2 weeks in France - December

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Nov 4th, 2014, 07:49 AM
  #1
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2 weeks in France - December

Hi all,
I know it is still early, but together with my wife we would like to visit France in December 2015, for 2 weeks (first 2 weeks) and would like to check which locations should I base myself in. I will fly in and out of Paris, flying in early so I can go to my primary base on the same day, but I would like to leave the last 6 days for Paris. I was thinking of starting with Lyon, but don't know what the 2nd base location should be. Any help please? We will be using trains. Its important that I can do day trips from these locations with train, may be 1 to 1.5 hours distance. What do you suggest? We mainly like cities, museums and during that time Christmas spirit/activities.
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Nov 4th, 2014, 07:56 AM
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What about Alsace - great food and wine, strasbourg and several towns are accessible by train and all the Xmas markets will be on!
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Nov 4th, 2014, 08:09 AM
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I second Strasbourg. I hear the Christmas market is lovely.
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Nov 4th, 2014, 08:32 AM
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Strasbourg 3 nights Train from CDG leaves at 10:26 and 12:52
Dijon 3 nights train from Strasbourg leaves at 9:17
Lyon 3-4 nights many trains from Lyon
Avignon 3-4 nights many trains from Lyon
Paris remaining days Many trains from Avignon

Toulouse, if you can work it in.

Except for Paris, Sundays & Monday mornings will be kinda dead in these cities - except for museums.

Train schedules I posted are for week days in Dec 2014. Check for different schedules on Sat & Sun.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 4th, 2014, 09:07 AM
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Oops - for some unexplainable reason - I thought you had 3 weeks.

Strasbourg 2-3 nights with side trip to Colmar
Lyon 2-3 nights with side trip to Dijon
Avignon 2-3 nights with side trip to either Arles, Aix, Montpellier, or Nimes.
Paris

FWIW, we were in Paris for 3 weeks in Sept/Oct '08 and I had about 5 side trips planned. We took zero of them - didn't want to leave Paris. We were there again for 11 nights in '09 and '11 in Dec and didn't take any side trips.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 4th, 2014, 11:49 AM
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Here are our photos from our Xmas visit to Strasbourg

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...7612385490187/

And our visit to Alsace this July

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...7644953485474/
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Nov 5th, 2014, 02:03 AM
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I like the idea of Avignon for your second center a lot. It is untouristed in the off season, but it is a university town so not deadly dull. You stay inside the city walls (or should) so it is plenty picturesque. Both the Palais and the Museum next door are worth it, and you can do some of the suggested day trips, which ones depending on the weather. Several good shopping streets, and prices often lower than Paris. A bit quiet on Sundays but not quieter than Arles or even Aix, both of which I also love.

Don't assume far it will be sunny and warm because you are in Provence.
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Nov 5th, 2014, 03:12 AM
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The Fête des Lumières is happening in Lyon, December 5 - 8. My husband and I will be there the first night before heading down to the Luberon for several weeks. This will be our first time in Lyon for the festival, and I think it's going to be spectacular. Hotel reservations in the center of Lyon were very hard to find two months ago.

This will be our fifth time to be in the Luberon in December, and we usually make day trips to Avignon and Aix during that time. The larger towns and small cities in the area are active and interesting year-round, and both have Christmas markets and festivities. The Avignon Christmas market apparently begins on November 30.

Take your winter coat, hat, scarf, and gloves... you may need them. But you may also enjoy sunny and cool days. Last December we had lunch outside one day in Vaison-la-Romaine. And we've hiked in the Luberon in December. We enjoy the small villages and countryside at this time of year, but you just need to be prepared for varied weather conditions.

But the big Christmas markets are in Alsace. In addition to Strasbourg, our daughter really enjoyed the markets in Colmar last year. (We had a very hard time getting her hotel reservations in Strasbourg in early December last year.)

Kathy
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Nov 8th, 2014, 01:12 AM
  #9
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Hmmm..I thinking Lyon > Strasbourg > Paris will be the main 3 bases. Do you know of any good guesthouses in these locations? We normally try to find guesthouses first rather then hotels.
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Nov 8th, 2014, 12:58 PM
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What exactly do you mean by guesthouse? That sounds like a rural concept (inn with grounds or B&B) and those are all cities (Paris and Lyon are quite large). You won't find that in major cities in France. It seems like I remember some places called guesthouses in small towns/ski resorts in Switzerland and Germany.

What exactly do you want in a guesthouse that is different from a hotel? Maybe someone could suggest something, I presume you mean something other than just a small, independent locally-run hotel.
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Nov 8th, 2014, 09:11 PM
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Nice is wonderful at Christmas.
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Nov 8th, 2014, 11:38 PM
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Guesthouse I mean, a small hotel, not the chain ones, those big hotels.
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Nov 9th, 2014, 12:24 AM
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We stayed here...excellent location, good prices...would definitely stay here again.

Be sure you book very early as the Alsace Xmas markets are very popular!

http://www.hotel-rohan.com/
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Nov 9th, 2014, 02:02 AM
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Thank you all for your suggestions. Now I have to chose between Lyon > Strasbourg > Paris versus Munich > Cologne > Frankfurt.
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Nov 9th, 2014, 06:03 AM
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No comparison, IMO. Nothing beats Paris. Cologne & Frankfurt got pretty gutted in WWII. So did Munich - but it was rebuilt with some "care". It's interesting - but still not as interesting as Paris or Lyon.

I'm curious - why did you switch your trip from France to Germany all of a sudden??

Stu Dudley
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Nov 9th, 2014, 07:54 AM
  #16
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Hi StuDudley, thanks for your suggestion. As such I didn't switch from France to Germany, I'm deciding between the 2 before I proceed with further planning. I think I will go for France.
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Nov 9th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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Hi reutiz,

I think you could effectively combine the two:

Munich - Strasbourg - Paris.

Nice mix of German & French cultures, nice mix of large and small cities.

s
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Nov 9th, 2014, 06:37 PM
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I like swandav's suggestion too. Germany has always felt a bit more Christmas-y in early December than France to me.
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