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7 or 8 Day trip to Paris but wanting to venture out

7 or 8 Day trip to Paris but wanting to venture out

Jan 19th, 2018, 01:04 PM
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7 or 8 Day trip to Paris but wanting to venture out

Hi everyone,

I am working on planning a girls trip for my mom and I for a 7-8 day period in August (total flexibility on dates). We would be flying into Paris from Dulles. I have never been, she has, but I don't want to spend the whole time in Paris. It has been suggested to me to take the train down to Avignon and rent a car to explore the Provence region, but just browsing online I don't even know where to begin.

It has also been alternatively suggested to venture up to the Loire Valley.

A little about us if it helps: I'm 25, she would kill me if I said her age. My parents live on a beach in FL, so coastal is not at the top of our priority list. I am looking for beautiful scenery, quaint towns, love history. Vineyards are a +++. Neither of us are fluent in french. Comfortable driving a car and exploring. Moderate budget.

Suggestions for an itinerary, where to go (outside of Paris) what to see? How much time would you spend in each place?
pattonsmom is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 01:19 PM
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You have a LOT of work to do. The Loire Valley and Provence could not be more different. I trust you have a pile of guidebooks and maps by your side to refer to. It would be "venuring DOWN" to the Loire valley, just for starters.

7-8 days is virtually nothing when confronted with the entirety of the country of France. I would stay in Paris and make a couple of day trips and call it a day.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by StCirq View Post
You have a LOT of work to do. The Loire Valley and Provence could not be more different. I trust you have a pile of guidebooks and maps by your side to refer to. It would be "venuring DOWN" to the Loire valley, just for starters.

7-8 days is virtually nothing when confronted with the entirety of the country of France. I would stay in Paris and make a couple of day trips and call it a day.

Whoops, I am directionally challenged. No guidebooks, but I do have the internet and approximately 6-7 months to plan. I do want to book flights relatively soon though before the prices jump up and have a general plan of what the trip will look like.

I don't want to spend the entire time in Paris, and my fear with day trips is that we'll be spending the majority of our time on the move. I'd prefer to spend some nights maybe out at a vineyard b&b type setup, and not sure of the best cities/towns to look for.
pattonsmom is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 02:35 PM
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First of all, can you drive a manual stick shift car? Because if not, it is difficult to rent a car in France except in very large cities. So your answer to that affects the itinerary/choices right away. Because Ideally, I would suggest you taking the train from Paris to some smaller place where you can rent a car and stay in the country if you want. You can probably rent one in Avignon, though, I wouldn't count on at in the Loire or, as I was going to suggest, Dijon in Burgundy or Beaune.

There aren't really a lot of vineyards that function as places for tourists to stay, so I wouldn't count on that at all. A B&B, yes, that is more a rural concept and you can find those in Provence, and I'm sure Burgundy. Now some people really like the Alsace region, also, with cute little towns and they make wine there but of course wine differs in all these places.

I did just stay in the Loire area for a few days, I stayed in Saumur which is just west of Tours. But I'd been there before, first timers generally want to see the famous chateaux more to the east, around Amboise. Some area around there could work for you.

My gut feeling is people are more attracted to Provence than the Loire, and first timers would get more of a wow experience there. I could be totally wrong, a lot of people do talk about wanting to go to the Loire but I'm never sure quite what attracts them to that area. Big stone chateaux can't be that fascinating, can they? maybe so, I just don't know. With the fast train, it doesn't really take much longer to get to Avignon than the Loire. Why do you even think you'd want to go to the Loire?

I would recommend Provence but either way you are going to have a problem going home. If you had more time, I'd recommend going to Provence and ending in Nice, and you could fly home from there (not direct, of course, but there would be lots of flights). In the Loire, you will have to go back to Paris. From Avignon, maybe you would also (or Dijon). So that's going to eat up time. When I do things like that, I start my trip in the other area and end up in Paris as it is easier to fly home from there, and I just want a nonstop flight home at the end of my trip. Upon arrival, I don't mind as much having a connecting flight or train to go a bit farther. If you follow that method, you could fly into CDG, take the TGV train to Avignon, do Provence a few days, then take the train to Paris to end up. YOu could do that in the Loire also, I think, but upon arrival, you'd jsut take a train to Tours (St-Pierre des Corps) rather than needing another flight. Or take a train upon arrival to Dijon which is a wine area (Burgundy). I just think it works better to end up in Paris logistically.
Christina is online now  
Jan 19th, 2018, 02:53 PM
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How about taking high-speed train to say Amsterdam or London and spend a few days and fly home from there. For Loire you do not need a car but it would be nice. I'd suggest Avignon just 2.75 hrs from Paris by TGV train - take excursions from that neat old town. Book train tickets early at www.voyages-sncf.com - www.seat61.com has great info on booking own tickets at a discount; general info where to go by trains - BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.

Normandy and D-day beaches and or Mont-Saint-Michel are easy by train too - to Bayeux and catch mini-bus tours to best D-Day sites.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 04:30 PM
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I think it's always worth seeing France beyond Paris, but you don't have enough time to go too far. I think with only 7-8 days total that even the Loire is too far. So I'd suggest starting with a few days in Paris, then sticking to Normandy, which is close to Paris and is a fairly big region.

To me, Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most amazing sights in France. It's unique, a World Heritage site. It's about as far west as you can go in Normandy. So my first suggestion is what when your time in Paris is up, rent a car and drive a scenic route to Mont Saint Michel. Try to time it so you can visit at least one market on your way. As you figure out your route, see which town has its weekly market that day (marchedefrance.org). Markets usually don't last much past noon.

At this point you and your mother are compiling ideas. You have lots of time to do more research and see what appeals to the two of you.

If you decide you want to stay in Normandy, there's plenty to do on both sides of the Seine. You can go low-key, driving from one scenic village to another (Les plus beaux villages de France - Site officiel) and enjoying small town B&Bs, boulangeries, markets, restaurants, and Monet's garden at Giverny. Or you can go to Rouen or other cities for a faster pace, better shopping, art museums, and so on.

You have time to read up and get more ideas. Decide where you want to go and how much time you want to devote to your fresh-air break, then come back and ask and we can give more specific advice.

My husband and I really like the Loire and go there on maybe half our visits to France. We've only visited a few chateaux over the years, but that's not why we go there (admittedly, the chateaux are really the big attraction). We go for the villages, restaurants, weekly markets, and scenic drives. To us it's a wonderful area, and off the beaten path there is much less traffic.
Coquelicot is online now  
Jan 19th, 2018, 04:48 PM
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As an alternative to going to the Provence, you might want to think of day trips. Angers, in the Loire valley, is very feasible as a day trip by taking the TGV.


Versailles, Giverny, Fontainebleau, Chartres and more are all possible day trips. You might want to look at some guide books that would suggest things to do in and around Paris.
Michael is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 12:01 AM
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I would suggest either Burgundy or Alsace for a few days. They are a short train ride away, have beautiful villages, are easy to drive around and have fabulous food.

To to get an idea, here are our photos:

Burgundy - take the short train ride to Dijon and pick up a car. We always stay in Beaune.
In Sept https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...57607493717331
At New Years https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...57607493717331

Alsace - take the short train ride to Strasbourg

happy planning!
jamikins is online now  
Jan 20th, 2018, 06:01 AM
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If you're 25, your mother is younger than I am, so could you two ride bikes? From Paris you can take a short train ride and bike in some beautiful countryside.

Coquelicot is online now  
Jan 26th, 2018, 03:28 AM
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With only a week in Paris (where you can't even scratch the surface in a week), I'd keep the out-of-city plans to a day-trip or two: Giverny, Chartres, etc.

For example, you'd spend the better part of a half-day going from Paris to Avignon (which admittedly is a fantastic location for exploring the south) when you include packing up, checking out, getting to/from the train with some extra time to spare that you'll need as non-locals, and reversing the process in Avignon. The TGV takes less than three hrs, but the TGV station is not in the center of town...you have to take a shuttle train, cab, or Uber which adds a half-hour or so. This essentially removes one whole day of sightseeing from your 7-day trip.

BTW...We were in Avignon in the fall and had no trouble renting a car with an automatic...but we made the reservation well in advance.

ssander is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 07:44 AM
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Staying in a vinyard is dead easy but you have to find them while train access tends to aimed inside cities and vinyards tend to be in the countryside. I'd find an area i was interested in, go to Google maps of that area and search on B&B and you'll find a fair few, especially in the mid Loire.Note that the whole of France is on holiday in August so lots of other tourists to push against.

You might prefer to just go out for a daily wine trip in which case I recommend catching the train to Reims or Epernay both in Champagne, Reims offers you the chance to see the ancient city while Epernay is more a market town but both have restaurants, posh champagne houses to visit. Because Epernay is so small it is easy to get into the countryside and hike into the hills with a bottle and a sandwich, find a stream and a piece of string and enjoy.
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 26th, 2018, 07:47 AM
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You mentioned you are flexible with when you are going in August. Any chance you could increase the amount of days spent in France?

That way, you could do 4-5 nights in Paris and then train out (towards the south for Provence or south/west for Bordeaux, to rent a car to explore the Dordogne area). You can rent an automatic in France, but it is more expensive. Read more about the different areas in France and look at pictures. It is a country that is extremely diverse. Including a major city like Paris and pairing it with a countryside destination is perfect.

My favorite is the Dordogne area. My second is Provence (Le Luberon).
ToujoursVoyager is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 08:18 AM
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How much time do you have for this trip. Does the 7-8 days include your travel time to/from the US?
mjs is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 10:16 AM
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Loire would be the closest to Paris and a few days there could be great - no car needed if want to take mini-bus tours to chateaux. To go farther south takes more time and just to spend a day or two in say Dordogne is not worth the long trek IMO.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 10:24 AM
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Nobody has mentioned Reims. You can take the train (only 45 minutes) and either spend one day or more, visiting champagne houses, the famous cathedral and some wonderful restaurants (check out Domaine Les Crayers).

Also, take a day trip to Giverney and take the train to Versailles. You'll get your garden fix and your chateau fix and get out of the city for a bit.

I took a friend to Paris for 9 days and we did both of those day trips. We didn't get to do half of the things we wanted to do in Paris.

Enjoy! I love mother daughter outings!
Belinda is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 11:13 AM
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Normandy and D-Day beaches are easy day trips or few-night stay - train to Bayeux via Caen - rent a car for a few days or take mini-bus tours from Bayeux.

You could also take train to M-S-Michel and stay night and take bus to Rennes and TGV it back to Paris.

Reims is a wonderful day trip too.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 11:51 AM
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So are Chantilly, Senlis, Fontainebleau, Pierrefonds, Auvers-sur-Oise, Crécy-la-Chapelle, Moret-sur-Loing, L'Isle des Impressionistes, Saint-Denis, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and plenty of other places nearby Paris where you will out of the city and have a totally different experience. And they are easy and inexpensive to get to and don't involve packing up and moving.

I really think you will not realize until you have touched down and started to find your way around Paris how very little time you actually have
StCirq is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 02:06 PM
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Yeah Paris and excursions could fill the whole week. But also getting out of Paris area and spending a few days elsewhere would be completely different - Avignon for example for few days would be much different. OP has said she wants to go somewhere else and doesn't care that much about Paris. Take an excursion out for a few days - trains are so fast it takes little time to go many different places for a few days.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 26th, 2018, 03:27 PM
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Matz and Nancy are less than 1h30 from Paris by TGV. Lille is 1 hour, Brussels is 1h20.
kerouac is online now  
Jan 28th, 2018, 01:20 PM
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Bruges Belgium - fantastically cute Bruges is about 2.5 hours from Paris by train and could make a nice 2-3 day stay with day trip to Gent and a short stop in Brussels?


No vineyards however. for that I'd consider Burgundy and base in Beaune and with a car drive the Burgundy Wine Road for loads of vineyards, small wine villages whose names are famous worldwide and wine houses to tour. Dijon is a nice city to pick up or return car to and take trains to Paris in little over an hour. Burgundy is one of the best places in all of France for vineyards, etc. And Beaune is a cute regional town.
PalenQ is offline  
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