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France Itinerary Suggestions for a Family

France Itinerary Suggestions for a Family

Jan 2nd, 2017, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,949
I agree with mjs. The Alps are the outlier. Cut them out and add more time to your other destinations.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 12:55 PM
Join Date: Sep 2016
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In Monte Carlo your kids will love the oceanographic museum.
Close to Antibes you have Marineland, also great for kids that age.
WoinParis is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 01:43 PM
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I certainly don't think Annecy is a "cut" or an "outliner". I think Murph should decide what to skip - Annecy or Normandy.

Lost "in transit" travel time:

1. Provence/Paris/Normandy
- TGV Avignon to Paris 2 3/4 hrs
- train Paris to Caen and back 4 hrs
total 6 3/4 hrs

2. Provence/Normandy/Paris
- TGV Avignon to Rennes 5 1/2 hrs no train changes
- train Caen to Paris 2 hrs
total 7 1/2 hrs

3 Provence/Annecy/Paris
- 3 1/4 hr drive Avignon to Annecy per viamichelin
- TGV Annecy to Paris 3 3/4 hrs
total lost time 7 hrs

That's only a 15 min difference between Alps & Normandy "lost" time, over 3 weeks.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 02:05 PM
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"Provence is probably the area we know least about. What are the benefits of staying in a place like St Remy over say, Aix? What are the main things to do in the area for a family like mine? Should I reduce some time from here or Paris to fit in Normandy?"

St. Remy is much smaller that Aix. Aix is well known for its student exchange programs and is a university town with about 141,000 population and St Remy has a population of around 11,000 people. So very different experience. St. Remy has also historically been considered very "posh" with Grace of Monaco's family having an estate there etc.

We personally prefer the regions that are just touch on Provence like Gard and areas in Languedoc. A little less expensive (by a shade at least) and sometimes not quite as crowded-although summer is busy everywhere in that region.

We love Uzes, which is a quaint small village, walkable with a nice market and fiarly good food and a fair amount of things to do. Pont du Gard is fun with kids. Most people visiting those areas arrive in Avignon by train from Paris. There is actually a train station called Avignon TGV outside of town and it has a big parking lot with rental agencies to pick up a car. Really you can choose a base and visit a number of nice places on day trips.

If you want beach, we think the nicest beaches by far on the French Mediterranean coast are the sandy ones that you find south towards Spain from about Montpellier. Most of the beaches on the riviera itself are rocky beaches. Coming from Australia you might not be looking for a beach holiday so much anyway, but thought I would add that in.
jpie is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 08:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,997
Another vote for Uzès and Langudoc in general. North of Uzès, near Anduze, is a wonderful "adventure park" for children and adults. Zip lines and all kinds of similar activities through the forest, with different skill levels to accommodate ages 3 to adult. My grandchildren loved our day there; they were ages 4,6,8, and 11 at the time, and it was great fun watching from the ground! There are some YouTube videos, in French, but you can see the activities. Parc Parfum d'Aventure. And Anduze is a great little village for a 1/2 day visit on the way. There is a bamboo forest nearby and a steam train, also.
grandmere is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2017, 10:22 PM
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A big second for the Pont du Gard and the surrounding region. There is an awful lot to do here if your kids are active - canoeing, hiking, etc.
fuzzbucket is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 12:23 AM
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You've got some great advice, murph. Just one other thing... I think that if you travel back to Paris the day before flying home to Australia, you may have a sense that you're on the move for a very long time (and that flight is long enough as it is). For that reason, I'd consider either having all of your time in Paris at the end of your holiday or splitting the time more evenly. Even though you will all be tired on arrival in France, if your first destination is an easy train journey from Paris CDG (and your flight time suits), sometimes it's easier to keep going. I remember once arriving in Paris at 7am with children who hadn't slept during that long haul flight and tried to keep them awake until evening to avoid jetlag.

btw I believe that Emirates fly into Nice (or at least used to) so you could check that too. Geneva (to access Annecy) might be another option. You could also check Qatar Airways.
dreamon is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 06:02 AM
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And another thumbs up for Pont du Gard; playing in the river beneath the Pont was another highlight of trip for my grandchildren.
grandmere is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 06:47 AM
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A monkey wrench: suppose instead of going to Provence or Annecy, you go to the Dordogne. It's fairy tale land, with castles and rivers and forests and villages and caves, not to speak of all the prehistory sites like Lascaux. You need a car but it's a fairly compact area. Great for kids.

You don't seem enthusiastic about Provence so this is another thought.
Mimar is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 07:37 AM
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The Dordogne and Provence are our two favorite regions in France. We were in the Dorodgne for our 10th,11th,& 13th week last Sept. I'll send you my Dorodnge itinerary.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 08:06 AM
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Lots to consider with these replies.

It's so hard coming from Australia, it's just so far to come that it's hard to resist the temptation to 'tick all the boxes' and see as many regions as possible. It's just not the same for those located in the UK or east coast US for example (certainly no disrespect intended) where international travel is just so much easier. But Australia is just so isolated, not to mention, expensive to travel from hence the desire to see a lot.

I think if I can minimise transit times in country then it may be achievable.
I also hadn't considered flying into Paris and out of Nice (or vice versa) as that essentially saves me at least a day and stops me having to back track and complete a full loop of the country.

Fly into Nice for 5 days - day trip to Antibes and also the hinterland region.
Train/drive to St Remy as a base for 4 full days.
Train/drive to Annecy as a base for 4 full days.
Train to Bayeaux/Caen for 3 nights (two full days) just essentially to check out some WWII sites and MSM.
Train to Paris to finish the trip for 6 days and fly out from there.

Or I could easily flip the itinerary depending on costs/preferred timings etc.

Is this better?
Murph77 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 08:48 AM
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Unfortunately, there is not a good train connection between Annecy and Rennes (MSM) or Caen (WWII). It takes 7 1/2 hrs and involves a station change in Paris (depart 9:30 & arrive 5PM in Caen). So you pretty much loose an entire day. There are other departures - but they require less than 1 hr for the station change - which I would not recommend for a first-timer.

I think you have three options:

1. Skip Normandy and follow the itinerary I suggested - starting in Nice

2. Skip Annecy and follow one of the two options I suggested.

3. Include Nice/Provence, Annecy, Paris, & Normandy/MSM.
- Do the Annecy option I suggested back to Paris
- after Paris, spend 3 nights in Normandy. Then either:
a. Drive 3 1/2 hrs from Normandy/Caen to CDG for a flight the next morning.
b. Train from Rennes or Caen into Paris for a 1 nighter before your flight.

I would use a car for the Nice to Annecy portion.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 12:01 PM
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Murph, I know exactly what you mean but it seems that you've got a good balance there and not too many moves of accommodation. It might be worth sucking up the long train journey in order to get to visit the places highest on your priority list and reduce the number of moves. In reality, the total travel time would be more if you split it over two journeys.

You could also look at Avignon-Caen/Bayeux (voyages-sncf.com) for an alternative because it's on the main TGV line. That could give you - drive Nice-Annecy-St Remy - drop car at Avignon TGV-Bayeux-Paris. Check whether that's better for you.

In case it is useful, there are buses between St Remy and Avignon (about 40minutes each way). I've read that Avignon can be busy to drive into and a bus takes the stress out.

Also, the area around Nice has a brilliant (and cheap) train and bus network so a car there would be optional in my view (or just needed for a day or two if you want). Of course, there will be places you can't reach without a car but so many that you can.

Sounds like it will be a great trip.
dreamon is offline  
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