Advice on France itinerary

Apr 7th, 2002, 01:31 PM
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Advice on France itinerary

I would appreciate any comments/advice on my France itinerary. (Background: I'll be traveling w/my husband from May 7-15, we are in our late 20's, love wine, don't like crowds of tourists (I know this sounds hypocritical) but will tolerate them if the site is spectacular, love history and seeing local cultural life, enjoy nightlife, love variety. Also, we are thinking of getting the France Rail 'n Drive pass, adding extra car rental days as necessary):
- Arrive Paris, stay 1 nite.
- Train to Nice, pick up rental car, stay 2 nites (day trips to Monaco & Cannes, explore towns along Riviera coast)
- Drive to Toulon?? (looking for an alternative place), stay 1 nite
- Drive to Aix en Provence, stay 1 nite
- Drop off car & take train to Beaune, pick up car & explore, stay 1 nite (or, drive to Beaune, then drop off car in Beaune/Dijon)
- Train from Dijon to Paris, stay 2 nites in Paris

My main concerns are 1) is Toulon worth visiting/staying overnite, 2) is 1 nite enough in Beaune, 3) is 1 nite enough in Aix, 4) is 2 nites enough in the Nice area, 5) is the train/drive plan feasible, or does it sound like a traveling nightmare?

Thanks so much.

Apr 7th, 2002, 01:35 PM
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Awfully rushed and scurrying about - - but still quite do-able. If you are wine lovers, why not forget Nice? Otherwise, I am not sure a very specific question here?

Is/are "X" night(s) enough? For me, maybe no - - or sometimes, yes. For you, perhaps only you can say.

Best wishes,

Apr 7th, 2002, 01:39 PM
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You don't like crowds of tourists, yet you're going to Nice, Monaco and Cannes.

I believe that your main concern should be...when will we have any time to enjoy our trip with all the packing and unpacking and travelling.

My wife and I went to Provence in September and we stayed nine nights at one hotel in Avignon and took daytrips.

Then we went to Beaune and spent two days and then three days in Lyon.

Perhaps you may want to consider changing your itenerary and look for one place to actually park, enjoy and smell the lavender and drink the wines.

Just a thought.
Apr 7th, 2002, 01:39 PM
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My husband and I just got back from France last week, and to me, it sounds like you are taking on a lot, but I can address one of your questions, concerning "is 1 day in Aix enough?" In my opinion, yes. The Cours Mirabeau(heart of town) is totally torn up with construction, and many shops, restaurants, etc. we found were closed. Aix is also a thriving "college town" however, and for people your age, might be just perfect. (We are in our early 50's, so didn't find it so perfect) Also, if you are travelling there when you will be staying a Sunday night, there is virtually no where to eat, so be prepared. When we were there, we stayed at Mas d'Entremont which was beautiful, though its restaurant was also closed because it was a Sun. PM . Have a wonderful trip!
Apr 7th, 2002, 02:02 PM
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Bamboo---Avoid Monaco and Cannes unless you have some specific interest there. From Nice, take your day car trips up into the perched villages above Nice. In my opinion, Toulon is a nice city but it's a port town and a bit grungy; but I would rather stay in one of the coastal towns not too far from Toulon, and perhaps drive through some of the nearby charming villages--Cassis, Bandol, Le Lavandou, Cavalaire, to name a few. Another great place to stay is out in Giens, south of Hyeres, surrounded by sea and scenery. As for wine, you'll find it everywhere. If you like red wine, there is a somewhat less known wine of appelation "Cotes de Provence" that I like a lot. Otherwise, you'll find wine wherever you go.
Apr 7th, 2002, 02:39 PM
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Bamboo, we do 'pack-and-go' trips all the time. However, I do think you are putting an awful lot of energy to get to a 1 night in Beaune - you lose the advantage of TGV service from Provence to Paris, since you'll probably have to switch to a slower train in Lyon. It could take up to 5 hours - that, and time to pick up the car, and you're awfully short of time in Beaune.

There are others more knowledgeable of Provence on this board, but were I interested in wine, I'd possibly take that 1 night in Beaune and put it in northern Provence somewhere near Chateauneuf-de-Pape (near Orange) for example. Then take the TGV straight from Avignon to Paris.
Apr 7th, 2002, 02:44 PM
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Thanks - the responses are quick!

I know our itinerary is a bit hectic, but we would like to visit Nice, and since we are flying in/out of Paris, we figured we should enjoy some of the in between places on our way back from Nice.

I think I will nix Toulon and stay an extra nite in Nice. Based in Nice, we will take more time exploring the surrounding, smaller areas. Thanks for the small town suggestions (They are not listed my guide book, so I will look for them online).

Monaco sounded fun b/c of the casinos. Maybe we'll nix that too. Because we will be there during the Cannes film fesival, we thought the town would have an especially fun & festive atmosphere.

The info about construction in Aix is much appreciated.

I am going to try to plan our trip down to the minute so that we make good use of our limited time. (Last year we went to Oaxaca and had a loose/open itinerary (we planned to just explore and enjoy), and although it was wonderful and beautiful, we got bored quickly (I would go again, but next time, I would plan more side trips).)

Thanks again!!
Apr 7th, 2002, 02:48 PM
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Thanks Sue, for the idea of switching Beaune w/another day in Provence. I hadn't thought about that. For some reason, I was thinking that to taste wine, I had to go to "wine country." But as Wayne pointed out, one can drink wine everywhere.
Apr 7th, 2002, 03:36 PM
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Bamboo, you mention the casinos in Monaco. There are only two there -- "The Casino" and the American casino. They are both small and very unlike Vegas casinos. "The Casino" requires appropriate dress, i.e., jacket and tie for the gents.

Monaco is a great town to explore, and Nice is one of our favorites.

Hope this helps.
Apr 7th, 2002, 04:23 PM
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If you are going to be spending a couple of days in Nice then I would recommend a trip to both St Paul de Vence & Eze - 2 gorgeous charming little hilltop villages. I personally preferred them a lot more than Monaco & Cannes.
Apr 10th, 2002, 09:03 PM
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Apr 10th, 2002, 09:18 PM
Gr egg
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What kind of wine do you like? France has different wines from each of the regions you mentioned. Sue's advice makes sense if you enjoy the Rhone varietal (my personal favorite). However if burdundy is your preference, Beaune/Dijon would be perfect and I would suggest 2 nights. Provence has wonderful wines (rose, the wines of Bandol, on & on...). Think about the 1 night stay overs and consider 2 nights. This gives you at least one full day to explore the area. You might also consider Lyon-about half way between Dijon and Aix-where wine is in abundance and is also considered by many to be the gastronomic center of France.
I'll be in Beaune, Lyon & Grenoble in June.
Apr 10th, 2002, 10:22 PM
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Bamboo---For wine- I would personally choose the Burgundy area- we spent a week there- we hit the larger cities of Dijon, and Beaune is WONDERFUL--also there are some terrific chateaus to stay overnite at-- and I definitely
second the suggestion of LYON-as far as food and wine,it is to die for and has great museums,roman ruins,ampitheater ,the Rhone river etc.

I am not familiar with the train situation because when I did Burgundy, I went specifically on a WINE and GOURMET tour-with total of 14 people...

and saw Lyon when I did a river cruise down the Rhone--But fell in love with BOTH areas--

AS far as Cannes and Nice and Monte Carlo--M.C is good to see the MONACO palace and that's about it ,unless the GRAN PRIX is running-- and May 7th is around the time for the Gran Prix--if that is the case,you may not be able to find a hotel room---and it may be outragously expensive.... I happen to love Cannes but think that St.Paul de Vence or Eze are much more picturesque.
Be aware that the beaches on the Riviera are rocks-not sand like in US.

In any event,have a blast!

Apr 11th, 2002, 03:48 AM
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Gregg, I agree that the Burgundy area produces different wine than Provence, but an 8 night itinerary is tight for visiting three separate areas (Paris, Riviera, Provence) let alone add a fourth. Mine was a purely practical suggestion, based on existing constraints.
Apr 14th, 2002, 08:41 PM
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up, the Rhone valley.
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