France Trip Recommendations

Old Aug 7th, 2016, 08:56 PM
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France Trip Recommendations

I'm a 23 year old American female and I'll be traveling in France for 9 days alone. I plan on spending 4-5 days in the south of France and ending my trip in Paris. This is tentative, and I'm seeking suggestions to make the most of my time in France and see the best places possible in this short amount of time. I'm looking for suggestions on how to best spend this time, specifically in the south (again, I'm open to other areas.) With 4-5 days before traveling Paris, where are the best places to go and how much time should I spend in each place? Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated!
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Old Aug 7th, 2016, 09:59 PM
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Where are you traveling from?
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Old Aug 7th, 2016, 10:08 PM
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What time of year? And how do you plan to travel between the south of France and Paris? Is there anywhere in the south of France that you've wanted to spend time in? What are your interests? Museums, the coastline, architrecture, art, chilling with other young people, culture, music, festivals, what?

Are you starting off flying into Nice?

Having done this myself at an age younger than you, I'd be heppy to give you recs, but need to know what interests YOU (I know what interested the 23 year old ME!).
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 03:25 AM
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There are hundreds of things to see and do in "the south of France," which is a huge area (Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon, Dordogne, Pays Basque, Rhône, Pyrénées...just to name a few), and none of them is "best." I think you need to settle in with a few guidebooks, maps, and websites and narrow this down to a few places that appeal specifically to you.
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 04:39 AM
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Another question, most important: Do you want to travel by car or by train?

>> and none of them is "best."
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 09:09 AM
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@RonZ I'll be traveling from Boston to Paris, and from Paris to Nice.

@Surfergirl- I'll be going during the last week of September. I'll be flying from Paris to Nice and again from Nice to Paris. I plan on staying in Nice and am interested in day trips from there, but that is where I'm looking for suggestions. I am definitely interested in museums, meeting other people, music, markets, shopping, the coastline, possibly hiking.

@traveller1959 definitely not renting a car, so by train/bus
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 09:40 AM
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Well, you can find the main attractions in Nice in any decent guidebook (museums, etc). I really liked the Chagall museum.

FOr day trips, you can consider Antibes, Grasse and St Paul de Vence. I haven't been to St Paul so not sure if it has a train from Nice or not (I don't think it does). Antibes does. Grasse does, but there are lots of buses from Nice to nearby places, also.

With only 4-5 days, you wont' have time for tons of day trips, anyway, just 1-2.
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 10:23 AM
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Okay, then simply spend the whole time on the Côte d'Azur. It is beautiful in September and the crowds will be gone. Here my personal recs (which I copied from another thread):

My personal highlights of the Côte d’Azur. I will rate them with zero to three stars:
*** Nice – the biggest city in the region, but quite charming with boulevards and parks. The main reason to visit Nice are the art museums, especially the Chagall Museum of the Biblical Message and the picturesque old town – however the beach is ugly (large grey pebbles).
** Cannes – an underrated town with a spectacular promenade, the famous grand hotels, including the legendary Carlton (known from many movies) - make sure to have a glass of champagne the bar of the Majestic -, the yacht harbour and a pretty, sandy beach. Good chances of celebrity spotting.
* Cap Ferrat - Villa Ephrussi Rothschild is an imposing pile of kitsch, but there are a few most beautiful beaches on the peninsula.
*** Monaco - many attractions on a small piece of land (the Prince’s Palace, Jacques Cousteau’s Oceanographic Institute, the Cactus Garden, the Belle-Epoque-Casino) and the drive to and from on the world-famous corniches is also ***, do not miss *** La Turbie, a most impressive Roman monument with fantastic vistas,
* Menton - not really necessary,
** Eze – a perched village, however very touristy; it is a must to spend ten minutes to walk to the lookout, because it is right on the Moyenne Corniche,
* Haut Cagnes - the olive oil museum is the main attraction, certainly not a must,
** Biot, because of the Leger Museum a must for lovers of modern art, also a centre for producing and selling stoneware,
** Antibes - a good place to make a base, otherwise a charming old town and harbour and a decent Picasso Museum with many ceramics which he made there when he lived in Antibes,
* Juan les Pins - a seaside resort with wide sandy beach and a row of middle-class hotels, popular for families vacationing,
Mougins – a town in the hinterland of Cannes with a central square which is lined with restaurants,
* Grasse - if you like perfume,
* Gourdon - one of the nicer perched villages,
* Tourettes Sur Loup - another nice village,
* Vence - the Matisse Chapel is the main attraction (a quick visit),
** St. Paul de Vence - stroll throught the village after visiting Fondation Maeght,
*** Fondation Maeght - a must for modern art with a breathtaking sculpture garden designed by Joan Miro,
*** Corniche de l'Esterel (the coastal road between Saint Raphael and Cannes) - one of the world's most spectacular coastal roads and breathtaking calanques (rocky coves),
* Saint Tropez – used to be a picturesque village, now overrun by tourists, watch the people on their yachts, nearby spectacular sandy beaches (Pampelonne, Tahiti).
Here my favourite places in the Provence:
*** Orange - the Roman ruins are spectacular,
*** Avignon - the Papal Palace is the main attraction and also the Old Town,
*** Saint Remy - Les Antiques are impressive Roman monuments which are just standing roadside and therefore quick and easy to visit; there are also ruins of the small Roman town Glanum and St. Remy is a charming small town where van Gogh spent his time in a hospital,
*** Arles – a smaller, charming town with spectacular Roman ruins, including an arena, a “Greek” theatre and a necropolis, and a beautiful cathedral,
*** Nimes - the very best Roman ruins in Provence, with an excellent arena, one of the best-preserved Roman temples worldwide and more,
*** Pont du Gard - a breathtaking Roman aqueduct, almost completely preserved,
** Les Baux provence - pictureque ruins and a scenic drive,
** Aigues-Mortes - a completely walled medieval city,
** Vaison-la-Romaine - more Roman ruins if you are enthusiatic about them,
** Aix-en Provence - beautiful medium-sized city,
** Luberon - I recommend Roussillion because of the ocre canyon, Gordes because of the Bories (stone huts) and Senanque Abbey. Hilltowns of Haut Provence (Cadenet, Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Apt, Rousillion) Vaucluse (Gordes, Joucas, Senanque, Venasque, Crillon le Brave),
* Marseilles - a huge city, Le Corbusier’s unite d’habitation is a monument of ugliness and inhuman architecture
* Cassis – near Cassis, you find scenic coves, the Calanques, but it is a bit out of the way and there are better calanques between Cannes and St. Raphael.
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 11:22 AM
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Certainly the places tr1959 so well describes are the top places in southern France for tourists - but yes it may depend on the time of year - Riveria in winter may be better than cooler Provence around Avignon.

23-yr gal alone should IMO take the train which will take you all over the Riviera (plus buses) and to main sights from say an Avignon base (and buses).

For lots on French trains check;; (check their online European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of rail itineraries in France) and
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 11:29 AM
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4 days each, no car. Paris is easy, as there always are 4 days worth of stuff there. Nice is connected along the coast by train and into the hills by bus.

Nice itself is worth a couple of days for museums and the old town. Along the coast is Monaco, worth a day, and Antibes for the Picasso Museum, although there is a better Picasso Museum in Paris. Check into a few guidebooks or the on line equivalents, see what intrigues you in the vicinity, and ask more questions. Anything too far from Nice will not be practical as a day trip.

Paris is Paris, and no limited number of days will be enough, but any number of days will be worthwhile.
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 11:41 AM
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Buses in and out of Nice up to St Paul de Vence, for example, are subsidized and very cheap, 2-3€. Trains along the coast and those that travel up into the hills aren't much more.

Traveller's list is indeed comprehensive but with four days I would spend 2 in Nice and one along the coast, Antibes and/or Cannes, and one in the hills, probably St. Paul de Vence and Grasse. The Chagall Museum has been mentioned, the Matisse villa and museum in Nice is also wonderful. You'll want to spend time in the old town, the marina and along the front. Nice has a tourist "train", maybe a bit hokie, but it has a great route.

Can you fly into Paris and home from Nice or vice versa to maximize your time?
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Old Aug 8th, 2016, 12:57 PM
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The train ride though thru France between Nice and Paris - about 5.5 hours all told - lets you see some lovely rural French landscapes and tickets if booked in advance far enough can be cheaper than flying. there is also an overnight Nice to Paris train.

By train you could easily break your journey in say Avignon and split time between Riviera and the fantastic Avignon/Arles area. Avignon IME is one of the very nicest old-worldish cities in France.
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