Help for a month in france

Old Feb 16th, 2020, 12:47 PM
  #1  
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Help for a month in france

We are planning to take a trip to France shortly. It became a last minute thing because we decided to join our friends in Paris for 6-10 days. We plan to join them on June 1st. They are celebrating their 70th birdie in their favourite city and We are going to celebrate with them. Nervous that I left it this late, but oh well. My husband has not been to France for 40 years and although I have been to Paris in the last 5 years, I have never been to the other parts of France. We will leave Toronto Canada on the 11 of May and travel through out parts of France for 20 days and then meet them in Paris. We are a couple in our mid late 60’s but are very active and walk a lot. We like architecture, history and beautiful landscapes. We are not big shoppers. Food for us is fun and we are curious eaters. We like both homey traditional local fare and will also spend the bucks on a restaurant if it is good. We do not need to say we have eaten in a Michelin star restaurant, but if recommended, we would gladly try it. Our plan is to rent a car and drive. I have not decided exactly where I will stay yet. After reading most of the current threads here and the trip reports, some other forums, and some online research. Here is my draft itinerary if picking up a car in Paris. I am looking for comments on itinerary, ideas of lodging and restaurant, and an opinion as to whether to pick up a car at the airport or to train to Tours and pick it up there.
Thanking you Guys in advance



Day 1. Fly to Paris. A flight to Paris from Toronto is 7 hours overnight. Landing around 9:00 AM, so we have a whole day to get car and drive to Loire Vally area) Pick up car there (or if suggested, train to Tours and pick up car there.)Drive to Blois.

Day 2-4 base in Blois and visit the following: Blois and chateau there, The chateaux Chevrny, the Da Vinci sights in Aboise ( my husband is a Divinci fan),

Day 5 -6 Drive to Loches with a stop in Azey le Rideau. Stay in Loche two nights and visit Loches and Montresor.

Day 7 Drive to Oradour-sur-Glane, visit and find lunch. Drive to Beynac and stay the night in the area. Probably Limoge is the closest?

Day 8 Early morning Drive to Montignac, explore the Lascaux caves . Drive to accommodations in either Sarlat,La Rogue-Gageau or Domme. Visit what ever town the accommodations are in.

Day 9. Visit La Rogue-Gagneac & Belves. Night in above accommodations .

Day 10. Drive to Monpazier and visit till lunch. Drive to Bordeaux. Stay in Bordeaux

Day 11. Explore Bordeaux

Day 12. Day trip to St. Emillon & a winery

Day 13 Drive to Province area ( I believe it is a six hour drive). Stay in Arles?

Day 14 Explore Arles, & Le Beaux-de -Province

Day 15. Explore St Remy -de -province

Day 17. Drive to Uzes and explore. Stay there if can.

Day 18 Drive to Beaune or Dijon. Whichever I find accommodations. Explore

Day 19. Explore these two towns

Day 20.Explore the wineries between these two towns

Day 21 Drive to Paris

I could add one other day onto this itinerary if needed.


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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 12:53 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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Should be wonderful! Just a few notes:

Do not try to pick up a rental car or drive until you have been in France, on the ground, for at least a day -- as in, at least 24 hours, if not more. Driving after crossing multiple time zones is just as dangerous, to yourselves and others, as driving drunk, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to avoid the risk except letting your bodies adjust to the new time zone.

I trust you realize that your trip is exceedingly fast-paced, with a LOT of changes of accommodation. That works for some people; it does not work at all for others.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 01:13 PM
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Good advice on the driving right away. Perhaps we will take the train to Tours, spend the night there and proceed.
As far as pace, I will think about that. We have traveled many parts of the world, and are ok with spending a couple of nights and moving on. I feel that I can see these small towns in that amount of time. Smelling the roses is also a good point.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 01:20 PM
  #4  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by Sharcal1953 View Post
I feel that I can see these small towns in that amount of time.
Maybe you can! But for my interests, I wanted much more time than you are allotting to some of these locations (e.g., the Dordogne; Arles and surrounding areas) -- and I travel HARD, on the move every possible moment. It really depends on what you want to see and experience.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 01:26 PM
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Yes. I will think about it . Maybe drop Burgundy and add three days to Bordeaux/Sarlat area.
thanks
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 01:28 PM
  #6  
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And maybe I stay in Loches for the whole Loire Valley time instead of splitting up the accommodations. Just did not want to retrace my steps.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 01:28 PM
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Many of your destinations are spelled incorrectly.

Like kja stated - you are moving around too much. I could keep up that pace when I was in my late 20s, but not when I turned 50 more than 20 years ago. Keep in mind, many things close for lunch, on Sundays & Mondays, and museums often close 1 day a week too. So you can't pack as much into 1 day as you can in the USA and I assume Canada also.

You need only 1 base for the Loire chateaux area. Blois is fine. My favorite chateaux are Chenonceau, Chambord, and the gardens at Villandry. You did not include any of these (we're chateaux freaks & have spent 9 weeks exploring the Chateaux of the Loire since 1978).

You seem to have 5 days exploring Chateaux, and 2 days in the Dordogne, and 3 days exploring Provence. That's a poor distribution of days - compared to what most seasoned travelers would do. You might get "chateaued out" after about 3 chateaux. We've spent 22 weeks in Provence & 13 in the Dordogne (our two favorite regions) and we'll still return for more.

We're not so enamored with St Emilion, and you'll spend 1 day there and only 2 days in the Dordogne?????

See attachments

Stu Dudley

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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 01:41 PM
  #8  
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Sorry about the spelling. not my strong suit.
I read your reports StuDudly. They were great and I will go back to them for more detail when I get closer to finalizing. We are not Chateaux freaks. A couple will do for us. We like to walk a small village, or drive through landscapes. For Chateaux we choose, Chateaux Cheverny, Chateaux Chambord, Chateaux Azey le Rideau and Chateaux Montressor. I thought the area from Limoges to Bordeaux ( 6 days) was part of the Dordogne area. I am not interested in the other parts of Province. My husband does not really like heights and mountains. And we are not interested in the riviera.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 02:42 PM
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>>I thought the area from Limoges to Bordeaux ( 6 days) was part of the Dordogne area.<<

Well - it kinda is. A small part of the Dordogne is partially in the area between Limoges & Bordeaux. But this area is not as scenic and not as many interesting things to do & see - as the area farther south around Sarlat la Caneda.

And you are going to run out if interesting things to do & see in the Loire Chateaux area (compared to the Dordogne & Provence) if you spend 5 days there & only visit a couple of chateaux.

Here is something I e-mailed to a Fodors "lurker" who asked me about the Loire chateaux region. Included is a link to my wife's most recent Shutterfly books she made after we spent 2 weeks there a few years ago.

See attached

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 03:10 PM
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chateaux is a plural noun, the singular is chateau

You may not realize how big some of these places are, they aren't small towns. Notably Bordeaux. It's one of the top 10 largest cities in France. Arles isn't too large, though, but it's not a village. Limoges is a little bigger than Arles, I believe, and Dijon is even larger, although nothing like Bordeaux. So that may affect where you want to stay with a car. There are some mountains on the route between Uzes and DIjon, but you have to want to go there, you can avoid that just by going up the A7.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 03:21 PM
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If you are going to be there for a month with a car you might look into the auto lease programs through Peugeot or Citroen. We use them every year and they are great programs since you can really specify the car you want-automatic drive, model, etc. And you will be driving a factory new car. They only make sense economically if you have a car for at least 21-days to a month minimum. But be sure when you compare them to rentals that you realize they include all insurance, no addl. driver fees etc.

Here is one we use mostly from the US autofrance.net I don't know if there is any difference given that you are Canadian but I believe the program is the same for you.

Also If you haven't booked your flights yet I would look into flying into Bordeaux and back from Paris. The airport in Bordeaux is so much easier than CDG and it will save you a lot of driving. We fly to Bordeaux from via London Gatwick and it looks like you can get to Gatwick from Toronto non-stop on a number of carriers-Emirates, British, Westjet American, etc. This routing is so much better than having to go through Paris-so even if you can only do it one way it would be worth it to me.

That way you could get to Bordeaux, relax and enjoy the city a few days and pick up a car when you leave. From there I would probably drive over to the Uzes area then back up through the Perigord Sarlat area then back to Paris.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 05:12 PM
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You never specified what part of your trip (starting on June 1) you will spend in Paris with your friends

Also, we live 10 mins from SFO, and we ALWAYS fly non-stop to/from Paris to start & end our month in France. It takes about 10-11 hrs for us to fly to & from CDG. The only exception is when we start or end our trip near Nice. We found out about 5 years ago that two legs to get home really drained us. So here is what I would do:

- Fly to CDG. If Paris is at the end of your trip, immediately take the TGV (fast train) from CDG to St Pierre des Corps (Tours). If Paris is at the start of your trip, spend your time in Paris & take the TGV from Paris to St Pierre. Rent a car, and drive the short distance to Blois. There are direct trains that depart CDG at 9:46 & 11:20, and a 1-change train at 2:58. More trains depart daily from Paris center..

- Spend 3-4 nights in Blois. I usually add 1 night to the first destination to get oriented & recover from jet lag.

- Drive on the Autoroute for 5 hrs to Sarlat la Caneda, or 3 3/4 hrs to Oradour, visit, then another 2 1/2 hrs to Sarlat.

- Spend 5-6 nights in/near Sarlat.

- Drive 3 1/2 hrs to Carcassonne, visit for 2 1/2 hrs, then drive 2 3/4 hrs to St Remy de Provence.

- Spend 5-6 nights in Provence. If you'll be there the latter part of June - the lavender should be in bloom.

- Drive 4 1/2 hrs to Dijon (one of our two favorite cities in France after Paris) or Beaune in Burgundy

- Spend 4-5 nights in Burgundy

- Drive to Dijon, return the car, and take one of the many 1 1/2 hr TGVs back to the Gare de Lyon in Paris.

- Have lunch or dinner at Train Blue at the train station. A feast for the eyes. https://www.le-train-bleu.com/en/

Read my itinerary about the Dordogne for suggestions regarding where to stay/visit around Sarlat and also east of the A20 near St Cirq Lapopie or Rocamadour.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Feb 16th, 2020 at 05:35 PM.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 06:05 AM
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"We will leave Toronto Canada on the 11 of May and travel through out parts of France for 20 days and then meet them in Paris"

Well it sounded to me like they will be stating their trip outside of Paris-And given that they want to go to Provence, Bordeaux are and the Loire it might make more sense for them to try to find an open jaw ticket. If they don't want to connect they may be other non-stops from Toronto that get them closer to south of France to avoid so much driving.
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 07:15 AM
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I saw the June 1 date - missed the 11 May date. So they miss the lavender season in Provence, and starting the trip taking the 11:20 TGV to St Pierre works out fine..

I hate airports, getting to airports which are usually outside of town, checking in, going through security (sometimes multiple times), airplane seats too small, nothing to see outside unless you have a window seat, waiting for/transferring luggage, lost bags (we've had many), and lousy food - if any. We take trains to our first destination (except the slow train to Nice - as I previously noted). And we return to Paris for a one-nighter at the end of our vacation. Few of these airline problems exist on trains - the only major added problem is retrieving your bags at CDG, and taking them to the train. You can get to the station 15 mins before the train departure (I allow 30), there is usually a dining car, first class seats are equivalent to upper-end business class airline seats, and regular seats are like business class. I find train rides to be quite restful. CDG to Provence is a very scenic ride - you can look out both sides of the car. And you can easily walk around inside the train.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 07:33 AM
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My husband is similarly adverse to airports. We would drive from the Peninsula to the LA area several times a year before we moved down here — it was really the same time wise with airport traffic and security the way it is.

We love Europe for its easy use of trains! He would much rather take trains and truly enjoys the ride. He would take the train from the South of France to Sicily at the end of our month there if I would arrange it! But alas, we will fly that leg out of Marseille or Lyon... or maybe out of Paris.
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 11:43 AM
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Have had a few days to review Stu Dudley's reports as well as others. I have changed up my plans. We are going to fly into Bordeaux from Toronto , spend about 3 nights including our arrival night in Bordeaux and St. Emilion. Getting over jet lag and seeing that area. then 5 nights in & near Sarlat, drive through Carcassonne to St.Remy de Provence and stay 5 nights in that area. ( we will be there by end of May so probably will miss Lavender blooms). Then 2 days exploring Gordes & Carpentras areas. Then 4 days in Burgundy, mostly Beaune & Dijon & surrounds. Then we will either train to Paris from Dijon, or if We have an extra day, we will drive to Tours for a day and see one chateau in that area and then train to Paris. We are approx. 10 days in Paris and want to be there by June 1st.

I do have a question regarding roads tolls. Are they paid by cash? ( so have enough on hand) and approximately what does it cost? And secondly, if we get data, are we best to use google maps or Waze for directions. They seem to be always correct and up to date in my country.
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 12:35 PM
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1. Don't put a lot of emphasis on St-Emilion. It's a tourist hell these days, and if you're interested in wine and going to the Dordogne you could pass an infinitely more pleasant day in one of the wine châteaux around Montbazillac or Bergerac.

2. You can pay tolls with a credit card, but you need to know which lane to be in. Same for cash.

3. Can you not get open-jaw tickets? Returning to Paris is a waste of time and money.

4. I don't see any benefit to spending a night in Tours, no matter where on your route it falls. There are myriad other lovely places to stay in the Loire that don't involve the hassle of Tours.
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 12:45 PM
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I will look into the wine chateaux around Montbazillac or Bergerac.
I have to be in Paris for 10 days and so I would be leaving from Paris back to Canada. I would drop off our car at either Dijon or Tours and train to Paris. I do not want drive into Paris to drop off the car.
Thanks for the toll info.
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 12:47 PM
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Tours is at the very bottom of my list of interesting cities in France that are mentioned in most guide books. Blois would be better or maybe Amboise. You can stay close to Chenonceau also & walk to the castle.

There are lots of chateaux in the Dorodgne. I would visit some of them instead of going to the Loire Chateau area.

St Cirq - they are returning to Paris to join their friends..

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 20th, 2020, 12:58 PM
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I think that your itinerary looks great and St Cirq answered most of your questions. We use google maps and/or waze in France to navigate.

I think if I understood correctly, you will now be flying open jaw right-into Bordeaux and out of Paris? Just out of curiosity, from Toronto, which airline gets you there and where do you change. We fly from the US all the time Bordeaux via London Gatwick on Norwegian but I don't think that isn't an option from Canada.

I agree that is you want to spend a night in the Loire you are better in a smaller town like Amboise, it is much nicer-Tours is just kind of a big ugly city but good for the train if you need it. To be honest, the Loire takes you kind of far off your route in a lot of ways-I would spend the time in either the Sarlat area or Provence unless you really want to see the Loire Castles. And with the drive an only 1 night you might not see more than 1-2 at the most.

We particularly love the area around Uzès which is closer to the Pont du Gard area so not really Provence, but very nice as a base.


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