Itinerary Help - 9 Full Days in France

Aug 18th, 2014, 11:58 AM
  #1  
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Itinerary Help - 9 Full Days in France

TL: DR - To make a long story short – I have 5 days in the south of France during the second week of October and would love to hear your thoughts. Furthermore, if you think I can improve my time in Paris and Ile-de-France I would be most appreciative.

The long version: I am trying to plan a trip to France for my future wife and myself and would love to get some extra input. I have a tendency to march my fiancée around when we go on vacation in an effort to maximize our time in any given location… She has expressed a desire to have a slower and much more capricious trip to take in France properly. I, of course, as a then newly married man would like to accomplish this.

Below is the itinerary as it stands now. The basic frame work was to start in Paris as a hub and then move down to the south of France to see if we can catch some of the warmer weather… even though it will be the second week in October. I have never been outside of North America before and I am trying my best to work all this out, but have come to the conclusion that I need some expert opinions.

I was going to do an open jaw (Flying into Paris from NYC), but I don’t know where to fly out of? Barcelona or Nice… or somewhere else? This brings me to my next point. Should I go directly to Aix-en Provence via train… rent a car and drive east to Nice? Should I Start in Nice and drive west to Barcelona? Do I drive the whole way down from Paris checking out Burgundy… stopping in Lyon, and then going to Provence… and then going either west or east to Barcelona, or Nice?

Honeymoon – September 29th to October 11th
- 9 Full Days – 3 Travel Days = 12 Days Total

Monday, September 29th – Leave for France – NYC to Paris @ ~6pm to 7p EST

Tuesday – Travel Day – Land in Paris @ ~8am to 9am CEST
- Check Bags @ Hotel and explore
- Check into Hotel after lunch
- Walk around aimlessly, dinner, bed

Wednesday – Day 1
- Full day in Paris

Thursday – Day 2
- Day Trip to Versailles
- Dinner out in Paris

Friday – Day 3
- Day Trip to Reims
- Dinner there
- Back to Paris by Train at 9:30pm (45 min ride)

Saturday – Day 4
- Full day in Paris
- Nuit Blanche Art Festival – 10pm – 4am (Museums & art galleries stay open all night)

Sunday – Travel Day - Leave for Southern France (via car or train – TBD)

Monday – Day 5
Tuesday – Day 6
Wednesday – Day 7
Thursday – Day 8
Friday – Day 9

Saturday – Travel Day - Leave for NYC – XX to NYC @ ~1:30pm to CEST
- Land in NYC @ ~4:30pm EST

Sunday - SLEEP
tgbtam is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 12:34 PM
  #2  
 
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>> Day Trip to Reims
- Dinner there
- Back to Paris by Train at 9:30pm (45 min ride)<<

I hope you really mean lunch in Reims. You'll have trouble finding a restaurant that serves dinner before 7:30. We dine out 30-40 times in France every year, and almost never complete a dinner in under 2 hrs - more likely 2 1/2 to 3 hrs at a nice restaurant.

I would not do so many day trips out of Paris. Once you get to Paris, you'll probably change your mind about traveling to Reims - so don't make any unchangeable plans about going to Reims. Do it last.

Also, I would change your sequence of things. If you want to get some "summer" - do Nice first. Remember, Nice is farther north than Milwaukee WI, so summer will leave soon. I would fly to Nice, spend 4-5 days there, then take the train (or fly) to Paris & spend your remaining time in Paris.

Don't even think about driving from Paris to Nice. It is a long & hard drive & the sun will be in your face for most of the trip.

My wife & I have spent 40 weeks vacationing on the Cote d'Azur & Provence. We were there for 4 weeks this past June. I developed a 31 page itinerary that describes our favorite villages, scenic drives, markets, etc. I've sent it to over 3,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail. Do so soon, however. We leave for 5 weeks in France tomorrow morning.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 01:59 PM
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I'm sorry but you still have her marching all over the place. Hardly any time in paris with all those day trips and then bouncing around all over the rest of France.

If it were me I would stay in Paris the whole time and do perhaps 2 or at the most 3 relaxing day trips.

If you insist on going to the south then bag the day trips from Paris and just take the train there. Rent a car and stay for 3 days and fly back from Nice.

Forget Barcelona - a very long drive away.

If you have never traveled abroad you have no idea how bad your jet lag will be, how much sleep you will want to make up or how relaxing versus whirlwind - you will want this trip to be. Remember - a different culture, a different language, everything works differently and everything takes longer.

Give yourselves time to sit in a cafe for an hour and watch the very interesting world go by. Have a nice romantic walk along the Seine back to your hotel at 10 pm after a 2 hour dinner. Stop rushing so much and relax.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 02:04 PM
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I'd hate it. You have barely two days free in Paris and one of those involves the Arts festival. When do you plan on seeing Paris ?

Do you want to enjoy Paris or is just passing through enough?

I agree w/ Stu - if the south is a must, fly into Nice -- 3 days, or 4 days max., then train to Paris for all the rest of your time. It won't be summer anywhere - but you might get some decent wether - or not.

Maybe a day trip to Versailles while in Paris -- but maybe not. No other day trips . . . UNLESS you spend even more time in Paris.
janisj is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 02:06 PM
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sorry for the typos . . .
janisj is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 11:46 PM
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Given that you will be newly married and jet lagged you do have a lot planned to out and about. ;-)

I'd catch the train south if you want to go that way. Bugundy is lovely place to visit but you need at least 2 days and nights to enjoy it.

I think Barcelona is just a bit far given the fantastic places you could visit on route. So I'd focus on getting your open jaw sorted in France only this time (tough I know but slowing down is tough).

Grabing food and eating are different things. While I would not recommend eating on the Paris evening cruises I would try and fit one evening cruise in just for the romance. You will find that eating fast in France requires either a fast food chain or single courses in some bistro. So relax and watch what other people do in normal restaurants. For instance some North Americans finish eating and want the bill straight away, note that in France your waiter will assume you need to relax and digest your meal a bit until they give you your bill. This is a cultural difference and needs absorbing. You will also find that people greet shop keepers when they enter their shop and say goodbye. If you get these things under your hat it will impress the Mrs and get you used to a more formal and a more relaxed way of doing stuff. So even in restaurants you may not actually say hello to all the other customers (though I have had this in a bar, including handshakes all round) but you should at least nod and smile at your local tables (I've often had great conversations with the next table, but I think they will understand you are just married) and of course at breakfast in your hotel, in the lift etc say good morning.

Read up on tipping, welcome to a whole new culture.

A good guide book will cover all of this and something like the Rough Guide for France is required to enjoy this trip.
bilboburgler is offline  
Aug 19th, 2014, 01:24 AM
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I agree with all the comments here. Also if you are going to really enjoy Nuit Blanche in Paris-don't plan to drive to the south of France the next day. For sure take the train. It is a long boring drive and not one to do after staying up all night.

I too would skip Reims unless you really have your hearts set on it. Versailles is enough of a jaunt with the limited time your have in Paris IMO. I agree that if you really want to go the south, then either take a train or plane and then do an open jaw home from Nice versus returning to Paris. Even though I don't think you will be jet lagged that badly coming from NYC, chances are you will be tired from all the wedding excitement

Also, if you haven't booked your air tickets yet, it would be nicer if you could arrive more like noon or so when you can be sure to get directly into your room once you get into town.
jpie is offline  
Aug 19th, 2014, 03:41 AM
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It's awful.
The idea to spend the whole time in Paris is pretty good and maybe 2 day trips.
I think there is a little need for people to say "oh, we went to the south of France" as their lead in for a trip/honeymoon report. Provence and the south of France IS wonderful.
As others have said, you are not aware of the fatigue of travel--and the boredom if you drove to Provence. Train it is IF you do it.
Also, you could not even find a place to have "dinner" in Reims and be on a train back to Paris at the time you say. Dinners are late in France.
There is NO reason for wanting to arrive around noon--as you (OP) has said, you can always leave your bags at the hotel--or it may even be ready.
If you want to do Provence, take the TGV from Paris to Avignon--stay in St. Remy and enjoy the charms of Provence. I'd recommend 5.5 days in Paris, the rest in Provence. Either fly home from Marseilles, or get an afternoon flight from Paris and take an early morning TGV to CDG, allowing 3 hours to make your flight.
Gretchen is offline  
Aug 19th, 2014, 04:32 AM
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I think after all the excitement and planning of a wedding, you would be best served by sitting tight in Paris for the whole time. Combine that with never having been out of NA, not knowing how the flight and time difference will affect either of you, I would strongly suggest not moving.

Take a day trip to Versailles, I loved Chartes as a day trip, and resist the urge to frog march your new wife around.

You will earn tons of brownie points by pausing by a cafe and saying to her something along the lines of "let's stop here for a leisurely coffee." Do that once or twice every day, you will recharge after the hustle and bustle of the wedding, and it's the best way to begin to experience a city. THen, and only then, can you march her around for the rest of the afternoon!
sugarmaple is online now  
Aug 19th, 2014, 06:10 AM
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Sugarmaple "has" it!! LOL
Gretchen is offline  
Aug 19th, 2014, 06:38 AM
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>> For instance some North Americans finish eating and want the bill straight away, note that in France your waiter will assume you need to relax and digest your meal a bit until they give you your bill.<<

And don't assume that your waiter will ask you if you want your bill now. You will most likely have to initiate the request. As the waiter clears the last course and if you want the bill ASAP, say "la-dission, see vu play" to the waiter. It may take several requests to several different waiters.

Stu Dudley

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 19th, 2014, 07:14 AM
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Agree you don't have time to enjoy the drive to Provence/Nice. You definitely don't have time for Barcelona. Take the train and rent a car on arrival in Nice if you want a car.

Me, I'd do your first night in Paris as planned.
Zip down on train the next morning for 4 nights in Nice, and explore the beaches (pick up car when convenient, and drop off where you picked it up). Train back to Paris, finish up with 4 nights in Paris.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Aug 19th, 2014, 07:19 AM
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I have a tendency to march my fiancée around when we go on vacation in an effort to maximize our time in any given location.
You have done this many times before?

There are two conceptual differences between a typical travel in NA and in Europe.
People from the USA automatically assume driving as the cheapest,the fastest, and most flexible form of ground transportation. Depending on your itinerary in Europe, this thinking ends up with more expensive, time consuming, less flexible, and tiring trips.
Another difference is that in the US, especially in the West, one has to drive hours to go from one attraction to another. If you don't move around in the US a lot, you don't see much. This is not the case in Europe. The attractions are more concentrated in small areas.
greg is offline  
Aug 19th, 2014, 07:20 AM
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I endorse all the good advice you are getting here, and think you just might want to consider spending the entire 9 days in Paris. Rather than being in a hotel, you can get an apartment for that time period, (if it were up to me, I would suggest near to the Rue Cler) and then enjoy the city. Before you go, get a copy of "An Hour from Paris," by Annabel Sims, and use that to plan any day trips you might want to take. I got my copy from Amazon after seeing it recommended on this board.
Jeff801 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2014, 08:50 AM
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You will earn tons of brownie points by pausing by a cafe and saying to her something along the lines of "let's stop here for a leisurely coffee."Do that once or twice every day, you will recharge after the hustle and bustle of the wedding, and it's the best way to begin to experience a city. THen, and only then, can you march her around for the rest of the afternoon!>>

YES! and don't stop at coffee - a nice glass of wine can be a great reviver too. another way to win brownie points is to plan what you are going to do each day by area - for example, Notre Dame followed by the Eiffel tower followed by the Arc de Triomphe is probably going to drive her mad whereas the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides and the Rodin museum will gain brownie points.

As for whether to go to the South of France for part of your trip, I think that there are two approaches - go, but forget about any day trips from Paris, or stay in Paris the whole time, and reckon doing a couple of day trips while you are there.

if you can't get an open jaw flight, the trip to the south can still work - you could get the TGV from CDG straight to Avignon and be there in a few hours - a good way to recover from jetlag. if you prefer Nice then i would suggest flying - the train takes about 6 hours.

Then after 4 nights there, get the train back to Paris.
annhig is offline  

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