4 Days between Zurich & Avignon...

Dec 16th, 2014, 01:28 PM
  #1  
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4 Days between Zurich & Avignon...

My 65+ husband and I will be checking out of our Zurich hotel on Saturday morning (in June) and boarding a river cruise in Avignon on the Wednesday, so will have 4 nights to spend in one place, somewhere in between (we've already visited Avignon). We will fly or train, so don't want to be too far off the beaten path, with fairly direct connections and not more than 3 hours on a train. We love quiet charming "old towns" with good food and wine. We adore Beaune and considered Lake Como area, but the connections were too involved. Thank you for any suggestions!
BVI_8 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 01:42 PM
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How about Annecy, on its lovely Alpine lake?
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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Beaune is less than 3 hours from Zurich:

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/que...&rt=1&OK#focus

And does indeed make a lovely base. I'd say it is less than 3 hours from Avignon but not sure.

For lots of great info on Swiss and French trains I always spotlight these IMO superb sites: www.seat61.com (great info on discounted tickets available from Zurich to France and in France); www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. You can always just show up and buy tickets but you may pay a lot more than by booking in advance to get the limited in number discounted TGV tickets - www.voyages-sncf.com is the site of the French Railways and www.capitainetrain.com sells the same tickets on the same trains but has a site that folks say they can actually easily get to work.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 04:51 PM
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With Beaune, you have 2 "problems":
- The dreaded Sunday & Monday morning store closings
- It's a small town, and you won't find much to do there for 4 days

I would go to Dijon instead - our second favorite city in France (tied with Toulouse) after Paris. There are several trains that leave Zurich daily for the direct 2 hr 24 min trip. Then there is a direct morning train to the Avignon TGV station that takes 2 hr 44 mins.

Stay at Coco's place. She'll pick you up at the train station & offer advice. She sometimes posts here on Fodors.
http://www.myhomeindijon.com/

Wonderful architecture in Dijon. Spend Saturday in Dijon. On Sunday, visit some of their museums & churches. Monday, ask Coco how to get to some chateaux in the area or small wine villages. Tuesday, take one of the many trains to Beaune and spend some time there. Paris is only 1 1/2 hrs away by TGV so you could go there & wander around. Same with Lyon.

Lyon could be a place to stay too - but you wanted "quiet/charming" and Lyon is not really that "quiet", IMO.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 17th, 2014, 09:55 AM
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All depends on your cruise itinerary. Many cruises starting at Avignon go upstream to Vienne and Lyon.
Along your itinerary, there are charming old towns in Switzerland as well as in France, but most of them cannot be reached from Zurich and Avignon without a train change.
As said above, Dijon is among the best solutions with direct trains to both, Zurich and Avignon (the others being Geneva, Basel, Mulhouse, Belfort).
You could aso book a direct flight from Zurich to Nice or Barcelona and a direct train from there to Avignon
neckervd is offline  
Dec 17th, 2014, 10:37 AM
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I can second staying at Coco's place in Dijon - nice flat and nice person who is a great resource for any traveler.

That said my take on Beaune is different than Stu's - I stayed there a few times and not all stores are closed on Sunday - smaller stores and supermarkets are often open to 1 pm and Monday closing for main stores are a thing of the past I believe - anyway Dijon on a Sunday like all French large towns I've been in is also churchmouse quiet with nearly everything shut down, by law.

Beaune is much more romantic than Dijon, which yes for a large city is pleasant. Beaune is in the center of the Bourgundy wine fields and a short train ride either way from town brings you to several famous wine villages with wine hourses to tour and sample... Beaune wins hands down for me over a yes for large French cities nice Dijon. But Dijon does have Coco's... You could stay in Dijon and take the few-minute train ride to Beaune for the day or vice versa.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 17th, 2014, 11:31 AM
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>>not all stores are closed on Sunday - smaller stores and supermarkets are often open to 1 pm and Monday closing for main stores are a thing of the past I believe<<

Here is a shop my wife spent a lot of time browsing through when we recently stayed in a gite 15 mins from Beaune for 2 weeks. It is Closed on Sunday and Monday morning.
http://www.decoration-javouhey.com/

Most "touristy" wine shops are usually open every day. The grocery where we shopped was closed on Sundays.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 17th, 2014, 12:56 PM
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I'm still surprised that all shops and stores in Beaune except wine shops are closed on Sunday and that any shops close any more for the whole day Monday - Monday ams yes but you have been to Beaune more recently than I have so you are more current. IME Beaune is behind the times in France - especially for such a tourist city - the French Parliament is now grappling with relaxing Sunday mandatory closing for grandes surfaces - like Carrefours and other shops to help reduce unemployment but French workers unions are strong and resist having to work on Sunday though like here many folk gladly would just to work. I see both sides.

I believe little in central Dijon is open on Sundays either but I'm not sure - just basing that sized town on others I've been to on Sundays like Orleans where I stay a lot - it's like a ghost town on Sunday when the shopping mall and main street shops are all shut down.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 17th, 2014, 01:20 PM
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A few non-wine & non-food shops are open on both Sunday, & Monday morning in Beaunne - but they are usually the ultra touristy places in the middle of the main pedestrian street.

IMO, the average French person is not real anxious to adopt the "American Way" of having shops open on Sunday, Monday mornings, and most holidays (Independence day, Labor day, Memorial day, and now Thanksgiving afternoon). They relish their large Sunday family lunches.

Here is something a French friend sent me a couple of years ago about Sunday closings.


As it is now, it is a mess : people would be paid overtime in "normal" towns but would not in "communes touristiques". The problem is that the right wing says there are 500 communes touristiques while the left wing says there are 6,000 ....
Besides the mayors of said communes touristiques had to apply for the status and most of them didn't.
They don't want to lose their constituency.
So here for instance, we have Collioure which is not considered as touristique while Estavar, a tiny village in the Pyrenées is !

The small shop owners in "normal towns" will probably stick to Sunday rest. They won't be able to afford hiring more people and probably don't even want to.
Those in communes touristiques already have permission to remain open during the season.

Closing on Mondays is optional, in Perpignan for instance most shops are closed Monday morning but open in the afternoon.

What is compulsory is one full day of rest per week for the staff. I don't see the point in opening on Sundays and closing on Mondays - it won't change anything for small shops.


Stu Dudley
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Dec 30th, 2014, 02:26 PM
  #10  
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Thank you for your recommendations!
BVI_8 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 09:00 AM
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IMO, the average French person is not real anxious to adopt the "American Way" of having shops open on Sunday, Monday mornings, and most holidays (Independence day, Labor day, Memorial day, and now Thanksgiving afternoon). They relish their large Sunday family lunches.>

This is changing I'm told by French and the ones that are hinndering it are workers unions not so much public sentiment. Stores are open on Sundays the month of so before Christmas so it is not a complete anathema and will change.

Plenty of French folk work on Sundays - in cafes, small stores, SNCF, police, etc - it's just a small segment that would be forced to work on Sundays and if you offered extra pay I'd bet you'd have a waiting list to work - it would also help unemployed folks find jobs - the pros outnumber the cons and eventually will prevail.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 31st, 2014, 12:55 PM
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I don't know about that. Our French friends are adamantly opposed to Sunday openings, and they are part of a quite large segment of the populace who do not work on Sundays and would prefer not to have to do so.
Underhill is offline  
Jan 1st, 2015, 05:22 AM
  #13  
 
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First of all a big thank you for your support and a Très Bonne Année à tous!

It is right to say that Sundays and Mondays are usually the quietest days of the week, if there is nothing special going on, but there is always something to do besides shopping.

All the museums are open and parks like Darcy garden, the botanical garden and Parc de la Colombière (and also Kir lake) are all there to be enjoyed (what about a picnic? ) And of course the Owl's Trail you may follow any day to discover Dijon at your own pace.
Many guests appreciate Sundays to relax and enjoy Dijon architecture and history. FIY Beaune is only 30min max from Dijon by train.

As a former hotel receptionist, I used to work on week ends and bank holidays (with no extra pay) so I don't really care about other people working or not on Sundays but it would be fair to give them the choice to do it or not.
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