France roadtrip

Jan 18th, 2014, 06:18 AM
  #1  
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France roadtrip

We ( 4 adults) wish to do a roadtrip through France. Duration approx. 4 weeks. I have looked at various itineraries but none seem suitable. Are thinking of 3 maybe 4 bases from which to explore. We prefer to stay over for a few days in one city, town, village. Dont like living out of suitcases.
Provisionally we are thinking of flying into Paris (from South Africa) and then travel down to Province on western side of France, returning along the eastern side back to Paris. Any suggestions? Would like to experience "deep France".
Any suggestions?
dewet is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 06:31 AM
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It would be helpful to know what itineraries are not suitable to you and why. It seems you want to avoid central and northern France and tourist locations.

I can't help a whole lot with itineraries but I did love exploring the Nice Hinterland.

Enjoy your trip.
adrienne is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 06:35 AM
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Provence is on the eastern side of France.

I would land in Paris and take the TGV to Lyon, rent a car, and then stay in Burgundy for 5 nights.

Down to Provence for 7 nights.

West to the Dordogne for 6 nights - stopping in Carcassonne for a 2 1/2 hr visit along the way. Stay in the Dordogne near Sarlat, Roque Gageac, or Beynac for 7 nights

North to the Loire for 4 nights

Return the car in Blois and then take the train to Paris for the remainder.

This isn't "deep France" but will give you a flavor of France.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 18th, 2014, 07:20 AM
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Of course, it depends on your specific interests, but a perfect 4 weeks for me would go something like this:

Paris -- 7 days, rent an apartment, take at least 1 day trip (many options)

Train to Burgundy (Dijon or Beaune) -- 4 days, consider staying in a gite (apartment/small house) in the countryside with a car to roam the villages of the region

Train to Cote d'Azur -- 4 days, relax in Villefranche sur Mer or Antibes

Train to Provence (Avignon) -- 5 days, stay in a gite/B&B near Isle sur la Sorgue with a car to see villages of the Luberon

Train to the Dordogne (e.g. Perigueux)-- 4 days, stay in a gite/B&B near Beynac with a car to explore

Train to the Loire (e.g. Amboise) -- 3 days to see the castles

Train to Paris -- 1 night before flying home
Magster2005 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 09:08 AM
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I like Magster's idea, but there are a thousand and one possibilities. What itineraries have you thus far found distasteful, and why? BTW, it would be a PITA to take a train from Avignon to Périgueux. There are better options for getting between Provence and the Dordogne.

France is rich in beautiful destinations. I can think of only a couple of small areas I'd avoid at all costs.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 18th, 2014, 09:40 AM
  #6  
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Thanks all for your responses. This is the first time I use this forum and am amazed by the quick responses.
The itiineraries I have looked at suggest short stays at a variety of venues. Our needs are 3-5 bases from which to explore, thus minimizing packing/unpacking.
I like Magster's suggestion. Will check on ViaMichelin for distances. We intend renting a vehicle from Paris to Paris. Dread the righ hand driving situation but that is the way it is.
We are also not interested in glitzy accommodation. Would like a more authentic French experience. Selfcatering where possible. Need to go and buy my own wine and baquette and cheese.
I know you can not " do" France in 4 weeks. Therefore 3 - 5 prime locations from which to explore. We like food, wine, markets etc. Will do a few museums and tourist spots, but not our main interest.
dewet is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 09:52 AM
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Absolutely agree with the suggestions above!

Paris, Burgundy, Provence and Dordogne are a fabulous combination!
jamikins is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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Magsters itinerary is fine - it's the same as mine except he has 7 stays. The OP asked for 3-4 places and later modified it to 3-5.

The train from Nice (Cote d'Azur) to Toulouse takes almost 7 hrs, and Toulouse is still 2 1/2 hrs from Sarlat. The train gets in to Toulouse at 7pm - so by the time you rent a car & head to Sarlat it will be 10PM in Sarlat by the time you get there. Plus you never got a chance to visit Carcassonne. Driving from Nice to Sarlat is worse - 8-9 hours. Driving from Avignon (Provence) to Sarlat is 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hrs. That's why I recommended Provence & not the Cote d'Azur.

Plus, I would not take the train from Dijon/Burgundy to Avignon. There are not any "no train change" schedules. It is a 3 1/2 hr trip by train. It is a 4 1/4 hr drive. So if you had to get to the train station, return the car, take the train, rent a new car - driving would be much faster and more convenient. It is not really a scenic drive, however.

Use a car for the Burgundy to the Loire or Dordogne segments. Train from CDG to Burgundy, & last destination to Paris. I hate driving near Paris.

Also, I would recommend only staying in Paris once. Land at CDG and then immediately drive to Dijon/Beaune or take the TGV to Lyon and drive to Beaune/Dijon or take the train to Lyon & then train to Beaune or Dijon. I would not recommending driving after a long flight - we always take the TGV. The TGV is soooooo relaxing after a long flight.

If you want to cut out the Loire from my suggested itinerary, after visiting the Dordogne drive to Collonges la Rouge, visit, then a short drive to Brive la Gaillarde, return the car, and take the train to Paris.

Since you are new, I assume you do not have my 27 page Provence/Cote d'Azur and my 20 page Dordogne itineraries. I've sent them to over 4,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 18th, 2014, 10:40 AM
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If you arrive in Toulouse at 7 pm, it will be too late in the day to pick up a rental car.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 18th, 2014, 11:11 AM
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That's even a bigger problem!!!

Drive from Provence.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 18th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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You don't say when you are planning this trip, but if it is in the summer months many self catering places only let per week, some per fortnight.
hetismij2 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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One thing to maybe look into since you have such a long flight would be to fly into Paris and out of Nice if that is an affordable option to South Africa. That way you could shorten the mileage in France.

Also if you are staying a month a car lease is a great option-you get a new car, can choose the fuel option yo want etc. and you can pick up and return it anywhere in France to different cities for instance without a drop off fee. We have used the peugeot one a lot and have been extremely happy with the program

http://autofrance.net/
jpie is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 11:50 AM
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>>anywhere in France to different cities for instance without a drop off fee<<

Of the 35 to 50 cars we've rented (not leased) in France, we've only had a drop-off fee once.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 18th, 2014, 11:58 AM
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for self-catering look at

http://www.gitesdefrance.info/

they list B&Bs as well which can be a very nice way to get to know an area and meet some locals and might be good for shorter stays.

As you are starting from scratch, you can devise an itinerary which avoids the difficulties outlined above. As you are understandably chary about driving, you might think about getting the TGV to somewhere to start off with, spending a day or two acclimatising, then collecting your car. Starting off driving from Paris airport might not be the most relaxing or indeed safest thing to do!

regarding your route, there's nothing to say that you MUST drive straight from Nice/Avignon to Sarlat , for example, in a day. if those are places where you want to base yourselves, then you can organise things so as to provide a stop-over mid-way [eg in a B&B or "chambres d'hotes ]

I'm not sure that we know what time of year you trip is yet. Sorry if I missed that.
annhig is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 12:01 PM
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4 days in the Loire valley

4 days on the coast (La Rochelle--Ile de Ré)

6 days in the Dordogne

6 days in the Provence (It's more on the east side of southern France)

5 days in Burgundy

Some of the days in the area will be shortened by travel days because the 3 days not included in the list would probably be spent in Paris.
Michael is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 01:09 PM
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Thanks all. Trip planned for September 2014. Does that help?
Our visa requirements stipulate ?75% of all accommodation should be prebooked. Wiil try to prebook as little as possible so that we can stay over "on impulse". Is this advisable?
dewet is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 01:29 PM
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>>can stay over "on impulse". Is this advisable?<<

I wouldn't.

We have all of our accommodations booked for 2 weeks in the Cote d'Azur & 2 weeks in Provence in June, and then 2 weeks on the Ile de Re & 2 weeks in the Loire in Aug/Sept.

September is a popular time, and all the places we've suggested are popular destinations for US tourists & other non-French visitors who travel in Sept.

It might work for you - but there could be some "anxious" moments. After lingering too long in Provence, you don't want to drive for 5-7 hours to the Dordogne, arrive at 6 PM, & then start looking for accommodations (do you speak French??). You could call ahead at 3PM & start searching - but what happens if you can't get a mobile phone connection out in the boonies.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 18th, 2014, 01:29 PM
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Well, it's obviously not advisable if you're planning on self-catering. And September is still close to high season in France, and you're looking at stays of multiple days in several places, so no, I would not call it advisable to wing it.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 18th, 2014, 01:32 PM
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I wouldn't either...we already have our place in burgundy reserved for next New Years. I like to get the best place I can afford and those places go quickly. I also hate wasting time on vacation looking for accommodation...made more difficult by any kind of budget!
jamikins is offline  
Jan 18th, 2014, 02:45 PM
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Since we lease versus rent cars-I wasn't sure about drop off fees within France, but Stu would know.

However, that still doesn't negate looking into a good lease program-we have liked the pricing which has excellent insurance and repair coverage, and especially like having a brand new car of our choosing and the guarantee of getting diesel, etc. They generally require at least 3 weeks and start to become competitive price-wise to rentals if you stay at least a month
jpie is offline  

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