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Itinerary for 29 Day Empty Nesters Trip to France…finally!

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Hello Fellow Travelers,

I posted a thread a while back asking for help with a trip to France for 29 days. I received wonderful suggestions, and I wanted to post back with the itinerary we came up with. We’re leaving very soon, so we’re pretty set with our plans at this point. I’m posting in hope that all my research can help others planning a similar trip, and if anyone has any refinements to suggest, we’re always grateful for help.

Here’s our itinerary:

Days 1-5: Fly into Paris. Stay 5 nights at Relais Saint-Gemain hotel in the 6th arrondissement .
We’ve been to Paris before, and seen many of the museums and sights. This time, we’re going to try to relax and just “be” in Paris. We might like to do a half-day trip to Giverny on Sunday, since many things are closed on Sundays.

Day 5: Pick up rental car at Hertz at Montparnasse, then drive to Honfleur, with a possible brief stop in Rouen to see the cathedral and Joan of Arc sites. Stay in Honfleur 1 night at La Maison de Lucie

Day 6-8: Visit Honfleur in the morning (St. Catherine church, old town), then drive to visit Arromanches on the way to Bayeux. Stay in Bayeux 2 nights at the Villa Lara Hotel
Day 7: Visit the Bayeux Tapestry in the morning, then possibly drive to Pointe du Hoc for a quick visit before continuing to the American Cemetery and Memorial.
Day 8 (morning) Visit Utah Beach Musee Du Debarquement. We are not sure what to do with our bags at that time. We may ask the hotel in Bayeux to keep them, and just go back for them. Then we will drive to Mont-Saint-Michel.

Day 8: Stay one night in Mont Saint-Michel at La Vieille Auberge
We’ll walk around town when we arrive and enjoy High Tide, which begins at 8:10pm. Here’s a handy site that gives tide information, which is very important to know:
Day 9 (morning): Visit Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel as soon as it opens (and hopefully beat the hordes of tourists). Then, leave the island, and drive to Angers to see the Tapestry of the Apocalypse on our way to Amboise.

Days 9-11: Stay in Amboise 3 nights at Le Pavillon des Lys
Day 10: Visit Chateau de Chenonceau in the morning, then drive to Chateau Chaumont and the International Garden Festival. We’ll have lunch there, then drive to see the Jardins de Villandry in the late afternoon if we still want to see more gardens.
Day 11: Visit Chateau de Chambord in the morning. Then drive to Chateau de Cheverny to see the Chateau and Gardens with the ride on the electric boats and car. Day 12: Drive to Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud before heading to Sarlat. We know this is not truly on the way to Sarlat, but as a longtime admirer of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Plantagenet fan, I didn’t want to miss seeing this place when we’re “in the neighborhood”. It will be a 4-1/2 hour drive from there to Sarlat; hopefully it’s pretty.

Days 12-16: Stay in Sarlat 5 nights at La Lanternes Chambres d’hotes
There are so many places to visit in this area that it took a lot of research and route plotting on Google Maps. We came up with this plan, but it might not all work out, or we may rearrange based on the weather.

Day 13: Visit Rouge Gageac and take a boat trip on Les Gabares Norbert. We haven’t booked this yet, but we hope to get on the first ride of the day.
After the boat trip, we’ll visit Chateau de Beynac to see Richard the Lionheart’s castle (another Plantagenet!!). Then we’ll visit Chateau de Castelnaud. So convenient that these are all so close to each other!

Day 14: Drive to Perigueux in the morning to visit the market, and buy lunch for a picnic later (or in the car). Then visit Chateau de Hautefort. If we’re still feeling energetic, we might pass through Montignac for a brief stop on the way back to Sarlat.

Day 15: Bastide Towns day! Drive to Monflanquin in the morning, leaving early to visit the market. Then drive to Monpazier (30 minutes) to visit for a couple of hours. From there, we hope to drive to Issegiac (25 minutes) for a short visit before returning to Sarlat.

Day 16: Balloon day (?) Maybe…DH is all for this, but I’m being somewhat uncharacteristically hesitant. The balloons looked very appealing, until I saw some photos posted by tourists from their rides. I was astounded that they seemed to be as high as an airplane! Not sure how much I’d enjoy being in a basket that high…but maybe…Here’s the link:
After the balloon ride, we’ll drive to Domme and finish with a visit to the Jardins de Marqueyssac. (or do this the next day)

Day 17 (morning): visit the Sarlat market before leaving town. Then visit the Jardins de Marqueyssac if we didn’t make it yesterday. We’ll then drive to Collonges-la-Rouge and Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne en route to Rocamadour. Again, we’ll have the issue of leaving our bags in the car, but we can’t see another option.

Days 17-19: Stay in Rocamadour at Best Western Beau Site

Day 18: Sunday: not sure what to do that day. We need to research to find out what to do. If anyone has any suggestions, we’d be grateful. We may actually do the balloon ride that day.

Day 19: Visit Conques in the morning, then drive to Figeac. These look like lovely towns, and we’ll just wander and enjoy.

Day 20 (morning): drive to St Cirq-Lapopie and visit, then continue on to Toulouse. We are a little concerned about getting to our hotel in Toulouse, and driving through the city, but hopeful that it can be done with the help of our TomTom and patience on the part of the other drivers!

Days 20-22: Stay in Toulouse 2 nights at Hotel Albert 1er

Day 21: visit the different areas of Toulouse.

Day 22 (morning): visit Cordes-sur-Ciel, then on to Albi for a few hours before continuing on to Chateau de la Caze in the Gorges du Tarn (2 ½ hr drive)

Day 22: stay 1 night in Chateau de la Caze
This looks truly magical! What a lovely stopover spot!

Days 23-25: after a leisurely morning in the castle, we’ll drive to Saint-Remy-de-Provence. Stay 2 nights in St Remy at Le Mas des Carassins

Days 25-28: Stay 4 nights in Nice at Hotel Le Suisse While in Nice, we may take the tourist train to other towns. In this case, we might return our car early.

Day 29: fly home from Nice

So, this took many delightful hours of planning, but it’s our first trip alone in a long time. We’ll be dropping off our sons at college, and will be Empty Nesters, so it seemed like a good time to spread our wings!

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