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ITINERARY HELP PLEASE - first trip to France

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Nov 16th, 2011, 05:33 PM
  #1
LGT
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ITINERARY HELP PLEASE - first trip to France

Trying to plan 2 week trip to France Sept 2012. We have 5 nights in Paris covered, but struggling to plan next 5-6 days. Would like to experience smaller towns and bit of countryside, but want to maximize time without changing hotels every night. Would appreciate Fodor's traveller's advice and expertise. Many thanks.
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Nov 16th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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You could use Bayeux as a base to explore Normandy. Try to look at the Michelin Green Guide for Normandy to see if that would interest you.
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Nov 16th, 2011, 05:49 PM
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Normandy certainly would be a good choice. We enjoyed Bayeux. Burgundy would be another. www.burgundyeye.com
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Nov 16th, 2011, 06:02 PM
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Will you have a car? You could train to Avignon and explore Provence by car. Provence is lovely in the fall. A base, such as St. Remy would allow you to explore the towns and villages.
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Nov 16th, 2011, 06:46 PM
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Would also suggest Bayeux. Great town with good attractions (tapestry, cathedral, several museums) and very convenient for D-day sights. If you want to explore Provence; Arles, Nimes, Avignon are all good choices, each with there own interesting sights. If you want better advice, narrow down what region you'd like to see and let us know if you will be traveling by train or car.
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Nov 16th, 2011, 08:16 PM
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You didn't mention Normandy, so not sure why everyone is steering you there. There are a bazillion regions of France to explore outside Paris and you should familiarize yourself with them. I've been to all of them, but without having a single clue what appeals to you can't make a guess what would work for you.

You need to google or go the bookstore or library and research the many and varied regions of France and decide what appeals to you. Then you figure out whether you can visit it (them) by car or train. Then you figure out an itinerary and choose accommodations and look into restaurants or markets or whatever else appeals to you.

But with only the sketchy info you've provided so far, no one can really help you.
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Nov 17th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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Other posters concerns notwithstanding, I would also agree with the Normandy region. I'll admit my bias, other than Paris, its' the only area I've visited, although it included Bayeux, Caen, Port En Bessin and Mont St. Michel. Both I and my wife found the smaller towns in Normandy to be particularly intersting, and absolutely loved staying on the Port in Port en Bessin. It was a nice, quiet little port town, with great seafood, obviously. It was very close to the D-day sights, as it was on the Channel, but between Omaha and Gold beaches (Colleville and Arromanches).
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Nov 17th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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Since it seems you are still in the pre-planning stage, try for an "open-jaw" ticket, so if you decide to go south, you can fly home from Avignon, Nice, Marseilles etc. without returning to CDG and wasting a vacation day.
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Nov 17th, 2011, 11:48 AM
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When you say countryside and small towns, I assume you will have a rental car. Driving in France is pretty easy.

With that assumption consider the Dordogne. We all at Fodor's love this area: pretty small towns, castles, forests, the rivers. Sarlat makes a good base.

Another choice is Provence. It's also better seen with a car but can be seen by bus/train from Avignon. St. Remy is a popular base for drivers. Inland Provence has many pretty towns. Coastal Provence is the Cote-d'Azur, the French Riviera. You're probably aware of its charms.

I concur with Normandy. In addition to the D-Day sights, we did a one-day drive around the Pays d'Auge area. Nice towns, pretty countryside, cute chateau St. Germain de Livet south of Liseux. Bayeux and Honfleur are good places to visit but are bigger towns.

Then there's the Loire valley and its chateaux. And the German-influenced towns around Strasbourg.

France has so many areas to visit.
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Nov 17th, 2011, 11:59 AM
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You need to decide what you specifically want to see other than just towns and the countryside. France is larger than every state in the US not named Texas or Alaska and it has 65 million people jammed into that space (2.6x the population of Texas, 80% of the space), so there is a lot of countryside and a lot of towns. Mimar gave you an outline of some regions other than Normandy. So this throws the question back to you: are you interested in WWII beaches, WWI sites, castles and palaces, beaches, etc.? Any region you go to can be toured from a base (Bayeux in Normandy, Amboise in Loire Valley, etc.) and the roads are generally very good.
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Nov 17th, 2011, 02:38 PM
  #11
LGT
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Thanks to all for such GREAT & timely responses! I bought Fodor's & Rick Steeve's books on Paris & France. Great tip about flying out of of Avignon, Nice etc. We were debating about a rental car but all seem to agree driving is fairly easy, so that's a no brainer. After Paris, would like to see D-Day sights, some castles/palaces, towns & villages. Beaches would be great too - wish we had a couple of months! Lots to research - 2 weeks will barely scratch the surface as you all know. Would appreciate advice once I've made an attempt at an itinerary. Thanks to all again.
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Nov 17th, 2011, 05:02 PM
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If you go to Normandy, flying out of Nice is not in the cards.
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