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Help: 9-10 day trip to Paris and South of France


Apr 3rd, 2011, 07:27 PM
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Help: 9-10 day trip to Paris and South of France

Would appreciate help improving my itinerary, for a first time to France, family of 4, kids ages 16 and 21, first half July.

Air Travel (already booked): Fly in and out of Paris. Cannot change flights without big penalty, due to using miles.

Itinerary start and end: Arrive late afternoon Paris on day one, then depart Paris early afternoon day 11.

Preferences: Few days in Paris, few days in Provence (Avignon? Aix? Arles? smaller town?), or few days seaside south of France (Nice?), or both.

Plan: Enjoy a few highlights in each place to get a flavor. One or two days at a beach, few afternoons to just meander, sit at cafes, etc. Mix of interesting sights, half day trips, relaxation.

FIrst Pass Itinerary (too much moving around, not enough time each place)?
Day 1 - Arrive Paris late pm
Day 2 - Paris
Day 3 - Paris
Day 4 - Paris
Day 5 - early train to Avignon; half day Avignon .
Day 6 - rent car, see some part of Provence (1-2 towns/sights)
Day 7 - Scenic drive Provence headed towards Nice? (or other seaside) ; end up in Nice
Day 8 - Nice
Day 9 - coastal Nice towns or highland towns
Day 10 - morning Nice, Late afternoon train Nice to Paris (cdg); pm at airport
Day 11 - wasted morning waiting for early afternoon flight (must depart from Paris) ...

Suggestions? I don't have a sense of distances and logistics. Would it be better to:
- Stay in Paris 4 or 5 days, and spend 4 or 5 days Provence ... OR,
- Save Provence for a future trip and after 4 or 5 days Paris , take train directly to Nice, and spend more time coastal Nice area?
- What is better itinerary considering 16 and 21 year old
- Finally, if I end in Nice, what are best logistics back from Nice to Paris cdg airport for early afternoon flight?

Help me plan this better? Any ideas? Thanks very much in advance.


PS I finally figured how to tag this post as "france" and so am reposting. Sorry for duplicate post.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 08:36 PM
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I could change the order of this itinerary to Paris, 4days >> Nice, 2.5 days >> Avignon or Aix, 2.5 days ...

this adds a day in Paris, and eliminates two wasted half days prior to departing. Question about logistics, TGV train to Cdg airport:

I could take a TGV from Aix or Avignon first thing in the am (6 am) and arrive at CDG at 10 and make a 1:30 Air France departure (same terminal TGV) ...

If I took a more civilized 7:45 TGV and arrive at cdg at 11 am, chance of still leaving enough time for that 1:30 flight? TGV arrives at the same terminal as flight. does 2.5 hrs. cut it too close?
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 08:37 PM
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I would start in the south rather than in Paris. Since you're already at the airport when you arrive in France, take a plane to Nice or Marseilles and start your trip there. End up in Paris - more accessible to CDG for your flight home.

I think you're moving around too much and don't have enough time in Paris. Of course, it's difficult to advise you as you haven't said what your interests are. What attracts you to Provence?

Perhaps something closer to Paris for a short trip - you could see Normandy and the D Day beaches - very interesting and historical. Spend 3 days doing this and the rest of the time in Paris.

You really only have 9 days. You can't count day 1 if you're arriving in the late afternoon. Day 11 - you need to leave for the airport 4 hours before your flight time - 1 hour to get there and 3 at the airport. So if you have an early afternoon flight you do not have the morning to do anything.

If you choose Normandy you can pickup a rental car at the airport, drive a bit to get away from the city, stop overnight, and then continue your journey the next morning. You can drop the rental car in Rouen on the return trip and then take a train to Paris.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 09:50 PM
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Thanks for your suggestion. I just looked into flying to Nice or Marseilles directly upon arrival to CDG, buy it was price prohibitive. I am attracted to provence because of the scenic beauty, the charm, and that there is alot happening in the larger towns, which my kids would like. we all love the beach, and after touring and cities, that would also be a nice respite.

I don't actually know anything about Normandy, so I will look into it. The 16 year old can't drink, so if it is all about wine it wouldn't work ... but if the history is larger interesting and the countryside beautiful and if there are some towns to stay that are lively at night with lots of people on the street, it may work for us. I will take a look and thank you for suggesting it.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 04:05 AM
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I think 3 days or more in Paris are necessary.

But you should take time to go to Provence, there is a lot of thinks to see : Ardeche, Gard, Vaucluse, Provence...
If you like nature and open skies.

A nice link : http://www.visit-southern-france.com/
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Apr 4th, 2011, 04:56 AM
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mickael013 --

I thought about Adrienne's suggestion of exploring Normandy as was suggested earlier ... but the TGV Paris to Provence helps with the distance and time equation and I think makes the South doable as well.

Really, a matter of where to stay (interests? -- we are not hikers, wine enthusiasts, or history buffs, but will enjoy local sights and culture whereever we go).

Now, how long in each locale vs. how much moving around.

Thanks for weighing in, and thank you for the link.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 06:27 AM
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Personally I would just tour Provence and not go to Nice. And it is VERY doable with the TGV. Also the "beach" is not what we have here--it is beautiful, and of course, "exotic" because of being in France/Mediterranean.
I think you can arrange the logistics pretty well, but I might go to Provence directly upon arrival at CDG as others suggested. Then train back to Paris for your time there. I think there might be less angst about arrival early at CDG fora departure, etc.--just get a cab to the airport from the hotel. And less "wasted" days, moving out and in, etc.
Normandy is also very doable, renting a car at the airport. You will LOVE either area and have a wonderful time.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 08:47 AM
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Thanks for the logistics suggestion. Since there is a TGV at the airport, I will look into your idea to just head straight to Provence.

Have decided to skip Nice ... and keep Normandy for a future visit, and just focus on Paris and Provence.

Am also looking at either a day trip or overnight in Cassis to enjoy the coast, the seafood, and the Calanques.

This board is such a great resource! Appreciate the ideas.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 08:58 AM
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We had similar plans for Paris followed by Provence and Nice. But hearing what many had to say on this forum, we decided to skip Provence, and instead explore more of Nice/Cannes area

Here's the link to my query and responses from many..


Hope this helps.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Our first trip to Provence, we flew into Paris, took the TGV to Avignon and picked up a rental car. We based ourselves near St Remy, for 4 nights and one of our day-trips was to Cassis, we continued on a road trip through more of France, but in your case, especially with your 16 and 21 yos, an overnight in Cassis would be lovely. Then I'd drop the car and take the TGV back to Paris for the rest of the trip.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 09:13 AM
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If you will be in Provence in late June or July, you will be there during lavender blooming season - so I would certainly not skip Provence. Also, Provence has excellent to/from connections to Paris & CDG. Connections to/from Nice can be more difficult.

I like the idea of going directly to Provence from CDG (I find the train trip to be VERY relaxing after a long time on airplanes). Then spend all your time in Provence with a day-trip to Cassis. Then TGV to Paris for some time there.

Do you have my 27 page itinerary for the Cote d'Azur & Provence??? I have sent it to over 2,500 people on Fodors. Email me at [email protected] & I'll attach a copy to the reply e-mail. We have vacationed in this region for 34 weeks. E-mail me soon - we are leaving for a 3 week vacation on Wednesday.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 4th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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To All: your comments have helped immensely!

- uhoh_busted where did you stay st remy?

- Rs_travel thank you for thread ... but have decided Provence and Paris it is, with day trip to Cassis

Final questions re where to stay:

(I have gone down the trip advisor list for Aix and Cassis, and read forum suggestions, but so many places already booked! We are 4 people, budget ideally under E250/nite for all 4, but will splurge one or two nights for a special place).

1. Hotel or B&B to stay in or near St. Remy? with pool if possible. (Is St Remy quiet at night, or can you walk around after dinner, see people out and about?).

2. Hotel or B&B to stay Cassis if we do overnight instead of day trip?

3. Hotel or B&B to stay Aix, with pool if possible (Aquabella booked for one of my nights) -- I think teens might love being in a busier place at night, perhaps Aix is a good base for two nights, for day trip to Cassis, vs. a quieter St. Remy.

4. Has anyone stayed Villeneuve Lez Avignon? found a cute and reasonable place to stay, thought might be a good base, being just outside of Avignon, but able to go into Avignon easily, isolve the parking issue in Avignon, more reasonable than Avignon. Good base to do Provence exploring by day, avignon by night?

Thank you all so much again.

PS Stu Dudley thanks for offering your report. I have emailed you and look forward to reading.

PPS Stu Dudley, found an old comment of yours in a related thread that I loved: "optimize the pleasures, not the cost". Needed to remind myself of that, so thanks!
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Apr 4th, 2011, 11:47 AM
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Just looked up where we stayed on our second trip, and WHOA! They have refurbished and raised their prices. It is/was a gorgeous place, it just wasn't as "fancy" in 2006 as it is now. http://www.chateauderoussan.com/page...tory,1,en.html
It is outside of town, and has a restaurant of it's own. I am not sure if the B&B where we stayed back in 2003 is even open anymore.

There are quite a few places to stay around there as a number of Fodorites have used it as a base in the past. You can probably do a "search' on hotels in St Remy and they will pop up.

St Remy is a lovely town at night. There are quite a few restaurants and cafes with indoor/outdoor seating.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 12:35 PM
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Villeneuve Lez Avignon sounds lovely, but your adult child and teen might prefer the nightlife in Avignon. We weren't there in July, but I don't think it's TOO difficult to get in and out of.

I agree that St. Remy is wonderful at night, and during the day.

And as an FYI re your 16yo and drinking, the law in France prohibits the sale of alcohol to those under 18, but not its consumption. So an adult (parent, hopefully) may purchase the alcohol for the teen to drink. Our 12yo DD was often served wine at meals when we had wine during our last trip to France. Of course, your family may have a different perspective on 16yo and drinking in those situations, and that may be what you meant by your 16yo not being able to drink.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 12:43 PM
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I appreciate your comments on St. Remy

Chateau de Roussan is booked for a wedding on my dates but I will search the forums for other suggestions.

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Apr 4th, 2011, 12:47 PM
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Thanks for clarifying the local laws. We too will all enjoy wine at meals. I just meant that a trip oriented around wine tours and vineyards and tastings wouldn't be great for our group

I am excited to find a place in or near St. Remy. It looks great. Searching the forums....
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Apr 4th, 2011, 12:53 PM
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My parents stayed in this B&B in St Remy last Sept and loved it:
http://www.masdestourterelles.com/ It was walking distance to town.

We also stayed in this B&B (more like a hotel) just outside of St Remy (about 15 mins to town) and would stay there again:
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Apr 4th, 2011, 01:09 PM
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Very much enjoyed Mas des Carrassins just outside (walking distance) of St. remy.
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Apr 4th, 2011, 01:13 PM
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thank you for these suggestions. Both look lovely and hopefully with all the inquiries I sent there will be "room at the inn" for us somewhere!
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