Shearwin's in Europe 2015 travel blog

Our Napoleonic styled hotel

An original french invitation

A major tourist attraction in Rouen

Scars from the D Day landings

A modern day church in the heart of Rouen

Today marks the end of the UK leg of our trip and the start of our tour of Brittany.

Our bags were packed and I had settled our account with the hotel before we wandered down Gloucester Road for a light breakfast. It started to spit as we returned to the hotel to pickup our bags, departing for Gloucester Station at 0915hrs. As we were all departing via the Piccadilly line, but in different directions, we bade farewell to Jan in the tunnel and took our train to St Pancras station.

This is a modern very comfortable and busy terminal and our security and immigration clearances went smoothly. We did not have to wait long to board the 1101hrs Eurostar to Paris which is packed.

The trip was smooth and on arrival in Paris, we messed around at the terminal trying to purchase an RER ticket to pickup our car at CDG- you would think we had never been here before and completed the same process before!! We did however luck in with the 1500hr express train direct to the airport.

Finding Avis was frustrating but we eventually found them at Terminal 2F - the contractors instructions were poor. The pickup also included an element of confusion but we did eventually get away from the airport at 1615hrs.

We had planned to overnight on the way to Caen and decided on Rouen 150 km from CDG. The road north is a fast 130kph motorway and after 3 toll stops we reached Rouen at 1815hrs - an accident and heavy traffic across the top of Paris a retarding factor. We noted that the traffic returning into Paris along the motorway was horrendous for a Sunday evening; hopefully not the situation on a Monday afternoon when we return.

As we had not booked for the evening we checked into the first hotel, that looked reasonable and close to the old town. This turned out to be the Hotel Bonaparte, an old style family owned hotel, that has been a hotel for many a year and passionately managed. The dark red tonings and Napoleon memorabilia reflecting the owners allegiance to the man and his legend.

Our helpful host arranged car parking in the tightest underground car park ever; getting out will be fun. He also put us onto a restaurant nearby that he "swore by". We quickly settled in and wandered to the restaurant which had a magnificent old decor and furnishings that reflected strong patronage. Kaye had a salad and I had the Normandie Beef + local bottle of red ( nothing but French wines offered). Kaye was very happy, I less so as the meat was very coarse. Staff were good and an overall pleasant dinner.

After dinner we wandered the lovely old town of many grandiose cathedrals and churches. Also a number of very stately buildings including the Hotel De Ville and the Palais de Justice ( heavily riddled with ammunition marks from WW2). These dwarf the many heritage timber framed buildings that line the windy cobbled alleyways. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera and have planned to wander the streets early in the morning to capture. This divergence in our plans, initiated by Kaye's response to Brian Hewitt's impression of the city, has been a real positive.

After a wine in a pleasant restaurant, we returned in low late evening light and in bed by 2300hrs .

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