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Driving in Normandy

Meaford
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Driving in Normandy

We are contemplating renting a car in Normandy for a few days and driving around to various attractions and sites. We also will be visiting the Canadian cemetery just south of Caen. How's the driving in this area and can.we get a flight out of the Caen area to go to Florence or do we need to come back to Paris?

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Driving in Normandy

it is easy rural driving -- and the best way to see these towns. you do have to understand the restrictions for driving in small towns and know how to locate parking. we loved our 5 days driving around the area and wish we had had more time. you can see our visit to Etretat here which was something I discovered sort of last minute and added to our itinerary -- it was a very cool place in a trip with lots of great places (Bayeux Tapestry was another surprise; more interesting than I expected) …wordpress.com/2013/…

I would think you would need to come back to Paris to get a flight to Florence. We used Easyjet (Pisa airport) a couple of years ago for a flight between Orly and Pisa. Would definitely recommend it. It cost us $150 including luggage fees for two people. It helps to book well ahead. And be sure to carefully read the luggage restrictions -- they are similar to more expensive legacy carriers BUT you have to comply absolutely with weight and number restrictions. We had no trouble with that, but we saw people who didn't understand that buying two bags in the hold did not double your weight allowance (which is 20 kg) or that 'one carry on' mean ON, not a bag and a purse. Pisa is easily connected to Florence by train and is considered a Florence airport for booking purposes.

Oslo, Norway
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2. Re: Driving in Normandy

Driving in Normandy is no problem at all. As long as you are not driving long distances, I would advise to stay off the freeways, the smaller roads are so much nicer. A good road map is essential for planning your itinerary, even if you have a GPS in your car.

It is possible to get a flight from Caen to Orly and from Orly to Florence, Air Hop flies from Caen to Orly and Vueling and Iberia flies from Orly to Florence. But, you may have a hard time finding corresponding flights. The flight search engines don't seem to work well for this itinerary. It may be easier to take a train from Caen to Gare Saint-Lazare and transfer to CDG or Orly for a flight to Florence. Air France has flights from CDG to Florence and Pisa at prices competitive with the economy airlines.

San Diego
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3. Re: Driving in Normandy

<<you do have to understand the restrictions for driving in small towns>>

It is lovely & easy driving through this area, but the above is key.

This site spells out a lot of things to know; pay special to the section (toward the bottom) about speed laws and figuring it out when it changes as you approach and exit towns.

http://about-france.com/travel.htm

Meaford
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4. Re: Driving in Normandy

Thanks everyone for the good driving tips and advice on flights and connections.

Essex
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5. Re: Driving in Normandy

There are flights from CDG and Orlu to Florence...

Them's your nearest bets....

…firenze.it/images/pdf/Orario_Generale/ORARI…

Calgary, Alberta
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6. Re: Driving in Normandy

We drove Paris-Dieppe-Vimy Ridge-Epernay-Paris a few years ago, and are planning to repeat the trip with our kids this spring. We drove on all kinds of roads, and it was not a problem at all. As a matter of fact, we were impressed at how "well mannered" French drivers were compared to their North American counterparts. 😉

One thing we found invaluable was renting a car with GPS!

Chateaurenard...
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7. Re: Driving in Normandy

If you want to avoid Paris you can fly from Beauvais to Pisa on Ryanair. Watch their baggage restrictions & charges. On this airline you must check in & print your own boarding card before you get to the airport. There is a direct train from Pisa airport to Florence taking about 1 hour or less.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Driving in Normandy

Don't forget to get your International Driving Permit (IDP) from your Automobile Association before leaving home. It is legally required in France.

Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: Driving in Normandy

You won't have any problems driving in France because Canadians drive on the same side of the road. I spent many weeks driving around this part of France and the Loire Valley - on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road.

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Driving in Normandy

The airport in Caen has direct flights to Lyon and I believe that you can pick up a nonstop to Florence from there. I did the reverse flight (Lyon to Caen) earlier this year on Hop, which is a budget carrier affiliated with Air France. Like EasyJet & RyanAir, Hop has strict rules on carryon luggage and there's a surcharge for checked luggage, which is cheaper if paid in advance than when you check in.

In terms of driving, as others have said, it's not at all complicated. Go for it.