Wednesday, March 7, 2012

France and England on $98 a Day - Itinerary

Metro in Paris
Because David and I are heading this spring to some places off the usual tourist track, we've relied even more than usual on the Internet. We had to find mass transit to get to and from London and small towns in France with car rental offices. While we rely on public transportation in big cities, we are traveling much of the countryside in France where train and bus service is limited. We'll need a car.

Since we've always wanted to take the Eurostar which travels under the English Channel, we'll take that train to Paris after our overnight flight to London. It's possible to buy a ticket 120 days in advance, and the earlier the purchase the more the ticket is discounted. Buying our Eurostar tickets months in advance meant we saved 50% off the usual price!

We didn't want to rent a car in Paris and have to deal with traffic snarls, so we next had to find a small French town that was easily accessible from Paris. Vernon seemed to be the answer. It's only 45 minutes from Paris, easily reached by train, and is the gateway to Giverny where Monet's house and gardens are located. Starting our trip in such lush, inspirational surroundings will be an auspicious beginning we hope.

Driving the car to Brittany should be easy. After touring Giverny, we're heading to Dinan, one of the best preserved and still functioning medieval cities in France. Our rental house is within walking distance of the ancient town so we plan to park the car and explore on foot. We'll also take in as much of Brittany as we can on daily drives.

We follow that town with a trip to the countryside in Normandy. Our gite near Picauville and St. Mere Eglise will put David in the center of the battle area he longs to see. 

On our way to Calais where we'll turn in the car and catch the Eurostar back to London for a week, we drive up the coast with an overnight stop in Honfleur to see this coastline that is supposedly one of the most rugged and dramatic in Europe.

The week in bustling London should be an interesting contrast to the bucolic French countryside, but we are looking forward to every one of the 21 days we'll spend in this wonderful part of the world.

Practicalities -

We bought our return train tickets (from Calais, France, to London) from but we had to use Rail for the tickets from London to Vernon, France. I usually advise against using Rail because this American-based branch does not usually have as many routes and discounts as the British-based Rail But, since the American Rail Europe was able to supply us with Eurostar tickets and the tickets we needed to get from Paris to Vernon, it was worth the few extra dollars required.

In the past, we have rented cars from the major consolidators like Kemwel or AutoEurope, but we did not find the cheapest prices there this time. I would urge you to check all car dealers before making your choice. We saved hundreds of dollars with Avis because I joined their preferred customer class (free to sign up for this) and was assigned a Wizard number that saved a lot of money.

A gite was originally a somewhat simple, usually rural, cottage or barn conversion that cost much less than commercial accommodations. Today, however, many gites are quite comfortable, if not downright luxurious, apartments and houses; still the price is usually considerably less than comparable hotels.

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