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France - Normandy/Loire or Provence/Burgandy

France - Normandy/Loire or Provence/Burgandy

Old Oct 15th, 2000, 09:01 AM
John Birchfield
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France - Normandy/Loire or Provence/Burgandy

We have 5 nights to explore France, then to Paris for 4 nights. Mid May. Flying in/out of Paris. Idea one: Rent car, eplore Normandy, then Loire. Idea two: Train to Avignon..rent car, explore back to Paris. Any insight? We love food/wine/small towns..
Old Oct 15th, 2000, 03:34 PM
jo ann
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Hi, John. Question: is it your first trip to France? If so, I would suggest the Normandy/Loire route. Even if not, I would not suggest your idea two: train to avignon, explore back to Paris. Last summer, we drove Paris to Provence, spent couple of days (tooooooo short!!!) and then train from Avignon to Paris (reverse of yours.) Favorite part of trip down was 2 nights in Loire valley (stayed at an old castle, lovely). With 3 days in Provence, barely scratched the surface of things to see. If you want Provence and Paris, I would say take the TGV both ways to maximize your opportunities and enjoyment.
Having said that, either of your ideas will be wonderful! Provence gives more "age" to the trip, since so much is Roman era and forward. Engage in soul-searching, ancient or more recent (only 400 or so years and forward) and then: eeny-meeny it!
Old Oct 19th, 2000, 06:33 AM
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If you are interested in the D-day stuff, plan on at least two days in Normandy. We gave ourselves just one day to try and hit it after a Loire Valley tour. Not nearly enough time, the scale of the invasion beaches is enormous. We were only able to make it from Pegasus Bridge to Point-du-Hoc (which was incredible). We had to skip a lot of stuff that we wanted to see.
Old Oct 19th, 2000, 07:23 AM
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I actually think that your plan two is a very, very good idea.

You don't say whether you will head straight to Avignon or not, but I heartily recommend it - - assuming you are flying trans-atlantic to Paris. You can go straight from CDG to Avignon - - you will have an easy train experience, a nap and lunch and be ready for your first (short) day and night in France.

I have never actually spent an overnight in Avignon, but it is an easy place to get in and out of. Easy to rent your car there, and easy to do without the car for night one, if you'd prefer to do without it.

One attractive option (but requires a car) is to go ahead a bit further to Aix-en-Provence, and consider this place for an overnight: www.campagne-jeanne.com - - I have never stayed there, but it looks well done, and the Aix/Arles/Avignon/Orange axis is really cool.

Lyon is certainly under-explored by most Americans; a lodging choice nearby worthy of your consideration is www.chateauxandcountry.com/chateaux/longsard - - a place I have stayed. It's about 30 km north of Lyon.

And a stop I recommend on your way back to Paris is in Nitry at La Beursaudiere; while they still have no real Internet presence, they are now a member of a cooperative which lists some hotels and an e-mail address for additional info about the region: www.auxerre.cci.fr/yonnhotels2.htm is a listing of members of the cooperative.

Best wishes,

Old Oct 19th, 2000, 08:04 AM
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I have sort of done your option #2 and absolutely loved it! If you're into wine, I highly recommend it. The only difference was we were coming from Italy on our way back to Paris via Nice. We home-based in Avignon and with a car we saw: Les Baux, Arles, Nimes, Aix en Provence, Pont du Gard. We chose Avignon because I studied abroad there in college, knew my way around, and wanted to visit my host family. It also has a lot to offer. I would recommend home-basing there if you don't have a car because it has the best transportation connections in the area (both bus & train). After Provence, we took the TGV up to Lyon, rented a car agin, and explored Burgundy. We had a great lunch at Brasserie Georges in Lyon. Lyon definitely deserves further exploration, it is considered the gastronomic capital of France. From there we drove to Brancion and stayed at a very nice auberge that served the best escargot & boeuf bourgignon I've ever had. From there we drove to Beaune where we had at appt with Joseph Drouhin to take a tour of their cellars which was very interesting. We also explored Beaune and then drove up to Dijon and had dinner at L'Esperance in Vezelay which was a once in a lifetime experience. From Dijon, we dropped the car and took the TGV back to Paris. i'm thinking option #2 is for you!! If you want any info, feel free to e-mail me. Happy travels!

Old Oct 19th, 2000, 11:25 AM
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John, I'm going to let you in on one of my best secret hotels in France, but don't tell everyone, or we'll never be able to get in.

If you take option 2 and drive back to Paris from Avignon, and you travel in the general direction of the motorway (the A7), just north of Macon you will come to the little town of Tournus. Tournus is quite a gourmet town, it has several good hotels and restaurants (serving the local Maconnaise wine.) However this hotel/restaurant is not one of the expensive ones. It's called Aux Terasses, and it's a two star hotel, one of the Logis of France (These are small independent family run hotels, found in almost every town and village in France). The rooms are simple but nicely furnished (about $45 a room)and the bathrooms are modern, but that's not what you go there for. You go for the food. The food is superb. (The Michelin gives it one rosette and a "Bib Gourmand" _good meals at moderate prices.) We travel between England and Spain by car about three or four times a year, and have been doing this for about 14years, so have built up a small collection of little treasures. This place is one of them. Not very far to the north you have Beaune which is a lovely town, but also, to the southwest of Tournus, you have the Macon wine region with all the little wine making villages (such as Pouilly and Fuisse and Chardonnay). Sadly for you and me, lots of French and Dutch and Belgian people also know about this little treasure and because it is only a few kilometres off the motorway (and only a few yards of the route national), it is very popular as a one night stop-over so if you want to try it out, either arrive before 4pm or book in advance (tel:03 85 51 01 74 Fax: 03 85 51 09 99) And don't tell anyone else about it!
Old Oct 19th, 2000, 12:37 PM
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Spent several weeks DRIVING all over France. Not difficult at all, but with your schedule maybe a train would be best. A MUST SEE is Mont St. Michel along the coast. Brathtaking! You might want to consider that if you narrow your scope and explore Normandy area. A number of small, friendly, picturesque towns with good food and adequate places to stay, but keep in mind the time of year you are going - Tourist Season. There are quite a few places to stay that have web sites that i would suggest you explore and make on-line reservations certainly before you leave.

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