Itinerary advice two options

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Jan 31st, 2018, 03:24 AM
  #1
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Itinerary advice two options

Here's a couple plans that I am toying with, want to see a lot during our stay, but don't like daily checking in and out of hotels. We are foodies, love wine, and love beer.
Looking for advice. Too Busy? Too long in any of the cities? Is scenario #2 too much. Past Europe trips we hit up Tuscany. Flew into Milam. Visited Milan, Firenze, Lucca, Cinq Terre. Lucca was hub for most days. Loved the fele of Lucca.

Scenario #1

Day 1 - Land Paris 8:30 then Train to Bayeux Pick up car
Day 2 - Bayeux - Rest up from Jet Lag - Wing it
Day 3 - Bayeux - Mont St. Michel
Day 4 - Bayeux - Guided Normandy Tour (Overlord)
Day 5 - Train to Burgundy/Beaune - long train ride via Paris, then to Beaune - Rest, Wine, Biking, Hiking, eating, etc - Maybe get car for adventures and day trip to small villages.
Day 6 - Beaune- Rest, Wine, Biking, Hiking, eating, etc
Day 7 - Beaune - Rest, Wine, Biking, Hiking, eating, etc
Day 8 - Beaune - Rest, Wine, Biking, Hiking, eating, etc
Day 9 - Paris - See Paris or any of day trips below
Day 10 - Paris (Possible Train day trips: Giverny, Fountainbleau, Provins, Epernay, Reims, Chatilly, AUVERS-SUR-OISE, Versailles)
Day 11 - Paris (Possible Train day trips: Giverny, Fountainbleau, Provins, Epernay, Reims, Chatilly, AUVERS-SUR-OISE, Versailles)
Day 12 - Paris (Possible Train day trips: Giverny, Fountainbleau, Provins, Epernay, Reims, Chatilly, AUVERS-SUR-OISE, Versailles)
Day 13 - Paris (Possible Train day trips: Giverny, Fountainbleau, Provins, Epernay, Reims, Chatilly, AUVERS-SUR-OISE, Versailles)
Day 14 - Back Home

Scenario #2 (add another hub, but Normandy becomes a Paris Day Trip)

Day 1 - Land Paris Train to Lyon - Maybe car while in Lyon
Day 2 - Lyon
Day 3 - Lyon
Day 4 - Train to Avignon - Possible day trips (Arles, Aix-en provence, Marsaille, Montpellier, Nimes) - Maybe get car but I think most of these day trip can be done by Train
Day 5 - Avignon
Day 6 - Avgnon
Day 7 - Avignon
Day 8 - Paris Possible day trips Possible Train day trips: Normandy is Mandatory, Giverny, Fountainbleau, Provins, Epernay, Reims, Chatilly, AUVERS-SUR-OISE, Versailles)
Day 9 - Paris
Day 10 - Paris
Day 11 - Paris
Day 12 - Paris
Day 13 - Paris
Day 14 - Back Home

Any feedback is appreciated.
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Jan 31st, 2018, 08:26 AM
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Normandy needs more than a day, no matter how you do it. And you need to figure out how you want to handle because there are five beaches that the Allies hit and they're spread out. Utah and Omaha beaches are the furthest west and they're the ones the Americans captured. The American cemetery is at Omaha. It is worth at least 90 minutes to two hours. Gold is the middle one with the artificial harbor at Arromanches, Juno is where the Canadians and Free French landed, Sword is furthest east and like Gold was a UK operation. You can't swing a dead cat without finding a memorial or monument in the area, whether to a given division or members of certain battalions or specialization (paratroopers, tank commanders, etc).
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Jan 31st, 2018, 09:21 AM
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I am not sure where you are coming from originally but I would look at flight connections and train connections to see what makes sense. It is always hard to plan a international arrival and then count on getting a train just after arriving. If you arrive in Paris later in the day when you can check into your hotel (i.e. not 7AM), then it might make sense to start the trip in Paris so you can rest and not have to worry about train connections. If you really do want to catch a train when you arrive, then IMO it might be better to start the trip where you can go directly from CDG rather than going into Paris itself. So going to Lyon or Avignon would be easier than Bayeux for instance. I also would be more inclined to pick up a car in Avignon and then drop it again in or before Lyon-I don't think you will need a car as much in Lyon if you are just interested in good eating and the usual city stuff, where the car is very useful in Provence to explore.
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Jan 31st, 2018, 09:28 AM
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The first sounds like a muchh more pleasant holiday. What time of year?
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Jan 31st, 2018, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
The first sounds like a muchh more pleasant holiday. What time of year?
I think I'm leaning toward #1 as well. I think I'm cramming too much in option #2. This trip will be end of May.
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Jan 31st, 2018, 10:39 AM
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Both sound fine - just about trains - book as far in advance as possible at www.oui.sncf (French Railways) to get discounted tickets on long-distance trains. www.seat61.com has oodles on doing that -general info BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.

Option 2 sounds like better weather. biking in wet weather may not be so fun but weather in northern France is fickle - could be nice or wet.
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Jan 31st, 2018, 11:25 AM
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I think they're both OK but prefer the first especially as Normandy is mandatory and deserves more than a day, though that does mean you'll need to get from the airport into Paris to catch a train.
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Jan 31st, 2018, 11:37 AM
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If renting car in Bayeux why not just drive from airport - could stay somewhere near Giverny if that interests them. I'd stay first in Paris and then enjoy the train to Bayeux.
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Jan 31st, 2018, 11:51 AM
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On our first trip to Normandy, we spent 3 days/4 nights in Bayeux. We didn't go to Mont St. Michel and wished we'd had another day. I admit I'm a history nut and the priority of this trip was D-Day, so I can't imagine not going to the museum in Caen and having time to explore other towns, small museums, see hedgerows, etc., plus the Bayeux Tapestry and the town's lace-making 'industry.' I agree with Pal's suggestion to rent the car at CDG and spending the first afternoon seeing the Giverny Gardens and then head to Normandy the next morning.

I'd want a car in Beaune.
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Jan 31st, 2018, 01:00 PM
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I would do a hybrid of your two options. If you loved Tuscany you will love Provence. Normandy is a must for you.

Thenay 1 - Land Paris 8:30 . Allow 3 hrs before train departure to Avignon for your pre purchased tickets. Rent a car at Avignon TGV station and drive to St Remy for 5 nights. Day trips to choose from: Avignon old town-Popes Palace and nursery rhyme bridge, Arles and Nimes, and Le Baux and Roman remains, Pont du Gard and Uzes , Aix, Hill top villages of the Luberon , Orange and vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, The Camargue, Marseille and Cassis, Abbey of Senanque, Outdoor markets, Sault and Mont Ventoux, perhaps lavender, and more. Day 2 - St Remy

Day 3 – St Remy

Day 4 – St Remy

Day 5 – St Remy

Day 6 – Return car. TGV Train Avignon to Paris. Continue on to Normandy. Train to Bayeux

Day 7 – Bayeux- Guided Normandy Tour (Overlord)

Day 8 - Bayeux – Le Mont St Michel

Day 9 – Bayeux Tapestry in am. Train to Paris
(Possible Train day trips from Paris: Giverny, Fountainbleau, Provins, Epernay, Reims, Chatilly, AUVERS-SUR-OISE, Versailles) Day 10 - Paris

Day 11 - Paris

Day 12 - Paris

Day 13 - Paris

Day 14 - Back Home

Last edited by dugi_otok; Jan 31st, 2018 at 01:03 PM.
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Feb 1st, 2018, 02:43 PM
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Interesting! I'm still struggling giving up Burgundy. We love wine. But I'm sure I can buy wine anywhere. And Provence sounds great too. I do like your thinking.

How is Train service, we both like wine, and won't drive if having a few.
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Feb 1st, 2018, 03:20 PM
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Like option 3
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Feb 2nd, 2018, 12:16 AM
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Wine; France has a lot of wine regions, even Normandy has some great ciders
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Feb 2nd, 2018, 02:17 AM
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Starting to look closer at #3, but swap out St. Remy for Avignon. Main reason it is a hub to other places. We tend to have a few classes of wine and don't drive when imbibing. Trains seem a option from Avignon.

Is my thinking correct?
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Feb 2nd, 2018, 08:07 AM
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Avignon is a much bigger city, about 90,000 population than St. Remy around 11,000 pop.. But there are plenty of restaurants in St. Remy where you can walk and not have to drive anywhere for dinner and drinks. There is a main "city" train station from Avignon but many people prefer to take the Avignon TGV station which has the advantage of having many rental cars and is a bit easier in and out. So if you will keep the car if you stay in Avignon, then you might be better to take the TGV in and out of Provence from the Avignon TGV station.

Aix-en-Provence is also a popular place for folks to stay-it is also a large city and a student town, so lots to do. We personally like Uzes-much smaller-a bit smaller than St. Remy. But we find its location a bit calmer and it allows you to see much of the Langedoc as well as Provence. But everybody has their own favorite.

Also, just FYI-the trains to Avignon arrive in Paris at the Gare de Lyon and then trains to Bayeux from Paris leave from St. Lazare. It is easy to catch a taxi from one station to the other. But if you play around on trainline.eu or the tgv.com site, you will see no matter how you plan it, it will take you around 6 hours to make the trip.
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Feb 2nd, 2018, 08:19 AM
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Easy to go by RER (metro) between St Lazare and Gare de Lyon - can be long queues for taxis too. I'd check into flying Caen to Dijon too.
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Feb 2nd, 2018, 10:17 AM
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I wouldn't say Normandy "needs" more than one day, it depends on your personal priorities, that's all, and everything else you want to do. Of course you can't see as much in 1 day as two, but that may suit you. You can see a lot. I did a day trip to Normandy and enjoyed it very much, it is certainly very possible. I even visited the Bayeux tapestry, in addition (I had a tour from 1 pm to 6 pm, so got to Bayeux by train around 10:30-11, I think). We didn't visit the Caen museum, of course, but the American cemetery and some other main military points in that area and on the beaches. Then I took the train back around 6:30 pm.
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Feb 2nd, 2018, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by swagmaster View Post
Starting to look closer at #3, but swap out St. Remy for Avignon. Main reason it is a hub to other places. We tend to have a few classes of wine and don't drive when imbibing. Trains seem a option from Avignon.

Is my thinking correct?
When you wake up in Avignon you will know you are in France. When you wake up in St Remy you will know you are in Provence. The magic of Provence is in its villages and rural areas. Visits can be done by car or to some destinations by organized van/bus tours from Avignon. Like Tuscany local public transportation is poor. Your best bet is renting a car and staying in a small town (if drinking and driving is a concern at dinner). For me I prefer staying in the countryside.

On my recent visits I stayed in these B&Bs:
Bed and Breakfast - Luberon B&B - Provence - a beautiful inn located in the Luberon Park in the heart of Provence.

Mas Laurent » Bed and breakfast accommodation and Gite in Uzès, Provence

From Fodors:

St-Remy-de-Provence

There are other towns as pretty as St-Rémy-de-Provence, and others in more dramatic or more picturesque settings. Ruins can be found throughout the south, and so can authentic village life. Yet something felicitous has happened in this market town in the heart of the Alpilles—a steady infusion of style, of art, of imagination—all brought by people with a respect for local traditions and a love of Provençal ways. Here, more than anywhere, you can meditate quietly on antiquity, browse aromatic markets with basket in hand, peer down the very row of plane trees you remember from a Van Gogh, and also enjoy urbane galleries, cosmopolitan shops, and specialty food boutiques. An abundance of chic choices in restaurants, mas, and even ch teaux awaits you; the almond and olive groves conceal dozens of stone-and-terra-cotta gîtes, many with pools. In short, St-Rémy has been gentrified through and through, and is now a sort of arid, southern Martha's Vineyard or, perhaps, "the Hamptons of Provence."

Avignon

Of all the monuments in France—cathedrals, ch teaux, fortresses—the ancient city of Avignon (pronounced "ah-veen-yonh") is one of the most dramatic. Wrapped in a crenellated wall punctuated by towers and Gothic slit windows, its historic center stands distinct from modern extensions, crowned by the Palais des Papes, a 14th-century fortress-castle that’s nothing short of spectacular. Standing on the Place du Palais under the gaze of the gigantic Virgin that reigns from the cathedral tower, with the palace sprawling to one side, the bishops’ Petit Palais to the other, and the long, low bridge of childhood-song fame stretching over the river ("Sur le pont d’Avignon / On y danse tous en rond . . ."), you can beam yourself briefly into the 14th century, so complete is the context, so evocative the setting.Yet you’ll soon be brought back to the present with a jolt by the skateboarders leaping over the smooth-paved square. Avignon is anything but a museum: it surges with modern ideas and energy, and thrives within its ramparts as it did in the heyday of the popes—like those radical church lords, sensual, cultivated, and cosmopolitan, with a taste for lay pleasures. For the French, Avignon is almost synonymous with its theater festival in July; thousands pack the city’s hotels to bursting for the official festival and Le Festival OFF, the fringe festival with an incredible 1,300 performances each day. If your French isn’t up to a radical take on Molière, look for English-language productions or try the circus and mime—there are plenty of shows for children, and street performers abound.






















Last edited by dugi_otok; Feb 2nd, 2018 at 11:23 AM.
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Feb 2nd, 2018, 11:31 AM
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St-Remy is great if you have a car but otherwise no trains and sporadic buses - sans car base in Avignon. I actuallty like larger cities over smaller provencial towns - most here do not. and Avignon is as nice a city as anywhere - You can take buses to Pont-du-Gard and trains to Arles but also have guided excursions at your disposal.

This said having a car is a lot nicer to hit places with poor public transit. Like Les Baux near St-Remy - the dead city topping a high plateau - the remains of a medieval citadel.
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Feb 3rd, 2018, 03:47 PM
  #20
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I like the idea of flying some of these routes, maybe fly from Provence to Caen.
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