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Before I Finalize My Itinerary - Paris, Burgundy, Nice...thoughts?

Before I Finalize My Itinerary - Paris, Burgundy, Nice...thoughts?

Old Feb 25th, 2009, 12:03 PM
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Before I Finalize My Itinerary - Paris, Burgundy, Nice...thoughts?

I have posted queries and done a lot of research on this website and I am thankful for your insight and suggestions. I am working on honing our itinerary for our first trip to France. Husband and I are in our mid 30s/early 40s and we enjoy food and wine, local culture, a little night life, some museums (we enjoy seeing highlights but have experienced museum overload in the past), etc.

Here is what we have so far:
17 days door to door starting September 13, 2009.
* PARIS: arrive the following day on Monday morning for 6 nights. We will stay in the 6th arrondissement. I am honed in on Hotel La Perle, Hotel de l’Abbaye and Hotel Relais Saint Sulpice -- all 3 stars and around $200-300+/night. Have you stayed at any of these? I am looking for a central location and near cafes and some sights. By the way --are Paris hotels open to discounted rates? When I email an inquiry, I am not getting any better price then what’s posted on their websites (perhaps I am booking too far out??)

Plans we have while in Paris:
We like to start a new city with the double-decker bus tour (touristy I know, but it gives us the lay of the land and city highlights – it’s a tradition for us)
Museums with museum pass in hand: Lourve (over the course of a couple days), Rodin, d'Orsay (perhaps others that you recommend)
Paris highlights (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, more beautiful churches, cafes, and general exploration)
A day trip to Versailles (this is a must for me since we decided to go to Burgundy instead of Loire Valley and I love castles and beautiful estates.) Tips on making this day trip great is appreciated. Is this pretty easy on the train or do you recommend a tour group?
Possible day trip to London (this may be a must if we can coordinate meeting some friends who live in England). Any tips on making this a worthwhile day of sightseeing before we see our friends would be helpful.

*BURGUNDY: Then we rent a car in Paris and drive to Burgundy for 3 nights where we will stay in Beaune at the Le Cep. Here were are considering an extra night because we'd like to:
- Explore and enjoy the town of Beaune
- Wine tasting and explore the countryside by car
- Go on a hot air balloon ride
- Drive to Dijon to tour the city, buy mustard, etc.
- Perhaps tour a castle and/or great estate. What are the good ones to tour in this area?
Do you think we need an extra day at the expense of a day in Nice to enjoy this part of France?

~~ By the way…. on our way from Beaune to Nice is there an interesting place to stop for lunch in Provence ? – someplace in a town that is quintessential Provence since we are not spending time in this area.

* NICE: Then we drive to Nice for 5 nights where we hope to stay at hotel Le Palais de la Méditerranée (assuming our budget can withstand this 4 star; this seems like a "nice" place to splurge). We also considered Antibes, but some on this sight encouraged Nice. Here we plan to:
- Do a couple days beachside to relax (we like to rent lounge chairs with book and cocktail in hand)
- Explore Nice
- Day trips to Monte Carlo, Eze, and any other places of interest
This is where we hope to slow the pace, relax, and get some sun.

Then (because we had to do a round trip with credit card points) we take an Air France flight from Nice to Paris on a Monday afternoon for a stay at a Paris Airport Hotel (likely the Hyatt since we get hotel points for that) and, if we're up for it, taxi or train into Paris for our last Parisian dinner and view of the Eiffel Tower before heading back to San Francisco on Tuesday morning.

What are your thoughts and opinions about this itinerary? What am I missing ?

Thanks all!
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 12:11 PM
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Hi cbc-

I'll only comment on the Paris section. Since you will be there for 6 days, I think you'd be better off (and probably more preferable) to rent an apartment. Most likely you can get something cheaper with MORE space. Take a look at this Paris Apartment thread with lots of suggestions and reviews:

Versailles is easy to do on your own. Do a search here, or take a look at Rick Steves' guidebook, I'm sure he has a hand-holding section on how to visit Versailles. Since you're going in Sept, you may want to check to see if the fountain show is still on in Sept. They are only available on weekends, so if they're still on in Sept, you should plan your trip there on a weekend.

And since you're arriving on a Monday, you probably will benefit from the Navigo Decouverte for transport. It's a plastic card which you can load a 1-week transport pass on, and will most likely be the cheapest option for getting around. Read this thread for more info/details:
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Hi cbc; You could consider Carpentras for a lunch stop. Nice town and not too far off the motorway. Your drive might take about six hours. Also, try this. www.burgundyeye.com
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 01:08 PM
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On the way to Burgundy you might want to visit Vaux-le-Vicomte. In Burgundy itself, Tanlay is worth a visit. It's north of Dijon so if your home base is Beaune, you might want to see it on the way down. I've just posted pictures of Burgundy which might interest you.
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 02:35 PM
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I stayed in the Hotel de le Abbaye 10 years ago and loved it. It was easy to metro or walk from there. But i agree with earlier poster to look at apartments to save alot of money and have more room!
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 03:08 PM
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Hi; It's probably going to take you three hours to reach Beaune. On the way, you should consider visiting Auxerre. This city is right on the motorway. However, one town not to miss, is Vezelay, close to Auxerre. These are places you probably would not 'double back' to see. There are so many places to visit in Burgundy, three days canno't do it justice. We know, we only had three days last September. iris1745/dick
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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>>What am I missing ?
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 04:00 PM
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The Château de Tanlay is definitely worth seeing, as it's Renaissance in style and still has its furnishings; many châteaux in the Loire Valley are barren inside. From Beaune, head over to the Roman town of Autun, with its magnificent Gothic cathedral perched high on a hill--there's also a Roman amphitheater that's still in use. Nearby is the Château de Rochepot, which has a fine example of a Burgundian-style roof, all different colors.

The fine-arts museum in Dijon is first class; try to pay a visit.

I wouldn't try to make it from Burgundy to Nice in one day--that's overly ambitious, even on the autoroute. Break your trip for a night somewhere interesting, like the perched village of Le Poët-Laval in the Drôme Provençal. We like the small hotel and restaurant Les Hospitaliers, and a bit up the road is the charming small town of Dieulefit. Le Poët-Laval is only about 20 minutes or so off the Autoroute du Soleil, and in the morning you can be off on your journey to Nice sans exhaustion. So I'd be tempted to add that extra day so you can enjoy the drive.
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 04:27 PM
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Hi; I can't disagree with either 'underhill' or 'stu' on what to visit on the way to Beaune. They are the resident experts along with a few others, on France. But, choices are always the easiest way to make a decision. See www.wikipedia.org/wiki/vezelay and www.chateaux-france.com/tanlay Without a doubt, Tanlay is beautiful. iris1745/dick
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 04:32 PM
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yk: Thanks for the advice re apartments. For our first trip, we're hoping that a hotel stay will give us the benefit of personal directions and advice from hotel staff and a clean room when we return from touring -- which is why I am leaning toward a hotel for that length of time. But something to consider...
iris1745: We will consider Vezelay on the way to Beaune - looks charming.
Stu: September is our favorite time of year just about anywhere (including SF Bay Area l'Isle sur la Sorgue sounds like a good option if we drive all the way through. I am imagining Beaune to Nice something like driving from SF Bay Area to Disneyland (which I've done many times and can tolorate if it means we'll wake up overlooking Mediterranean Sea...)
Underhill: Les Hospitaliers looks quite charming and a definate place to stay if Husband thinks we need an overnight stop (he'll be doing the driving).
Thanks all!
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Old Feb 26th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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Hi cb,

>we rent a car in Paris and drive to Burgundy<

Compare the costs and convenience of taking the train to Dijon and picking up the car there with the costs of driving.

See www.voyages-sncf.com and www.viamichelin.com.

Why stay near the airport and travel into town, when you can stay in town and take a cab or shuttle to the airport?

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Old Feb 26th, 2009, 07:57 AM
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I was going to suggest the same about taking the TGV to Dijon, until I did som calculations & found out their travel day is Sunday - when all the car rental offices are closed.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 10:52 AM
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An update: We are now considering renting an apartment in Paris for our 6 nights there. This is an entirely new concept for our vacation travel. I have reviewed the links in the Paris apartment thread and see some nice places. I am looking for advice on this one because it seems a little risky to me -- mostly because I am addicted to Trip Advisor and this site for comprehensive reviews. I see some nice "looking" places on VRBO but many do not have reviews on this site (can I trust the reviews on the apartment page? I figured the owner would have control in posting only positive reviews ??)... my initial questions are:

What is the typical arrangment regarding deposit, payment, keys?

We would really like to stay in a central location in the 6th - how should we approach finding something nice for 2 people?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 11:20 AM
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There is a thread that might have been topped a day or two ago, with lots of comments about places to rent in Pairs.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 2nd, 2009, 11:41 AM
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Going to Versailles on your own is very easy. I believe you said you were getting a museum pass, if you don't do this, be sure and buy your ticket in advance (you can do a combo with your train ticket). It will save you many hours in line at Versailles. I also recommend renting bikes to explore the gardens, if you enjoy biking. You can get them by the Grand Canal.

On wine tasting in Burgundy, its not like California where many of the wineries are open to the public and you can just pop in any time. Be sure you research what is open and when if you want to go it on your own. We took a nice all day tour with Burgundy Discovery that included stopping at 3 wineries and lunch (and A LOT of wine tasting). A bit of a splurge for us, but it was worth it. We also rented bikes one morning in Beaune and rode out into the vineyards and that was one of my favorite activities on our trip.
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