Itinerary for 2 weeks in France

Nov 21st, 2016, 05:23 PM
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Itinerary for 2 weeks in France

I, just this minute, spur of the moment, purchased 2 tickets to France. Got them for $433 each which was the reason for the sudden purchase. We will be traveling in May and will be arriving and departing from CDG. We will have 13 days on the ground. Neither of us have been to France before. This will be a 35th anniversary celebration.

No need to tell me to start researching - I am a travel research nerd - I'm already purchasing books about France for my Kindle.

However, since so many of you have so much more experience traveling in France than I do - what itinerary would you suggest?

Thank you!!
KayTKay is offline  
Nov 21st, 2016, 05:39 PM
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Congratulations on 35 years! Your peculiar interests in France dictate the type of itinerary Fodorites would suggest. Are you interested in art, food, medieval history, WW1/2 history, wine, what?
Edward2005 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2016, 05:42 PM
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Paris is, I hope, a given.

Do you want to drive, take the train, fly or are you open to all modes of travel?

Are you interested in combining Paris with the Côte d'Azur and/or Provence?

Have you thought about Paris and Normandy/Brittany?

Depending on your interests, 5-7 days in Paris is reasonable, particularly if you want to see Versailles, Giverny, perhaps Reims--all those and more can be done as day trips from Paris.

So, a little more info on your interests would help. May is a beautiful time to be in France.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Nov 21st, 2016, 06:46 PM
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Agree you need to tell us what your interests are - but I would allow at least 6 nights for Paris - esp if you will be going to Versailles.

We have done several road trips in different aras of France and with the amount of time you have you will have to be selective. One of my favorites is head east through the Champagne country, Dijon, Colmar and Strasbourg - to give you a little taste of the German side of France. (We'e also done trip through the Loire, to Normandy, to Nice and the Riviera and look forward to many more - as soon as DH finally retires.)

But there are a dozens trips you could do.

Come back when you've thought about some of your must sees.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 21st, 2016, 07:10 PM
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FWIW, our first trip to France consisted of 3 days Paris, then Normandy, then down to Sarlat area, then Provence, then drove back up to Paris. That wet the whistle, next trip was to Burgundy, then Provence, then Sarlat, then back. We prefer the south, others the north. If I were to explain why, I think northern France and northern Germany are fairly similar to England, except they don't speak English. The southern regions of both are less similar to England, more "European"; perhaps due to less industrialization?
tomboy is offline  
Nov 21st, 2016, 07:15 PM
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Food, wine, culture.

I love art and my husband is generous enough to go along to art galleries with me. We both enjoy history, although I lean towards late medieval/Renaissance and my husband is a WWII buff. His dad was a B29 pilot and I do think it would mean a lot to my husband to see some of the WWII sites.

Paris for 5-7 days sounds right to me.

We are open to all modes of travel - driving, train, flying. Whatever makes the most sense. When in the countryside we do like the freedom of a car.

I do realize we will have to be selective and I'm starting my reading!

Thanks for helping me brainstorm. I'll for sure be back with some of our must sees.
KayTKay is offline  
Nov 21st, 2016, 08:32 PM
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Must-see for DH in Paris:
RonZ is offline  
Nov 21st, 2016, 09:41 PM
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I can't suggest for you--there are so many wonderful possibilities in France!

But one of my most enjoyable 2-week trips was: arrive CDG, train to Limoges. Pick up rental car in Limoges, drive to Oradour-sur-Glane, spend the night and visit the museum and ruined village. Drive down to the Perigord, via smaller back roads, stopping at Chateau Hautefort and vicinity. Sarlat for six nights, day trips to various sights in the Dordogne and Lot. Back to Paris for final five or six nights.

I did this in March/April, but I think it would be beautiful in May.
Leely2 is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2016, 01:39 AM
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May is the best month to travel in Mediterranean countries IMO. The weather is warm enough, the green is coming back, and there aren't too many tourists around.

As for itinerary, you can cover your eyes and randomly pick any 3 cities in France, just to say that you have million of choices, even with your preference "Food, wine, culture". The country is dripping with Food, wine and culture!

In a more serious note, I think Paris is a must (for a first timer), then what the others recommended above my post.
FuryFluffy is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2016, 04:43 AM
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"Food, wine, culture.
I love art and my husband is generous enough to go along to art galleries with me. We both enjoy history, although I lean towards late medieval/Renaissance and my husband is a WWII buff."

Dijon would be perfect (except maybe for the WWII part, as the town was well preserved) Only 1h40 from Paris by train and a great base to visit Burgundy.
The TO video will make you want to visit!
Happy anniversary!
cocofromdijon is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2016, 08:38 AM
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Thank you so much for all of your responses! I am looking into your suggestions and mulling everything over.

Haha! I do realize that food, wine, culture is about as broad and generic as it can be with regards to France. Part of our problem with narrowing things down is that there is not much that we *don't* enjoy. Lol.

I have a practical question. Since we arrive and depart from CDG it seems to me that we should just go ahead and depart from the airport to our first destination outside of Paris. Spend 7 days outside of Paris then return to Paris for the last 6 days.

Any reason this is not a good idea?

We have done a bit of traveling - so we do know how we will be feeling as far as jet lag upon arrival and thing we will be fine to keep going. Our flight arrives about 2:00pm.
KayTKay is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2016, 09:16 AM
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IMO three or four days in Paris is enough for a first trip, especially with just two weeks, but I'm not you. We spent three days of a two week trip there the first time and felt like it was plenty, but have been back twice since for ever-lengthening stays.

As to order of travel, I too like to finish the trip in the city we will fly out of. However, if you have an early morning flight, it may make sense to stay in a hotel right at the airport for one nite. For our first trip to Paris, we stayed in Paris for three or four nites (forget which), then rented a car at CDG for our out-of-Paris experience, and returned it there the last day, staying the nite at an airport hotel. But if your flight is later in the day, then stay in Paris and take a taxi to the airport.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2016, 10:04 AM
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I think leaving the airport immediately and returning to Paris for the final stay makes the most sense. Because you need to be near the airport to get home. Otherwise, some people waste an extra night just to get back to Paris before the flight, or stay far away where they are dependent on a train with no problems. Your arrival day is kind of shot, anyway, at least mine is, due to jet lag, so might as well get the traveling over with.

So find a location to start that is a direct train run from CDG airport, lots to choose from. Lyon would be a good one, only 2 hrs away. Avignon in Provence is more like 3 hrs by train, and your arrival is so late that the direct runs will be limited (most planes arrive in the morning from US that I know of, very early usually). There is one around 5 pm but then you don't get there until 8 pm and have to hang out at the airport a couple hours. May depend on your dates, though. I don't think you can get to Dijon from CDG TGV station, but might be wrong on that.

FOr 13 days, that wouldn't be a bad idea, a couple days in Lyon, direct train to Dijon (2 hrs), several days in Burgundy in Dijon area including Beaune, then take the train to Reims in Champagne country. I picked that because it is on the train route from Dijon and for a WWII buff, it is quite interesting as there is a museum there in the building that was Eisenhower's headquarters and where the GErmans surrendered (Musee de la Reedition). And of course you have the fantastic cathedral there and several art museums. Now it is true that most train routes from Dijon to Reims go through Paris where you change trains, and that seems a bit silly if you are ending in Paris--and you have to change train stations, also.

There are a few direct TER train runs between Dijon and Reims however. But since that is a regional train, it takes about 3 hrs. I'd do that instead, if it works into the schedule (one runs at 6 pm). If that doesn't work out due to scheduling, or you don't want to stay in that many hotels, you could just spend about a week in Paris and even include Reims as a day trip from Paris, it's only about 1 hr by TGV from Paris.

That wouldn't be bad for 2 weeks -- Lyon, Burgundy, Paris.

Lots of art in Paris, of course, and several excellent WWII history museums (Invalides as the main military museum, and one smaller one for the resistance).

DOn't forget there are several holidays in May that could affect your plans.
Christina is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2016, 11:07 AM
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" I don't think you can get to Dijon from CDG TGV station, but might be wrong on that." The only direct train to Dijon leaves at 7.58pm.
I agree that Lyon Burgundy Paris would be a good choice. There are TGVs to Lyon at about 5 and 6pm.
cocofromdijon is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2016, 11:50 AM
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Wow! What a score on the tickets and congrats! We have been to Paris many times and also Provence (Luberon Valley area) and this time added the Dordogne region (around Sarlat) into the mix for a week in late June. It became our favorite region. Prehistoric caves, great villages, history and castles, kayaking down the river, wonderful markets and great food in a lovely, green tranquil setting.

Fly 1 hour from Orly to Toulouse and then 2.5 hour drive to the Sarlat area.
plambers is offline  
Nov 25th, 2016, 07:56 AM
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Hello! I really appreciate all the help! After more research and discussion and perusing maps we have decided that the Normandy region is a definite for us. My husband would really like to see the D Day beaches, etc.

Then we would like to visit two other regions perhaps Loire and burgundy? Very up in the air and would love suggestions on that!!

Basically making sort of a loop around Paris.

I stated up top that we have 13 days on the ground. It's actually 14 days not including arrival and departure day. We could spend 3 days each in 3 regions then back to Paris for 5 days. (Or 3,2,4, etc. whatever works best)

Perhaps have a car for most of the time outside of Paris unless we end up in a bigger city. We don't mind driving. I know that many of you will feel that this is too rushed, but we think it'll be about right for us.

The bigger question right now is where to go besides Normandy!

Thanks in advance!
KayTKay is offline  
Nov 25th, 2016, 02:09 PM
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I think that if you tried to do both Burgundy and the Loire you would shortchange each. I'd do one or the other. As your spouse is into WWII, you could combine a visit to the Normandy beaches and a visit to Mont St. Michel, and then the Loire Valley,
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Nov 25th, 2016, 02:51 PM
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Normandy is THE place where you'll see most of WW2 things.
It deserves at least 2 days and you can intermix stuff from other horizons - like the Bayeux tapestry and some beautiful abbeys.

Then yes go to teh Loire and see a few castles and back to Paris.

Btw, no B29 ever flew above Europe if I'm not mistaken, Dad 'must' have een on the pacific front or after WW2, not that it changes anything to the respect he deserves.
WoinParis is offline  
Nov 25th, 2016, 06:22 PM
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Woinparis - Oh no, I never meant to suggest that my husband's father was in Europe. He wasn't. He flew the C47 which I believe is also called the DC3 (I'm no expert!) out of Burma. Then became a B29 commander and flew from Tinian in the Marianas islands. He was always in the pacific. However my husband and his 4 brothers are all huge WWII buffs. Even though my father in law rarely talked about the war they all respected him greatly and steeped themselves in knowledge about WWII in general.
KayTKay is offline  
Nov 26th, 2016, 05:35 AM
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Part 1 - arrival and ??? I give a suggestion:

Paris - 1 night I still like the first night to decompress from the over night flight plus I would visit Les Invalides Army museum for a preview of events surrounding WW2.

Arras - 2 nights - Take the TGV to Arras and pick up rental car. Visit Vimy Ridge, then do a day trip to Ypres, including the excellent In Flanders Fields museum for WW1 sites. The two world wars were only 20 years apart, yet a great deal changed in terms of tactics.

Part 2 is to Normandy, and is 7 nights long

Les Andelys - 2 It's not far from Paris and so makes a good 'decompression' place. I give you two so as to have time to catch up on laundry, or visit prehistoric sites, Giverny, etc. etc.

Honfleur - 1

Mont St Michel via Bayeux for the tapestry - 1

Bayeux - 3 This is your main 'WWII' bit. So far you have spent 7 nights.


Part 3 is Paris

Paris - 4 as a minimum

Total all three parts, 14 nights
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