France Newbie Needs Itinerary ideas

May 22nd, 2011, 12:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 2
France Newbie Needs Itinerary ideas

Just wanting some ideas. Our rough plan is four weeks in France. Travel largely by train??? and will spend last week in Provence before moving onto Italy. Arrive into Paris.
Paris I know where I want to go but the rest is a mystery to me. Am interested in everything as it will all be new to us!!! Spotlight on out of the way spots and am quite into the idea of renting houses rather than hotels - especially if we can stay somewhere ande explore from there. Am open to ideas as this is in the beginning of planning for us
saborn is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 03:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 1,005
Congratulations! You have four weeks to explore France - that will be a gorgeous trip!

You have three questions.

First, means of transportation. In Paris, a car will be a hindrance. But for the rest of France, rent a car. France has lovely scenic roads which are fun to drive. Most attractions will be in the countryside, hardly accessible by public transport. You will enjoy driving through France.

Second, accomodation. It is a great idea to rent houses - we do this very often in France (and also in the United States). I assume you like cooking? France is a heaven for food lovers. In each town, you find boulangeries, patisseries, boucheries, charcuteries, rotisseries with a wealth of gorgeous food, including pre-prepared meals. And around the big cities, you find hypermarchés - huge grocery stores with every kind of food you imagine (and beyond your imagination)! - Staying in rented homes is another reason for travelling by car.

Third question: itinerary. Of course, you have to look on a map and you have to read guidebooks. But this is my personal recommendatin to a newbie:

- 5 days for Paris (including a daytrip to Versailles).
- 1 day travelling
- 4 days for the Loire Valley - you will see the most gorgeous castles in a lovely landscape.
- 1 day driving from the Loire with a stopover in the historical town Auxerre to Bourgogne
- 1 day driving from Auxerre to Bourgogne
- 4 days in Bourgogne (somewhere between Dijon and Beaune)
- 8 days in Provence (somewhere around Avignon) and exploring scenery, Roman heritage, charming towns and cities
- 5 days at the Cote d'Azur (the best section is between St. Raphael and La Napoule) and exploring the beaches, gorgeous museums and spectacular attractions.

Do not try to see as many locations as possible. Better take your time, especially when you are renting homes.
Echnaton is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,317
Hi Sa,
Very good advice from Ech

Have you looked up France under "Destinations"?

ira is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 238
Take a look at my recent Fodors forum post at answering a similar question. I recommend Dijon and have a link to the perfect apartment. I highly recommend several days in Dijon.

I also enjoyed Avignon. Took day trips to Nimes and Villenueve-les-Avignon... right across the river.

You will love France! Have fun!
cchottel is offline  
May 22nd, 2011, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 423
Nice is a nice option -- affordable, interesting city life and culture, and a good base for exploring the region, i.e. good train connections to many places along the coast, e.g. Antibes, Monaco, etc.

Personally, I lvoe art museums. The Matisse Museum near Nice and the Picasso Museum in Antibes are worth a bus ride and train stop respectively. Enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere.
madameX is offline  
May 23rd, 2011, 04:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
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We always rent a car because this allows us to do what we want when we want. We also like to stay in one place for a week in a rental which lets us explore that area before moving on to our next place.After a week,I think our map would look like a flower with our base in the centre and loopy petals all around as we day trip. I enjoy shopping at markets and small shops and cooking what we have bought. This is the closest we will get to living in France.
After Paris, we would probably do the Loire, Burgundy- this is a big area[ we have spent four weeks here and would go back tomorrow]- and Provence[ you have indicated this as your last week and there is more than enough for a week ].There are lots of other places which are lovely as well. If you choose to stay in hotels and chambre d'hotes for shorter stays, you could perhaps fit in more- Auvergne, Dordogne and the list goes on. But we like more time in fewer places. That does not necessarily mean this is right for your trip.
The advice from Ech is good. France is a large country with lots of different areas. We decided before our first trip[and even if it would be our only trip] that we would not try to see it all in one go. So look at a guide book, do some research and decide what you want from your trip to France.
rhon is offline  
May 23rd, 2011, 04:39 AM
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Start in Normandy from CDG with a car--6 days. Drive to the Loire for 3 days. Turn car in at Versailles after a day. Train to Paris for a week. "Maybe" one day trip to giverney, but add another day to Paris if you do. Train to Lyon for a day. Continue on to Provence for 6 days, staying in St. Remy or such and renting a car. Drive or train to Nice (if you must).
When you decide what areas of France you want to visit, get the Michelin Green Guides to that area and plan your itinerary within them.
Gretchen is online now  
May 23rd, 2011, 04:51 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 3
Hi Saborn.
You could just follow Echnaton's idea (& insert Dijon to it too). My additional suggestion would be: give a thought to a night on Mont St Michel (you can cover it this way: Paris-Mt St Michel-Loire Valley). Also, in the Loire Valley, Amboise is one of the many lovely lovely towns to stay in - if small towns is what you like. Tours is the nearest big city. OR make the most of your car & stay on a vineyard in this region.
Regards, Vikram.
vikram_nanivadekar is offline  
May 24th, 2011, 12:11 PM
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Everybody has given you good advice.

I suggested the itinerary with regard to your interest in renting homes - then you should not switch bases too often. Be aware that some vacation rentals can only be rented from Saturday to Saturday.

Now, you need a map and a guidebook.
Echnaton is offline  
May 24th, 2011, 12:11 PM
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