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3-week France itinerary: your input is much appreciated

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Feb 15th, 2013, 07:41 AM
  #1
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3-week France itinerary: your input is much appreciated

Hi everyone - we are off to France in June/July for three weeks. The flights are booked and we have a basic itinerary in mind. We're wondering if we should take a day out of Paris in the schedule below and add a day to Provence or leave it as-is. Your travel expertise is greatly appreciated.

Here's our itinerary:
Fly to Paris: 5.5 days (half day is the day we arrive at 9:30 am) including one day for Versailles. (Sunday through Friday).

Two days/two nights Loire: Take train to Tours early from Paris, pick up rental car and see the chateaux we're interested in. (Sat/Sun).

Drive to Dordogne: Three nights, two full days (canoe the river, see the caves.) (Mon, Tues, Wed.).

Drive to Provence (full day): 4 nights/3 days (Thurs thru Sunday) drop off car at end of stay here.

Train to Cote D'Azur: 3.5 days/ 4 nights (Mon - Thurs). Nice, Monaco, Cap d'Antibes, hill towns.

Fly home early next morning from Nice.

So what do you think? Many thanks!
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Feb 15th, 2013, 07:47 AM
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well I haven't seen or done this but to me it looks great so I am bookmarking the page to see what happens
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Feb 15th, 2013, 08:03 AM
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Short time in Paris to spend one day at Versailles. Leave it to the end of your time and see if you still want to invest that much time.
Skip monaco.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 08:12 AM
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hi kkkelly,

for me, it's a bit busy. there will be quite a lot of traffic in June/july, and getting between places, [and around them when you're there] may take longer than you think. for example, you have only 1 1/2 days in the Loire, only 2 days in the Dordogne, which isn't long to see the main caves and canoe the river, only 3 full days in Province, and barely 3 in/around Nice.

i would pick Paris and 2 other places, and do them in more depth.

The Dordogne and Nice [as you are flying home from there] are the obvious choices.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 08:33 AM
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I agree with annhig. It looks great on paper, but in reality it's not so good, as you haven't really accounted for the time to get from one area to another or for Sunday and Monday closings. If it were my trip, I'd eliminate one of the destinations. You have only 2 days in the Dordogne. You can't see the main caves and canoe in that short a time at that time of year.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 09:27 AM
  #6
twk
 
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Personally, I'd skip the Loire and add that time to the Dordogne. If you're trying to see multiple caves in that region, you're not going to see anything else with the limited time you have alloted, and there's a lot more to see than just caves--the chateaux and Sarlat on a market day are great. If you travel to Sarlat on Friday, you can see the Saturday market, and still have time for caves and other sites. I've done the drive from the Dordogne to Provence, stopping along the way at Pont du Gard--long day, but a logical thing to do if you want to connect the Dordogne and Provence.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 09:29 AM
  #7
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Thanks for the input. I'm assuming I should leave Paris as-is and re-think the other parts. My inclination is that we'll need that time in Paris.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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You have only 2 days in the Dordogne. You can't see the main caves and canoe in that short a time at that time of year.

But you could see one cave (Lascaux II) and see the towns between Montignac and Sarlat (St. Amand de Coly, St. Geniès) and have dinner in Sarlat in one day, and canoe down the river and see La Roque-Gageac (at a minimum) the next day. We usually picnic when taking friends to visit Lascaux II. On the way to the cave, after turning right off the main street, there is a little park on the left with a couple of picnic tables. It's across the street from a school. The park has a spring with perfectly drinkable water, although the pump has not worked for the last few years.

Instead of going to Tours, I would go to Chartres, visit the cathedral and then pick up a car.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...01029366/show/
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Feb 15th, 2013, 01:32 PM
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Well, if not doing the Loire, take the train to the Dordogne?
More time in Paris, I still say.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 01:44 PM
  #10
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Thank you all. Time will tell, but I thought a day for the caves would be enough. I don't if I'm a two-day-cave kind of gal . Michael thanks for detailed Dordogne suggestions and Gretchen my gut is in line with your thinking - don't short change Paris (like we did in Rome ... Regret).
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Feb 15th, 2013, 02:05 PM
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I'd skip the Loire as well.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 02:45 PM
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kkkelly,

the dordogne is much more than caves and canoeing. as well as caves like Lascaux II and Pech -Merle, there are fantastic chasms, castles, gardens..here are a few ideas:

http://www.frenchconnections.co.uk/e...e/161-dordogne

enough to fill at least a week, not just 2 days.

you've got 3 weeks - one in Paris, another in the dordogne, and a third in /around Nice would be ..well..Nice! [sorry, couldn't resist!]
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Feb 15th, 2013, 03:07 PM
  #13
 
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I agree, drop the Loire, take the train from Paris to Brive-la-Gaillarde, pick up a rental car there and do 4 days/5 nights in the Dordogne. You won't regret it, I promise. There's so much more than caves there: the rivers, castles, villages, pretty green countryside. It's fairy-tale country.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 03:37 PM
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Here's another link to info about the Dordogne.

http://www.perigorddecouverte.com/in...ld/visites.pdf

Don't be put off by the fact it looks like it's just a site for the Musée de la Préhistoire - just start scrolling. Two days is almost unthinkable!
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Feb 15th, 2013, 04:57 PM
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We did a 4 week trip to France a couple of years ago. We hit Paris, Normandy, Dordogne and Provence (TR: "Our Month in Paris") Yes, it does seem you have one or two many places to hit and you're probably going to want to spend more time in Paris, because there's so much to see (especially if you haven't been there before). Good luck, I'm envious.
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Feb 15th, 2013, 05:02 PM
  #16
kja
 
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You should have a wonderful trip no matter what, but I think it would be even more wonderful if you drop a location or two!
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Feb 16th, 2013, 05:39 AM
  #17
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Wow thanks everyone. There seems to be consensus on dropping the Loire is favour of the Dordogne. I'm going to give that serious consideration and definitely not take a day away from Paris, Gretchen. Thanks for the links for dordogne. I guess I should start I new topic but if you feel like weighing in on Sarlat as a base, feel free (vs. another small village).
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Feb 16th, 2013, 09:16 AM
  #18
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@twk: what route did you take to hit the Pont du Gard on the way from the Dordogne to Provence?
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Feb 16th, 2013, 09:52 AM
  #19
 
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I'll just agree with everyone else. Subtract at least the Loire from your itinerary - especially if you visit Versailles. Add a day each to the Dordogne & Provence - or perhaps 2 days to the Dordogne.

Note that visiting the Loire & the Dordogne cost you 5 to 5 1/2 hrs driving from the Loire to the Dordogne, and a full day of driving from the Dordogne to Provence. That's a lot of wasted time if you're only going to be in the Dordogne for 2 full days on your original itinerary.

Take the train from Paris to Brive (leaves 8:30 arrives 1:00). Visit Collonges la Rouge near Brive, then head for the Sarlat area. Take your canoe trip in the morning - the sun will be in your face if you do it in the afternoon.

Then drive to Provence - visiting Carcassonne along the way.

I would probably spend more time in Provence than on the Cote d'Azur - but you could adjust your Provence departure time to accomplish that. If this was my trip, I would keep the car all the way to Nice & return it in Nice on day 2 after visiting the hill towns. When leaving wherever you're staying in Provence, visit Aix on the way to Nice. Then take a scenic backcountry drive to Nice by visiting Cotignac, Tourtour, and Lorgues.

Ditto on skipping Monaco.

Stu Dudley
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Feb 16th, 2013, 11:38 AM
  #20
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Stu, thank you for your great and very specific ideas. I think we're nixing the Loire. You made a good point about the additional travel time. So why not Monaco - interested on you thoughts on this.
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