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Melissa5 Oct 25th, 2014 03:52 PM

Frustrated! 1st trip to PARIS & France in JULY: Need Cheery HELP!
Hello, fans of <b>Paris & France</b>. I'm getting frustrated and would appreciate supportive, inspiring advice. I haven't booked anything yet for our 1st trip to Paris & the French countryside. <b>JULY 2014</b> is now the date for our 2-week trip, for my husband and I.

<b>7 nights: Paris & Versailles
8 nights: 1 or 2 "bases" in the French countryside</b>

We were originally aiming for June in Paris & the French countryside (possibly <b>Provence</b>). But since the happy announcement of a grandchild, who is due in June, we've moved the date of our trip to JULY. Traveling with my husband, just the 2 of us. We will rent a car if needed, or take trains.

My <b>Rick Steves guidebook</b> for France is FRUSTRATING me, as it seems unusually Plodding. Not as helpful as his Italy guidebook was. I've also got a <b>Fodors guidebook</b> to France. But it's now October, and I want to start booking this trip!

<b>JULY WEATHER AND CROWDS???</b> Please suggest the spots in France where YOU feel the weather is good in July, and the crowds are not so overwhelming as to make you wish you were elsewhere?

<b>Wish List:</b>
--Scenic countryside (including natural features, NOT only farms)
--Charming small town or village
--Eating & drinking adventures...especially if we can eat well without dressing fancy!
--Cultural & historical adventures
--Friendly locals who might be patient with me practicing my beginner's French!

Please feel free to give me your Subjective advice. I always find it inspiring to hear what YOU love when you travel! It won't help if you tell me to do a lot more research. That's all I've been doing, and I'm not making progress. My Rick Steves guidebook is actually boring me.

<b>PARIS:</b> Will probably post a separate question on PARIS accommodations. I'm a light sleeper, and appreciate a quiet room, which in a noisy city is often overlooking a quiet garden. Ideally I'd like a central location, and if it's owner-run, that's often fun, if the owners chat with the guests. Sometimes a hotel is necessary in a city...although I don't like big impersonal hotels. Budget: Somewhere between moderate and splurge for Paris, but we don't need the most expensive hotel in Paris. I don't like renting a place, since I appreciate owners or staff who can answer our questions each day.

THANK YOU, Fodorites!

nytraveler Oct 25th, 2014 04:03 PM

As a first step I would get several more guidebooks and check them out.

I frankly despise Steeeves - since his choices are often peculiar - as well as the whole tone condescending. In terms of hard info I find the MIchelin green guide as the most useful since it has a LOT of detail and also tells you how long you can expect to spend seeing a sight fairly thoroughly. For something more pictorial have a look at the Eyewitness guides.

I have found locals prefer speaking English if they are comfortable in it - so end up speaking French only with people with little or no English. Some are patient and some are not - depending on the circumstances.

July will be crowded most places but I think the typical summer tourist spots would be more crowded - comparatively - than areas with activities at more or all times of year - and would have a look at Alsace (Strasbourg, Colmar and the wine road has a bunch of charming small towns) or Burgundy.

nytraveler Oct 25th, 2014 04:03 PM

Sorry - we prefer to go to the south in May or June - when it's less mobbed.

StuDudley Oct 25th, 2014 08:31 PM

In July, if you don't like crowds in Provence - stay away from St Remy and the Luberon. Spend time a tad north. We like Bedoin - which has a wonderful Monday morning farmer's market. Close to the Sault lavender fields too. Day trips into the Baronnies - where you won't encounter throngs of tourists - just lots of pretty lavender fields & beautiful countryside.

Toss out the Rick Steves book.

Have you thoroughly digested the Provence itinerary I wrote, and (I think) sent to you?

Stu Dudley

KTtravel Oct 25th, 2014 08:50 PM

Can you go in May? We loved Sarlat and the Dordogne area, also Provence.

eigasuki Oct 25th, 2014 09:16 PM

Relax. almost anywhere you go will be great.Paris will be crowded around the big-ticket items (Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower etc) but elsewhere will be manageable. Many options for reasonable accommodation but in July you might want to opt for air-conditioning. My last trip I stayed at Hotel Voltaire right on Quai Voltaire and it was incredibly noisy in the daytime and evening but double glazing kept the noise right down. At night after the traffic eased, I had the window open and slept OK. Worth it for the view and the convenience.

You're spoiled for choice for your other location and it really comes down to what you like to see and do. I've done Provence, Dordogne and Alsace in July, loved them all and wasn't at all bothered by crowds. Normandy would also suit your requirements. MY vote for the things on your list would be Dordogne. Get a place with a pool.

I think "crowded" is over-rated as a dis-incentive. Any place where bus loads descend can get jammed but you can get there early or after they leave in the late afternoon. There are always heaps of places just off the main drag just as- or more- charming.

Feel free to browse my blog for my France trips in 2011, 2012 and 2014 for ideas. My 2005 trip was in winter but was my first time to Paris and my first big European adventure so lots of rookie mistakes.

You will have an amazing time.

Dukey1 Oct 26th, 2014 04:32 AM

July? In Paris? IMO air conditioning is not "an option" it is a necessity unless you absolutely cannot afford it.

DebitNM Oct 26th, 2014 04:44 AM

I would spend a week in south France in a gite. They usually book Saturday to Saturday, so plan accordingly. You will need a car. I highly recommend-

Their gites are fully equipped from A to Z. You can cook a full meal if you want or just make breakfast.

The village of St. Saturnin les Apts is small and a perfect location for day trips to all of the popular sites in the area, natural wonders and great markets.

bilboburgler Oct 26th, 2014 05:11 AM

I'd recommend the Rough Guide to France

July is starting to get busy and since I don't like the heat I'd look further north and towards to the coast as well

One of the mouth of the Loire and the whole area up to Le Mans, Ile de Re and the whole coast down to Bordeaux and environs (though do not stay in Bordeaux itself), St Malo area through to Pampol, the bay between Cherbourg and le Havre.

Gite and good old

flpab Oct 26th, 2014 06:00 AM

Can you do May instead. We love France in May.
You can download these to your kindle. I have always liked these books.
Alsace (Strasbourg) check that out also as NYtraveler mentioned.
I have it on Strasburg but they have locations everywhere.

annhig Oct 26th, 2014 07:14 AM

So long as you are travelling at the beginning/middle of July you should miss the worst of the crowds as they tend to start when the school holidays start at the end of the month.

I think that I would be inclined to cut my time in Paris a bit shorter [say, 5-6 nights] and then have a little longer for touring around, which there being only 2 of you, you could probably do without booking ahead, but if that's too adventurous, I would look at 1 out of the following pairs of places:

Normandy and Brittany

North and South Brittany

Loire, East and West

Western Loire and the Vendee

if you want to avoid crowds, forget about the south and the Dordogne.

The Val de loire tourist office has some great ideas with routes to follow and themed trips:

I suspect that the Vendee, Brittany and Normandy have the same.

if you're interested in history, you might like to see if you can work this place into your itinerary:

not only a brilliant french theme park but it has the most wonderful "son et lumiere" shows on weekend evenings in the summer, featuring over 1000 players and animals. A must if you decide to go to the South of Brittany, the western Loire or the Vendee.

Christina Oct 26th, 2014 09:51 AM

I find Rick Steves does some countries better than others, and France isn't one he does well.

I have been to France a lot in July in Paris are, Bordeaux, Provence, and Alsace, and IMO, any area is fine in terms of weather in France in July. I haven't been to Brittany, though. I don't know what weather you would consider impossible to stand, though. France isn't tropical and there isn't any particularly bad rainy season at that time, so what else is there. Of course it's summer, but it's no worse than where I live in the US. And I book hotels with AC in July and August in France, so doesn't bother me, as sleeping is the main time I need it to be cool. Provence heat isn't humid, anyway, so I don't mind at all being out in the daytime when it is hot, just dress accoredingly. That's my opinion, anyway.

And I feel the same way about crowds. There isn't any place I've been in France in July where I wish I were not there due to crowds. The only case where that might pertain would be one particular tourist attraction, not an entire city or country. And even in Provence where some oft-mentioned tourist places can be mobbed, there are plenty of other places you can go if you feel it's not to your taste, just drive on. In fact, even there, I can't think of any place that was that bad for me.

I'm sure the Riviera is a place with too many crowds in summer, but I don't go there and am not into beaches.

urbanchic Oct 26th, 2014 10:00 AM

just got back from Paris and stayed at Hotel Therese--very quiet and Room 55 looks out on a SMALL city garden.

Very helpful staff and it's right near the Opera and Louvre--good location

Leely2 Oct 26th, 2014 11:19 AM

Oops, I answered your other thread, got it confused with this one.

I was in Paris this July. I used to avoid July like the plague, but work responsibilities mean that it is now easiest for me to travel in the dog days of summer. I've discovered it's really not that bad. I agree with eigasuki and Christina on this one.

Anyway, my personal dream-of-visiting places in France include the Midi Pyrenees and the Auvergne (volcanoes! Hiking!). The next time I'm in France in the summer, I think I will definitely tour the Auvergne. I have been to Provence and the Dordogne--excellent choices as well. You really can't go wrong as long as you find someplace with AC.

StuDudley Oct 26th, 2014 11:50 AM

>>as long as you find someplace with AC.<<

We've stayed in Gites for 91 weeks during June, first 2-3 weeks in July, last week in Aug, and Sept. None of them had AC, and we're hot fans of high heat (we live in the northern San Francisco Peninsula).

Stu Dudley

DebitNM Oct 26th, 2014 11:53 AM

The gites I recommended have A/C.

Leely2 Oct 26th, 2014 11:57 AM

That's interesting, Stu. I live in San Francisco itself and want AC in Paris in July.

jamikins Oct 26th, 2014 12:04 PM

We loved the week we spent inAlsace the first week of June this year.

Great food, fabulous wine and lovely villages. But we love many areas of the countryside. You can't go wrong!

You can see our pics here

We also love Burgundy

And the Loire Valley


Happy planning!

Melissa5 Oct 26th, 2014 02:51 PM

nytravaler, thanks for the great tips and thoughts. I used to be a Rick Steves fan, but I'm tired of his style. I think I'll try the Michelein green guide which you recommend...I need a new planning tool.

StuDudley, those lavender fields sound so nice. You know, I never did send you my email to get your Provence itineraries! I took a break from the forums while I was reading/researching. I'll hunt up your info. I LOVE hearing details about other travelers preferences, because it fills in the gaps that the guidebooks leave. It brings things to life. I enjoy hearing opposing opinions too, because they flesh out the pros and cons for a clearer picture. I'll look at Bedoin as you have me curious. Love farmer's markets by the way!

KTtravel and flpab, cannot go in May. But thanks for your replies.

eigasuki, I can picture us at a place with a pool in the Dordogne! I'll dive into your report, thanks very much. Always fun to read rookie mistakes and your favorites.

Dukey1, will DEFINITELY look for a place with A/C in Paris! I live in San Diego, and our weather tends to be fairly mild year-round, compared to other regions of the globe.

bilboburgler: Thanks for the reply and your thoughts, and I've used Rough Guide for other countries, so I might pick up a Rough Guide for France, and maybe the Michelin green guide, as suggested by nytraveler.

annhig, thanks for the fun itinerary ideas. Sounds like I should avoid the end of July because of the school holidays. I'll aim for middle of July.

Christina, I appreciate your opinion on the comfort of July weather & crowds. Hearing other people's preferences really does help. On this forum, there are some who don't mind the July weather anywhere in France, and others who prefer to go north where it's cooler...hearing all this helps a lot. I live in San Diego, and it's seldom too humid here.

urbanchic: Will check out the garden view room at Hotel Therese. (-; Was it a great trip?

jamikins, ooh thanks, I'll look at your photos!

MERCI, fodorites! This helps SO MUCH more than my Rick Steves Guidebook! I'll be back with more questions after I check out your reports, your photos, etc. Will look at other guidebooks.

Melissa5 Oct 26th, 2014 02:58 PM


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