Critique our France Travel Plans Please

Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:03 AM
  #1  
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Critique our France Travel Plans Please

We are planning a second France foray April/May 2006. Please comment on our choice of place, time, hotel.

Paris - 8 days - Hotel Monge
Lyon - 5 days - La Residence
St Remy - 5 days - Les Mas des Carassins
Domme - 5 days - L'Esplanade
Loire - 5 days - Amboise
or - 2 days - Angers/3 days Amboise
or - 3 days - Amboise/2 days Chartres
Paris - 3 days - Hotel Monge
Loire choices?
Thanks in advance.
robjame is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:09 AM
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Can I come?
SusanP is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:13 AM
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That plan is all messed up, looks like I need to come along and fix things. Please advise about the restuarant line up.
degas is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:31 AM
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You're very smart to stay for 5 days in most places as many people spend far too much time packing up and switching locations every two days.
amwosu is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:44 AM
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Wonderful itinerary!

I like the Angers/Amboise option. You could easily visit Chartres on your way back to Paris. I've enjoyed both the Lion d'Or and Le Choiseul for Amboise accommodations, but I think the place most Fodorites rave about is Le Manoir des Minimes.
StCirq is online now  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:51 AM
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SusanP beat me to it.

My comment is WOW!!
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:52 AM
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Looks good to me. The only comments I would have would be drivin by the places I prefer over others.

I would allocate more time to Provence & the Dordogne than to the Loire. Except for the Chateaux, Provence & the Dordogne have a lot more to offer. IMHO. Many people get "chateaux-ed out" after about 4 - which you can easily do in 2 days, plus the gardens at Villandry. Actually, I think 5 days is a little short in both the Dordogne & Provence.

Also, there is some beautiful terrain between Provence and the Dordogne - north of the freeway. Consider a 2-3 day slow drive through that area. If you want some specific suggestions, e-mail me at [email protected] & ask for my Languedoc itinerary.

Does your Lyon visit include a lot of time in Burgundy or Beaujolais? If you plan to spend all or most of that time in Lyon itself, I think 8 days in Paris followed by 5 days in Lyon would be too much "big city" for a lot of people. We spent a very active 24 hours in Lyon, and saw all I wanted to see. I think 2 nights/2 full days there is plenty to see everything in the old section of town.

I'm sure you have a reason for 8 days in Paris at the beginning and then 3 days at the end. If would be more efficient, of course, to go directly to the CDG airport from Tours on the TGV & skip the second Paris visit (or add a couple more days to the 8 days at the beginning of your adventure).

Stu Dudley
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 08:02 AM
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If you are getting around by rental car, then use www.mappy.com for driving routes and approximate times. Consider how much driving you can tolerate in a day. St Remy to Domme is over 500 km. Albi is one choice for an over night stop if needed.


RonZ is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 08:33 AM
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Thank you for your comments. Is it a general feeling that 5 days in each of Lyon and the Loire is too much?
robjame is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Maybe slightly less in Lyon, unless you're exploring the area in a car, but certainly no less on the Loire. It's usually delightful at this season, unless global warming wrecks the weather.
Grahamh49 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 08:51 AM
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IMO, 5 days just about anywhere in France is never too much. We spent 10 days in the Loire a few years ago and didn't come close to running out of things to do and see (and eat and drink). And I spent three days in Lyon in August and would have killed for another two!

On the other hand, you could definitely stretch out the Dordogne-Provence portion of the trip by a couple of days without seriously compromising the rest of the vacation, but I say that because I'm partial to those two areas and because it's a long haul between them. Maybe consider knocking a day off Lyon and a day off the Loire and adding two days to travel between Provence and the Dordogne.

But if this is a trip that's meant to get a feel for different areas of the country, I can see why allocating the same amount of time to each makes perfect sense.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 09:43 AM
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In Provence and the Dordogne, you will find a lot more variety of things to do & see than you will find in the Loire. I don't think the countryside in the Loire is as interesting as Provence & the Dordogne - and not as interesting as the Languedoc region either. Like I said, you may get chateaux-ed out in the Loire, but I can't imagine running out of things to do in Provence or the Dordogne in 5 days. You may have a letdown in the Loire, after visiting Provence & Dordogne. Perhaps have a contingecy plan if you get finished with the Chateaux area earlier than you plan on. You could visit Nantes or La Rochelle or Chartres.

On your way from the Dordogne to the Loire, visit Valencay and Bouges, which will break up the long drive.

In the Loire, you can pack more into a day than you can in the other regions, because many/most Chateaux do not close for a 2 hr lunch break like they do for many caves and castles in the Dordogne and elsewhere. This is another good reason why I'm suggesting that you take time away from the Loire & add it to Provence & Dordogne, or the area between the two. Also, I think the cities in Provence and the Dordogne are more interesting than those in the Loire. Tours was hit pretty bad by bombs in WWII, and large portions of it were not built back as nicely as they should have been. The interesting part of Tours is only a couple of square blocks. The cathedral is quite nice. I think Aix, Arles, Avignon, Uzes, Nimes, Montpellier, Sarlat, Figeac, and Perigueux are more interesting cities than any city in the Loire. Same can be said about the dozens of small villages.

BTW, both my wife & I are chateau freaks - we visit any & all that we can find - even the no-name ones in ruins. Most people have a lower threshold than we do, and if that's the case with you, I bet you will wish you were back in Domme at the l'Esplanade & looking out over that wonderful view of the Dordogne.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 10:16 AM
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I agree w/degas, some additional input may be in order. We, of course, would ask for very little for our less than expert advise...where shall we meet then ???
SAnParis is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 10:32 AM
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I would also agree with StuDudley re a little less time in the Loire and Lyon, and more time in Provence and the Dordogne. But travel time and modes of travel will effect your time allocation, so for example, 5 days in the Loire might actually be 4 days when you factor in travel time. (I've visited all the places you mention except Lyon, so I can't say much about that location.)

Consider what kinds of things you like to do and see. In Provence, there aren't so many chateaux (any?), but there's wine and vineyards (as there are in the Loire, as well), Roman history and ruins; and the coast, if you go a bit further south. In the Dordogne, there's the pre-historic ruins and medieval chateaux, and water activities if the weather is good. The terrain in Provence and the Dordogne is more dramatic and, IMHO, more beautiful (especially the Dordogne). The Loire Valley is scenic, but not punctuated by rock formations, cliffs or hill towns (features of the other two areas). The dining in all the places is superb, of course.
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 11:50 AM
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I agree with Stu about going to Lyon after 8 days in Paris. We were in Paris for a week a few years ago and we did not appreciate Lyon as much. We cut our time there short. Just too much city! We do want to return to Lyon someday so we can enjoy it on its own merit without comparing it to Paris.

I also agree about putting more time in Provence or Dordogne rather than the Loire. We were in Chartres for a day (no overnight) and we thought that was enough.

Sounds like a wonderful trip in the making!
wren is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 02:20 PM
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OK. You have convinced us. Chopping Lyon and Loire to 3 days each gives us 4 additional days. Would you add two days each to Provence and Dordogne or add one day each to these areas and use two days for the drive between these two? Stu, StCirq and others - Where would you stay on this route?
robjame is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:21 PM
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>>>Would you add two days each to Provence and Dordogne or add one day each to these areas and use two days for the drive between these two? Stu, StCirq and others - Where would you stay on this route?<<

I would chop Lyon to 2 nights, and leave early for Provence - but that's not one of the choices you are inquiring about.

Six nights in the Dordogne and Provence would be fine - but seven even better. Really - toss a coin to determine which option is best for you.

If I were to make this trip and stay two nights in 1 place in between Provence & the Dordogne, I would choose to stay in Estaing on the Lot river. Estaing is a lovely medieval village with two excellent & inexpensive restaurants which also have rooms to rent. There are about 4 other small villages within 30 mins of Estaing that are classified as "The Most Beaufiful Villages of France" - including Conques - a real gem. 1 1/2 hours away is the fabulous Gorge du Tarn. On the way to Estaing, some of the best caves with stalactites & stalagmights can be visited. Actually, there are about 4 caves in this region that are better than any in the Dordogne, IMHO.

Pezenas is a town that will remind you of St Remy, and it has a fabulous Sat morning market. Close by is St Guilhem le Desert - another "Most Beautiful" village, and next to it is the Clamouse cave - one of the four that I think are better than the Dordogne caves for stalactites & mites.

We've stayed in 4 different locations between Provence & the Dordogne - usually for 2 weeks at a time.

If your plans call for an arrival on a Saturday, have you considered renting a Gite for one week in Provence or the Dordogne?

Make sure you won't hit Lyon on a Sunday or Monday, when most shops will be closed.

I don't think you have e-mailed me for my free itinerary for the Languedoc region. It's 35 pages and includes my favorite villages, sites, drives, and has extensive restaurant reviews. You can also find my restaurant descriptions on Peter's Languedoc Page
http://www.the-languedoc-page.com/

I also have 20+ page itineraries for Provence and also the Dordogne.

Stu Dudley



StuDudley is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:46 PM
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I just checked Peter's Languedoc page, and my restaurant listing do not seem to be functioning properly. You can only see about 1/4 of them - "next page" doesn't seem to be working.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 04:26 PM
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I don't know Estaing, but if I were adding 4 days to this part of the trip, I'd drive from Provence through Aigues-Mortes, with a stop there, along the coast to Montpellier and spend a night there. Then I'd continue on the autoroute to Toulouse and get off there and meander through Cstelnaudary, Montiole, St-Férréol, Ravel, Graulhet, Gaillac, all around there for a day or two. Then I'd high-tail it to the Dordogne, which at that point, with the A20 now up and running, shouldn't take you more than a couple of hours.
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Nov 4th, 2005, 02:38 AM
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Hi

Stu is right ....

Hmm ....... gremlins been at work !

Something happened when I updated the site, and review page 5 was
overwritten by review page 4. A mystery.

I've re-instated the original, full, version and it is OK now.

Stu's full text is here : http://www.the-languedoc-page.com/to...m-reviews5.htm

Sorry for the confusion

Peter
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