How would you split a month in France?

Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:01 AM
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How would you split a month in France?

Hi all! We are throwing around a few possibilities and I wonder how (and why) you would split up 4 weeks in France in an October/November flexible timeframe.

I'm guessing one week would be spent in Paris. And then maybe a week in the Dordogne? Languedoc-Rousillon?

After Paris I would perhaps like 2 weeks (not necessarily consecutive) in the countryside and maybe another in a more urban setting.

How would YOUR dream itinerary be?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:05 AM
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Without knowing more about you/your family or group and what your interests are its difficult to provide specific recos.

I know what I like but have no idea of what you do.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:09 AM
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That's handy nytraveler, as the question specifically asks what would YOU do.

So, what would you do?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:15 AM
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I'd spend a month in Paris.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:18 AM
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I was curious as to other's opinions but this is our profile:

I'm in my mid 40's and DH is in his 60's. We are reasonably fit and love outdoor activities. DH has begun to grumble over hikes longer than 4hrs and/or steep paths.

We also love to sit in outdoor cafes, sip our wine and watch the world go by.

DH speaks French and I get along. This is actually to be about me practicing my French.

We love food. We love to eat and I love to cook. Apartment stays are our thing.

We love the countryside and driving through it.

I love, love, love art, architecture and history. DH goes along with my endless church, museum and castle visiting.

We are budget/value travelers. We are not backpackers but we much prefer to spend our money on food and wine than in luxury accomodations.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:19 AM
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My husband and I went to France for a month in 2012 and we did one week in Provence, one week in Dordogne, two nights in Loire Valley, one week in Normandy and one week in Paris.

In Normandy we split the time between Bayeux, Hornfleur and Rouen.

We really enjoyed the trip. We planned it so that we would have the car for three straight weeks and then dropped it off in Rouen before catching the train to Paris.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:22 AM
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Mjdh, I might be tempted as well but DH does not like 'big cities' as much as I do. He would be much more pleased with the scale skewed towards quaint countryside.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:24 AM
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Nw, where did you base yourselves for Provence and Dordogne?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:27 AM
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How many times have you been to France already?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 10:08 AM
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Your husband and you might like walking along a river, like the Mayenne or Rance, or doing short stretches of a walking trail like one of the Grandes Randonnees or a voie vert. If he likes countryside, the Orne, Sarthe, and Mayenne are lovely and not touristy except in spots. There are some big but not overwhelming towns in these departements. We've been pleasantly surprised by some towns we'd never heard of, like Chateau-Gontier, Pont-Audemer, and Bernay.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 10:16 AM
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Hi. We are going for 3 weeks next summer - 1 week Dordogne (near Sarlat), one in Provence (Goult) and 1 in Paris. If I had more time I'd head to Normandy and Brittany. Lucky you!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 10:21 AM
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I've only been to France once, six nights on the Riviera (part of business conference) and three in Paris, and I was completely enchanted despite having nowhere near enough time.

Looking at your main interests (cafes, eating/cooking, countryside, art, architecture, history, outdoor activities) you can have a great time in France covering most of those, since while countryside is still very viable, higher rainfall probably put hiking on a bit of a backburner or impromptu basis.


Maybe look at the second two week period for Provence and the Cote d'Azur: between the two large areas, every box of yours is checked and you'll be able to split between countryside and small towns and large dynamic cities and touch everything from art (Musee Picasso/Matisse/Chagall/Fondation Maeght/Musée des Beaux-Arts) to a very diverse history and architecture (Roman period to Popes of Avignon to Italian influences along the coast), to great food with its own unique spin (Bouillabaisse, pistou, daube, socca).

I would probably also recommend Lyon to you since food is so important to you both. Lyon and the main stations of Provence and the Cote D'Azur are on the same TGV line, so from Paris, you could head to Lyon for a few days, then into your exploration of Provence/Cote d'Azur, and then onto Dordogne/Languedoc.

Normandy, the Loire Valley and Brittany would be a nice alternative to the southern route, but I would probably choose to go either Paris + south or Paris + north.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 10:31 AM
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MG
In Provence we were in Cavaillon and stayed at Famous Provence B&B. The B&B sits at the top of the hill in town and we had the upstairs bedroom, which gave us great views of the area.

In Dordogne we stayed in small house in Sarlat, two blocks from the main square. We liked Sarlat very much. It was convenient for getting everywhere we wanted to go and we liked that we didn't have to go far for breakfast items or dinner.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 10:35 AM
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I'll admit I'd probably spend a month in Paris, but to go to language school. I've done that a couple times and really enjoyed it and could always perfect my French. YOu don't much out of language school if you are only there a week (I did that once, just a conversation class).

Without school considerations, I haven't been to Dordogne so can't really speak to that. My other favorite areas are Provence (Drome or upper Vaucluse area) and around Toulouse. So maybe I"d do that == 2 wks in Paris, 2 wks in the south--you could easily rent a car for two weeks and drive between those two areas when switching bases after a week.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 10:36 AM
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I think I would spend the first two weeks in an apartment based in Laurmarin (Provence) and do lots of hiking, eating, cafes, markets, villages and use this guidebook to point me in fun directions for day trips-

http://www.provencebyways.com/

I would then spend the next 2 weeks based in Paris, exploring the city and doing day trips using this guidebook-

http://www.annabelsimms.com/

Or, if two weeks in Paris is too much for you (it may not be if you mix in the day trips), then I suggest a week based in a pretty Riviera village with easy access for day trips and a week in Paris.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 11:49 AM
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Thank you all!

Since we have spent our latest vacations in Greece and Spain, Paris seems to be a budget buster! I'm almost scared to schedule a full week as it is.

My French experience is limited to 2 week-long stays Strasbourg for work (loved it!) and a 5 day solo trip to Paris (loved it too; report available in the Fodor's archives).

DH was in France several times eons ago for work. He worked for a Swiss French company and spent a few months in Lyon. Let's say that this is not his dream trip and leave it at that, lol.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 11:58 AM
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YOu mean he wasn't crazy about Lyon? Well, if he's been there a lot, you'd want something new anyway, no doubt.

Paris is definitely expensive compared to any other place in the country I've been, even big cities (like Nice or Marseille). It's mainly accommodation, though, which is the big chunk. YOu can usually eat fairly cheaply, but not if you want to dine at top restaurants, of course. Even moderate ones cost more there, of course.

I wasn't focusing on the food issue, if you want to cook a lot (ugh for me, I don't go to France to cook for myself), then I think the markets of Provence are definitely good. Of course the SW has its own cuisine, which I don't like as well (heavier), but food isn't my focus. I myself wasn't crazy about Strasbourg, not Frenchie enough for me (I do not like Alsacienne cuisine that much), enough though some of my ancestors came from Alsace, mother's side.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 12:38 PM
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I think I would spend a week in Paris, and the rest in Aquitaine and the Midi-Pyrenees, including some of Languedoc if I had time. I've always wanted to go to Toulouse and Albi and the Gorge du Tarn. Have been to the Dordogne and part of the Lot, and would like to revisit that area and see more.

I would definitely go south.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 01:03 PM
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Paris is one of the 3 cheapest cities in western Europe if you stay out of the tourist center. It's really a shame that most tourists don't know that. In my part of Paris, most hotels cost around 40-50 euros a night.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2015, 01:52 PM
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This is difficult!

Start with a week in Paris, then head down to Lyon and surrounding area for a week, on to Dordogne for week 3 and finally Provence for the final week. Working your way South as it gets later in the year and probably colder would be my suggestion.

Enjoy whatever you decide!
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