June in France with 5 year old

Old Mar 30th, 2024, 10:49 AM
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Stu and Bilbo- seems like I’ve crammed too much in here!! (Hubby is now coming for whole three weeks) Agree that spending long days driving is not fun. But having never been to any of these regions I don’t know what to leave out!!
Splashing at a beach and on river and slowly walking around eating croissants is what we’re definitely after. So we need to cut out something.
If it were just him and me, we’d go to wineries, art museums and great restaurants. The addition of the kid means a whole different kind of trip that we’ve never taken…
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Old Mar 31st, 2024, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
I'd really not add Amsterdam

So roughly 3 weeks for you and your kid, and 2 weeks for hubbie.

Saumur is really nice, you might also like Chinon but the castle is best seen from the outside (rather dull inside).

It looks like a long slow drive through the motorways of southern France to me. I never believe a holiday is better because you have seen more things or driven further. In France one of the pleasures is walking with a friend to buy bread and croissant before a slow breakfast, river bathing, sea bathing, lunch, bike riding etc etc. While driving for ages is a bit dull.

But other people like to do other things.
Thoughts:
1. All this driving might be very stressful for you, especially with such a young child. Also consider what type of car you will need. Automatics book up fast.
2. Vacation rentals also book up fast, so that might be a limiting factor for the period when you are with extended family and friends.

I think a simpler itinerary with 1-2 bases is so much more enjoyable,

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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 07:37 AM
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So far you are planning a true Tour de France! Not recommended for a three week trip. Figure out the essentials (sounds like Saumur with friends is one of them.) With a child, limit the hours upon hours of driving. That is NOT a vacation. There are no MUST SEE places. Pick the essentials and what is right around those places. Or stops along the way. There is beauty all around. I wouldn't want to be in a hotel room night after night with a child for three weeks, so find gites where you can have all the comforts of home. When my kids were that young, we looked for places that could accommodate a family.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 08:27 AM
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With a 5 year old (kudos to you) driving and packing and unpacking and searching for restaurants that open late and all the issues that come from cramming a lot in seem too stressful. My kids are grown but I have a 5 year old granddaughter and she likes puzzles, games, eating about 5 food items, parks, soccer, swimming and her bike. Maybe find a rental and stay put in two locations?

Last edited by macdogmom; Apr 1st, 2024 at 09:00 AM.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 09:10 AM
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I'd take a gite in Brittany and a Gite in the countryside somewhere in the south. I might even consider going to a camp site (they often have chalets) for one bit where your kid can play with other kids and you can take a rest, kick back, hire in a baby sitter etc etc.

This sort of thing might interest https://campingqualite.com/en/locati...ets-in-france/

But since you have the Saumur visit already planned, maybe just focus on Brittany as well.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 07:32 PM
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Ok…thank you all for the advice- working on whittling this “Tour de France” down to just a week base in one place and a week base in another. Probably best. Going to look at Gites. Kiddo loves food- croissants, stinky cheese…so at least the food part will be fun for her! 😂
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Old Apr 2nd, 2024, 12:23 AM
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Hello, we live in Paris with a 5 year old and spend most of our looong summer vactions traveling with her. You will be fine and have a great time as long as you try and speak a bit of french.

I really recommend traveling around on the TGV not cars, because kids love being able to wonder around and explore the train as you zip through the countryside!
Also, you will meet lots of french families this way and they will make friends.

I highly recommend a trip to the space meuseum in in Toulouse, it's cheap and our daughter loved it when she was 4. Obviously disney is a big one too!

I would be very happy to help with other tips as well and we will be around in Paris if you need a friendly bi-lingual family to say hi too and play in the Park.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2024, 02:08 AM
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Welcome to Fodors Uncle
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Old Apr 3rd, 2024, 10:14 AM
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Uncle feather yes! How do I connect with you directly? Would love to ask you more specifics.
I was a French major in college but have lost so much which is partly why I want to go there to brush back up on it!
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by shelemm
Chalkier (like a piece of chalk) means dry and with exposed white limestone rocks. Provence is a region of dazzling beauty, and so many people including myself count it as their favorite region of France. The unique lavender fields are a good example of this. But it mostly feels like a very dry area without lush green forests. In the Catalan Pyrenees, there is so much water everywhere with village after village having natural springs and baths and water running by the streets in little gulleys. Streams are all over. It is a very well watered area.
shelemm
are there any villages in particular you highly recommend?

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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 07:56 AM
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We’re now considering deleting the Brittany region from the itinerary since it seems the most far out area and you all said it seems like way too much to do Lyon, plus the south plus Brittany.

does this sound like a decent itinerary:
paris 4 nights
tgv Lyon 3 nights
rent car and do south coast (not Côte d’Azur)
dordogne
3 nights Saumur
back to Paris return car and fly home
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Lauren1979
We’re now considering deleting the Brittany region from the itinerary since it seems the most far out area and you all said it seems like way too much to do Lyon, plus the south plus Brittany.

does this sound like a decent itinerary:
paris 4 nights
tgv Lyon 3 nights
rent car and do south coast (not Côte d’Azur)
dordogne
3 nights Saumur
back to Paris return car and fly home
Wake up in Lyon, secure a car, struggle to get out of town, and then head south on the Autoroute. Visit the south coast from Marseille west, then up to the Dordogne. The south coast from Marseille to Narbonne (where you leave the coast) can't be viewed from the Autoroute - you'll have to take many slow smaller roads. And, IMO it is not nearly as interesting as Marseille & east. This seems like a 3-5 night event. Then, how many days in the Dordogne?

There are some wonderful sites & destinations south of Lyon & the Dordogne. But they are not on the coast. Arles, Nimes, Montpellier, Pezenas, St Guilhem le Desert, Gorges du Tarn, Caves with stalagtites & mites, Carcassonne, Toulouse, & Albi. Read my attached itinerary.

Return the car in the Loire - Tours/St Pierre des Corps & take the TGV to Paris or directly to CDG (2 direct trains daily).

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Lauren1979
We’re now considering deleting the Brittany region from the itinerary since it seems the most far out area and you all said it seems like way too much to do Lyon, plus the south plus Brittany.

does this sound like a decent itinerary:
paris 4 nights
tgv Lyon 3 nights
rent car and do south coast (not Côte d’Azur)
dordogne
3 nights Saumur
back to Paris return car and fly home
Are you staying Paris when you come back or only for the 4 nights? Thought you were getting an apartment and staying there for awhile? Again, I’d probably spend a week in Paris for everyone to get over jet lag and enjoy the parks and get the 5 year old settled. Rest of the trip sounds busy and I would still want to get an Airbnb to settle into and not move around so much but I’m sure it will all work out.
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 09:20 AM
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Forgot to mention that all of Provence is also south of Lyon & even the Ardeche. We've spent 30 weeks in these two regions - so there is plenty to see & do. Chauvet Caves?

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by macdogmom
Are you staying Paris when you come back or only for the 4 nights? Thought you were getting an apartment and staying there for awhile? Again, I’d probably spend a week in Paris for everyone to get over jet lag and enjoy the parks and get the 5 year old settled. Rest of the trip sounds busy and I would still want to get an Airbnb to settle into and not move around so much but I’m sure it will all work out.
maybe closer to a week in Paris is a good idea….
I agree that getting an Airbnb some place and settling in would be nice. Just can’t decide where because everything looks so amazing!!! We don’t need 100% beaches but since we live in a hot and dry desert we’d love some coast time…

we have 19 days….17 days of actual time.
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley
Wake up in Lyon, secure a car, struggle to get out of town, and then head south on the Autoroute. Visit the south coast from Marseille west, then up to the Dordogne. The south coast from Marseille to Narbonne (where you leave the coast) can't be viewed from the Autoroute - you'll have to take many slow smaller roads. And, IMO it is not nearly as interesting as Marseille & east. This seems like a 3-5 night event. Then, how many days in the Dordogne?

There are some wonderful sites & destinations south of Lyon & the Dordogne. But they are not on the coast. Arles, Nimes, Montpellier, Pezenas, St Guilhem le Desert, Gorges du Tarn, Caves with stalagtites & mites, Carcassonne, Toulouse, & Albi. Read my attached itinerary.

Return the car in the Loire - Tours/St Pierre des Corps & take the TGV to Paris or directly to CDG (2 direct trains daily).

Stu Dudley
caves would be fun for kiddo I bet! Will be printing and reading your itineraries this weekend.
what Part of south coast is most worthwhile? We don’t need 100% beach time but want to mix some in since we live in the desert…
like not crowded beaches! Clear water is always lovely for swimming.
as many have mentioned I’m still cramming too much in.
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Lauren1979
caves would be fun for kiddo I bet! Will be printing and reading your itineraries this weekend.
what Part of south coast is most worthwhile? We don’t need 100% beach time but want to mix some in since we live in the desert…
like not crowded beaches! Clear water is always lovely for swimming.
as many have mentioned I’m still cramming too much in.

Cassis - just west of Marseille would be your best bet for a beach and a nice/cute smallish town. Info in my Provence itinerary.

PS - in May last year, we booked our upcoming 3 1/2 week June trip to Nice & surrounds. And in May '22 we booked our 4 week June '23 trip to Provence. And we've done the same every year starting in 1999. Same for our September trips (book 1 year in advance). You had better make up your mind & reserve places very soon.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Lauren1979
maybe closer to a week in Paris is a good idea….
I agree that getting an Airbnb some place and settling in would be nice. Just can’t decide where because everything looks so amazing!!! We don’t need 100% beaches but since we live in a hot and dry desert we’d love some coast time…

we have 19 days….17 days of actual time.
Completely understand. We live in Santa Barbara so beach time in Europe is never a huge priority although my husband did some paddle surfing in St Jean du Luz and a small town in Spain right below the border a couple of years ago. My first visit to the beach in Nice was a long long time ago and as a 12 year old coming from southern Calif I was very disappointed in the rocky beachfront. So make sure you find some sandy beaches to go to! We’ve been to Provence and stayed in Arles and another time stayed in a much smaller hillside town (can’t remember name). Arles might be better for finding parks and it’s quite charming. Dordogne visit was mainly for touring the Lascaux caves but not sure if a 5 year old would be as enthralled with all the historical details on the tour. Our visit to the Loire Valley was with our kids who were 12 and 16 at the time and toured a famous chateau, again not sure if the 5 year old will find it very fascinating…

I actually love the Italian Riviera (Camolgi) and Barcelona. We started going to Spain and Italy more after our yearly work trip to Paris. Love the food, weather and people.
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 12:38 PM
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""coming from southern Calif I was very disappointed in the rocky beachfront. So make sure you find some sandy beaches to go to!""

I came from Southern Calif also - San Gabriel and Laguna Beach. Now we in the San Francisco area. We've probably spent 6-8 weeks in Nice. We'll be there again 2 months from today. At first I did not like the rocky beach. "Rocky" might be a bad name. They are flat sand-worn stones. There is one sitting in front of me now. I would never cast a beach towel over these stones and lay on the towel. Instead, I rent a chase lounge & umbrella and lay on a mattress. When a gust of wind hits - instead of being covered with sand, there is nothing at all. Now, I actually prefer the stone beaches in Nice - provided I "sun" at a private section where I have access to the chase lounge, umbrella, restaurant, bar, changing room, WCs, etc. Quite decadent!!

Cassis has a sandy beach.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 6th, 2024, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley
""coming from southern Calif I was very disappointed in the rocky beachfront. So make sure you find some sandy beaches to go to!""

I came from Southern Calif also - San Gabriel and Laguna Beach. Now we in the San Francisco area. We've probably spent 6-8 weeks in Nice. We'll be there again 2 months from today. At first I did not like the rocky beach. "Rocky" might be a bad name. They are flat sand-worn stones. There is one sitting in front of me now. I would never cast a beach towel over these stones and lay on the towel. Instead, I rent a chase lounge & umbrella and lay on a mattress. When a gust of wind hits - instead of being covered with sand, there is nothing at all. Now, I actually prefer the stone beaches in Nice - provided I "sun" at a private section where I have access to the chase lounge, umbrella, restaurant, bar, changing room, WCs, etc. Quite decadent!!

Cassis has a sandy beach.

Stu Dudley
Yes, I’m partial to chaise lounges and umbrellas at my age, but also know that 5 year olds like to runaround and dig in the sand and build stuff…We also live partially in Menlo Park so we know all about the beaches at half moon bay and Santa Cruz. Cold but nice!
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