Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Deciding between Alsace or Loire Valley/Brittany

Deciding between Alsace or Loire Valley/Brittany

Old Nov 7th, 2007, 01:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Deciding between Alsace or Loire Valley/Brittany

I booked a ticket to Paris from Dec 6 to Christmas. I will be spending approx. 7-10 days in Paris. I am trying to figure out where to go for the rest of the time. I think I have narrowed it down to either Alsace(with maybe a trip to Dijon or Lyon), or Loire Valley(with possible forays into Brittany probably using Nantes) as a base. Note that I will be relying upon public transportation. My main issue with Alsace is that I'm not that big a fan of wine. With Brittany I'm concerned about the coastal conditions/ windiness. And advice or am I worrying about nothing?
nomadicdrifter is offline  
Old Nov 7th, 2007, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 16,197
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you would consider other cities, I think the TGV to Rennes, then TGV to Avignon, then TGV to Dijon, then TGV directly to CDG airport would make a nice circuit.

We were in Nantes & Rennes this year, and much preferred Rennes. Nantes was hit a little too much by WWII, and there is not as much "old" as there is in Rennes. Also, I think there is more "stuff" near Rennes - St Malo, Dinan, Vitre, Fougeres, Mt St Michel. It may be dreary in Brittany, like you fear, so I would base in interesting cities where you can spend time if the weather is bad.

I have not found any cities in the Loire to be as interesing as Rennes, Strasbourg, Avignon, Dijon, Lyon. Tours, like Nantes, was really damaged by the war & not re-built as tastefully as it could have been. The "old" section is pretty small.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Nov 7th, 2007, 04:19 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 220
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We're going to Alsace next summer, and if you're interested, I notice that most of the cities have Christmas Markets that look very fun.
arewethereyet is offline  
Old Nov 7th, 2007, 11:20 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Brittany: The climate will be mild in winter, because it is surrounded by the Atlantic. However, Brittany is hardly doable without a car. The charme is in the landscape, along the shores, at scattered archeological sites, and in small villages. Hard to do with public transportation. BTW, Nantes is NOT in Brittany, it is the capital of the region Pays de la Loire.

Loire: Loire is THE area for chateaux-visiting. We have been there several times by car, which is easy. Cannot say how it works to visit the castles by public transportation; but you can book bus tours.

Alsace: Both Colmar and Strasbourg are very interesting cities with architecture and art. The Alsace is also famous for picturesque small villages. You will enjoy even without drinking wine. The villages should be accessible by public transportation (buses).

Burgundy: Beaune is a first rank must-see, Dijon ranks second. Also, many interesting spots in the countryside (again, difficult without a car).

Day-trips from Paris: Fontainebleau (castle) and Chantilly (castle with France's second-best art collection - after the Louvre).
traveller1959 is offline  
Old Nov 8th, 2007, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 16,197
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>>Beaune is a first rank must-see, Dijon ranks second<<

IMO, I would reverse the ranking. The only city Dijon ranks second to, would be Paris.

We spent 2 weeks in Burgundy last year - just outside of Beaune. In my research, I noticed that the train transportation seemed to be quite good in that region. Auxerre would be another city to visit - one of my favorites.

From Alsace, we also visited Nancy - which we found to be very interesting. From Avignon, you could visit Arles, Aix, Nimes, Montpelier, Orange, and even the Sunday morning market in l'Isle sur la Sorgue by train.

Once when we took the train back to Paris from Avignon, we stoped in Chambery and spent the might there.

Note that Alsace, Paris, Brittany, and perhaps the Loire & Burgundy are further north than any place in the Continental US. I'm a California guy, so my tolerance for cold & damp weather is probably not typical, but I would not want to be standing in the rain/cold weather at a bus stop next to Chambord, for example. I would make sure that there were plenty of interesting larger/medium sized cities around me.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Nov 26th, 2007, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 169
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I found Brittany very easy to see by public transportation. I based out of Rennes for 6 nights and St. Malo for 2 and I saw - Vitre, Fougeres, Quimper, Cromburg, Josselin, Dinan, Dinard, Mont St. Michelle - it was a great trip. I had no problems getting around at all. My preference around Christmas in snowy weather would probably be enjoying big cities - having traveled last Christmas I found I tired of wandering around in the cold by late afternoon. I would maybe choose to enjoy Paris and Strasbourg then maybe down to Dijon...lots of day and evening indoor activity options.

Have a great trip!


MollyBrown is offline  
Old Nov 26th, 2007, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Loire is beautiful - but really best done in warmer weather when you can enjoy the green countryside, the longer days (and longer hours at the chateaux) and the son et lumieres performances. Also - it is MUCH easier to do by car than by public transit.

Alsace is another charming area, but again while you can esaily see Strasbourg by train - doing the wine trail down to Colmar is much easier by car - and in better weather/longer days.

In Dec I would focus more on cities/towns than countryside - due to cold weather and short days.

I think I would pick 3 additional cities - so you don't feel you're missing a lot of the key sights of any specific place - perhaps do Lyons, Strasbourg and Dijon - or even Nice.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Nov 26th, 2007, 10:26 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 23,651
Likes: 0
Received 6 Likes on 1 Post
kerouac is online now  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Mar 7th, 2009 11:09 AM
Oct 29th, 2007 07:41 AM
Feb 24th, 2007 06:38 PM
Oct 25th, 2006 09:49 PM
Dec 29th, 2005 09:42 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -