family trip in France : 2 options

Nov 5th, 2019, 08:30 AM
  #1  
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family trip in France : 2 options

Hi !
We (2 adults and 2 kids of 8 ans 12 years old) will be in France from july 10 to august 11 (32 nights). We arrive in Paris and leave from Lyon.
There’s so much to see in France and its hard for us to make a choice ! It wont help much but we are looking to get a bit of everything : Architecture, cities, villages, beaches, places for kids (museum, theme or aquatic parks), naturals sights and goof food (I know, it’s everywhere).

We have two plans;

Plan A (all by car after Paris):
Paris 5 nights
Normandy 4 nights
Britanny 4 Nights
La Rochelle 1 night
Dordogne 5 nights
Carcassonne 1 night
Provence 6 nights
Alps 4 nights
Lyon 2 nights

That plan can be adjust (add a there there and remove a night somewhere else, stope elsewhere on the road).
+++ : Give us a good look of many places in France, no need to deal with 2 rental cars
- - - : long road to get to Dordogne (hence the stop in la Rochelle) and Carcasonne.

Plan B : make 2 trips in one
1) 13-16 nights for Paris, the Britanny and the Normandy (by car after paris)
2) Drop the car, take a train or a flight and get to Provence (marseille I guess).
3) 16-19 nights for Provence , Alps, Lyon an maybe another part of southern eastern France

+++ : No long drive , more time for those two big chunks of France
- - - : skipping Dordogne, La Rochelle and Carcassonne, Having to deal with 2 car rental, train and plane

What would be your choice ? Any iother ideas ?

Thanks !

tostaky is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 08:46 AM
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For the kids I'd choose Plan B.
bilboburgler is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 08:47 AM
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With that much time, my choice would be the first choice.
starrs is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 08:53 AM
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It all sounds really crazy hectic to me, but if I had to choose, I'd go with plan A.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by StCirq View Post
It all sounds really crazy hectic to me, but if I had to choose, I'd go with plan A.
thanks, what would be your plan with 32 nights in France ?
tostaky is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
For the kids I'd choose Plan B.
thanks, why is better with the kids ? By the way they are use to do car trips !
tostaky is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:18 AM
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I am biased because we do lots of long driving trips in France, and I hate dealing with car rental agencies so I would much the first choice. The main thing to think about really for the driving is the fact that you will be traveling during peak tourist times to many of the most popular places in France, so you may want to take a look at this government site that shows you the peak "black dates" to driving-traditionally the times when most French people all hop in their cars and descend on the same places at the same time for their holidays. Their calendar on the link below shows the dates for last year but they will be close to the same dates for 2020 and you can watch the site for the 2020 calendar to come out. One time we had to travel unexpectedly from Bordeaux to Provence on a "black day" and a 5 hour trip took almost 10 hours-so do your best to avoid those days.

Also, even though July is slightly better than August for crowds, I would try to avoid staying in the "most popular city" in the area you are visiting and try to opt for a nearby place. So for example, in the Dordogne, the most popular place to stay will probably be Sarlat but there are lots of nice villages even just 5-10 minutes distance that will keep you out of the traffic that can challenging to move in an out of in July. Lots of folks here will have great suggestions for alternatives that might be better for you.

I think you won't be disappointed by stopping in the La Rochelle area-it is a lovely part of the country. We own a family home near there in St Palais sur Mer and there are beautiful beaches but also a well known zoo at Palmyre and I think you also would enjoy "Les Machines de l’île" in Nantes and since I know you are French speaking your kids also might like Futuroscope which you could visit on the way down to Carcasonne for instance


https://www.bison-fute.gouv.fr/calen...ute,10739.html

https://www.zoo-palmyre.fr/en

https://www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/en/

https://www.futuroscope.com/

If you don't already know about them you might look into the short term lease program for cars run by Renault, Peugeot and Citroen. I doubt with only 27 days they can beat the price of a rental (we rent for 3-4 months and for that length of time they are much cheaper-but not necessarily for less than one month). But they have nice advantages-really comprehensive insurance-no fee for picking up in one city and dropping in another, being able to choose exactly the car you want automatic or manual transmission, etc. Peugeot is even offering hybrids this year. Just be sure to compare prices after you apply all coupons on the site and compare their costs to rental cars that include full insurance and any drop off fees to get a true comparison to renting versus leasing.

Here are links to the US agencies and programs-you will probably need to look at Canada's programs in your case.


https://www.autofrance.net/locations/france/

https://www.autofrance.net/specials/

For Renault the locations are similar: Car Rentals Leases in Europe - Login - rent a car in Europe, lease car in France, Lease car in France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Great Britain

And here are the locations for TT cars, yet another agency that does all of the brands:

https://www.ttcar.com/fr/ttcar

Another agency we have used is Ideamerge for Citroen and Renault

https://www.ideamerge.com/car-lease-...ee-france.html
jpie is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:19 AM
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Don't skip the Dordogne. It will probably be yours and the kid's favorite region. Lots of castles, caves, knights in shining armor, rivers to boat on, cute villages, scenic countryside.

I would definitely choose plan A. La Rochelle & Carcassonne are wonderful also.

If you choose B, there is a train that departs Rennes at 1:37 & arrives at the Tvignon TGV station at 7:08. With a 36 min train change in Lyon.

Attached are some Itineraries I wrote for several of the regions you will be visiting.

Stu Dudley
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Alps.doc (68.5 KB, 3 views)
StuDudley is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:20 AM
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For some reason, not all the itineraries were posted

See attached
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Dordogne-revised.doc (171.5 KB, 8 views)
StuDudley is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:22 AM
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Still problems
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Lyon.doc (26.0 KB, 4 views)
StuDudley is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:23 AM
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again
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StuDudley is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:24 AM
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Again
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StuDudley is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:32 AM
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Crazy plans : possibly.

You’ll get a superficial flavour of France if that’s what you want.

I’d agree with Stu don’t miss the Dordogne it is so stunningly beautiful.

I’d split the trip between Paris, then rent houses as bases in the Dordogne and then La Rochelle with maybe a short stay in Bordeaux. It’s the oldest cliche in the book but there really is nothing better than renting a house in France for at least a week, close to a village and walking in for fresh bread every morning. Should be on everyone’s “top 50 things to do before I die”. We have visited the Paris/Sarlat/La Rochelle triangle 6 times in 3 years and are absolutely in love with SW France.

Jpie is right about the Atlantic coast, there are so many small coastal villages which offer restaurants in the marshes selling fish from the catch that day. Incredible eating experiences, outside Bordeaux you can actually dine on the fishing boats as they catch the fish and prepare it.

La Rochelle is a hugely vibrant town and I don’t see the point in adding Normandy / Brittany to what is essentially a similar exeprience to La Rochelle. That is unless you have a need to visit the WW2 sites or the Bayeaux Tapestry.
BritishCaicos is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by tostaky View Post
thanks, why is better with the kids ? By the way they are use to do car trips !
Well, they may be used to doing car trips and I'm sure they love being with you, but I find kids love the stuff they want to do and just loving being with their parents.

I'd book (and pretty soon) three or four bases, near a pool/sea, with a good core base and with the things you adults want to do. Dordogne is a great example, so much space to play. La Rochelle gets very expensive in August but early July or elsewhere in the area you will find wonderful golden beaches and lots of stuff for adults and kids. Then you need somewhere in Normandy or Brittany. Maybe Quimper, Barfleur, St Jean-le-Thomas, Paimpol.... nice little beach holidays or little ports. In years to come you'll forget the lighthouse you climbed on La Rochelle but you will remember the smiles on the faces of the kids as they scramble "home" in the evening.
bilboburgler is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 10:00 AM
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I'm savagely tired tonight so don't have much to say except spend as much time as you can in the Dordogne.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 11:18 AM
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I'd go for plan A "all by car" because that allows you to change things at will as the trip progresses. The freedom to change things is absolutely the most precious thing you can have when you travel -- stay longer somewhere, cut short some other place, swap a new discovery for something else...
kerouac is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post

I'd book (and pretty soon) three or four bases, near a pool/sea, with a good core base and with the things you adults want to do. Dordogne is a great example, so much space to play. La Rochelle gets very expensive in August but early July or elsewhere in the area you will find wonderful golden beaches and lots of stuff for adults and kids. Then you need somewhere in Normandy or Brittany. Maybe Quimper, Barfleur, St Jean-le-Thomas, Paimpol.... nice little beach holidays or little ports. In years to come you'll forget the lighthouse you climbed on La Rochelle but you will remember the smiles on the faces of the kids as they scramble "home" in the evening.
I love that idea!
starrs is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 11:33 AM
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I’d go with Plan A but would probably cut one or two areas just to streamline a bit.
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 12:45 PM
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Yes I would agree that if you can skip or shorten an area that would be more ideal. If it were me and it is August I would skip Provence-it is hot crowded and expensive at that time. However if you are going to be going from the Dordogne to Carcasonne and then to Lyon it sort naturally routes you close to Provence-but really Langedoc which is better IMO at that time of year. I would probably break down trip 1 like this:

Plan A (all by car after Paris):
Paris 5 nights
Normandy 4 nights
Britanny 4 Nights
La Rochelle 1 night
Dordogne 7 nights
Carcassonne 1 night ( would stay some where different-at least not in the castle part of the village-it is very over touristed)
Provence 4 nights (but I would actually base somewhere between Nimes and Uzes and be sure to see the Pont du Gard-you could always make a day trip into more of the more famous Provence areas from there if you want )
Alps 4 nights
Lyon 2 nights

By increasing the Dordogne to 7 nights you can probably open up more possibility to rent a gite-which sometimes have a week minimum that time of year and I think like others there is just so much to do there for families that they will enjoy.

Also Toulouse if a wonderful city to visit for a night or 2 especially if you just park your car and take public transport. And if you are in that area near Carcassonne we love to go to Castelnaudary for cassoulet. Our favorite is actually on the road into the town and called Le Tirou-run by a wonderful family and they even have alpacas out back in a fenced off part of the garden-I am sure your kids would love them as much as our guests did

https://tirou.fr/
jpie is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 08:19 AM
  #20  
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Thanks once again for all those answers !

Some thoughts:

1) we are not against finding 3 or 4 bases, but we still have to found which one. Paris is Obvious, and we still have to tke our flight from Lyon to go back to Montréal.
2) Plan A is 2400 km and 27 hours of Driving. Not so bad for 32 days. Maybe not enjoyable dor many but doable we guess ! We have done more in shorter time !
Originally Posted by jpie View Post
Yes I would agree that if you can skip or shorten an area that would be more ideal. If it were me and it is August I would skip Provence-it is hot crowded and expensive at that time. However if you are going to be going from the Dordogne to Carcasonne and then to Lyon it sort naturally routes you close to Provence-but really Langedoc which is better IMO at that time of year. I
3) When you say Languedoc, do you have any specific recommendations or places to see/stay ?

thanks once again !

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