france for 8 days need help

Old Sep 13th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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france for 8 days need help

My husband and I will be in France for 8 days the end of September, earlier October. We will be in Paris for 3 days and then we'd like to go see other parts of France. We will have a car. I orginally thought Normandy but my travel agent is telling me to head south and not make any reservations. We are adventurous but I'd like to get some idea where exactly to go. Any ideas?
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 10:00 AM
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To me 3 days isn't alot of time and I wouldn't want to spend most of a day driving---I'd head for the Loire Valley and see some of the gorgeous chateaux.

Good luck!
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 10:06 AM
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Given five days you might want to make a wide loop around Paris to cover some of Burgundy and some of the Loire. Any reason why your travel agent suggested something other than Normandy? A similar loop (Normandy and Loire valley) might be an alternative. Giverny might still be a worthwhile stop and on the return, a stop in Chartres might be advisable.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7623401029366/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7624575935008/

You might want to get a good map of France and the Michelin Green Guide for France (with 5 days, the regional guides offer too much information unless you stick to a single region) to decide what you might want to see and how much area you want to cover.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 10:09 AM
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Ooops! I see that you'll be in Paris for 3 days andhave 5 days to travel outside of Paris.

I'd still go to the Loire.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 10:12 AM
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Eight days is a very short trip, even if it's eight full days on the ground (is it?). Have you been to Paris before? If not, I would recommend that you spend at least 5 days there, then take a couple of short day trips on the remaining days.

Also, if you haven't been to France before, and particularly if you don't speak French, frankly I think your TA is nuts to tell you to take off without reservations, even though it's not a terribly busy time of year (except in Paris, with all the trade shows). Where, exactly, "south" is the TA suggesting you go? The amount of territory that's "south" of Paris is staggering (do you have a map of France?).And is the TA telling you to pick up the car in Paris and head out? If, as I suspect, the TA is thinking you should head to Provence, that's nuts, because you can get there in half the time and none of the hassle on the TGV. But that aside, wherever you go without reservations, you'll be spending at least a couple of hours a day locating a place to stay (unless you have a cell phone, are fluent in French, have decided where you're heading to, and call the night before to confirm a reservation).

In short, I'd stay in Paris for 5 days, with a trip to Versailles and maybe another day trip, and then maybe take the train to the Loire or Reims or Bayeux or even Alsace or Poitiers for a couple of days to explore another region. If you want to get out of the cities, you could rent a car upon arrival and drive all the way back to Paris if you're up to that or dump it somewhere outside the city.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 10:24 AM
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You can take the TGV high-speed train from Paris to Avignon TGV station and pick up a rental car at the station and spend three lovely days in Provence, the hottest hotspot in France for foreign tourists and even the French themselves - drive back to the station, return the car and be back in Paris in 2.5 hours, with even direct trains to CDG airport from Avignon, one of the most romantic cities in France.

And weather should be smashing as well.

Rather than just seeing Paris and perhaps being bored after three full days there and tired of the boisterous traffic and obnoxious smog and museumed out avail yourself of the opportunity to see a bit of the real France - easily done. French Raiwlays have a special Train + Auto plan that includes train travel and an AVIS rental car waiting for you at stations. www.voyages-sncf.com - official site of French Railways should have info. There is also a France Rail and Drive Pass that gives you I think two days of unlimited train travel and three days of AVIS car you can pick up at stations within a longer time frame - could be ideal for you - check with Raileurope in US for this or their agents who offer better customer service IMO - like www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com (latter I have bought passes from for years and they will answer any question by phone no obligation. But be sure to check out the Train + Car plan sold in France as it may be cheaper, I do not know.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 11:23 AM
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I think PalenQ gives a good answer but really, the different regions of France are, well, different. What are your interests? If it were me, I'd probably head to Nice but that's me, I like the water and its a great area with lots to do. Other regions are good for wine / food and the Loire is very nice if you like chateaus. You mentioned Normandy - also pleasant! So what'll it be?

And I would not head out without a plan / destination - maybe that's just me but I like to at least have a home base with a place reserved and then maybe go exploring on daytrips.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 11:58 AM
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I WOULD follow st Cirqs ´ s good advice,leaning to stay longer in Paris, it is an amazing city, with so much to do that you can easily stay all the time there and much more. Take a day trip out, if you must, Versailles, or Chartres, or else depending what you like more.
There is a lot of time wasted traveling from one place to the other, rooms that are not ready,
going from train station to hotel or from AIRPORT to hotel, I would cherish every minute of my five days and spend time well, you cannot go wrong in Paris.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 12:12 PM
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I would follw the advice of those who recommend staying longer in Paris. Eight days is not too long for Paris but since you initially considered Normandy, a lovely part of France, I would go there for the remaining 3 days. You can take the train to Caen, rent a car, stay in Bayeux and visit the sites of Normandy.

I definitely suggest that you make accommodation arrangements before you go. Nothing makes a short trip shorter than the need to spend time find a place to stay while on the road.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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How many actual days and nights will you be in France? Include travel days, as those lose you a good half day as a rule.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 01:06 PM
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Stay in Paris is you haven't been!!

I agree with the Loire is you are really determined to leave Paris. I love Chenonceau.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 04:00 PM
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To be clear, do not rent a car for Paris!

You could easily fill your time in Paris, or do a day trip to Versailles, Chartres, Loire,etc..

With such a short time, if you REALLY wanted to do a drive around, the Loire is very close and could give you a nice exposure to chateaux and small villages.

You could TGV to somewhere and rent a car. The south is just a few hours away.
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 09:18 PM
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PQ: Rather than just seeing Paris and perhaps being bored after three full days there and tired of the boisterous traffic and obnoxious smog and museumed out avail yourself of the opportunity to see a bit of the real France

Are you certain Paris isn't a part of the "real" France?
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Old Sep 13th, 2011, 09:32 PM
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La France profonde does not exist for the non-French speaking tourist.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 04:04 AM
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I agree with others. If you only have eight days, I would stay in Paris and do a couple of day trips out of Paris to get different experience. If you do decide to stay only a few days in Paris and then head out, the Loire, Burgundy, Normandy and a train to Provence are all options. But we also like to be a bit organised- been there, done that , hunting around for a bed within our price range. A bit of planning eliminates that.

Michael, some of us do venture beyond the popular places. We have been to Provence,yes, the Dordogne[ but not Sarlat], four weeks in various parts of Burgundy with only a day trip to Beaune, a week in the Jura [rarely mentioned on travel forums], d'Allier region of the Auvergne[now that is La France Profonde- just beautiful countryside], the Pyrenees Orientales. We are planning a trip for 2012 and hope to visit the Aude[ where Carcasonne will be just one place we see in the week],the Gers, the Haute Loire, and other places that seem to be off the radar of overseas tourists [we are Australian]. So much to see and so little time.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 07:32 AM
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Are you certain Paris isn't a part of the "real" France>

Oui, bien sur!

But I should have said that French towns outside of Paris are far different from Paris - Paris is a large part now composed of immigrants - non-ethnic French and that is fine but it gives a different feel to it that is not always what one thinks of when thinking of France.

There is Paris and there is the rest of France - two far different things IMO - and yes even a day trip to Chartres or Reims or the like will let someone experience the real France or typical France if you have it, that does not exist in cosmopolitan Paris.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 11:08 AM
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If you want to go to Normandy go for it - even though the weather in northern France ain't that nice often at this time of year IME - often wet but not real cold - it makes a neat drive from Paris - head out of Paris via Giverny, Monet's village and visit his house and fabled gardens whose lilly pads and various flowers he made famous canvasses of - head up to Caen and Bayeux and visit the D-day beaches area just near Bayeux (perfect base IMO - rare Norman city not blitz3ed to smithereens in WW2 - neat old cathedral and Queen Matilda's Tapestry woven just after the 1066 Norman Conquest of England to document those events

then hop over to Mont-Saint-Michel, spend a day and night there and then return to Paris.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 12:39 PM
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Ok this is what I came up with let me know what you think
Day 1: arrive Paris 8am
Day 2: Paris
Day 3: Paris(I will follow Rick Steve's 3 day plan for Paris)
Day 4: Visit Giverny on our way to Bayeux
Day 5: Tour D- Day beaches
Day 6: Visit Mont St Michal on way Amboise
Day 7: Tour Chenonceau and Chambord
Day 8: Train to airport
PalenQ your response came through as I was writing this, they look similiar Thanks to all for all the good ideas.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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Day 8: Train to airport

from ...?
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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"Day 1: arrive Paris 8am
Day 2: Paris
Day 3: Paris(I will follow Rick Steve's 3 day plan for Paris)
Day 4: Visit Giverny on our way to Bayeux
"

If you think 2.5 days is enough for one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, go for it.

But if you try to follow RS' 3-day plan . . . You don't have 3 days. Arriving @ 8:00, the VERY earliest you can get to your hotel is 10:00, and 11:00 is more likely. Then you have to check in - or - wait for the room to be ready - or - leave your bags and return when the room is ready. Plus you'll be jetlagged/tired. Between find your hotel/unpacking/getting your bearings, day one is often a wash out.

So you really only have 2 and a skosh days . . .

(RS' plans are not everyone's favorites)
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