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2022 family trip

Old Jun 25th, 2020, 03:10 PM
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2022 family trip

Planning a 2022 trip with my wife and two daughters (15 and 18 when we travel). I've been tweaking the itinerary and this is the latest. We will be traveling in June/July as my wife and I are teachers. Total trip length is about 24 nights. The final tally will depend a bit on budget. We plan to stay in appartments/cottages so we can make a number of meals.

1-Fly from LA to London (7 nights). My wife is an English teacher so she'd like to take some day trips to see some of the litereary sites around London (Shakespeare/Jane Austen/Chaucer/etc.). I know they are all spread out and we may not see them all.

2-train to Portsmouth and take overnight ferry to St. Malo, rent a car, drive to Dinan. Here's where I need you help. Is Dinan a good base for a family of four? From what I've read it is small and there may not be a lot to do, but as we'd be taking a number of day trips I thought it looked nice. Dinan looks like a quaint village that is close to places we'd like to see (St. Malo, Dinard, Cancale, Mont St Michel). Stay in Dinan 4 Nights.

3-Drive to the Loire Valley. I like the look of Amboise for our base of 4 nights. Visit chateaux and possibly wineries in the area.

4-On to Paris (8 nights). Should I leave the car in Amboise or somewhere nearby (Tours?) and take the train to Paris or drive to Paris?

Your thoughts please........Thanks for the help.
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 05:14 PM
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I'm dashing out to a (socially distanced ) meeting so no time right now - but just two quick points. Most rental apartments in Paris are not legal so make sure the city registration number is prominently displayed in the listing. And make sure any bookings you do make be it flights, ferries, hotels, apartments are fully refundable. Hopefully things will be normal or normal-ish by next summer but who knows (I hope to be in London / Winchester / Salisbury myself in early July 2021 but I'm not booking anything until probably January at the very earliest and most likely later)
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 05:16 PM
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I thought your plans sounded familiar - here is one of your earlier threads Where to spend 3 additional days
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 10:27 PM
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Hi OP,

I have not been to Dinan but there is a gentleman on this board, StuDudley who wrote about it and says it is one of his favorite In the area. A very picturesque town!

Good luck!
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 12:50 AM
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We've stayed in St Malo (caught the train and ferry like you are planning) and also Dinan, on separate trips. They are both reasonably small but we found plenty to do, mainly walking and exploring. They are attractive towns but I'd say Dinan is prettier and a bit more picturesque. We only used public transport on those trips and stayed in Dinan above a cafe/bar so if we did have a car, parking might have been an issue. We loved staying really centrally. In St Malo we stayed in the centre of the old town as well.

I think as you plan a few day trips, I'd spend some time looking at maps to see what will work best. Definitely try and see both St Malo and Dinan but two nights in each might be too much moving around.

I would drop the car somewhere outside Paris and catch the train from there. We found booking trains in France fairly complicated as there are different types of trains with varying fares. (I wrote a bit about it on my trip report.) If you book a TGV to Paris, book ahead as you can save a LOT of money. This fabulous website tells you everything you need to know about train travel - https://www.seat61.com/

Kay
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 07:52 AM
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We took our two granddaughters to France on two different trips when they were 12/13. One in 2004 (Paris, Normandy and a very short time in London) and the other in 2011 (Paris, Normandy and the Loire Valley). We had a great time and really believe there is a huge value in travelling like this with family.

Like you, I enjoy planning more than the rest of my family so once we all agreed on the general framework of the trip, it was up to me to fill in the details. Of course, the biggest challenge was figuring out all the travel logistics that would work for us.

I have posted trip reports for both trips. You can click on my name and scroll down to the trip reports section to read about our experiences. Here are links to our pictures for each trip (best viewed in Slideshow mode on a computer). I apologize for the quality of the 2004 pictures. Our cameras were not very good in 2004 but they do show the fun times we had. Better cameras in 2011.

2004 trip https://jkitaly2001.shutterfly.com/pictures/397

2011 trip https://john183france2011.shutterfly.com/pictures/8

About your trip. I cannot help with the London (wish we would have had more time) and Dinan (we chose Normandy instead) portions but we stayed in Amboise for 4 nights and we were happy with the location. We also dropped our car at St Pierre des Corps train station in Tours and took the TGV to Paris.

Enjoy your planning!

Last edited by john183; Jun 26th, 2020 at 08:25 AM.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 08:31 AM
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Thank you for the replies.

Yes, janisj , I have posted here before but have since reworked the itinerary so I thought I'd post again.
Irice - StuDudley posted on a previous thread of mine with a wealth of info. Thanks.
Kay - Thanks for the info about train travel. I think two night in each is too much moving as well (we plan to have a car). Since they are relatively close we'll just drive or I think there is also river transport from Dinan to St Malo that I can look into.

I really appreciate all the helpful replies.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 05:14 PM
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Many Paris apartments are legal. Just look for the registration number on the listing. We have rented often in Paris. Do drop the car before Paris. Have fun planning.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 05:34 PM
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Yo OP RM,
DCD has also been to Dinan. He should be out on parole by now and might be able to answer any such questions.
I am done. The end.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 11:43 PM
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I've no experience of this but have read many times that the Loire valley is a wonderful place for cycling. I did some cycling in Germany when travelling with my 15year old son and it was great. He loved doing something more active. If interested you could search both this forum, Lonely Planet and the internet more generally.

Our first family holiday to Europe (ages 9 and 12) included France and I took a lot of pleasure in my kids shopping for baguettes, pastries, crepes, ice creams, ordering meals, asking for tickets, etc in French (which they both spoke much better than my husband or I). Knowing something of the language was really special (and occasionally really useful).

My daughter (then 14) and I did a short cycling tour of central London and I know they offer similar things in Paris so that would be a cool thing to do. Because neither of us were experienced cyclists, we chose a Sunday morning as we thought it would be quieter (which it was). I find my kids liked best things which were more active. Of course, they were both much fitter than I, which probably also made them feel good!

London Walks have some great walking options (including outside of central London) and if your daughters are interested in fashion, textiles, etc, check out what's on at the V&A. And of course, the weekend markets can be great fun. Camden market was also a hit with my daughter. There's also a sister organisation, Paris Walks. There are of course nowadays many companies offering walking tours, which I think are always a great way to get to know something of a city.

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Old Jun 30th, 2020, 07:39 AM
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I would definitely visit Chenonceau in Loire Valley. I loved it!
https://www.chenonceau.com/en/

One thing that you might enjoy in Paris is a food tour of one of the arrondisements. We have done several with Paris by Mouth and have always enjoyed them. It's a good way to see more of an area and learn some history while visiting cheese shops, patisseries, chocolate shops, traiteurs, etc...and you sample a lot of food. It also has made us a bit more comfortable in ordering in the smaller shops when we are on our own. Small groups and the tours vary by guide, time of day and group interests, etc...

https://parisbymouth.com/food-wine-tours/
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Old Jun 30th, 2020, 07:57 AM
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Thank you for the help. Chenonceau is already on our list. Paris by Mouth looks like it would be a lot of fun. I already bookmarked it.
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Old Jul 6th, 2020, 01:29 PM
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John183 - I apologize for not replying sooner. You pics are fantastic and I enjoyed looking through them. Thank you for your comments re: Amboise. Did you stay in hotels or apartments? We're looking at staying in apartments to save on food costs. Thanks
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Old Jul 7th, 2020, 04:00 AM
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I’m glad you enjoyed our pictures. We really had a great time on both trips. I don’t know if you have read through my probably much too long trip reports yet but I describe in more detail everything we did. To answer your question, we stayed in apartments in Paris but hotels outside of Paris. We have been to Paris for at least a week four times and have found apartments twice from apartment rental companies, once from Airbnb and once from HomeAway. We have stayed in the 7th twice, the 6th once and the 16th once. Everything worked out very well for us.We stayed at Le Manoir St Thomas in Amboise. It was in a great location with free parking, had a nice room that slept three and it had a pool which we liked a lot. You don’t mention visiting Normandy but we really liked visiting the D-Day sites in lower Normandy and Etretat in upper Normandy.

I had thought about doing the reverse of what you are wanting to do with taking an overnight ferry when we left France for London but I had a difficult time getting all the logistics to work for us. Since we were already in upper Normandy we ended up dropping the car in Calais and taking the Eurostar directly to London.

When we were outside of Paris we were able to find hotels with a room that comfortably slept three. I’m not sure how easy it is to find hotel rooms that sleep four so apartments may be your best option. Good luck with your search.
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Old Jul 7th, 2020, 08:06 AM
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John - Thanks for the additional info. I have been to th D-Day sites before. My wife and daughters didn't put that high on their list so we are opting for a stay in Brittany (most likely with a vist to Mont St Michel) instead of Normandy. How did you enjoy the 16th arr in Paris? I know the more central single digits are closer to the action, but also can be more expensive. Wondering where to base our Paris stay as well. Thanks agin (going to look up your tr now). -Robert
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Old Jul 7th, 2020, 09:57 AM
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Our favorite place to stay in Paris, when we can and choose to go there, which is not now, is the 11ème. IME the 16ème is deadly boring, way too swanky and expensive for us, although that's all relative when it comes to Paris. If not the 11ème, we love the 20ème.
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Old Jul 8th, 2020, 12:53 AM
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Dinan, the ancient centre is pretty wonderful, is a great place ot stay. Parking might be an issue (I've never parked there, only gone by boat or bicycle) and while I love St Malo (great safe little beaches), Dinan is a better choice.

The choices along the Loire are wonderful, I've never been disappointed though Tours is slightly too messy for me. You might also like Chinon or Saumur (or even the priory at Fontevraud which is such a nice place to stay, especially at night). Loire cycling is certainly easy and a train runs along the river so if you hire bikes you can go out by peddle power and back by train (local trains take bikes easily unless crowded).
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Old Jul 9th, 2020, 11:16 AM
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We enjoyed every one of the places and areas we stayed. There were plenty of cafes/bistros/restaurants, wine shops, boulangeries, patisseries and grocery stores within easy walking distance. But just as important to us they were all within easy walking distance of a metro station. We were out and about every day and many days we would find a place for dinner wherever we happened to be then take the metro back to our apartment afterwards. It was nice to pop out of the metro station at the end of a long day and have only a short walk home.
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