Guest Notes for Episode 413: Travel Fast and Slow in Brittany and Paris

Categories: Normandy & Brittany, Paris

Discussed in this Episode

  • Mont Saint Michel
  • Saint Malo
  • Mussels and Fries
  • The Catacombs
  • The Rodin Museum
  • The Cluny Museum and the Lady and the Unicorn

Favorite Activities

  1. Visiting the Mont Saint-Michel
  2. Visiting Saint Malo
  3. Catacombs
  4. Rodin Museum
  5. Cluny Museum
  6. Seeing the standing stones in Carnac with an ebike
  7. Visiting Merlin’s tomb and the fountain of youth

A Few Negative Points

Not really fun per se, but I was nursing an infection in my toe while I was traveling and I managed to communicate with a pharmacist in Nantes to purchase something to help! Everywhere in Brittany, people were more likely to respond to me in French when I spoke to them. It was challenging but fun! I managed this, as well as to call a taxi in Saint Malo.

Maybe we should have anticipated this, but our twin bed hotel rooms mainly had the twin beds placed RIGHT next to each other so it was almost like sharing a bed. The room in Paris was different but I just think it’s something folks should be aware of.

The ebike rental in Carnac was sold as more of a tour but we essentially just got bikes. We had to ask for directions about which way we should go and there was no list or guide of places to go. Their lunch break also went until 3p so we had less time than expected.

The Rodin and Cluny museums were both really warm! We expected them to be heavily air conditioned to the collections and thought they would be good options in the heat but it wasn’t the case.

Got on the wrong TGV train when we were making our connection in Rennes. It might have been our fault because it was a short connection but there didn’t seem to be good signage. There were two trains leaving around the same time and we chose wrong. We were able to talk to someone and they got us seats so it worked out though.

Hotels

We stayed in a different hotel for the first three nights in France, which wouldn’t be my first choice. Traveling that much meant we spent more time in transit than enjoying each space. We enjoyed the places we went but I would cut it down so we could experience more.

Le Diana in Carnac. Right on the water; easy, reasonable parking charge. Had a pool and a space although we didn’t use them. Easy walking distance to shops/restaurants. Comfortable beds. Breakfast was pricey and we didn’t eat there, although you might want to because there were VERY few places open. We ended up eating at a tabac that had some diner-type tables. Cheap but nothing special.

Hotel des Marins in Saint Malo. Close to restaurants and shops, comfortable beds.

Hotel Clairefontaine in Paris (14th). This was the most charming of the hotels we stayed in, AND the beds actually had some space between them. We also stayed for three nights which was a relief after moving so quickly for the first part of our trip. There was a nice courtyard in the middle and there was seating on every floor outside the rooms. Not a huge fan of this arr. but the price was good. No a/c, but that was our fault. We were there for a heat wave, so we really missed it!

Restaurants

Le Grissini in Carnac. Italian food, but we had a really great late lunch for a reasonable price. I had a bruschetta appetizer and then a half pizza with salad for my meal and it was way too much food, but delicious!

La Poele a Crepe in Carnac. Savory and sweet crepes. We had buckwheat crepes for dinner and then sweet ones for dessert, with a pitcher of cider to split. Really really good food although there seemed to be only one person who could input orders which led to a bit of a delay. They sold jars of salted caramel that I wish I had bought!

Cocotte in Paris. We came here twice for breakfast. Standard fare, but my cousin like the coffee there better than other places and it only cost 8 Euro.

Le Perraudin in Paris. I had the French onion soup, which was okay. My French friend chose better, his little raviolis were super good!

La Grille Montorgueil in Paris. I was on a mission to have some duck confit and they delivered. Not as good as I’ve had before but somewhere else told me no duck this time of year? The chocolate mousse MORE than made up for the somewhat dry duck. Seriously, if it was a man I would have taken off all my clothes and made love to it!

Recommendations

Revolut is an app my cousin recommended to me and it worked really well. You connect a bank account using a debit card and deposit funds into your Revolut account. I had a virtual debit card with them although my cousin had a physical one; not sure the process for doing that. It was super easy to exchange money within the app, as well as to split a bill with someone so you can just use one card at the restaurant/shop/museum. I used my phone to pay contactless most places and it was seamless! Highly recommend it. The only time we didn’t use it was buying TGV tickets, which my cousin said we needed a card with a PIN for so he used his Irish card.

I bought an eSIM through Orange for my trip for data. It was $35 for 15GB to use over 2 weeks, which is way less than you would pay with most US cell providers. It was very easy to set up and I just set my normal number to not use data roaming so I wouldn’t pay those charges from my regular cell provider. I did get some text messages on my normal line while I was over there that I responded to but I don’t seem to have incurred charges for those (at least not yet). Much easier than using a pin to change my SIM and worrying about losing it during the trip! You can register your Orange number if you want to keep it; I didn’t.

My cousin and I made a Google sheet for trip planning. We could keep track of our itinerary by day, include pictures and links to remind us what things were, and save tickets as separate pages in the document. It was a good way to keep track of things when multiple people were involved because we were always working off the most up to date document.

 

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Categories: Normandy & Brittany, Paris