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Waze is free to download and use - so if you're tempted, you could always just download it to your current phone and "play" with it a bit. Then, when you get over here (if you get the data plan stuff worked out), you'll at least have a familiar voice and app to work with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Another related question: in general, for train travel, am I better off buying a ticket for a specific train in advance, or should I just show up on the day and time I want to travel and buy the ticket then?

I can't reserve a seat unless I travel first-class, correct? Or is that only in the UK? (Have only done train travel in the UK before, not in Europe.)

Or does all this vary by country, specific journey, etc.?
 

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When and whether to make a train reservation in advance can depend to quite a degree on when and where you are traveling. There are peak periods when you'll pay the top price for some tickets (say, weekends or just before a long holiday weekend) and there are off-peak times when you can get all sorts of discounts and deals or take advantage of discount cards. You must reserve a seat if you take a TGV. On a slower train you don't reserve your seat (or at least you don't have to). And, at the moment, the virus is playing havoc with train schedules as so many SNCF employees are out sick, so it can depend on the routes you're looking to travel and which trains are more likely to get cancelled if there are staff shortages.
 

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I'm not sure if I've missed a point here, but I presume Barb is flying from the USA. If that's right, I'd be renting a car straight away, and forget public transport. As Bev has just pointed out, there is a shortage of staff everywhere, including public transport, so that may well be unreliable. Although I'm not a great lover of driving long distances anymore, I think you'll enjoy the beauty of France, better from behind a steering wheel, and lets face it, America is massive, so its maybe not so daunting for Barb to get some miles in. Just a thought.(y)

If I've got that wrong about flying in, its the wine talking:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
I'm not sure if I've missed a point here, but I presume Barb is flying from the USA. If that's right, I'd be renting a car straight away, and forget public transport. As Bev has just pointed out, there is a shortage of staff everywhere, including public transport, so that may well be unreliable. Although I'm not a great lover of driving long distances anymore, I think you'll enjoy the beauty of France, better from behind a steering wheel, and lets face it, America is massive, so its maybe not so daunting for Barb to get some miles in. Just a thought.(y)

If I've got that wrong about flying in, its the wine talking:D
I'm actually starting from Copenhagen (was trying to keep it quiet since I know some people are horrified by the idea (!!) but I'm actually getting to Cophenhagen via a transatlantic cruise), and figured to fly to Brussels and go on from there, since I am a little intimidated by CDG and all the strikes that are constantly being threatened/done there as well as the nightmare stories I keep hearing about the time it sometimes takes to get through security etc. And then at the end of my holiday I was going to fly back to the US from Brussels as well.

So I could take a train from Brussels to my first couple of destinations, and then pick up a car along the way, which is what I thought I might do (thinking as of today of a train to Ghent, then to Bruges, then to Rouen, pick up car in Rouen...then at the end of the holiday return car to Rouen and train from there to Brussels.)

Would it make more sense to pick up/return the car in Brussels and skip the train altogether? My main concern is parking in Ghent/Bruges/Rouen--and in Brussels for the night before my flight--but if that isn't an issue then a car might make more sense. A lot of toll roads might also complicate things--not sure if my US credit cards will work on the toll roads, I had read things a couple years back about that being a problem because of the chip-and-pin thing.
 

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I'm actually starting from Copenhagen (was trying to keep it quiet since I know some people are horrified by the idea (!!) but I'm actually getting to Cophenhagen via a transatlantic cruise), and figured to fly to Brussels and go on from there, since I am a little intimidated by CDG and all the strikes that are constantly being threatened/done there as well as the nightmare stories I keep hearing about the time it sometimes takes to get through security etc. And then at the end of my holiday I was going to fly back to the US from Brussels as well.

So I could take a train from Brussels to my first couple of destinations, and then pick up a car along the way, which is what I thought I might do (thinking as of today of a train to Ghent, then to Bruges, then to Rouen, pick up car in Rouen...then at the end of the holiday return car to Rouen and train from there to Brussels.)

Would it make more sense to pick up/return the car in Brussels and skip the train altogether? My main concern is parking in Ghent/Bruges/Rouen--and in Brussels for the night before my flight--but if that isn't an issue then a car might make more sense. A lot of toll roads might also complicate things--not sure if my US credit cards will work on the toll roads, I had read things a couple years back about that being a problem because of the chip-and-pin thing.
Sorry Barb, I cant help with that, but there will be someone on here who'll know.
I get a angst, I really do, its a different world after all, even for a brit like me, but you seem more intrepid so I reckon you'll be fine.
As far as hitting deadlines for transport, we just get and AirB&B in the local area, not necessarily close by, in fact sometimes a half hour drive away so that we have parking and then get up in time, to do it, without worrying about missing appointments.

Sorry you had to expose yourself, if you know what I mean:)
 

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I've visited various parts of Brittany over the past few years, and found a car to be a necessity. It started around Perros-Guirec and the granite coast (spectacular rocks/ocean), which was absolutely beautiful, especially the beaches and coastline around Trégastel which had a beautiful coloured ocean. A boat trip out to the Sept Îles with the bird life and old fort is also a must. If you're in that area, I highly recommend a day trip to Île-de-Bréhat, one of the first protected pieces of land since the early 1900's, so remains unspoiled and explorable within a day.

Saint Malo certainly stood out. Driving in, and not sure where I was going, the outskirts were disappointing, but once you hit the fortified old town you begin to understand the charm. A little too busy for my liking though, and inhabited by wealthy Parisian second-home owners as I understand it.

Finistère was also amazing, some nice beaches and walking (albeit precarious) along some of the coastal routes, with the most beautiful of views. Concarneau was a nice visit, but a bit further along from where I was hanging out.

I was in Morbihan last year, and it was the least favourite of my visits. It took a while to realise that coast and beaches were not on the same level, and that to appreciate the area you have to go inland and visit the towns and villages. The famous Carnac was a great disappointment - all fenced off, and rather bland, but some of the nearby forests had that Brittany magic and their own assortments of megaliths and dolmens which were far more impressive. The medieval towns are clean and lively, although not radically different to what I have on my doorstep. Rochefort-en-Terre particularly stood out to me, and if you get a chance to visit and see the 'Naia gallery' in the ruined part of the castle, don't hesitate to pay it a visit!
Vannes is worth a visit as is Josselin. Belle-Île-en-Mer,is a little pricey to visit, but I got there early and grabbed the buses to visit some of the prime locations,none of which disappointed.
 

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there as well as the nightmare stories I keep hearing about the time it sometimes takes to get through security etc. And then at the end of my holiday I was going to fly back to the US from Brussels as well.
While I'll admit that CDG is NOT my favorite airport by a long shot, it isn't usually a "nightmare" like some would have you think. Security is impacted by the same things as in the States - bad weather, staff shortages, etc. But if you're thinking about moving to France for the long haul you might as well get used to maneuvering through and around the strikes (though they are not nearly as frequent as they used to be 20 years ago or so).

I would avoid having a car in any of the big cities - Brussels, Paris, etc. - but train out to Rouen or wherever strikes your fancy and pick up a car and drive from there. Parking in the smaller towns in Normandy and Bretagne shouldn't be all that much of a hassle other than weekends in high tourist season. But being on holiday means you can work around that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
I get a angst, I really do, its a different world after all, even for a brit like me, but you seem more intrepid so I reckon you'll be fine.
I don't think I'm that intrepid. Everything will be fully (or almost fully) refundable and if the virus situation looks scary when it's time to leave on the cruise, I'll cancel the whole thing.

The thing that worries me most is driving in bigger cities and finding parking there! One of the few things I wish I had a husband for--but since I'd only appreciate a husband when he's driving or finding parking, or killing spiders or lifting heavy things or doing stuff like fixing plumbing or installing new light fixtures, it doesn't seem worth the tradeoff! Clearly I've gotten old and cynical! :D
 

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I don't think I'm that intrepid. Everything will be fully (or almost fully) refundable and if the virus situation looks scary when it's time to leave on the cruise, I'll cancel the whole thing.

The thing that worries me most is driving in bigger cities and finding parking there! One of the few things I wish I had a husband for--but since I'd only appreciate a husband when he's driving or finding parking, or killing spiders or lifting heavy things or doing stuff like fixing plumbing or installing new light fixtures, it doesn't seem worth the tradeoff! Clearly I've gotten old and cynical! :D
Proper funny that:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

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We moved to Brest six months ago and we absolutely love the coast of Finistere. We've barely touched the possibilities, but have covered the coast from Brest to Roscoff pretty well. It is all pretty amazing. It is so different than what I'm used to living on West/East Coast of USA. Definitely get a car. We found almost zero traffic driving around in August. Expected it to be crowded, but by our measure it was deserted. A lot of the interior driving we did wasn't that interesting at times, so we tried to stick to the coast. Figuring out where to go isn't too hard because if you just look at Google Maps you'll see all the places with a mix of big beaches and rocky coastlines. Renting a manual is a lot cheaper (usually) than an automatic and there is more supply. We rented with Eurocar, but I'm sure there are lots of options. I think the further West you go in Brittany, the fewer expats you'll run into (which seems a plus/minus for some people). We have a home now in Le Conquet and I think there are a handful of Brits and Americans there. For us, that's a nice mix as we want to integrate with the locals primarily (if they let us!)
I fell in love with Le Conquet!!
 
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