Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > France- Where to go besides the big cities?

France- Where to go besides the big cities?

Reply

Aug 15th, 2011, 05:13 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 120
France- Where to go besides the big cities?

I am rethinking the value of going to Lyon and Paris after my hiking and yoga retreat in southwest France this fall. I have two weeks of vacation time and already booked my return to the states out of Pairs. The big question is where do I go? As a ex NYC resident - the idea of rushing around a big city doesn't sound that appealing. Any suggestions for an itinerary that has a nice blend of culture that is suitable for a fairly hip 50+ yo traveling on her own?
KeppieAngel is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 05:33 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,177
How are you traveling? The Dordogne might be interesting, but you need a car. If you are fit and willing to bicycle quite a bit, La Rochelle and the Ile de Ré might be your ticket. On the other hand, Paris is not like NYC, and you do not need to rush around. There is a book, Parc et Jardins de Paris ...à pied which would be appropriate for slowing down, giving you 23 walks in different areas of Paris going from garden to garden or public park.
Michael is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 09:58 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,705
I agree with Michael.Paris and NYCcan't be compared.Part of the fun ofParis is sitting on terrraces drinking in the views with your wine or coffee! Without a car you are going to be mainly limited to bigger cities. Lyon is large but easily walkable, great museums, food and history. Beaune or Dijon have lots to see and do too and a car is not necessary
avalon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 09:58 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,705
I agree with Michael.Paris and NYCcan't be compared.Part of the fun ofParis is sitting on terrraces drinking in the views with your wine or coffee! Without a car you are going to be mainly limited to bigger cities. Lyon is large but easily walkable, great museums, food and history. Beaune or Dijon have lots to see and do too and a car is not necessary
avalon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 09:58 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,705
I agree with Michael.Paris and NYCcan't be compared.Part of the fun ofParis is sitting on terrraces drinking in the views with your wine or coffee! Without a car you are going to be mainly limited to bigger cities. Lyon is large but easily walkable, great museums, food and history. Beaune or Dijon have lots to see and do too and a car is not necessary
avalon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 09:58 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 9,705
I agree with Michael.Paris and NYCcan't be compared.Part of the fun ofParis is sitting on terrraces drinking in the views with your wine or coffee! Without a car you are going to be mainly limited to bigger cities. Lyon is large but easily walkable, great museums, food and history. Beaune or Dijon have lots to see and do too and a car is not necessary
avalon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 01:07 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,846
How about visiting some of the smaller towns in the south of France, Carcassone is amazing to see (near Toulouse) then you could get the train across to Nice. There are lots of easy day trips by train or bus from Nice - St Paul de Vence, Vence, Eze, Monaco, Cannes, Antibes etc. Then train back again to Paris. I've heard Sete and Perpignan (closer to Spain) are nice but haven't visited them.

Kay
KayF is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 03:24 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7,538
I'd reserve X days for Paris. And get a rental car and find a nice itinerary from your retreat in SW France to Paris.
If you don't want to drive into Paris, you could drop off the car in a smaller town close to Paris and take the train for the last kms.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 04:48 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 280
Paris is wonderful and not comparable to NYC. You should go there and soak up the atmosphere. But have you considered anywhere in Provence? You could do a walking tour from city to city. Here's a link: http://www.discoverfrance.com/
ksbeem is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 04:59 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,672
Have you been to Paris before? IF not, you should spend a few days there. It is not at all like NYC. It is green and more open and doesn't require "rushing around" at all. To the contrary, it calls for leisurely walks and picnics in parks and wine on cafe terraces.

I think cowboy has a great suggestion. Drive from the town of your yoga retreat, stopping along the way a few nights in small towns and then end with a few days in Paris.
mamcalice is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 05:10 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,525
My first solo trip to France was a combo of Paris and the Loire valley. I landed in Paris, spent a couple of days, then rented car there and toured Loire valley. Each day in the Loire was done at my own pace. I had guidebooks, but I also just let myslef linger in some of the smalle towns if I found them interesting. Castles, caves, vineyards, festivals, nightime sound and light shows at the castles, small museums, swimming, local food, fields of sunflowers, and getting lost on small country roads, accidentally ending up in places where I would stop and wander. Wherever I ended up at dinner time was where I stayed. GOing back to Paris stops at Chartres cathedral and Monet's gardens in Giverny. And then some Paris time.

One of the things you will find in Paris is that it is indeed a walking city. Sure, there are areas of high tourist concetrations and traffic, but there are also idyllic parks and little nooks and alleyways with cobblestone pavement and remnants of medieval buildings sticking out of walls.

Lyon is also a city of contrasts. The busy main streets and high-rises, and then the UNESCO-designated old town, the quiet area on top of Fourviere, the roman arena, gallo-roman museum, scenic walks down from the hill back into the old town.etc..and food food.

I live in a large city, but find Paris a release from the histle and bustle. I avoid places I've already been too (Louvre, Champs Elysee, Eiffel Tower) and head for less 'stressful' locales.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 06:53 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 120
Wow - great ideas. I visited Paris once before about 25 years ago. So yes, I agree I should return for at least a couple of days.I was originally set against driving but now I think it will give me the freedom and independence my nature desires. Is this wise to do considering I will be traveling alone and don't speak French? My retreat ends in Pau. I can take off from there. Which direction should I head in if I still want to include Lyon and then Paris, before I return to the states?

Also Michel_Paris thanks for the idea of avoiding the "stresssful locales". Can't understand why I hadn't figured that out myself! I guess my underlying NYC "go get them" attitude made me feel like I had to "conquer" Paris rather than just taking it in as appropriate and enjoying the cafes and parks. So good to know I have alternatives and so happy all of you can share your knowledge with me!
KeppieAngel is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 07:12 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,132
What KayF said. Without a car, base yourself in Nice and do daytrips. Yes, Nice is a big city, but that Italian influence (and the Belle Epoque architecture) gives it a lazy, sensual vibe. There are lots of daytrips by train and bus. In addition to the ones Kay mentioned, there's Villefranche-sur-mer, Cap Ferrat and the lovely gardens of the Villa Ephrussi-Rothschild (www.villa-ephrussi.com/en/ephrussi/), the little Train des Pignes deep into the mountains north of Nice, and a boat trip to one of the islands.

You can take the train or fly back to Paris.
Mimar is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 07:47 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 44,589
<>

Well, obviously, east.

Get a map of France. Get a good guidebook. France may be only the size of Texas, but it has an infinite number of different, totally distinct, regions within it that are almost like separate countries. So where you should go depends on what interests you most. Read up on all the different areas and chart a route using your map. Between Pau and Lyon there is a world of possibilities.

Nice, by the way, is not exactly the "go-to" destination between Pau and Lyon (it's not even between them at all, though of course one could take a detour).
StCirq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 07:57 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,525
Let Paris conquer you with its charm and joie de vivre.

I've been to Paris enough times that I've seen most of the main sites. So my days are relaxed. Last trip I would do one organized walking tour a day, plan lunch before/after, then either hang in that area, or check off something from my long to-do list.

For example one morning I woke up, went to my local cafe, OJ/cafe/croissant, read paer and guide, take Metro to Marais area for a 10AM walking tour. It finished at Place des Vosges, found nice place with outdoor tables for lunch, afterwards, having seen that there was a Marie Antoinette exhibition at Carnavalet Museum..went to that. Afterwards, since I'm there, see rest of the history of Paris displays. Done, wander neighbourhood. Done, hotel to regroup, then dinner in the area.

Next day, after second Marais tour, walked over to Ile St Louis for a relaxing lunch (outdoors). After, head over to wander St Germain area: Blvd St Germain from Seine to Orsay. Browse, sit and watch people go by, antique shops, Afterwards, Metro to restaurant from my list. Since it was in the 7th..walked over to Seine to see Eiffle twinkling.

Another day, small Jacquemart Andre museum in morning. Quick lunch, then off to wander the Passages (18th-19th century shopping arcades). Arrive at Louvre. Early for dinner, head over to Left bank, wander till dinner.
Michel_Paris is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 08:30 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,177
Go to Lyon via the Lot and the Auvergne.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7627132588561/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7623313123155/
Michael is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:55 AM.