France

A nice travel in Brittany, Normandy and Alsace beautifull France region.

Itinerary France
Itinerary France

Saturday 11 August 2007 We left
early (6.10am) from Vicenza and spent most of the day in the car with the aim of getting as close as possible to Chambord, the first destination of our trip to France. The general idea is to visit a couple of the famous castles of the Loire valley, then move to Brittany, pass through Normandy and return to spend a few days in Alsace, a region known to Eric for frequent business trips to  Socomec .
The trip to Italy is good except for an hour of waiting at the Mont Blanc tunnel. In France construction near Geneva slowed us down further, another hour in queue. But considering we left on an exodus Saturday, we can’t complain. The weather is gray and cool.
This is the first trip in which Eric’s legendary Fiat Punto no longer accompanies us, after 180,000 honored kilometers it has been replaced by a diesel family Ford Focus.
We arrive in  Bourges  and decide to spend the night in the Robinson Municipal Camping; beautiful shaded pitches bordered by hedges, old but clean bathrooms. After dinner we walk to the city center (10 minutes from the campsite); we witness a particular show of lights and sounds traveling between the city gardens and monuments, very suggestive. Cathedral  is noteworthy.

Camping Municipal de Bourges Robinson (€ 11.5)
26 boulevard de l’Industrie
18000 Bourges
Tel. +33 (0) 2 48 20 16 85
Fax +33 (0) 2 48 50 32 39
http: //www.ville- bourges.fr/tourisme/camping.php

Sunday 12th August 2007
We calmly get up and head north, the weather is not the best, but as the hours pass it improves. We arrive in  Chambord , the most famous and largest castle in the Loire. The exterior of the castle is very beautiful and imposing, in contrast to the interior which is bare and with little furniture. Unfortunately, it is Sunday and there are a lot of people …
The double helix staircase is interesting, some would like to attribute it to the genius of Leonardo. You can go up and down without ever meeting… The park around the castle is very large and well kept. It was originally the king’s hunting lodge.
We move to the castle of  Chenonceau, smaller but definitely prettier. The building built on the bank of the Cher juts out into the water. The interiors are very rich and well cared for. The small brouchure, included in the price of the entrance ticket, is excellent and explains in an exhaustive manner the interior of the castle. The two side gardens are splendid, full of flower beds. Also nice is the labyrinth of the park. We spend the night in the anonymous Ibis hotel in Tour.

Ibis Tours Nord (€ 60.4 for two)
318 bis, avenue Maginot CC La Petite Arche
37100 Tours
Tel. +33 (0) 2 475 43 220
Fax +33 (0) 2 474 16 717
http://www.ibishotel.com/

Monday 13 August 2007
We head towards the coast, towards  Vannes . The town is very beautiful and lively, it is definitely worth a stop. It consists of a series of streets that intertwine forming small squares, here and there you will find the typical ones and not  creperie. The Italian gardens under the boundary walls are a perfection of shapes and colors.
From Vannes we move to  Carnac , where we drive along a stretch of road that runs alongside the famous monilites; there are so many! We spend the night in  Douarnenez  in the municipal campsite where it will rain all night. Tired of the rain and the famous Breton weather  from now on we will look for less “humid” solutions …

Camping Municipal du Bois d’Isis (€ 10.7)
Avenue du Bois d’Isis, Tréboul
29100 Douarnenez
Tel. +33 (0) 2 98 74 05 67
Fax +33 (0) 2 98 74 39 26

Tuesday, August 14, 2007 We
dismantle the tent under a continuous rain and go to  Locronan . Despite the bad weather we quickly visit the town famous for having preserved a medieval aspect. The water “keeps going down” even as we visit  Quimper . The city is very lively and revolves around the cathedral. The succession of flower-filled bridges and wooden houses is beautiful. Finally in  Concarneau  the rain gives us a respite. The historic center is a fortified island in the center of the port; definitely busy! Before evening the weather worsens again and the water drops copiously… We will sleep this, and the following night, at the Manoir de Pors Lazou, a beautiful isolated riding school in the middle of the Breton countryside.

Chambre d’Hotès Manoir de Pors Lazou (38 € for two with breakfast)
Philippe et Béatrice Simon
Pors Lazou – Ploudiry
+33 (0) 2 98 25 16 04
philippe.simon455@orange.fr
http://www.clevacances.com

Wednesday 15 August 2007
Today we are dedicated to visiting the cliffs: first stop  Point du Raz . the landscape is really beautiful. Maybe € 6 to park is too much … We got out of the car and walk along a path above the cliff; with an infernal wind that makes us feel even more the grandeur and strength of the Atlantic Ocean.
At Point du Van we eat a picnic overlooking the sea in the company of a multitude of sea birds .
Once in the car we reach Morgat and Crozon but there is nothing interesting to visit. We then continue to  Camaret sur Mer  and visit a small church located on the port of the town. Inside the church there are oars, buoys, model boats, votive gifts of old sailors. Nearby is  Pointe du Penhir : the landscape is majestic, the ocean inspires fear and respect. In our opinion, this cliff, although less famous than the previous ones visited, is the most beautiful and fascinating.
We dine very well based on fish (40 € for two) in  Camaret sur Mer , in the restaurant “Le Langoustier” recommended by the legendary  Lonely Planet .

Chambre d’Hotès Manoir de Pors Lazou

Thursday 16 August 2007
We visit some of the Breton parish complexes  :  Lampaul, Guimiliau  and St. Thegonnec. The external greyness contrasts with the somewhat baroque style of the altars and altarpieces. Of the three the most popular is that of St. Thegonnec for its large and articulated structure. We dedicate some time to visit  Morlaix , a town with very lively streets and particular wooden houses. We are struck by the ceiling of the Eglise Saint Melain, completely painted with a starry sky. We eat on a beautiful beach with a picnic area in Saint Eflam. Time grants us a respite and a beautiful sun warms us. During the whole trip to Brittany and Normandy the temperature was between 15 and 20 ° C without ever exceeding 25 ° C.
In the afternoon we visit  Treguier with the imposing cathedral. Back in the car we head to  Dinan . After finding a room in the Abele Village near Buet we have dinner in Dinan in the “Café terrasses” seafood restaurant (€ 33.80 for two). The restaurant, also reviewed by Lonely Planet, is located in the old port, a very suggestive area swarming with people, in the evening the lights of the restaurants reflect on the water of the Rance creating a romantic atmosphere.

Chambre d’Hotès Village Abele – near Buet (34 € for two with breakfast)

Friday 17 August 2007
La Chambre d’Hotes the previous evening did not have a bathroom in the room, so we go to the information office in Dinan to find more comfortable accommodation. With 2 € the tourist office will book us a chambre d’hotès at M.me Mallet, a beautiful residence surrounded by a well-kept garden inhabited by the elderly owner and her dog.
We visit Dinan, it is really nice. The city stands on a small hill, surrounded by walls. The cobbled streets strike us, full of wooden houses and characteristic shops. We also go up to the Tour de l’Horloge (the Clock Tower) from which you can enjoy the panorama of the entire city.
We leave Dinan and move to the Côte de Penthièvre  and we visit  Cap Frehel ; an incredible variety of yellow, green and lilac flowers and bushes contrast with the blue of the sea and the sky … truly splendid ! Fort la Latte
stands next to the promontory  , a castle that can be visited, well kept and with a spectacular location.
We return to Lanvallay and taking advantage of the available kitchen we cook excellent fish bought the same day.

Chambre d’Hotès M.me Mallet (€ 45.8 for two with breakfast)
Bel Air
22100 Tressaint, Lanvallay
Tel. +33 (0) 2 96 39 44 22

Saturday 18 August 2007
We get up early and go to “ Le Mont St. Michel “, the view is very impressive: the mountain appears in front of us with the abbey perched on top. The tide is low and signs indicate that it will not reach the road: it is therefore not a problem to leave the car in the parking lot. On the one hand we are sorry, observing this singular phenomenon would have been very interesting, but from another point of view, you can calmly visit the abbey without having to run away to move the car. All the local newspapers, posters and free brochures indicate the tide times , which change throughout the year. There are few days in the year, in which all the parking lots are covered by the sea.
We hurriedly walk the only road on the island that leads to the abbey. It is 8.50 am and we queue for the visit. In the central hours of the day the amount of people present does not allow you to visit the mountain decently. We buy the ticket and the audio guide. The interior is bare because in the period in which the abbey was used as a prison, the furniture and ornaments were destroyed. The structure, however, is impressive, it is difficult to think how man could have built on such an impervious terrain. In addition to the abbey there is not much else to visit, you can climb the walls and NOT buy souvenirs in the expensive shops along the main street. Leaving the mountain we pass through  Cancale, famous for its oyster farms, the largest in France. We follow the coastal road, we stop at Pointe du Grouin to observe the spectacular nature. The green of the water is phenomenal! The afternoon is dedicated to visiting the city of  St. Malo , a tourist resort completely surrounded by fortified walls. It is worth stopping and taking a tour of the ramparts and the various crowded and lively streets. The cathedral is also beautiful: the bright colors of the stained glass windows are striking in contrast to the darkness of the church. Also this evening we cook excellent fish.

Chambre d’Hotès M.me Mallet

Sunday 19th August 2007 We
leave Brittany, the first stop in Normandy is  Granville  but it doesn’t tell us much apart from a splendid sausage sandwich bought in the local market. We move to  Coutances  and visit the cathedral which strikes us above all for the external structure which has a strange octagonal tower and various arches. We also wander around the pretty public gardens, with oddly shaped flower beds and a small miniature lighthouse that actually works. Reached  Bayeux we go around the historic center and here too we visit the cathedral. Reminiscent of Coutances Cathedral, albeit much more impressive. Thanks to the tourist office, we find a room in Campigny at the Ferme de Fontenay. Before reaching the chambre d’hotès, we visit the remains of the German coastal post from the Second World War in Longues sur Mer. You can walk among the remains of the casemates with the powerful cannons and observe the wide beaches where the famous landing took place on the day of the D-day on June 6, 1944. From here you can also see some of the concrete caissons used to build the artificial port. by  Arromanches .
Arriving at the “Ferme de Fontenay” we positively discover that the room is very nice, clean and tastefully furnished by the young owners. The structure, created in the family farm, consists of 4 bedrooms with bathrooms with a kitchen and a common room. The breakfast is very abundant enriched with homemade desserts prepared by the owner.

Ferme de Fontenay (€ 44 for two with breakfast)
Eric et Carole Gibert
Hameau de Fontenay
14490 Campigny
Tel. / Fax +33 (0) 2 31 21 71 95
http://gibert.eric.free.fr/

Monday 20 August 2007
We dedicate the day to visit the places of the landing in Normandy. Let’s start with Pointe du Hoc. The ground is still littered with craters formed by Allied bombs… It seems incredible that in this quiet place surrounded by the green of nature, some of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War took place. This German post was a strategic landing target. From here the guns could sweep the beaches of Utah and Omaha… With heavy casualties at the beginning of the d-day, some fellow rangers climbed the sheer cliffs to seize the casemates. We move on to Omaha beach and the American cemetery of  Colville sur Mer . The view is lost in the infinity of white crosses… it is impressive.
We end the day at the  Memorial de Caen , a museum that documents the Second World War and other conflicts of the twentieth century. The video on D-Day is interesting, which summarizes the landing and the path of the allies, at the beginning of the liberation of France from German occupation.
For the record: it is the second day of practically continuous rain.

Ferme de Fontenay

Tuesday 21 August 2007
Tired of bad weather and rain we decide to change our itinerary and instead of continuing north we go directly to  Rouen . The historic center, although small, is really nice: there are many wooden houses, shops  and people who come and go. What is most striking is the large medieval clock (Gros Horloge) full of allegorical figures. We also visit the cathedral, impressed several times by Cluade Monet.
We move to Reims, which apart from the famous cathedral, really beautiful and worth visiting, has nothing else of interest. We have dinner at  Flunch , a self service with an excellent quality price, near the Etap hotel where we spend the night.

Etap Hotel (43 Euro)
Et Reims Thillois
Parc Millésime – RN 31
51370 Thillois
Tel. +33 (0) 8 92 68 08 73
Fax +33 (0) 3 26 84 11 78
http://www.etaphotel.com

Wednesday 22nd August 2007
We wake up again under a gray sky and a continuous rain… Today we have to go a little way to reach Alsace where we will spend the last days of our vacation. As we get closer the weather improves. We begin our visit to the region with the city of  Colmar . The atmosphere immediately appears very different from the Breton and Norman towns, much more sunny and lively, it does not seem real to feel the heat of the sun on the skin. The houses are very beautiful, all with exposed beams in dark wood and painted in bright colors, which we will discover to be a feature of the region. The miniature copy of the Statue of Liberty in New York is striking, reproduced here as the author was originally from the city. We visit  Kaysersberg  and then we reach the Jenny hotel in  Kintzheim  where we reserved a room for three nights.
Moving from village to village we see many storks, on the roofs of the houses, on the churches, they are the symbol of Alsace.
In the evening we have dinner at “ La Halle Aux Blés ” (€ 42.6 for two), an excellent Alsatian restaurant in  Obernai  based on Choucroute and Baekeoffe.

Hôtel Restaurant Jenny (€ 41.5 for two)
39, rue de la Liberté
67600 Kintzheim
Tel. +33 (0) 3 88 82 17 06
Fax +33 (0) 3 88 82 70 40
contact@hotelrest-jenny.fr
http : //www.hotelrest-jenny.fr/

Thursday 23 August 2007
We begin the day with a visit to  Strasbourg , the main city of Alsace. The cathedral with its stained glass windows and spiers is magnificent. We visit the city, following a route, proposed in a guide purchased at the tourist office, next to the cathedral. We are struck by the covered bridges, which cross the canals that surround the old city, the towers and the various streets and squares that are always very lively. The number and types of restaurants are impressive, highlighting the cosmopolitan air of the city. In the afternoon we walk among the buildings of the European Community, the most beautiful and majestic is the  Parliament of Europe . In the evening we have dinner with Joel and Muriel where we eat a very good typical Alsatian cake with plums (tarte aux quetsches).

Jenny Hotel

Friday 24th August 2007
We dedicate the first part of the morning to visit the castle of  Haut Koenigsbourg,  kept very well, thanks to the numerous restorations. We follow the path indicated with the aid of audio guides, perhaps too verbose. The fortress is very beautiful, both inside and outside and gives an idea of ​​what life could have been like in the past.
Leaving the castle we walk along the  Rue de Vin , meeting  Ribeauville  and  Riquewihr  two beautiful villages full of life and very colorful. We arrive in  Eguisheim , but in comparison to the last two countries it disappoints us. We close the afternoon in the Cora shopping center in Colmar, where we do a large shopping of Alsatian products.
We have dinner in our hotel, the restaurant is famous for its typical regional cuisine; we stuff ourselves with “Tarte Flambé”, a kind of pizza with cheese cream, onion and bacon, truly splendid!

Jenny Hotel

Saturday 25th August 2007
After buying the last croissants and a baguette we leave Kintzheim at 9.10. We want to avoid Switzerland and Milan, we plan to pass through Germany above Lake Constance, through Austria and enter Italy via the Brenner Pass. In Germany we lose an hour in a queue caused by cleaning jobs, absurd on a summer Saturday … On
reaching Italy, however, as expected, we find various queues, which we will decide to avoid by traveling along secondary roads and streets. After a pizza we finally arrive home at 21.22.

Useful information:
You will always find at least one bakery (boulangerie) always open in the village, even on Sunday.
Fuels in shopping malls cost much less (0.1-0.2 Euro / liter), much more on the motorway.
Motorways in France are very expensive (in Brittany most are free). If you are not in a hurry, the state roads are quite fast and comfortable.
The weather in Normandy and Brittany changes very very fast!
In tourist places during the week end, in August, it is difficult to find accommodation. We recommend that you use the tourist offices, with a couple of euros they book rooms or hotels for you, or you can find online the one that’s right for you.
Beware of speed limits! Always respect them, France is littered with speed cameras.
In the north of France there are many rooms for rent (Bed and Breakfast), usually referred to as “Chambre d’Hotès”. “Gites de Frances” are apartments which are rented for at least a week.

Total kilometers traveled:  5186 Km  in 15 days


Maps, guides & useful bibliography:
Michelin n. 989 – FRANCE – 1: 1.000.000
Michelin – Atlas Touristique – France 2007 – 1: 200.000
Touring Club Italiano – Road Atlas of Europe – 1: 900.000
Maps and brochures of the cities visited distributed free of charge by the tourist offices
Chambre d’Hotes lists distributed free of charge from the tourist offices

Lonely Planet – EDT – BRITAIN and NORMANDY 1st edition 2005
Le Guide Mondadori, Corriere della Sera – FRANCE
Kraichgau Verlag GmbH – ALSACE – Italian Ed.

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