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I have lurked long enough..I need advice. What to do after 7 days in Paris

I have lurked long enough..I need advice. What to do after 7 days in Paris

Jun 28th, 2010, 02:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 110
I have lurked long enough..I need advice. What to do after 7 days in Paris


I have posted a few times but generally I have lurked, read and learned.

DW and I are going to France for 11 days in April 2011 to celebrate our 30th anniversary. It is the culmination of a dream we have had since we were first married. School, kids, work and you name it have always been a higher priority than getting to France. Now we are ready.

We are arriving at CDG on Thursday, April 27, 2011 and for 7 days we will be in Paris Perfect’s Champagne apartment. http://www.parisperfect.com/apartmen.../champagne.php

We really have most of the 7 days in Paris under control…thanks to many of you. The next 4 days are a dilemma for us.

We are in our very early 50’s and active. Running, biking, hiking…stuff that keeps us young. We also love walking and taking pictures of the big stuff but also the “off the beaten path” stuff. Our perfect vacation is to come home more relaxed than when we left. Some people are go, go, go types…we plan on taking it easy and enjoying France at a very leisurely pace. Not seeing everything is okay. I know we will return.

We love architecture, history, cathedrals, gardens, beautiful country (Kauai is our normal vacation spot), memorable “dining experiences,” museums, and most of all…building great memories. I like the phrase…enjoy the unexpected. So our time in France will not be jam packed and totally planned out. We will follow a “flexible itinerary.”

The dilemma I face is what to do from Thursday AM to Sunday late afternoon before we have to travel back to the CDG Sheraton for our Monday morning flight home.

Originally we thought of going to Provence via Avignon. But even on the TGV the travel time eats three quarters of a day each way. Then I was sold on the Dordogne based on Stu Dudley and everyone else’s raving reviews. But that also seems to be quite a hike. While the trip to these regions would be memorable…we really don’t want to spend that much time getting there and back. If I am wrong about the travel time please let me know.

So now we are looking at the Loire and staying in Amboise. We will rent a car and we are comfortable driving through the area. We love the châteaux and gardens. Check off architecture and gardens. I am sure there are plenty of restaurants where we can check off the “memorable dining experiences.” I am also fairly certain we could get off the beaten path. Several people have said the countryside is not very inspiring in the Loire. That is somewhat important and something we need to consider. Cathedrals? Need to research.

So based on what you know about us…I am throwing myself at your feet. Is there another region within an easy train ride from Paris that we should consider? I have looked briefly at Dijon (Stu’s second favorite city in France). Also the Champagne region looks interesting.

You may be relieved to know…I am comfortable with what I am going to wear. ;-)

Thanks very much for all your help.

DaveMM is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 02:50 PM
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Travel time from Paris to Avignon is just under 3 hours - not three-quarters of a day. That would be my choice.

With the amount of time you have, I would NOT do the Dordogne; it's a lot more complicated to get to than Provence.

I am one of those who think that the scenery in the Loire is blah. Then again, my scenery bar is set quite high.

You might also consider Alsace; it's an even shorter train ride than Provence.

So glad to hear you're not suffering from sartorial neuroses.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 28th, 2010, 02:52 PM
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DaveMM, I think your wardrobe (no baseball cap or white tennies) might be perfect for the Loire in early May. The gardens at the chateaux should be lovely and it is such a nice contrast to Paris for the amount of time you have.
I, personally, prefer Provence or the Dordogne to the Loire but I don't think anything less than a week would do them justice.
We especially loved Domaine de Hauts de Loire in Onzain....beautiful setting!
Judy is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 02:54 PM
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The Loire is certainly a possibility, but the train travel time isn't really going to make that much difference between there and Avignon, in the grand scheme of things. Sure, a couple hours, so if you want to go there, that sounds good to me. I think Dordogne is out of the question.

The things you love don't help much as it's just a list of about everything.
Christina is online now  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:02 PM
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DaveMM, My husband and I have spend considerable time in France, especially Paris, Provence, and the Dordogne. Our last trip - in May - we decided to go to the Loire. We stayed in a gite near Amboise for 6 days, and absolutely enjoyed every minute. Visited chateaus, gardens, and little towns. The scenery is certainly not dramatic, but we enjoyed the lovely green fields, flowering trees and shrubs. AND wine and food - delicious!
p.s. Your Paris apartment looks lovely - enjoy!
roamer is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:09 PM
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I think the biggest factor is whether or not you will have a car.

We have 3 extra days and we are going to Avignon.
Suzanne2 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:11 PM
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When visiting Paris three years ago for 8 days, we took the train to Reims for the day. We had a great time! I would love to return at another time and spend a night or two touring other champagne houses in the area. We toured Taittanger and another house in the city itself, and it was a great and informative tour!

We also visited the cathedral there---- amazing architecture, and the Chagall stained glass windows are by themselves worth the trip! I must have taken a dozen pictures of the windows, and I framed one beautiful shot.

They also have a WW2 war room (??) near the train station that I would have loved to have visited if I had known about it then!

I can't say that I've visited Dijon or the Loire Valley in recent years,but those trips are on my list for future trips. But the Champagne region is an easy train ride from Paris and a great trip.
kat12 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:32 PM
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I think your biggest decision is whether you really want to rent a car or not. Since you will be returning to CDG to the Sheraton the night before your flight, renting a car might be a really good idea since you will have it that last day.

In the amount of time you have, another possibility could be Mount St. Michel. You could pass through Chartres, and take the Malcolm Miller tour. And staying on the Mont is really a special experience-and since you are fit-you will will enjoy the exercise

If you prefer to take the train then I like the idea of Avignon as mentioned here or also you might consider Brugges-it would give you a flavor of something different and it is a great walking and biking town.

I totally agree with St. Cirq about the scenery in the Loire but if you love castles then you might want to go. I also agree the Dordogne is not a good choice with your limited time.

Another area you might want to consider by train would be the French Alps area-Annecy is lovely and even Geneva is also possible in 3 1/2 hours now.
jpie is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:37 PM
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I think the Loire is a good idea as you can see a lot of what makes that region famous in 3 or 4 days since the major attractions are all relatively close together. Most are no more than 20km north or south of the river. I think the Dordogne and Provence need more time to be fully explored and enjoyed and since you said you will return why not save them for your next trip. The natural beauty of Provence is superior to the Loire but it is still nice enough in the Loire. You might also consider Normandy, which is 2 to 3 hours drive from Paris depending which part you are visiting. I assume you will be driving.

No matter where you go, you have the right attitude in doing it in a relaxing manner. Don't rush to try to see things and take time to enjoy the things you do see. You should come back from a vacation feeling relaxed, not frazzled.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:44 PM
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Me? I'd go to Belgium. It's not the beautiful countryside but it's got fabulous food. It's so close. I'd sooner do that than another French city after Paris.

I would pick Antwerpen for a base because I think it's the most interesting of the choices. (I think Brugge is too twee and touristy, Brussels is not pretty enough.) Anttwerp is definitely off the beaten track and it makes both a good base and an interesting place in its own right. And liking it isn't really dependent on pretty weather.

Amsterdam? Food has to be chosen carefully (!) and it's further than Avignon, but I hear the tulips in April almost can't be believed when seen. But you'd have lots of company from tourists. Still ...!

But I'd luxuriate in Belgium with all that chocolate, those waffles, the moules the frites, the beer, jenever -- and the art sights!
zeppole is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:47 PM
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PS: You can day trip into the Netherlands from Antwerp to see the tulips, which would probably be my choice, since I'd want to be back in Belgium for dinner.
zeppole is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:51 PM
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And you can go biking in Belgium. Rent a bike in Brugge to see the town.
zeppole is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 03:55 PM
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You don't have to take a tour, but just to give you an idea of what's possible for biking in Belgium



zeppole is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 04:17 PM
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Yes, I agree with StCirq, Avignon is a really short trip in the great scheme of things, and I think the town of Avignon meets everything on your wish list.

Alternatively, I'd suggest Annecy, but you'd need to add another hour to the train travel.
Surfergirl is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 04:20 PM
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Also, Thalys has special daytrips to Brussels for 40 euro return fare where you can visit for the day to see the city and return in the evening. It takes about 1.5 hours and you would leave form Gare du Nord and arrive in Brussels Midi(city centre).
Nadia is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 05:30 PM
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For something different you might take the TVG to Strasbourg. Great cathedral, great - and different - food. Easy day rips to Colmar, the wine road or parts of the Rhine.

But I think the Loire is also a great choice. I would stay in a private chateau for something different - rather than a hotel - and there is a fantastic historic abbey at Fontevraud - founded in 1099 - and containing the sarcophagi of many of the Norman rulers of England - including Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard Lion Heart.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 05:34 PM
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Sorry - stayed at the Chateau des Reaux near Chinon. Original 15th century with oat, charming hosts - and they offered dinner en faille a couple of nights per week. We met some very interesting co-guests - from the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Russia.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 05:59 PM
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If I'm "hearing" you correctly, you want something different from Paris that still gives both of you your "amble along" fix. You are capable of seeing anything, and you are also physically fit.

Given your interests, I think popping down to Amboise (one train from Paris Austerlitz would take only 1 hr 57 min) would work really well. You can get in at least one or more chateaux, kick around a bit in Leonardo de Vinci's last pit stop (neat museum), and have a great time strolling through town. Nice river overlooks there.

We biked a lot around there--some good hills but not overly hard routes. We were with a cycling company, but I'm pretty sure there's a bike rental in town should you like to take off on your own. But it's not a place where getting on the bike is important, so don't get me wrong!

For planning options, you can just hop on the train and then use foot/cycle transport or you can rent a car OR you can arrange with one of the lovely hotels there to do a guided tour or two with transport. Doesn't matter--you can hang in town and have a nice time here. We stayed at Le Choiseul, but there are other equally nice places.

With that, another thing that popped to mind was going straight to Beaune in Burgandy. Not that far via train from Gare de Lyon (one of the TGVs takes 2 hrs 7 min). Similar thing--you can hang in town and go from wine tasting to wine tasting there, OR you can do a bike rental and bike to your next tasting. The bike routes out of Beaune are all marked with little grape clusters. Easy and very pretty biking. We were also with a biking company there and actually wished we were not. The trails are so darn well marked, and we would have liked to have done our own thing.

I don't disagree about going to Chartres, but I just see that more as a day trip. Dijon was nice (we stayed there twice), and closer in than Beaune, but given the choice between Beaune and Dijon, I'd still go with Beaune.

Something that's really off the top of my head, though, is Honfleur. Yes, this is just a bit more difficult, but boy did we enjoy that town. Think of Anapolis, only cuter. You can take the train from Paris St. Lazarre to Deauville, I believe, and then take a bus or rent a car OR just rent a car to do the whole thing.

I haven't been to Reims, but I liked that suggestion!

Whatever you decide, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. You sound as though you have been and will be planning well to savor each moment. Good for you!
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 06:00 PM
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It's just me, but if this is your first time in Paris, why not spend the remaining 4 days there, too? Just as an aside, the "rabbit lamp" apartment photo shows a small image of the Paris City Walks set of cards, each of which takes you through a 1-3 hour walking route of considerable interest. You might use the additional days to do the Bercy, Butte aux Cailles, Canal St. Martin, Viaduc des Arts, Parc Monceau, les Batignolles, Chateau de Vincesses (and Parc Floral), etc. walks. Each will expose you to an interesting part of Paris somewhat apart from the "Rick Steves" central Paris sections that tend to be within a few blocks of the Seine.

OTOH, we have been to Reims, Dijon, Ecouen, Sceaux, etc. for day trips and to Aix, Strasbourg, etc. for longer times and enjoyed them as well. With relatively few days, you need to decide if this is likely your only trip to France of whether you can travel outside Paris on another visit.
d_claude_bear is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 06:21 PM
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Having said that, if you are committed to getting away from Paris I would suggest taking the TGV to Strasbourg (2 hours and 20 minutes) for the entire time, with a day trip from Strasbourg by train to Colman on Saturday. Strasbourg is at the far eastern end of France, so a next trip to France would likely take you to other areas, such as Normandy, Provence, Loire, etc. We did those two cities on our way from Italy to Paris in May, and we were very glad to have had 3 nights in Strasbourg.
d_claude_bear is offline  

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