlights of their stay in Brittany.

Offline Biffo

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Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #35 on: March 26, 2019, 05:41:11 AM »
Hi,

Have been meaning to get back here for a while. We bought our plane tickets--three weeks in June-July. (saved about $500 on Norwegian vs Air France, even after adding luggage, priority boarding, seat assignments, meals) I am told the weather will be pretty nice then, and the really hot weather often happens in August. I would imagine it would be cooler on average in Brittany. As much as I love rain, I am hoping for not too much on this trip. We also just booked a great AirBNB in Paris very close to the Louvre.

We did find out that Chartes is an easy day train trip to/from Paris and there is Malcom Miller, who has been giving tours of the cathedral for 60+ years. We will definitely try to go on one of his tours, or maybe even book a private on in advance. We are also taking the train to Giverny and Reims on different days.

I am still really confused about the need for a car in St. Malo area and Carnac. I certainly understand the need for a car if exploring the countryside, but St. Malo area is quite touristy, and I'm told that cabs and busses (e.g., bus from ST. Malo to Mont St. Michel or to Dinan) are readily available. Still, some have said that a car is a "must" in St. Malo--but another very experienced travler in this area told us it is not! What am I missing here? I would not mind renting a car on our last day or two in St. Malo area, driving out west a bit to explore some beaches and towns. Then we will drive to Carnac or Vannes for our stay there. Any more thoughts on the rental car?

Also, we are now looking at lodging in Brittany, and some of the advice here--St. Lunaire, etc--sounds really great. We are trying to figure out how to divide our time in Brittany, and I think five nights in St. Malo area and three in Carnac would likely do the trick:

 We were thinking

Day 1: Dinan, St. Malo sightseeing

Day 2: MSM, followed by more wandering around, Cancale oysters

Day 3: Day trip to Guernsey (??)

Day 4: Drive out to the west and explore beaches, coastline

Then, drive to Carnac and have two days to explore the Menhirs, coastline, and maybe some time in Vannes.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

Whenever I have been in this area I have been in a private car and couldn't contemplate doing it on public transport. Looking again at the Michelin route-finder, St Malo to Mont Saint-Michel is a distance of 48.6 km (1h  41m) by the shortest route). Personally, I think it would be prohibitively expensive by taxi).

I have stayed numerous times in the Auray area and we used to take the train to Rennes, Quimper and Nantes but have now given up as the frequency of the service has deteriorated. In the past we also went Dol to Rennes but I suspect the service is now pretty poor.

I don't want to sound too negative but apart from very local bus services public transport is a non-starter.