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Favorite Region of France for early July (not Paris)

Favorite Region of France for early July (not Paris)

Old Jan 20th, 2023, 10:24 AM
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Favorite Region of France for early July (not Paris)

We're a family traveling with a 5 and 8 year old (who are good travelers) and we're looking for a region of France to spend about a week in this July. We will be going to Chamonix for 7-10 days so would love some suggestions for another place to base ourselves for a bit that offers good natural scenery, a few historical sites (not roman ruins, maybe castles), hikes that are easy-moderate for my kids and good food? Not interested in Nice/St Tropez or beaches since earlier in the trip we're going to Croatia, and we just aren't beach people.

We went to Provence and based ourselves in Avignon last summer for 5 nights and did day trips to Cassis, Aix, Luberon, Roussillon, Orange, and it was perfect as we don't want a packed holiday, we were able to return back by 4 or 5 and relax and work. However we don't want to go back to the same area. Normandy looks great but I'd prefer something a bit closer to Chamonix or that we're unlikely to combine on a November trip to Paris (like the Loire Valley). We've considered the Pyrenees and Dordogne as well as Burgundy and the Rhone Alps, any other suggestions? I'd like to check out Lyon.
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 10:59 AM
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Our two favorite regions are Provence & the Dordogne.

The latter would be perfect for both you & your kids - with all the castles, birds of prey show, medieval warfare demonstrations, canoe trips, and caves with pre-historic paintings and also stalactites & mites. Sarlat is a gem - along with many other villages in the region (two many to name). We've spent 13 weeks vacationing there. I wrote an itinerary for the Dordogne. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at my Fodors name at AOL and I'll attach one to the reply e-mail. I have an itinerary for Lyon also - ask for it. I have around 10 different itineraries for various regions in France. Including the Alps/Chamonix.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 11:18 AM
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How far are you willing to drive? I am not familiar with the eastern part of France so can't suggest anything close to Chamonix. My first suggestion is the Dordogne (which you mention) because I think your children would love the caves. There are so many interesting and different caves to visit. Some with cave paintings, one with a train and bear pits. We love Gouffre de Padirac with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, and you are on a boat for a short distance. And there are plenty of castles!

Another beautiful region is Languedoc-Rousillon (now part of Occitania) where the fortress Carcassone is located. There are pretty villages and a cave (or more) in this region. The Camarque is a beautiful park with pink flamingoes, white horses, and black bulls. And the medieval walled city of Aigues Mortes. There is also the Roman ampitheater at Nimes. This region borders the Mediterranean and has some nice seaside villages and beaches. which I've been told are not crowded like the French Riviera. We spent 3 nights in this region, so we didn't get to see everything but I would love to go back. My grandchildren, who are similar in age to your children, love Carcassone!
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 11:33 AM
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Regarding Burgundy.

My wife & I spend 2 months in France most years. We travel to different regions and usually stay in a gite for 2 weeks before moving on to the next destination. We've done this since 1999.

We were in Burgundy for 2 1/2 weeks this past Sept, after 2 weeks in Alsace. This Burgundy trip, we were near Chablis in Northern Burgundy. We also stayed near Beaune for 2 weeks about 8 years ago, and in Beaujolais also for 2 weeks.

We found ourselves spending too much time in the car getting from site to site. And also too few sites. We love beautiful countryside, castles, architecture, cute little villages, historical sites, and museums that are not painted art (folk museums). We're big wine people - but we like to drink it for dinner & have little interest in visiting wineries since we've lived most of our lives close to Napa/Sonoma. Burgundy is about a "B" for beautiful countryside, a "B" for castles, and a "C" for cute little villages (compared to other regions in France we've visited). However, Dijon is our second favorite city in France (tied with Toulouse), and Beaune is one of our "top 5" medium sized cities.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Jan 20th, 2023 at 11:37 AM.
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley
Regarding Burgundy.

My wife & I spend 2 months in France most years. We travel to different regions and usually stay in a gite for 2 weeks before moving on to the next destination. We've done this since 1999.

We were in Burgundy for 2 1/2 weeks this past Sept, after 2 weeks in Alsace. This Burgundy trip, we were near Chablis in Northern Burgundy. We also stayed near Beaune for 2 weeks about 8 years ago, and in Beaujolais also for 2 weeks.

We found ourselves spending too much time in the car getting from site to site. And also too few sites. We love beautiful countryside, castles, architecture, cute little villages, historical sites, and museums that are not painted art (folk museums). We're big wine people - but we like to drink it for dinner & have little interest in visiting wineries since we've lived most of our lives close to Napa/Sonoma. Burgundy is about a "B" for beautiful countryside, a "B" for castles, and a "C" for cute little villages (compared to other regions in France we've visited). However, Dijon is our second favorite city in France (tied with Toulouse), and Beaune is one of our "top 5" medium sized cities.

Stu Dudley
Hi Stu, This is extremely helpful, thanks! I was able to download some of your itineraries by finding old posts, will email you for others. What regions in your view, gets an "A" or at least an "A-" for scenery? We enjoy wine but will be in Tuscany earlier in the trip, and would happily stop in wineries in france for a snack and taste but it's not a big focus of our trip. Maybe we'll concentrate on Dijion or the areas West of Provence. We also thought about the Gorges du Verdon, decisions decisions! We loved Chamonix and had a week there last year so repeating a visit. Definitely an "A" for scenery!
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 01:08 PM
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"A" scenic areas

Dordogne
Provence
Nice Hinterland
Lot River
Cantal volcanoes
Gorges du Tarn
Pyrenees
Pays Basque
Brittany coastal regions (not inland)
Sections of the Alps. Certainly Mt Blanc, Annecy, Briancon/St Veran, Route des Grande Alpes
Lavender fields in the Valensole plateau
Tuscany (Italy)

Not a fan of the Gorges du Verdon. If I could have someone paddle me along the Verdon River so I could look up - I might change my mind.

The Loire Chateaux area is not an "A" scenic area, IMO. Maybe a "C". But we are huge chateaux fans.

You won't find most of my itineraries by looking at past Fodors posts. Fodors only had the "attach" function working from about the start of Covid to around 2 months ago. I don't think I had included my Alps, Pays Basque, Pyrenees, Puy du Dome, Tuscany/Italy, or Languedoc/Gorge du Tarn itineraries.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Jan 20th, 2023 at 01:13 PM.
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 04:54 PM
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Auvergne is a favorite of mine. A green volcanic landscape punctuated by black lava outcroppings. Beautiful hikes, fantastic farms, imposing castles. The culture and cuisine is unique. La France Profonde.
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 07:13 PM
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Agree with Shelemm that Auvergne is worth your serious consideration— hiking in the Puy de Dome, exploring caves, gorges and medieval villages in the Ardèche, dining well in Lyon which has some great kid-friendly museums and parks.
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 07:53 PM
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Auvergne, Ardeche, & Lyon encompasses a rather large area. You'll need several bases to visit this region in just one week (or less if you subtract travel time). Still think Dordgne is your best option.

You could drive to Annecy, return the car, and take one of the many trains to Lyon. Send a night or two, then take the noon train to Toulouse, then 2 1/2 hrs to the Dordogne. Or you could drive 4 3/4 hrs from Lyon to Sarlat la Caneda (Dordogne).

Consider Alsace. We were just there in Sept for 2 weeks (4th trip). Fabulous!!. Close to Chamonix (4 1/2 hr drive), and easy train access back to Paris. Strasbourg is in my "top 5" of large cities, and Colmar is in my "top 5" of medium-sized cities. Kids would love the Eco Musee south of Colmar. https://www.ecomusee.alsace/en/ . And also Haut Koenigsbourg castle https://www.haut-koenigsbourg.fr/fr/ .

Not sure the kids would enjoy the Auvergne & Ardeche as much as Alsace and especially the Dordogne.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Jan 20th, 2023 at 08:09 PM.
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Old Jan 20th, 2023, 09:28 PM
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Alsace, Auvergne
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Old Jan 21st, 2023, 09:34 PM
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Some great ideas already. If the Auvergne or Languedoc interest you, both of which are unlikely to be busy even in July, my trip report TRIP REPORT : THE Auvergne and Languedoc, June 2022 might be useful. Enjoy your holiday!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2023, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ANUJ
Some great ideas already. If the Auvergne or Languedoc interest you, both of which are unlikely to be busy even in July, my trip report TRIP REPORT : THE Auvergne and Languedoc, June 2022 might be useful. Enjoy your holiday!
Thanks so much all, I will check out this report, and Stu, I will email you for your itineraries. Torn between these areas, looks like we can't go wrong. I personally am not that interested in Alsace; not as interested in the architecture and not interested in German influenced places as much as other regions. I know this post is tagged France but any comparisons to the Basque region of Spain? or the French vs Spanish Pyrenees? I have wanted to go to San Sebastian and the north of Spain but logistically not sure I can work it into this trip.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2023, 08:47 PM
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Ask for my Pays Basque itinerary if you might want to visit that region.

Stu Dudley
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