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Burgundy, Lyon, Provence, Riviera or Normandy in November

Burgundy, Lyon, Provence, Riviera or Normandy in November

Aug 8th, 2003, 02:14 PM
  #1  
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Burgundy, Lyon, Provence, Riviera or Normandy in November

My boyfriend and I are traveling to France the last week of November/first week of December. We'll be there for a total of 11 days NOT including the 2 days travelling there and back.

We will probably spend about 3 days in Paris. So that leaves 8 days in which we're trying to decide whether to go to:

Burgundy region
Lyon
Provence
the Riviera
Normandy

or some combination thereof. Is there anything about this time of year that would make any of these places more or less appealing than they otherwise would be during a warmer or more tourist-filled time of year? Or does this time of year not make much difference for any of these places?

Thanks.
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Aug 8th, 2003, 02:42 PM
  #2  
sandi
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You might find that alot of hotels and restaurants are closed. Taking some vacation for themselves before the Christmas/New Years holiday.

In the Provence area you have to be aware of the Mistral winds that blow in from the mountains north of there. But they can come at any time or not.

With the way the weather has been in Europe this past summer, who knows what will be in November.

Do you plan to rent a car to enjoy the many small towns in some of the areas, or depend on the trains?

You can read all guidebooks and get all kinds of references, but remember, it's your vacation. And you've picked areas all over France - all very different. What is of interest to you in any of these areas? What do you want to see, do, enjoy.
 
Aug 9th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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Is this your first time in Paris? If so, you might want to consider spending more time in Paris. I don't feel three days is really adaquate.

The weather will be on the little cool side and you may want to try the south of France. Monaco and along the Rivera might be a little more comfortable for that time of the year.

I have been to Paris five times and three years ago I spent all of two weeks in Paris. Paris has a lot to offer. You might consider taking some day trips out of Paris, like; Versailles, Charter or visit the chateau in Angers. It is hard to say, what are your interests and what are you trying to accomplish on this trip.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 03:02 PM
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Sandi and Randy--Thanks for your advice. I've tried numerouse times to reply, giving additional information (about 4 paragraphs), but for some reason I always get an error message. I'm testing to see if a shorter reply will be accepted.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 03:05 PM
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I can't believe it--it worked.

Here's part 1 of my original reply:

Sandi and Randy (wow, you rhyme!)--thanks for your advice.

To answer your questions: My interests in Burgundy and Provence are admiring the landscape and the setting, exploring wineries and country restaurants. My interest in Lyon stems from the descriptions I've read in this forum of Lyon being like Paris in an earlier era--i.e., a more charming, simpler, quainter version of Paris today--and I envision hanging out in cafes, quaint shops, wonderful architecture, and of course the food that I've read makes Lyon the "gastronomic capital" of France. In the Riviera, my interest is in the scenic beauty and the relatively warm weather (I was thinking about the eastern part of the Riviera, perhaps as far as Menton, which I've read that the Mistral does not effect because it is geographically protected.) In Normandy my interest is in the historic sites.

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Aug 13th, 2003, 03:07 PM
  #6  
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... me again--so far so good. Here's part 2 of my original reply (and if you 2 are still reading, thanks for your patience!)
. . . . . . . .

While we prefer not having to bother with a car, we realize that other than in Paris and Lyon, it would probably be easier and more convenient to get around by car, so we're prepared to rent one where necessary.

I too am tempted to stay longer than 3 days in Paris. I've been to Paris once before, many years ago. My boyfriend has never been. One thing we may consider is visiting Normandy as a daytrip from Paris.

Thanks for any further advice you can provide.

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Aug 13th, 2003, 03:11 PM
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Some practical considerations:

The weather in Normandy in November could be awful.

Lyon is in Burgundy, so you needn't treat them as separate places.

It's not worth it to rent a car for less than three days in most instances - i.e., you'll pay as much for a day or two as for three.

Personally, I'd take the train to Lyon, spend a day or two there, rent a car there and drive down to Provence and explore. Then you can drop the car off at the TGV station in Avignon and take the train back to Paris.

I also agree if it's your first trip, three days is not sufficient for Paris.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 03:44 PM
  #8  
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StCirq, thanks for your advice.

Since you suggest Lyon and Provence, is this based in part on the weather or numbers of tourists in Nov/Dec, or is your suggestion made regardless of these factors? And either way, do you have any particular recommendations (restaurants, neighborhoods, historic or scenic areas) in these areas?

Also, my understanding is that Lyon, while quite close to the Burgundy region, is actually considered part of the Rhone Valley (based on several travel guides and 2 French websites).
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Aug 13th, 2003, 03:58 PM
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I personally would skip Lyon, or just a day there at most. When looking back on the places I've been in France, Lyon just doesn't stand out. I don't want to offend the Lyonnais, but it didn't remind me of Paris at all. To me, it is an industrial city with a few good sites and restaurants. I haven't read what the other Fodorites have had to say, but the three times I've been there haven't given me a yearning to explore further.

However, I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety in the Provence region. I was skeptical at first, since it is such a popular region for travels, I don't like overly touristy areas. There are the numerous Roman ruins in Arles, Vaison la Romaine, Orange, Carpentras, Nimes, to name just a few. The region near Avignon has a wonderful wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Or the Cote D'Azur with Monaco, Cannes, Eze, Antibe, Villefranche, all close to each other but with very distinct styles. Just getting there through the Gorges du Verdon and Gorges du Loup from the North down to the coast is very scenic.

Good luck in your trip planning, it sounds wonderful to have 11 days straight with which to explore!
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Aug 13th, 2003, 11:33 PM
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You're right, Lyon's not in Burgundy, it's in the Rhône valley, but admittedly it's still pretty close.

I totally disagree with expatmommy's suggestion to skip Lyon , although it's true that it's not just a quainter version of Paris. (Of course, perhaps I'm biased - I've always preferred Lyon to Paris, partly because it's laid back, less full of tourists and business-people and con artists, and because ultimately, Lyon is a city that belongs to its people. After 3 years living in Paris I couldn't wait to move back to Lyon!)

The architecture and history are very different from Paris - the Italian influence is very strong, and the colours of the buildings (ochre, apricot, pink) tell you straight away that you're nearing the south of France.

As for the assertion that it's an industrial town - well that's true, there is a great deal of industry based around the city but I can't imagine why you would be visiting those parts of town. They are miles away from the centre and you'd only notice them if you were driving through.

A day or two staying in the city centre would give you ample time to visit the Roman amphitheatres, Vieux Lyon, take a boat up or down the Saone, wander through the Place des Terreaux and explore the "Traboules" that served Lyon in its days as a silk weaving centre. Lots of lovely pedestrian streets, open squares and fountains.

The rue Mercière and the rue des Marronniers are two quaint streets on the Presqu'Ile ("Peninsula") packed with little restaurants - quite touristy but equally popular with the locals. Also, the rue St Jean that runs through the old town is another street packed with restaurants, although you'll need to be careful when choosing as some are better than others (I like the Auberge Rabelais for cosy winter dining).

If you manage to be in Lyon for the 8th of December, then you'll be able to enjoy the "Fête des Lumières" - the Festival of Lights, when the whole city lights up with multicoloured displays and trompe-l'oeil light shows, and people place candles in their windows. The Christmas market on Place Carnot will also be open at the beginning of December.

Provence is just a short drive away, as is the Burgundy region.

HTH
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Aug 14th, 2003, 04:52 AM
  #11  
jmv
 
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No one seems to suggest the Riviera. Why not? I hope there's no terrible reason because we've booked 8 days in Menton in the middle of November. Have always wanted to see how mild the temps are in that region during the really off season and got a good air fare so we're going to try it. We're looking forward to seeing beautiful, uncrowded sights. We know some thingss will be closed but still hope to be able to get to lots of places with far less traffic and hassles.
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Aug 14th, 2003, 06:04 AM
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Having spent time in all of the places you propose, I would suggest Provence. November is a little early for the Mistral and you are likely to have more temperate weather there than further north. I would suggest at least 5 days in Paris, TGV to Avignon, rent a car to explore Provence, return the car and take the TGV back to Paris.
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Aug 14th, 2003, 06:06 AM
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mmr:

Yes, Lyon is not technically in the same region, but rather just south of it - in terms of food, culture, etc., I guess I just think of it as being much more Burgundian than Provençal. That said, I wouldn't skip it, even if you only stay a day. Some of the best food in France can be found there. Other locales in Burgundy are very appealing, like Dijon and Beaune.

In Provence, I would focus on the Bouche-du-Rhône area - St-Rémy, Les Baux, Arles...with excursions to the Camargue and Nîmes if you have the time. There is plenty to see and do.

You won't be bothered by lots of tourists anywhere in France in November. Much as I love Normandy, unless you want to deal with potentially wicked weather, I'd personally rather go south.

And I didn't mention the Riviera because I personally dislike it. With a few exceptions I find it lacking in most of the things I go to France for. Others obviously love it.
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Aug 25th, 2003, 08:10 AM
  #14  
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I have been away for a while--thanks to all, and especially StCirq, Hanl and expatmommy for details. This forum is such a great resource! Based on your feedback, I will do some more research and probably come back with more specific questions.
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