France in November

Old Jun 1st, 2012, 09:38 PM
  #1  
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France in November

Hi,

I'm planning a 2 week honeymoon trip for November (first half) and since I've never been to France, I'd love to have it there....I'm unsure about a whole lot of things though..
1. weather
2. Driving around - left wheel driving (since we're from india which has right wheel driving)/ we dont drive much anyway...etc etc
3. how much i can do in 14 days!

I had always imagined a France trip which involves a lot of walking, biking, taking in the countryside, charming cobblestoned village paths with flower beds, lavender fields et al...but I suppose November may limit all or some of the above indulgences! My Giverny plan for instance has now been shelved since Monet's house is closed from Nov to March! So I'm really open to a decent alternative to this...

I understand the weather in november is very unpredictable and ultimately it all comes down to luck and good karma, but I'm not too fussed about chilly nights or a light drizzle/shower. Torrential rain and howling winds however...may be a problem. Any experiences on this?

About driving, neither my fiance nor I drive (i used to, some years ago, but am completely out of practice now) , so looks like we'll be taking the train whever we go....is that realistic given my trip planning below? Or do you reckon we could still take a chance with a car rental for some of the smaller distances (the Chateaux/Mt St Michel...or in Provence)?

Here's an itinerary that i've come up with which i can probably use some help with: Paris, Mt St Michel, Loire Valley and Provence

Planning to start with 3-4 nights in Paris, and then head to Mt St Michel where I can do a night (any suggestions on a charming rustic yet good B&B?) ....

From St Muichel we head to the Chateaux de Loire. Any idea on what a good base would be? I'm told Blois is a decent option. After about 2-3 days at the Chateaux, i'd head down to Avignon...or is Nimes/Aix-en-Provence a better place to base yourself? And what could I explore in that region (since I really have no idea on what to expect in November...)..I was considering Arles.

I would also like to squeeze in a visit to the vineyards..any suggestions? Bordeaux before i get to Provence? We'd like to finish off with another 3 days back in Paris. Alternatively, fly to Rome before heading on home to india, which is a bit off the pattern but may be a welcome break anyway.

Am I totally off the mark here? Any places/villages that I could do instead of any of the above - something I'm missing - Toulouse? Carcassonne? Any pretty little villages in these areas I could visit? Help!
annsarah is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2012, 10:09 PM
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I hope this doesn't sound patronising, but you do realise that November is coming into the northern hemisphere's winter? Short, cold days, many trees shedding their leaves, no flowers, and much of rural France basically battening down the hatches and closing up (and not just major chateaux and attractions - hotels and restaurants will have much reduced hours, and smaller ones may even close for the winter). There might be a chance of sunny days, which might have their own beauty, but it would still be cold; and there's a much greater chance of constant cloud, and heavy or drizzling wet.

This is the time of year when the cities come into their own.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 04:42 AM
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As Patrick says, you would be best advised to stick to the cities. If I were going to France in November, I would rent a nice apartment and spend 2 weeks in Paris. However, you might want to spend a wek in Paris and then visit Lyons, Avignon and Nice for an example. I would steer clear of MSM as it is likely to be chilly, rainy and windy.

There are lots of day trips from Paris such as Versailles, Chartres, Reims. Others may have other suggestions but sticking to cities will allow you to do things indoors which will be nice if the weather isn't good.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 05:05 AM
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yes, annsarah, i would seriously think about concentrating on cities, rathe than the countryside in November.

one option could be a week in Paris and a week in Nice - forget about driving, public transport would be a much better way to get about and on nice days you could do your day trips, saving museums and galleries for the rainy ones.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 05:11 AM
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our 1st trip to France and Paris 10 yrs ago was late Nov - snow flakes on the Seine boat trip! But since you spend most of the time inside museums etc and subways it was not a big deal to do walks etc.

We are doing Provence for 2 weeks 10-19 with 4 days in Paris before we leave - we know it won't be like May but still charming I am sure!!

I 2nd Mamcalice on renting an apt in Paris for the 2 weeks and doing day trips by trains vs driving especially if you havent done so in years - France has great roads and good drivers but still busy - left side driving so that is not a problem - straight stick cars mainly tho!!

don't be so aggressive with your planning with so many stops all over France - Paris and side trips by train would be enough in my mind. We spend a week for each area we tour with sites within 50 miles of our rental so little driving.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:10 AM
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We were Paris in late November last year. We were lucky that it didn't rain and really was not very cold.
I feel your pain about Giverny...we always end up inParis in winter (or Fall) and I am determined to get there one day.

I think Paris is a great two week visit vs. than traveling all over France especially when many places will not be at their best. You can take some great day trips from Paris, to see more of France. I assure you you will not see all of Paris in a few weeks. One plus in November, very short lines (if any) at the major sites. Consider Reims, Chartres, Strasbourg for day trips.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 07:36 AM
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I'd look at Paris and then head to the south. It will not be very warm and the days will be short but I spent a good week in Arles, Nimes, Avignon in Novemeber.

All the days were sunny, most were 18C to 22C and two were 5C. Yes it can get very cold suddenly.

One of my hotels (booked) closed but had a sign in the window "Bilbo go to this hotel" with hand written map. So if you end up there take some warm clothes.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 08:10 AM
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They drive on the right in France.

The vineyards will be rows of bare sticks in November.

Giverny will be closed.

Le Mont-St-Michel could be very cold, windy, wet, and unpleasant.

Countryside villages could be battened down, with restaurant and shop closings.

I would spend a week in Paris, with perhaps a daytrip or two, then move to another city, maybe Avignon or Nice in the south, where it might be warmer.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 08:25 AM
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Forget Mont Saint Michel in November.

I would spend a few days in Paris (mostly in museums) and then head to Nice (either by plane or by TGV). The Cote d'Azur in November will be very pleasant and there is much to see.

Even Provence might be cold in November, with a high probability of icy, gusty mistral blowing.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 08:40 AM
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"They drive on the right in France."

But the wheel is on the left. It is the reverse in India, which is why the original poster is concerned. However, I believe the OP also said that neither she nor her fiance drive, so it should not matter.

Annsarah, by sticking to cities, you will avoid the problem of driving and the problem of closed facilities in the small towns and countryside in November.

And I like the idea of a stopover in Rome on the way back to
India rather than backtracking to Paris. Just make sure you spend more than a day or two in Rome if you do this, as it has more to see and do than any other city I have visited.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 09:30 AM
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But the wheel is on the left. It is the reverse in India, which is why the original poster is concerned. However, I believe the OP also said that neither she nor her fiance drive, so it should not matter.>>

nikki - the fact that the steering-wheel is moved over makes it easier to drive on the other side of the road [which ever way you're going] as that helps with keeping on the correct side of the road.

the most difficult thing is what Brits have to do when they go to what is still known by some of us as the "continent" - driving on the right with a right-hand drive car. you can't see as well, especially on-coming traffic, and the temptation when setting off to drive on the wrong side is very strong.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 09:56 AM
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Thanks so much guys! I was def looking to spend more time in Paris...I must say I'm taking quite kindly to the suggestion of skipping mt saint michel altogether - the www was not too generous with its reviews about the place (or that poulard omelette place either!)

So Paris - Chateaux - Avignon - Nice? Are Eze and Antibes worth a second thought anyone?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 10:19 AM
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For chateaux you are going to have to find out whih ones are open which days and which hours. We did the Loire in June - with the longest days and did 2 chateaux a day z(Zbut by car - you can't really do public transit - would have to find a van tour) plus a sone et lumiere 2 evenings.

I would suggest as a first step you look up the averge high and low temps for the places you will visit. France is not particularly cold - except the high alps - but I'm sure will be much colder than yuo are used to. Hae you though about what type of clothing you will have to get? (You will need a mid weight coat, some sweaters, hat - possibly gloves and scarf depending on how you feel the cold, warmer pants, waterproofed walking shoes and a sturdy folding umbrella.

I've been to Paris in Nov twice and found the weather find - had a leather jacket which was plenty warm for evening - but it drizzled quite a few days and really poured one day.
And I'm used to NYC weather - which is colder than France.

Countryside is likely to be brown and crunchy - no leaves, no flowers and not much to see - so sdefinitely stick to cities - where there are lots of indoor things to do i fyou do get heavey rain (it's early for snow there - but given the weird weather we've all been having anything is possible.)
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 11:00 AM
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Hi Annsarah, In your post, you wrote about countryside, biking, walking on cobblestone paths with flowers and fields of lavender & Giverny. You did not mention cities except for Paris, and it seems you alloted more time to Paris only because other things would be closed. Paris is a perfect place for a honeymoon for many people, but your romantic heart pictures something else. Might you consider waiting for your honeymoon until Spring when you could have everything you love, rather than going in November when you will be settling for what is available?
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Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 04:42 AM
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I would not visit the Loire castles in November. Instead, the castles of Chantilly and Fontainebleau are in easy reach of Paris and as splended as any of the Loire castles.

http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/en/
http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/

On the Cote d'Azur, Antibes makes a good base, because it is in the middle between Nice and Cannes. Where you stay, is a matter of taste. Nice is a large city with a grand seaside promenade. Cannes is smaller, with a better beach and a poshier feeling. Antibes is a middle-sized town with an old fortress and a harbour. Avoid Villeneuve-Loubet and Cro-de-Cagnes. November is low seaon, so you will get good rates. For hotel search, you may use www.hrs.de.

Eze is a perched village with a lookout in the middle of the scenic moyenne corniche between Nice and Monaco. I would not stay in Eze but stop there for a couple of minutes.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 06:11 AM
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nytraveler, if paris weather is liked nyc weather, its not too bad i reckon! i lived there for a bit myself and am grateful for the comparison.

traveller1959 - any particular reason why you prefer Chantilly and Fontainebleu over Loire..? a friend had mentioned loire would be pleasant that time of the year...or should i be re-considering?

Sassafrass - you totally got me thinking twice about my plans I'm gonna make it there again. in spring hopefully. and bike and hike away to my 'romantic heart's' content

Also about travelling in general..Does france/paris have a daily/weekly pass system for the SNCF allowing unlimited rides...what about for the TGV?
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Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:28 AM
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14 days in November, I would land in Amsterdam. Spend 4 days there walking along the canals and enjoying the candlelit restaurants and visiting the museums. Then a train ride to Paris for 5 days and finally, my last 5 days in London.
As everyone mentioned, late fall is city season. And I find France a bit difficult to really enjoy that time of year without a car. For example, visiting the Loire chateau is a challenge without a car. Vineyards, too.
Another plan would be to skip London, spend 10 days in Paris and follow Traveler1959's suggestion of visiting the chateaux of the Ile de France. These are all easy day trips from the city, as is Reims in the Champagne region.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:28 AM
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No, the Loire won't be pleasant that time of year. The Loire isn't even one of the prettiest parts of France to begin with. The architecture is gray and bland, and apart from the river and the castles, it doesn't hold a candle to the truly attractive and scenic parts of France, of which there are many.

Regarding your travel question, you are confusing the various transport systems. The SNCF is the Société National des Chemins de Fer - it's the train/rail system. It has nothing to do with riding the métro or buses or RER (commuter trains) in and around Paris. The TGV is simply a train à grande vitesse (a high-speed train) that's one of the options on the SNCF. You won't be using the SNCF or any TGV trains in Paris. You'll be riding the métro or RER and using buses. Information about those can be found at www.ratp.fr. There are various passes for using local Paris transport, which you can read about on that site. Some of them begin and end on particular days of the week, so plan around that. I always just buy a carnet (packet of 10) métro tickets, because it's simplest for me, but there may be better options for you.
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