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7-8 days in France. pls comment

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Sep 9th, 2015, 10:04 PM
  #1
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7-8 days in France. pls comment

We only have 7-8 days, but we really want to see as much of france as possible. i know we will spend quite a bit time on travelling.

Here is the plan.

2 of us, around 30, couple. arrive in France from Switzerland (geneva) in November:

Here is the plan:
5/11 Geneva - Nice (approx 8 hr by train, arrive in Nice in the afternoon))
6/11 Nice - Monaco (bus half hr) and other old towns to the east of Nice.
7/11 Nice/Cannes to Marseille (by train, 2.5hr) also some old towns to the west of Nice (skip Saint Tropez)
8/11 Marseille - Paris (train 3hrs)
9/11 Paris (MSM, a long day)
10/11 Paris (Loire Valley, train from Paris to Tour, then pick a local tour company. 1hr train)
11/11 Paris (Versailles, 4 hr minimum)
12/11 Paris
13/11 Paris

We will leave on 14/11 night for Hongkong.

It is our first time to France, so really want to have taste of everything. We will return for sure, but what is not sure is when. (and next time we will visit Italy and Germany...)

I am ready to be criticized.

another option (if really have to), skip the southern part completely, spend more days in the norther France...
we want to complete the train booking this weekend, so any comments will be appreciated. the more the sooner, the better. Thanks again.
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Sep 9th, 2015, 10:06 PM
  #2
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actually it is more like a 9 days trip. another question is what if we fly from Marseilles to Tours to save a few hours? and book a hotel in Tours for that night?
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Sep 9th, 2015, 10:24 PM
  #3
 
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Since you want to go to France from Switzerland you might want to focus on more northerly areas and reduce some of the traveling. I would hate spending so much time on trains. How about arriving in Strasbourg for a couple of days then heading to Paris, the Loire or Normandy. The D-Day landing sights in Normandy are impressive but we also enjoyed medieval sights and picturesque towns. If you are already in Normandy visiting Mont St. Michel is much easier and so worth it.

If you have never been to Paris you could easily fill 9 days there and make a day trip to Chartres and perhaps event MSM with a tour company.

On your next trip visit Italy and the south of France.
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Sep 9th, 2015, 10:58 PM
  #4
 
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You are essentially spending no time in Paris itself - 3 days spent outside of the city and 2 in.

November is not beach weather so if it was me I'd spend a lot more time IN Paris.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 02:23 AM
  #5
 
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It will take at least 6 hours to do justice to Versailles with at least one hour spent waiting in line. Most people spend half a day enjoying themselves there. If you book a private tour on the official website you could see most of the important stuff in the 4 hours you have allowed but you wouldn't see a lot of the gardens.

I wouldn't spend so much time in Nice because it's not that big. How are you getting to "other old towns east of Nice?" Picking up and dropping off a rental car in Nice takes forever.

It's pretty gloomy in November and gets dark early. We did one of those all-inclusive chateau/hotel/wine tours and stayed overnight near Villandry. Would have preferred to stay in a chateau but the hotel was OK. Check flights vs rail fares - you won't save much time if you fly with the increased security measures.

I would travel by train from Marseille to Paris but make a stop in Lyon for half a day. You can get a ticket on SNCF website that shows the timetables and prices. The food is much better in Lyon than Paris.

You don't have much time at all in Paris but maybe that's what you wanted. Not everybody loves this city. Stay someplace central like the Latin Quarter and you can walk to most of the tourist attractions.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 06:41 AM
  #6
 
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"I wouldn't spend so much time in Nice because it's not that big".

I'd spend more time in Nice than you have planned for!

Nice is France's 5th largest city: 350000 inhabitants.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 07:20 AM
  #7
 
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I'd vote for saving the south for another trip. I'd follow Scootoir, and do one of either the Loire or Normandy. A taste of everything would leave few memories of anything, IMO.

Four nites in Paris will give you three full days there, the rest of the time outside Paris.

Whatever you do, don't stay in Tours--stay in Amboise, a charming smaller city east of Tours and very well situated for chateaux touring. It has one of the best chateaux right in town.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 02:11 PM
  #8
 
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I would not spend all days in Paris, that's for sure.

I think your time in Paris is fine, with perhaps the exception of Mont St Michel. If you weren't doing the Loire day trip also, I'd say okay, but I just think that's too far to go for a day trip when you have another major one the next day. I don't really consider Versailles any different from saying you were going to spend a day visiting Montmartre and you were staying in the 13th-15th arr. some area of Paris, same thing. YOu can get there in about the same time as crossing Paris, more or less. I've spent the day out at Chateau to Vincennes and that area, very similar idea. This things are part of Paris, as far as I'm concerned.

The only part that really bothers me is the one day stops at the beginning of the trip. I know Marseille is on the way from Nice to Paris by train, so this makes sense. In fact, if anything, I'd probably cut a day from Paris and add it to either Nice or Marseille. Then it wouldn't be too bad. Say cut out the day for Mont St Michel (or the Loire, your choice as to what is most important).

I don't get the Monaco thing or "other" towns to the east of Nice. I'd forget that and spend the day touring Nice.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 04:52 PM
  #9
 
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Why Nice in November. Why not any of a number of other places in France by train from Switzerland.
I would skip Versailles for more time in Paris on such a short visit. OR leave it to see if you want to do it, once you have tasted Paris and want to spend a day away.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 05:59 PM
  #10
 
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Skip Versailles and be just as happy.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 06:18 PM
  #11
 
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You need to remember that you will be there in Nov and while you may get days that are bright and cool you can also get those that are cold, rainy and windy. Also the days will be short so you can;t see much after about 4 pm outdoors.

I would skip southern france (much better in the warm weather) and head straight to Paris so you can avoid wasting so much time moving hotels so often and trekking to and fro around the gray, dingy landscape. From there you can do a day trip to Versailles and another to see one or two of the chateaux of the Loire as well a actually see some of the major sights in Paris.

If you want to see another area I would head for Bayeux to see (as well as the charming town) the Tapestry, the WWII battlefields and museums and do a day trip to Mt St Michel.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 08:28 PM
  #12
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thank you so much for the suggestions.

a bit background. the trip to france is one stop of our round-the-world trip. the first stop in europe is actually london where we will only stay for about 3 days and take morning train to Brussels (one night there). move north to Amsterdam for 3 days and 2 nights. then take night train to Zurich. realising more often than not, next time we will fly from sydney to zurich (for italy or germany), so this time we only plan to have a very short stay in zurich and geneva (one night in geneva).


basically everything in that list is what my wife insists (except going south to nice in november)

personally, i would like to skip Versailles, but my other half insists not. She also insists on a trip to MSM.

i am aware that its November and the daylight is short, and the weather wont be great in the souther france. we are not beach persons. the reason we want to visit nice is just because it is a beautiful area. the upside about visiting nice in fall/winter is that there wont be too many tourists and the accommodation could be cheaper. by east to Nice, i mean towns like Eze and Menton (we may skip them though if we are too tired or the weather is not good), west side to Nice includes Antibes, etc. If we can visit all these small towns in one day, we can cut one day off from Nice and add it to Paris. however, we certainly want to spend a couple of hours in Monaco.

We skip Italy and Germany this time, we will certainly come back to Europe in the future for italy (and even Spain). so less time in riveria area in this trip is acceptable (we will revisit the provence region sooner or later). By the way, we will use train and bus and dont plan to rent a car in Nice.

thanks for the suggestion not to stay in tours. it's noted.

we will not do two day trips on two successive days.

actually, i am torn between the ideas either dropping the whole southern France off the list or sticking to the current plan. (we used to visit 3 main islands of Hawaii in 12 days and catching the early morning inter-island flight was a bit tiring. other than that, we dont regret about that decision, because now we know which islands of Hawaii we will go back to next time.
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Sep 10th, 2015, 11:23 PM
  #13
kja
 
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"I am torn between the ideas either dropping the whole southern France off the list"

Clearly, it depends on what YOU want to see and experience. But FWIW, the plan you've got is one that I would find truly unpleasant, as it would not give me time to see what I would want to see in ANY of the places you hope to visit. For me, WAY too much travel time, WAY too little time to actually see things, and so WAY too frustrating! So if there is ANYTHING you and your wife can agree to cut, my advice would be to give that option very serious consideration! JMO.
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Sep 11th, 2015, 02:07 AM
  #14
 
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Nice was first established as a winter sun resort for the British and Russian aristocracy: there was a reason for that - it can be very pleasant during the day in winter. Granted, October and November are the rainiest months on the Mediterranean; however, there is a good chance that you will get some sunshine to explore the area, so I would discount the people who try to suggest it is only a summer resort.( you might not want to swim in November: however, many of the locals do!)
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Sep 11th, 2015, 02:10 AM
  #15
 
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Actually I agree with most and come to a complete other conclusion : drop Paris, drop MSM, drop Loire stay around Nice. Calculate the time you actually spend on travel (+ check in, check out time to station, time on train, etc) against time in city. Then decide if it is ok for you.
(For example I don't understand why you go to Marseille before going to Paris in your plan - you have no time in Marseille and nearly no time to visit Nice, so what is the point ? Do Nice - PAris and that is it)

Weather is nice in november on the French Riviera - usually (no guarantee of course, but I'd say 8 out of 10 times the weather is very good), a good 10 if not 15 C more than in Paris and usually the sky is clear.
Rains start towards end of nov only.
Days are also longer in French Riviera by a good half hour, and it seems more because the sky is clear.

You have a lot to see there : Antibes, Uzes, les gorges du Verdon at 2 hours max etc. etc.

As for the beaches, on average I can bathe in the sea once every ten years in november (with sea above 20 C).
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Sep 11th, 2015, 01:16 PM
  #16
 
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Pariswat--the south is, according to the OP, the only part of the trip not selected by the OP's spouse. It looks like even Versailles is non-negotiable.
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Sep 11th, 2015, 02:28 PM
  #17
 
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Oops

Forget what I said. Follow your wife's advice.
That's what I do. But she does plan our trips.
And quite well I must say.
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Sep 13th, 2015, 03:53 PM
  #18
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thanks so much folks

i follow your (early) suggestions and dropped the southern France and leave it to the next euro trip when we go to italy not germany.

here is the new plan:

(we will stay one more night in Switzerland).
6/11 Geneva - Lyon (will Lyon fit well in my one week trip in France?)
7/11 Lyon - Tours
8/11 Tours - MSM/Normandy
9/11 MSM - Paris
10/11 Paris
11/11 Paris (Versailles, probably one day)
12/11 Paris
13/11 Paris
14/11 Paris (fly out at approx 9pm)

The initial plan was not to use rental car in France. we wanted to take advantage of their highly developed train system. However, now i am considering to rent a car in Lyon and return it in Paris for the journey from Lyon-Tours-MSM-Paris. I am not sure if there is better option? still try to drive less as far as time is allowed. What would you suggest?
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Sep 13th, 2015, 04:39 PM
  #19
kja
 
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Much better plan!
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Sep 13th, 2015, 11:17 PM
  #20
 
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much better plan.. I agree with dropping south.. and I enjoyed the south myself.. but I would not bother with November when there is so many other places you want to see.
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