|From Paris we caught the train to Rouen then hired a car, headed west to the coast and then followed the coast south to St Malo. It was a wonderful week. The weather gods were 100% on our side (it started to cloud over for the first time as we got on the plane to leave). All of the trees were covered in blossoms and everything felt fresh and spring-like. We ate lovely food and stayed in pleasant hotels. The people were friendly. We savoured the lack of chain stores and the presence of individuality. The towns, the countryside and the coast (especially the cliffs of Étretat) were picturesque. The driving was easy (especially for Alex G, who did little of it). Standing where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake was intriguing, as was visiting the Rouen Cathedral with which Monet was fascinated. Seeing the number, size and majesty of the ruined abbeys put medieval religion in perspective. The Bayeux Tapestry was mind-boggling (and informative - we learnt some important English and French history). The battlegrounds, cemeteries and sites around the D-Day beaches were interesting. Mont St Michel could have been designed for the picture-postcard industry. The Barrage de la Rance between St Malo and Dinard is amazing, showing the power of the tide (literally - it's a 'megatidal' power plant) but also the limits of this kind of power (it's an enormous dam). And as a bonus, everything seems cheap when you've come from London. We could ask for nothing more. Except perhaps a hotel room in Paris with a toilet room big enough that you could close the door when using the facilities.
Our detailed itinerary (we highly recommend this trip) was:
Day 1: earlyish train from Paris to Rouen; afternoon and evening in Rouen
Day 2: pick up hire car; drive to Étretat via Abbey Route, then to Honfleur; late afternoon and evening in Honfleur
Day 3: drive from Honfleur via Trouville/Deauville to Bayeux; visit Bayeux tapestry, cathedral etc
Day 4: visit D-Day sites; overnight in Bayeux
Day 5: drive from Bayeux via Coutances to Mont St Michel then onto St Malo via Barrage de la Rance; overnight in St Malo
Day 6: visit Dinard; fly home