Help Needed for Planning France Trip!

Old Mar 19th, 2021, 07:47 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Help Needed for Planning France Trip!

Hi everyone!

I have been a long time lurker and have enjoyed reading so many of you OG Fodor poster's trip reports! I am so overwhelmed with planning my first big trip to Europe I was hoping some of you could help a newbie out. I'm tentatively planning (mainly in the dreaming phase) a month or two trip to Europe in 2022 if Covid is under control by then! It will be me and my husband (both 30 years old) and our son who will be 1! I have only ever been to Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast and absolutely LOVED it! I am pretty easy when it comes to travel...I just want to eat amazing food, drink amazing European wine and take in the beauty of it all!

The hardest part for me is figuring out the best cities/villages to go with a 1 year old in tow...I would love to do slow travel and either just focusing on exploring France or possibly add one other country that is nearby to the trip. Do any of you have some good suggestions of places I should add to my list? Beautiful places in the country side of France, wine country (love my wine!) or places on the coast of France that would be enjoyable with a baby? Obviously our nightlife days are behind us with him Since most of you have been all over, what would you suggest for a young family like us?

Thank you so much for any help or suggestions!
candidlymckenna is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 08:13 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,128
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have not been to France yet, but if I were looking to plan a long-term trip that might include more than one country, I would look at the Basque region that straddles the France-Spanish border. I've been to the Spanish part of Basque country and it's gorgeous, with lovely coastline, etc. That way, you make it easy on yourself and avoid having to travel long distances while still getting a lot of variety. Really I think you can pretty much throw a dart for this kind of trip--grab some guidebooks and just pick whatever looks appealing.
yorkshire is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 08:50 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,648
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Since you are already on this website, start here. The Destinations menu is crammed with info about France:

https://www.fodors.com/world/europe/france

After you have read enough to get a frame of refence and refine your interests, you will be able to ask specific questions to prompt useful replies. which you will be better equipped to understand.
Sorry, there is no magic guru who can read your mind and excite all your interests. Hard work will be rewarded.
Southam is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 09:17 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,121
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think there are two natural areas for you -- Provence and then Burgundy/Alsace. Provence would have both the country and then you could spend time on the coast, also. With taht much time, you could easily go into the area west of the Rhone, also (Languedoc). I would NOT want to be on the Riviera during peak season, though, it is hot, expensive and crowded. And you are really going to have to worry about accommjodations with AC, etc. It can get intensely hot in mid-day, I know because I've been there in July. Now I don't mind it, but I wasn't with a baby.

Then the Burgundy/Alsace area as the wine thing going for it and can be more moderate in temps. Probably not as many "wow" views, your call. All these areas have both country and city/towns.

Provence has Nice, Aix, Avignon, Marseille, Montpelier, and then the smaller villages. But if you don't care about visiting historic things much, the cities don't matter as much. Burdundy would have Dijon and then some smaller places like Beaune. combined with Alsace and you could throw in Strasbourg for a city and some places like Colmar.

Both these areas have wine regions, not sure what your intent is there. You can obviously drink wine anywhere, I drink European wine at home. It is cheaper there, of course, and more variety. But I've stayed in all those areas and I could have drunk kmost of that wine sitting in a cafe in Paris, also. Unless you get into this whole visiting vineyards and doing buying trips, my experience is that the wine you buy when dining isn't all that different in that area than what you can order elsewhere. I really do like the cuisine of Provence. I'm not a big fan of Bugundian/Alsacien cuisine but others are.

France has strict drunk driving laws, by the way, so don't get carried away.

It sounds like you don't have any seasonal constraints (ie, can only go certain times of year). I would not go to Provence in winter. And anywahere in winter (Strasbourg would have Christmas markets), you have to take more clothes which is more of an encumbrance, as well as footwear issues.
Christina is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 09:21 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you Yorkshire! I haven't considered that area but will look it up now! I think if we do choose to see two countries France and Spain would be lovely!
candidlymckenna is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 09:24 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Southam. I know it is overwhelming for me because I want to go everywhere and there are just so many amazing places to see in France! Reminding myself I don't have to see everything in one trip! I will continue to keep researching and narrow down some places that seem interesting to me.
candidlymckenna is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 09:33 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow thank you Christina! Super helpful!! I saved Stu Dudley's amazing report on Provence & Cote d’Azur so definitely want to add those areas to this trip! I am going to look more into the other places you suggested.

No seasonal constraints, but thinking maybe May into June!? Definitely don't want to go during the middle of summer craziness!
candidlymckenna is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 09:46 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,128
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Late May and early June are really great weather and crowd-wise. You might want to start thinking about transport as well--do you want to drive everywhere or use train, etc.
yorkshire is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 10:45 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That's what I'm thinking. I'm open to both...thinking a car will be necessary to see the country side and be able to explore on our own schedule! Definitely need to do more research and figure out the logistics, but so far from what I've read in these forums the places that I feel interest me the most would be:

Paris, Dordogne, Provence, Cote d'Azur...need to figure out if this is doable and the best route to take!

Love the idea of seeing charming villages, castles, vineyards and the beautiful coast...
candidlymckenna is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 10:54 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,128
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh I misunderstood and thought you were looking for one place for a month. I don't think route particularly matters--you will most likely fly into Paris, so after a week or so there just head south and then east or west. A guide book would probably be best at this point for delving into the nitty gritty details.
yorkshire is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 03:34 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,412
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you want to see the lavender blooming in Provence - go in late June.

Attached is my Dordogne itinerary

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
File Type: doc
Dordogne-revised.doc (171.5 KB, 27 views)
StuDudley is online now  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 03:39 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,300
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Even for people who've travelled widely it can be overwhelming planning a new trip. So many places, so little time! With a young child you could consider a farm stay. Google France agriturismo and see what comes up. Also I find looking at maps valuable for planning. If you find a town or village that might be of interest, key it into Google, then hit Images. Once you have an idea of what appeals (mountains, history, small villages, ocean views, whatever) then it helps bring the trip together. Pick a couple of places at the top of your list and leave the rest for another time. Have fun planning.
KayF is online now  
Old Mar 19th, 2021, 06:42 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2,129
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just some ideas for travelling with a small family: with a little one a single base might be an option to consider - less packing and unpacking, because travelling with a small child is usually heavy on the luggage. A car is also good with kids, but obviously it depends on how economically you can pack, so if you have been sparing with bags, train comes back in as a possibility. Don't take crib, highchair, car seat etc. because you can often get that from your accommodation and car seat from a car rental company. Backpacks can leave your hands free for a stroller, if you have one.

Good luck!

Lavandula
lavandula is online now  
Old Mar 20th, 2021, 08:21 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,412
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
""Google France agriturismo""

It's agriturismo in Italy, and gites in France. We've rented 72 gites in France for 114 weeks. Attached is something I wrote about renting gites a long time ago. The web site functions different than it did back then - but the concept is the same.

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
StuDudley is online now  
Old Mar 20th, 2021, 09:07 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 19,625
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm glad you have chosen where you want to go to. Almost certainly it will be hot and the norm of aircon is not always (or even often) copied across into residential housing in southern France. You will find that thick walls, wind blinds and cool corners of a garden are the more likely to be available to keep cool at midday.

My suggestions would be to limit the number of bases and the number of places I might want to go to. I'd also think if I want to just be a "family", want to join in with others or to hire in the occasional help. Then you need to work out if you are eating out all the time, shopping every day or just the occasional snack from the supermarket. The solution to each will be different but some thoughts would be:

Stay in a Gite if you just want to be on your own. You can find Gites in town or in the country. Towns which are very small may have shops with very limited opening hours. If I was going to stay in a town I might look at somewhere like Cahors (small, virtually unknown and with great red wine) but has the advantage of having a full year population with some tourism. Access to a pool is a good idea.

Stay in a B&B or small hotel, with the chance of being able to hire in baby sitters or at least, with garden, find places to meet other people without being forced on them. Again a pool

Stay in a campsite and get to know a more average joe with small families etc

To find where to stay you can use the usual tools like gites-de-france.com but you will find most towns also have local adverts, just taking Cahors as an example
https://www.tourisme-lot.com/en/prat...-du-lot-658024 gives you the accom types, with camping, hotels, Gites, holiday villages, B&B and even some oddities You will also find google maps is a good tool. Just go to the map area where you are interested and search say Gites.



Last edited by bilboburgler; Mar 20th, 2021 at 09:20 AM.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2021, 05:17 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,657
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
After spending some time in Paris, I would advise taking the train (TGV) to Avignon to reach Provence. That would be a long drive by car. Then pick up a rental car in Avignon. Having a car in Provence and other locations is better than depending on public transportation, IMO. May/June is the perfect time to visit Provence. Other nice villages/towns in Provence are St. Remy, the Luberon villages such as Gordes, Rousillon, Menerbes, Lourmarin, and the wine region around Bedoin. You will have great views of Mont Ventoux. This is the Vaucluse region. Also in Provence, right next to St. Remy, is Les Baux de Provence with its sound and light show. We took our grandson there when he was around a year old. And there are castle ruins, too.

I also recommend the Camarque located on the coast with its pink flamingos, black bulls, and white horses.

Another beautiful and interesting region is the Dordogne with its castles, gardens, caves, small villages, etc. You can take a boat ride along the river. Sarlat is a good place to stay.

Hope this helps! You can click on my name if you wish to read my trip report about the Dordogne.
KarenWoo is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2021, 07:01 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Frank

Have not been on this site for many years and came on this evening looking for information on riad rentals in Marrakech for the winter months when I saw your query. Perhaps I can be of some help so thought I would give you my thoughts. You don't mention when you are planning on being in Europe. The timing of when you will be in Europe is a big factor in deciding where you want to be. During the summer months sea shore destinations are very crowded and finding accommodation cab be difficult and expensive. Anywhere in France, during the month of August is a busy time as well (except for Paris that empties out during August) because that is the vacation month for the French. You might want to consider looking up "The Most Beautiful Villages in all France". Its an official designation and last I looked there were around 140 villages in France with that designation. I have the good fortune of living in one of them in the Aveyron department of France. All the villages with that designation are interesting, beautiful and tranquil and not too badly over run with hordes of tourists except for a few months of the year and even then they are relatively quiet. My village happens to be on one of the pilgrimage routes of Santiago de Compostela and during the season we get walkers from all over the world and that adds to the experience but many of the other villages with the designation are not on that route. About an hour from the village are nine other villages with the same designation so you could make one of the villages your headquarters and take trips each day to one of the other villages, but of course you would need to have a car. If you will be staying for a month or more it would be most cost effective to lease rather than rent but you need to start the process to do so well in advance. I also lived in Italy for four years and may be able to give you some ideas in that regard as well. Personally I would avoid places like Cinque Terra, the Amalfi Coast, Provence, and Tuscany. All are beautiful but unless off season they are over touristed to the point of becoming cliché's. Sicily is a wonderful destination that has been overlooked but it is very hot in the summers there. All the best to you and I hope this helps.

Originally Posted by candidlymckenna View Post
Hi everyone!

I have been a long time lurker and have enjoyed reading so many of you OG Fodor poster's trip reports! I am so overwhelmed with planning my first big trip to Europe I was hoping some of you could help a newbie out. I'm tentatively planning (mainly in the dreaming phase) a month or two trip to Europe in 2022 if Covid is under control by then! It will be me and my husband (both 30 years old) and our son who will be 1! I have only ever been to Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast and absolutely LOVED it! I am pretty easy when it comes to travel...I just want to eat amazing food, drink amazing European wine and take in the beauty of it all!

The hardest part for me is figuring out the best cities/villages to go with a 1 year old in tow...I would love to do slow travel and either just focusing on exploring France or possibly add one other country that is nearby to the trip. Do any of you have some good suggestions of places I should add to my list? Beautiful places in the country side of France, wine country (love my wine!) or places on the coast of France that would be enjoyable with a baby? Obviously our nightlife days are behind us with him Since most of you have been all over, what would you suggest for a young family like us?

Thank you so much for any help or suggestions!
franketter0442 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
ashopalicious
Europe
8
Mar 4th, 2018 11:34 AM
happytotravel
Europe
16
Oct 5th, 2007 05:42 PM
JonnySoups
Europe
4
May 17th, 2007 10:06 AM

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


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:13 PM.