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I have 5 days to kill in France - what to do?

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Dec 22nd, 2012, 05:29 AM
  #1
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I have 5 days to kill in France - what to do?

I am headed to Europe at the end of March to walk the Camino Frances. I originally planned to just spend a couple of nights in Bordeaux before heading to St. Jean Pied de Porte, however this would mean I would start walking on Good Friday, and apparently the trail is pretty crowded during Easter week. So, I am contemplating delaying the start for a few days.

Constraints:
1) Flight is already booked, so I will be flying into Paris.
2) I need to be SJPDP, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to go to somewhere like Strasbourg, for example.

I was contemplating maybe Caen (Juno Beach is relatively close) and/or Mont St. Michel, but the trains seem to involve a lot of backtracking to get to Bordeaux afterwards.

Any suggestions?
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 05:31 AM
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Oh, forgot to mention. I spent a week in Paris a couple of years ago, and while I am sure I could find a way to occupy my time there, I am looking for somewhere new.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 05:38 AM
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OK. For starters, what is SJPDP?
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 05:40 AM
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St. Jean Pied de Porte, which is where I need to end up. (I really should learn to proofread better )
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 06:03 AM
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You would have no problem finding plenty to do there.
Mont St. Michel is sort of "out there" for that short time.
could you rent a car for a tour of Normandy?
You could go to the Loire for a few days from Paris.
Stay in Paris and do day trips, and then go to Bordeaux, IF you can't find enough to do in Paris.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 06:31 AM
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Why not go to the Dordogne? Take the train to Brive and pick up a car there.

Or, TGV to Toulouse, spend two nights, maybe Pau and on to St. Jean. If you are doing the camino for religious reasons, there's always Lourdes. It will probably be mobbed at Easter so timing would important.

From Bordeaux you could take a few days to spend time along the coast in Biarritz, Bayonne, St Jean de Luz, approaching St Jean from that direction.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 06:35 AM
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No "e' on the end of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

I'd go to Belgium, but how much money do you have? If not much, how about Marseille or thereabouts? At least there is some chance it won't be cold and wet there. Avignon might be very nice to explore, and then you'd have fairly easy transportation connections to SJPdP.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 08:42 AM
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If you get a car, you might be interested in our short tour of the Atlantic coast and Basque country south of Bordeaux:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-june-2011.cfm
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 09:40 AM
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Take a train to La Rochelle and from there explore and go out to Ile de Ré. You'll be halfway to SJPDP and have some wonderful territory to explore. Or go to Bayonne or Biarritz.

It makes NO sense to me to go east to Marseilles or Avignon. Why do that, when you have the entire Atlantic coast to explore and much easier train connections to get you where you actually want to go?
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 10:11 AM
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One does not kill days in France. One lives them to the fullest.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 10:29 AM
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Bravo Kerouac !!

...in France or anywhere else.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 11:12 AM
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Here is what I would perhaps do:

- Arrive at CDG and imm ediatly take the TGV to Montpellier & visit. Stay 2 nights.

- Take the TGV to Toulouse, and stay 2 nights.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 11:32 AM
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Here is what I would do:

- Land at CDG and immediately take the TGV to Montpellier & stay 2 nights. It's a 4 hr train trip to Montpellier - no train changes

- Take the TGV to Toulouse & stay 2 nights. Train leaves at 10 & arrives at 12:15 - no train changes.

- Take the TGV to Bordeaux & stay 1 night. Many departures - 2 hr trip.

- Take the train (1 train change) to St Jean PdP. Train leaves at 7:47 & arrives at 12:07

Note that the Bordeaux train station is not in an area where I would stay - so you might have to get a hotel closer to the city center. Train departure is early the next morning.

All these train schedules are for a Friday - so check the schedules for your specific days. The train from Toulouse to St Jean is slow & has many changes.

Toulouse is one of my "top 5" cities in France - and Montpellier is close behind. We were in Bayonne, Biarritz, and St Jean this past June (for the second or more time - each) and I prefer the cities I recommended above instead of Bayonne or Biarritz - especially in early April.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 02:37 PM
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For March, I'd much rather be in Montpellier (or Marseilles or any place south). If I didn't care about weather, I'd go to Belgium. Or Amsterdam. Or London. But not on a tight budget.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 05:45 PM
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I was going to say the same thing as Kerouac, One doesn't kill days in Paris. Give them to me, there's so much to see, to explore, to taste, to be amazed, to be entertained, to decide, to discover to enjoy. "Paris is a poem pressed into service as a city."
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 07:47 PM
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Thanks folks for all your replies. You have certainly given me some options to think about.

I won't be renting a car, which does limit my options a little bit. Also, Belgium and London are going in the wrong direction, so probably not the best fit for the time I have.

Sorry for my poorly chosen wording in posing the question.
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Dec 22nd, 2012, 08:13 PM
  #17
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Another vote for savoring (not killing) some time In Toulouse. And maybe a day in, or day trip to, Albi. Enjoy!
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Dec 23rd, 2012, 03:41 AM
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glenmd,

Go to wherever appeals to you in late March but bear in mind that direction matters less than connection -- meaning, some places have excellent fast transportation connections that can ultimately get you to St Jean Pied de Port, and others closer on a map and less kms in distance can turn out to mean a lot of complicated or uncomfortable transport in Spring (as apparently you had already discovered when you started this thread). Budget is usually a consideration as well (but not always).
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Dec 23rd, 2012, 10:06 AM
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Another vote for savoring (not killing) some time In Toulouse. And maybe a day in, or day trip to, Albi. Enjoy!

Toulouse could be used as a base for various day trips via public transportation: Albi, Moissac with its abbey church, Montauban and its 17th cent. Place Nationale and the musée Ingres, and of course Carcassonne.
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Dec 23rd, 2012, 11:02 AM
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I walked the Camino in Sept 2011 - wonderful experience. Look after your feet and don't push yourself for the first two weeks, after that you will be flying!

I flew from the UK to Toulouse for a night there, then took a train to St Jean, (just the one change in Bayonne) so would certainly suggest visiting Toulouse.

StuDudley's suggestions are good, though consider Lyon, then Le Puy (which forms part of the Camino in France http://www.csj.org.uk/route-le-puy.htm ), then Toulouse???
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