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Seeking Diverse Experiences in Western France – Please Critique Itinerary!

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Hi, all!

I’ve developed a tentative plan for a 24-day trip to various parts of western France and would greatly appreciate your comments. My goal is to have a diverse range of experiences with cities and towns, different styles of art and architecture, varied natural scenery, etc. The trip is to occur this coming May, and I think I’m going to love it!

A bit about me: I enjoy art, architecture, museums, castles, churches, picturesque villages, relics/ruins, parks and gardens, natural scenery, brief stops in markets (mostly to take a few pictures), food and wine, and the chance to see and experience other parts of the world. I don't particularly like shopping, although I buy gifts for family and friends when I travel. I visited Paris once, many years ago, but have not been anywhere else in France. I’m a woman and will be traveling solo. I don’t speak French, but will do my best to learn at least a few basics before I go.

I think of an itinerary as a guideline, not a checklist or set of rules. I plan to reserve accommodations in advance, but am otherwise happy to change my plans in the face of whim or circumstance. Nonetheless, I don’t want to start with unrealistic plans. I think – hope! – this is an feasible, if ambitious, itinerary. I want to take full advantage of the time I have to see and experience things (except that I don’t like getting up at the crack of dawn). I don’t mind changing hotels every night or so. I’m not specifically seeking relaxation – I’m sure I’ll find relaxing over dinners sufficient for my needs.

I welcome any thoughts you have about this itinerary and ways to improve it.

Day 1 – overnight flight from the U.S. (east coast)

Day 2 – arrive in Paris mid-day

Days 3 – 7 – visit Paris, with a day trip to Chartres

Day 8 – Pick up a rental car in either Paris or Vernon and then visit Giverny, the Chateau Gaillard in Les Andelys, and possibly the Abbeye de Jumieges; overnight in Rouen

Day 9 – Visit Rouen and then move on to Honfleur

Day 10 – Visit Honfleur and Bayeux; reach Mont St. Michel in the early evening

Day 11 – Visit Mont St. Michel and (if time permits) Fougeres, reach Dinan in the early evening

Day 12 – Visit Dinan, St Malo (just to walk the ramparts), perhaps Dinard (for the view of St. Malo), Cap Frehel and Ploumanach (both brief stops to appreciate the views); reach Morlaix by early evening

Day 13 – Visit St. Thegonnec and Guimiliau, then Carnac; reach Vannes by early evening

Day 14 – Visit Vannes and (if time permits) Josselin, visit the tapestries in Angers; reach Fontevraud by early evening

Day 15 – Visit the Abbey in Fontevraud, then the Chateau de Chenonceau; reach Bourges by early evening

Day 16 – Visit Bourges, move on to Poitiers by early evening

Day 17 – Visit Poitiers and St. Savin; reach Domme (or another town in the Dordogne near there) by early evening (staying in Domme or nearby for 3 nights)

Day 18 (a Sunday) – Market in St. Cyprien, gabarre ride along the Dordogne, Beynac, Castelnaud, Les Milandes, and La Roque Gageac

Day 19 – the Vezere Valley — Les Eyziers de Tayac, Font de Baume, Village Troglodytique de la Madeline, La Roque St. Christophe, St. Leon sur Vezere, Lescaux II

Day 20 – Martel, Carennac, and Gouffre de Padirac; stay in Rocamadour

Day 21 – Figeac, drive along Cele River, and Pech Merle caves; overnight in (the controversial) St. Cirq Lapopie

Day 22 – St. Antonin Noble Val, Penne, Bruniquel, Cordes sur Ciel, and Castelnau de Montmiral; reach Albi by early evening

Day 23 – Visit Albi, go on to Toulouse mid-day (and spend the night there)

Day 24 – Flight from Toulouse to the U.S.

Thanks to all of you who have already shared information so generously on this forum and thanks in advance for any insights you can offer as I develop my plans.

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