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A free week in France - road trip / Paris advice needed

A free week in France - road trip / Paris advice needed

Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 02:26 AM
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A free week in France - road trip / Paris advice needed

We will be in Europe for around a month next May, and had planned on flying from London (our arrival city) to Amsterdam, spending 3 days there, then taking the train from AMS to the Loire Valley (Amboise) via Paris, touring the chateaux for 3 days, then heading back north to Paris for a week.

But now that I'm thinking about it, it seems a bit expensive - both in money and in travel time/frustration - to keep that itinerary, especially since neither my husband or I are dead-set on seeing Amsterdam. For various reasons, the London and Paris dates can *not* be changed, so that leaves 6 days in between those 2 cities to do whatever we want.

What would you do with these 6 days? Take the Eurostar from London then rent a car and drive around France? Where would you go - what's realistic without getting *too* far away from Paris? Normandy, Loire Valley, Alsace??

Alternatively, would you just add that extra time onto Paris? We've already been to Paris once before, for a week, and we feel like the week we're planning to be there this time will be enough. I wonder if, with 2 weeks in Paris, we'd love the extra time, falling into the rhythm of daily life and pretending, if only for a brief moment, that we live there. Or, with 2 weeks there, would we wonder what we'd missed out on? I have to say that the idea of renting a car and driving around the French countryside sounds incredibly appealing, but also more intimidating. We just now started considering the idea of scrapping Amsterdam and possibly the Loire Valley too, so I haven't done any research yet. Opinions are much appreciated!

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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 02:47 AM
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When exactly were you planning to be in France? You should keep in mind that there are 3-4 statutory holidays in France in May (May 1 - Labour Day, May 8 - Liberation Day; many people also get May 17 and some get May 27-28 (one is Assumption, one is Pentecost, I can never remember which is which). Some of these dates are also holidays elsewhere in Europe (especially May 1 and May 17). So there will be a lot of people taking long weekends away, which will result in flights, trains and hotels booking up (and being more expensive), crowds on the roads and in airports and train stations, etc. It's not a reason not to come, but you should make bookings well in advance and try to avoid travelling on the start/end dates of the long weekend.

If you haven't booked your Eurostar tickets already, you might soon discover that it's often cheaper to fly to Paris than to take the train. (When you factor in travel to the airport, check-in times, luggage retrieval etc, flying takes more time and is less convenient than the train - hence, Eurostar can charge a premium.)

Instead of renting a car in Paris to drive around, why don't you take the train to a French destination, and then rent a car when you get there?

The Loire is certainly a possibility. Some other options might be the Champagne region (a trip to Epernay could even be done as a day trip), Bordeaux region or Carcassone.

Here is a link to my trip report on a driving tour of the Champagne region: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34845706
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 04:49 AM
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Hi T,

Check cheap flights at www.whichbudget.com

You can fly
LGW/Toulouse and visit the Dordogne
LGW/Nice or Marseille and visit Provence

There are also flights out of Stansted


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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 07:48 AM
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There are regular flights to Quimper in Brittany which would be a little different from the standard Provence-Burgundy-Dordogne areas. Rent a car there, see Brittany, some of the Loire, drop the car off in Chartres and train to Paris. The last part of my report covers our Brittany travels:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...2&tid=34444403
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 08:00 AM
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Were it me I'd fly into Amsterdam and go see the colour in Holland.......it must be fabulous in May.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 08:00 AM
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You have lots of possibilities of places to go and see in France. I agree that you should check on the flights to France, especially if you might go somewhere other than Paris first. The Eurostar really only makes sense if you're going directly to Paris, and even then, it's pretty much a tossup between airplane or train, depending on timing, costs, and your personal preference.

With a lot of time on your trip scheduled so far for cities (London and Paris, and Amsterdam if you leave it in), spending time in rural France would be a good balance. You could visit the Dordogne, Provence, Burgundy, the Loire Valley or Burgundy, just to start a list (and listed in my order of preference). From London, you could get cheap flights into Bordeaux or Toulouse, Nice, Paris (for the Loire) or Dijon. Pick up a rental car, spend many leisurely days, then drive to Paris, or take a train or plane, depending on where you end up. All of those would work easily, relatively economically and give you a great different perspective on France!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 08:17 AM
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Take a cheap flight to Malaga, Spain (Costa del Sol). Nice weather and you could drive to Cadiz, Seville, Granada, Rhonda, etc. Or just laze on the beach.

http://www.easyjet.com/en/book/index.asp

kaneda is offline  
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