2 Weeks in England and France

Oct 28th, 2001, 04:09 PM
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2 Weeks in England and France

My husband and I will be traveling to England and France for 2 weeks in April. We have never been to either place. What itinerary would you suggest? We will fly into London and fly out of Paris. Any particular places to stay would be helpful also. We're are hoping to keep it between $100 to $150 a night. Thank you.
Oct 28th, 2001, 05:30 PM
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Regina - you really have to give us more info (or do more homework) You cannot "do" England and France in two weeks. You cannot "do" England in 2 weeks, and you cannot "do" France in 2 weeks. So, what are you interested in???

If you only have 2 weeks you will really probably be lucky to see London, Paris and a couple of day trips out of each. You won't have time for much else.
Oct 28th, 2001, 06:12 PM
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There are lots of England experts on here, I think, who can advise on that, but I would spend several of those days seeing some things outside of London so you don't just see big cities--I enjoyed Windsor Castle, Stratford on Avon and Blenheim Palace (and I've heard Bath is nice), but I came down from Edinburgh so it was easier to go through them before reaching London (and I was with someone else so didn't have to worry about transportation). NOt sure the best way to do those things on your own, but they aren't that far from London at all. As for Paris, I'd suggest you just stay in Paris the entire week and take a couple day trips outside of the city by train or something for variety, rather than moving around the countryside any.
Oct 28th, 2001, 06:40 PM
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Okay, I'll dissent - - and perhaps not lecture Regina on what homework she has or has not done. she has, after all, given us a frameowrk - - about the only thing(s) she hasn't said are:

1. Do you have reasons why you would prefer to split the two weeks unevenly? Do you have some personal reason to particularly want to visit Scotland, or Normandy or even Belgium, for example?

2. Are you particularly attracted to (or alternatively intimidated by)France? - - especially its countryside, where some familiarity with French language and/or culture might add to your enjoyment.

I'll assume that the answer to both questions is "No, not particularly".

In that case, I think that it is neither desirable nor necessary to make this two seven-night stays in two hotels. If you want to see England outside London and/or France outside Paris, then I recommend get OUT of the city, in one case or both. Not only will you find much cheaper lodging (or better, at the same price), you will have good reason to have a car - - and that can add so much to your flexibility, and to your opportunity to discover something on your own.

As to where outside London or Paris - - aye, well there's the rub. And now I will admit - - YOU have to do some reading, some investigating of what you think you might like. Ther really are too many choices for places to spend an enjoyable "base" period outside either city. Come back here and tell us what kinds of places you have liked (in the United States, for example) during previous travels - - and maybe we can help more. Example: ever been to Kennebunkport (Maine)? or Monticello (Virginia)? which did you like better? and why? Gettysburg (PA)? or Newport (RI)? The "why", of course, is much more important than the "which".

Best wishes,


Oct 29th, 2001, 02:54 AM
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Regina, I can't help with England (sorry), but I can give you tips about France.

Paris -- this is the basic list of things to see/do (depends on your tastes, naturally): Louvre, Notre Dame, Conciergie, St. Chappelle, Musee Cluny (Moyen Age), Napoleon's Tomb, Musee d'Orsay, Rodin Museum, Monmartre (just to walk around, the Dali museum is also there), Eiffel Tower and shopping (window or other).

From Paris you can go to Versailles (a day), Giverney, Tours (the Loire Valley's chateaus -- you can rent a taxi at the tourist office to take you around or go on an organized tour from there or Paris but make sure you see Chenenceau), Lyon, Dijon, even the Cote d'Azure (the TGV makes the trip in hours).

You can also go to Brussels for the day (but I'd expect rain and lots of it), and you MIGHT make Amsterdam if you're REALLY ambitious.

It does depend on what you want -- the real "touristy" tour? You want the "I'm going to sit at a cafe and absorb the French experience" tour? Something in between?
Oct 29th, 2001, 09:28 AM
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I agree with Rex Regina (sounds like a pop band, that does) - re: asking yourself some questions and then being a bit more specific with info. request. That will help those who would like to help you. Some questions I'd add to Rex's:
- any English/French movies or books you've loved? - might point you in direction of certain areas in England and France.
- when you think of England and France
what 'must see' items come to mind - i.e. Stonehenge, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, a castle with a moat, etc. Once you have a list of those, people here will be able to tell you whether they've found them worth seeing.
- are you and your husband outdoors kinds of people - love hiking and walking? - or do you enjoy the hustle and bustle of cities? Do you like to sleep in late (hotel) or be up early and have breakfast provided (B&B) or cook your own meals and come and go as you please (self catering cottage/gite)?
- are you prepared to drive or are you limited to train/bus travel?
- do you garden? love/hate museums? theatre? shopping? the sea? wonderful dining experiences? buying food you prepare at markets? crowds? being on your own? history? modern art?
You get the idea.
That's actually one of the great things about traveling. Not only can you learn a lot about other cultures, you can also learn a lot about yourself.
Oct 30th, 2001, 10:03 AM
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Thank all of you for your responses. I know I gave you no idea what I am looking for in our trip. Since we travel abroad so little (in fact, this will be a first), I want to be able to get a feel for the 2 great cities - London and Paris - and a feel for the countryside. We definitely want to see the highlights in London and Paris. We plan on seeing a couple of plays while in London - maybe staying 4 nights in London. Then we were thinking of taking the train to Bath and renting a car there to drive around for three days. We are planning on going to Bath, Cotswold area, Oxford (spending one night in each area). I would love to see a couple of castles and experience some quaint towns that are not tourists traps. We thought also about taking a plane from London to Nice and seeing that part of France for 3 nights, then taking the train to Paris for maybe 4 to 5 nights. We will fly back to the US from Paris. Does this sound like a good plan? Whatever recommendations you can give us, will be great. Bill and I are going as a celebration of 30 years of marriage!!
Thanks again.
Oct 30th, 2001, 11:02 AM
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Regina, with just two weeks for your vacation, you can either do a whirlwind tour or a slower one; either one will work, it'll depend on your stamina and philosophy...

Distances in English countryside aren't great, but the time is (wind-y country roads with one lane and a tractor in front of you, as an example). What I would suggest for a whirlwind is just what you've outlined: 3 days London, 4 days countryside, fly to Nice for 4 days, overnight train to Paris and 3 days in Paris.

More leisurely: 10 days in England, then 4 days in Paris OR 4 days in London, 10 days in France. With 10 days in one country, you can take the time to see the countryside and get a "feel" for it...and take the time to search out castles and markets and out-of-the-way places.

As others have said, make a list of what you'd like to see, not specifics but generalities. "Impressionist Art" means you want to go to the Musee d'Orsay; "hate modern art" means you'll skip the Tate Modern; if you find the Royal Family fascinating, you'll want to visit Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace; if you think Napoleon is an idiot, don't go to Malmaison...see where I'm going with this?

Also, go into a travel agency and get some brochures on escorted tours for France and/or England . It'll give you an idea what can be done in a day, how long it takes to get from one place to another, etc. It's a great way to sort of map out your own itinerary, using well-used routes for popular sites. One caveat: escorted tours can cover more ground because all the arrangements (hotel check-ins, transportation - like directions, meals, etc.) are done for you and well ahead of arrival, so don't think you can do the same on your own tour.
Oct 30th, 2001, 11:32 AM
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Elvira's suggestion to spend 10 days in engalnd and 4 days in Paris has plenty of merit. Only you can decide if you have a greater interest in things French than that.

If you do want to spend 7 days in France and 2-3 of those outside, then I think going all the way to Nice is an overshoot. You might want to take a look at some of the detinations offered by RyanAir - - www.ryanair.com - - (St. Etienne, Nimes or Dinard, for example) if you feel like you want an alternative destination without being so far away from Paris for your trip "back".
Oct 30th, 2001, 12:14 PM
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I suspect your idea to travel to Bath to pick up your rental car came from a Rick Steves suggestion. I hope you reconsider. Driving in Bath is a true nightmare - one way streets, pedestrian precincts, LOTS & LOTS of traffic, even some steep hills. I travel to the UK a couple of times a year and lived within an hour of Bath for five years. I drive everywhere and can get around Bath but it is a real struggle. So it is MUCH better to rent your car at Heathrow and then when you get to Bath use the Park and Ride lots on the outskirts of the city.

A good itinerary for your trip (with the Cotswolds/London and Paris) would be five nights in London (remember - the first day will be pretty much lost to jet lag, etc.) Then take the train to LHR and pick up the car. Then drive to Windsor (only 7 miles) tour the castle, then drive through Avebury and on to Bath. Stay one night in a village within 5 or so miles of Bath. Visit Bath the next day, then in the afternoon travel up to near Burford/Stow-on-the-Wold and stay 3 or 4 nights in a B&B. This is convenient to all of the Cotswolds.

Then drive back to LHR, turn in your car and either fly to Paris or go into London and take the Eurostar from Waterloo. This leaves either 4 or 5 nights in Paris depending on how long you stay in the Cotswolds.
Oct 30th, 2001, 01:50 PM
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My two-bits worth:
Day 1 - London - check in hotel, drop off bags, tube to Trafalgar Square, up Pall Mall, past Clarence House, Buckingham Palace, through St. James's towards Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, perhaps purchase tickets for plays you want to see (at theatres), eat/pint in a pub, hit the sack.
Day 2,3,4 (I'm with you re: 4 days in London, although there is lots to see you can always come back and it is a very expensive city) - my favourites: Courtauld Institute (Impressionists), Covent Garden, Harrods, Cabinet War Rooms, Picadilly Circus, National Portrait Gallery, boat ride on Thames, Hyde Park, British Museum, one of the markets - Bermondsey or Camden, Globe Theatre and for me I'd probably go to three plays, two evenings and one matinee. I'd miss Madame Tussaud's and all the American-type eateries, splurge on one ritzy meal and pub the rest.
Days 5,6,7 - Train to somewhere south of London to pick up rental car - Gatwick, Sevenoaks, Ashford, or Canterbury, then three days in Kent/E. Sussex countryside. While there see: Knole, Chartwell, Sissinghurst, Leeds, visit Rye, Canterbury, vineyards, Bluebell Steam Railway. Drop off car in Dover.
Days 8,9,10 - Hovercraft to France/Normandy. Pick up car in Calais. Drive through countryside, visit Fecamp on way to base at Honfleur. Visit D-day beaches, Giverney, Mont-St-Michel, Camembert, Pont l'Eveque, Trouville/Deauville, D-Day museum in Caen, Bayeux. Drive to Paris, drop off car at airport.
Days 11, 12, 13, 14 - Paris - Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, markets, restaurants, boat trip on Seine, maybe daytrip to Versailles.
Whatever you end up doing, great way to celebrate 30 years of marriage.
Oct 30th, 2001, 02:19 PM
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Mavis - the hovercrafts don't cross the channel any more . . . .

And while Kent and east Sussex are wonderful - Regina specifically mentioned Bath, the Cotswolds and Oxford. It isn't much help to steer her south when everyplace she mentioned is west of London!

Regina - IF you want to see the Cotswolds and Oxford, Janice's suggestions make a lot of sense. You don't need or necessarily want to stay in different places. Oxford/Blenheim/the Cotswolds, etc are very close to each other so you can stay a few days in one bed and breakfast and see them all. That is better than packing up each morning and moving on. Pick a B & B and then drive from it through the cotswolds, to Oxford (another place you should definitely use park&ride lots), to woodstock/Blenheim, and lots of other places.
Oct 30th, 2001, 02:50 PM
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Okay, all of you are so very helpful. Another question - Looking at the distances from Bath, to Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick castle, then going to Bleinheim Castle and Oxford, should we stay one night in Bath then find a B&B closer to Stratford for 2 nights to do the rest? I have found a B&B in Moreton-in-Marsh. Would that be a good location?
I'm still giving some thought to what you said about France. My husband in a Bond freak so he would really like to see the Mediteranean. Is that a bad idea to try to go to the Nice area then take a train or plane to Paris?
Oct 30th, 2001, 03:05 PM
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Regina: Moreton-in-Marsh is a fine location. It is within 30 minutes or less of Stratford, Warwick, Oxford, Blenheim and many, many Cotswold villages. You could say the same about several other villages - but if you have found a place you like in Moreton then go for it.

As for the Med - not really doable if you are going to see London, Paris, The Cotswolds, Bath, Stratford, Warwick, Blenheim and Oxford (Phew - that is a lot for just 2 weeks!)

Adding in the Mediteranean is like adding a whole other trip. Sort of like adding Chicago to a trip to SF and LA - you wouldn't recommend that to a visitor to the US and we won't recommend it to you. You are only dealing with two weeks here - not six. So don't try to bite off too much - even the simple itinerary suggested is an awful lot.

If you are more interested in the Mediteranean - then just go there and Paris and skip England all together. (That isn't what I am recommending because I think you'll love the Cotswolds - but if you want to go to the Med you are talking about an entirely different trip.)
Oct 31st, 2001, 12:24 PM
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Tom - Hoverspeed's Seacat then. Us older types tend to hang on to the original names of things. As to my recommendations to Regina I was responding to what she said at the end of her second post: 'Does this sound like a good plan? Whatever recommendations you can give us would be great!' I was taking her at her word, particularly as this is their first trip abroad. I was also under the impression that the purpose of this forum was to offer advice to fellow travellers, not pick apart other's advice with such profound statements as 'the Hovercraft doesn't cross the Channel' and Kent is south of London. I must have made your ego's day.
Regina - I hope you have a wonderful trip.

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