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France - Paris, Loire Valley and Provence - June 14

France - Paris, Loire Valley and Provence - June 14

Mar 22nd, 2014, 07:02 PM
  #1  
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France - Paris, Loire Valley and Provence - June 14

Hi there,
We are planning a trip to France thus June. Presently I am considering spending time in Paris, three nights, the Loire Valley and Provence, for six nights each.
For transport we plan on using the Metro in Paris, take the SNCF to the Loire, hire a car there to tour around, then take the SNCF to Provence and hire a car there.
In all areas we are trying to decide on locations to stay, and whether to rent accommodation or to stay in hotels. For location in Paris we are considering the area near Odeon/Saint Germain. In the Loire and Provence we are thinking about setting up in a central location in each, such as Chinon or Montlouis-Sur-Loire and in Provence, Avignon or Marseille.
It would be great to hear your suggestions.
Thanks
Regards
Patrick
gdaypat is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 08:36 PM
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IMO Amboise is a better base than Chinon. It is better located and I think there is more to do in the city itself.

In Provence I think it really depends on what is most of interest to you. Avignon is a pretty big city and it can be hard to park inside the walls. You might look at a smaller city/town like St. Remy, Aix-en-Provence or even Uzes.
jpie is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 08:42 PM
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I think 6 nights in the Loire may be too many. I've been to the Loire many, many times and once spent that much time, but I think a first-timer could do very well with 4-5 days and add more days to Provence, which is a much bigger tract of land.

In the Loire, I'd consider Loches or Chinon for a couple of days and Saumur or Angers for a couple, so you can easily visit both the east and west ends of the valley.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2014, 12:58 AM
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We did the same trip 3 years ago, but in the reverse order. We spent 5 nights in St Remy (which wasn't enough), 3 nights in Chenonceaux, and then Paris.

There is a direct train between Avignon and Tours which avoids having to change train stations in Paris.
ardithl is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2014, 02:00 AM
  #5  
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Hi, thank you for the suggestions. Of the places recommended is there generally ease of access for car parking. We are keen to stay in places that are peaceful yet access to cafés, restaurants etc.
gdaypat is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2014, 02:21 AM
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We stayed in Loches and loved it...good location for seeing the chateaux we wanted to see and a nice town with good restaurants and easy parking. We stayed here and would recommend it.

http://www.logisdubief-loches.com
jamikins is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2014, 05:17 AM
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My first thoughts were 6 nights in the Loire is too much and I would add more to Paris if you have never been there. Perhaps pick a city in the middle and tour in circles or east/west so you don't have to change hotels each day? I loved Namur for shopping, vibrant street life etc and a good contrast to the Loire countryside.
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Mar 23rd, 2014, 05:56 AM
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Yes, I agree, only 3 nights in Paris and 6 nights in the Loire seem backwards. Unless you've seen a lot of Paris before? I'd take 3 nights from the Loire and add some to Paris and/or Provence.

And I concur with jpie that neither Marseilles (a big city) nor Avignon make good bases for daytripping in Provence. Avignon has a lot of sprawl, through which you'd have to travel twice (going out and returning) for every daytrip. We liked St. Remy as a base. We also liked the town of Aix but it's not so well located for daytripping. Some people like small towns in the Luberon, others like Arles. It depends on which sights you want to see. As others have said, there's a lot to see there. Not to speak of the whole French Riviera not far away.
Mimar is online now  
Mar 23rd, 2014, 06:35 AM
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Ditto Mimar.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 23rd, 2014, 07:10 AM
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Almost forgot...

Since you are new to Fodor.....Welcome. If you have done any searches about Provence before posting, you must have come across my mention of an Itinerary for Provence that I've sent to over 3,000 people on Fodors & aol. In case you haven't - my wife and I have spent 18 weeks vacationing in Provence. And we're going back for 2 more weeks in June. I developed a 27 page itinerary that describes our favorite villages, scenic drives, markets, sites - and has a section on Provence fabric. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

We've also spent about 5 weeks in the Loire valley - and are going back for 2 more weeks in Sept. If You get "chateaued-out" after about 5 - then only spend a couple of days there. After the Chateaux - the Loire Valley is about a C+ compared to other regions in France (we've spent 3 years total exploring most every corner).

Also, Aix is not centrally located enough to use as a base - although it's our favorite large city in Provence. Ditto Marseille - except it's our least favorite large city in Provence.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 24th, 2014, 03:41 AM
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Thanks so much for the information, great information.
Re Paris, I have lived there 25 years back so just reacquainting myself with its splendour.
As for the Loire Valley. I decided to visit there after reading info on Bordeaux, which I was considering. The suggestion that I spend less time in the Loire and increase my time in Provence I will take on, 4 days Loire and 8 in Provence.
As you can imagine the choices of locations to stay is mind blowing and confusing..... We would ideally like to stay in a small town that is centrally located to touring out from, a town with sights to see, cafés, restaurants, supermarket, etc.
I have been looking at AirBnB for short term rentals, we like the idea of having our own space to have the self catering options and relaxing.
As I have mentioned we will be picking up a hire car so we would not need to be governed by the cities/towns on the train line.

Thanks again,

Patrick
gdaypat is offline  
Mar 24th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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We're planning on visiting the same areas in September. Making notes
Lady1 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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6 nights in the Loire - an area I have lived in and biked throughout and love is about 3 days too much for the average tourist.

Provence however can easily gobble up a week or more and still leave you wanting to come back for more.

Amboise yes would be a more central base for the consensus best of the castles - Chenonceaux, Chambord and Azay-le-Rideau (or my consensus best - if into wines visit Vouvray - real close to Amboise - tour the ornate wine houses and trek thru the daves hollowed out of the chalky cliff.

I would also consider in the extra 3 days simnply keeping the car and driving to Provence - really nice places and country in between and not that bad a poke - check out the Massif Central perhaps en route.

If doing train and car check to see if the French Railways still offers their Train + Car scheme involving train tickets and cars waiting for you at stations and can be returned to any other station or major station with car rentals.

Or see if the France Rail 'n Drive Pass is still around - gives X days of unlimited train travel and X number of days of car rental with pick up and drop-offs again at stations of your chosing.

For train info these are some superb sources: www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

AVIS at least until recently has the only car rentals in French stations but major ones would be just opposite.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 24th, 2014, 10:45 PM
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Have any of you heard of a village called Barrou, about an hour from Tours? Do you suggest this as a good option to base oneself?
gdaypat is offline  
Mar 25th, 2014, 06:31 AM
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No - had to Google it - 506 inhabitants - a very small village but with a Gite de France in it could be a nice backwater but the location, near Loches, does not seem very central to that of say of Amboise - there are zillions of hamlets like this dotting the Tourraine and Loiret - one better located would be better.
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Mar 27th, 2014, 02:10 AM
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Ok, is it a good idea to base myself in the Dordogne and visit the Loire or is it too far for day trips? Having been told that the Loire is a C+ one you have seen the chateaus I decided to expand my options. How about basing myself in Dordogne and touring from there. Then of course on to Provence....
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Mar 27th, 2014, 03:31 AM
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Way too far for a day trip.

If I had to chose between a rather boring except for castles Loire - a place I love and since I have lived in the Loire off and on for years know really well but terrain wise boring

I'd chose the Dordogne in a heart beat - more of the romantic old villages and such.

Provence for the average first-time tourist I think has more to offer in a compact area - to me the Avignon/Arles/St-remy-de-Provence area is the best place for a novice naive perhaps tourist to go to experience the beauty of rural France and also some great cities and places, like Les Baux, the Pont du Gard, the Camargue, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 06:32 AM
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Yep - the Dordogne and Loire are waaaayyyy too far apart for a day-trip from one to the other. We've driven between the two areas twice - and it's a long haul. Viamichelin says it's 5 hrs one-way between Sarlat & Chambord.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 27th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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gdaypat, you really need a good map and an understanding of scale. You can't possibly visit the Loire as a daytrip from the Dordogne, or vice versa. Even Michelin's estimate of a 5-hour drive between them is low; it doesn't take into account traffic jams, déviations, weather conditions, potty stops, lunch breaks, or anything else.
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