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Looking for advice on first trip to France in mid October

Looking for advice on first trip to France in mid October

Old Jan 12th, 2013, 08:03 AM
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Looking for advice on first trip to France in mid October

We're a middle-aged couple planning a trip to France in mid-October for two weeks. We know we can't cover a lot in that time but would like to get a feel for the City and country.

We plan on flying into Paris and leaving from a southern destination, and we're from Canada.

Our current plan is to visit Paris for several days 4-5, maybe more and then we are thinking of moving south (via train probably) , we are thinking Lyon, but not sure.

In Paris we plan on seeing some of the main attractions (museums, Eiffel tower, cathedrals, etc). We are also planning a day trip to Palace of Versailles, and possibly Giverny Gardens.

The southern leg we are not too sure of and could use some assistance. From what I have read in the forums and various sites, Lyon seems like a good place to be home base for the second week. Plan on enjoying the city and food. We are initially planning a day trip to Avignon, but could use some recommendations here. We'd like to see some villages and/or vineyards if that makes sense this time of year.

We are flexible on where we fly out of. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 08:09 AM
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Hi W,

I don't think that I would want to spend a week in Lyon.

Are you willing to drive?

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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 08:22 AM
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Choose a less urban area for your second location. Burgundy, the Dordogne, the Provence would be natural choices. Rent a car and tour the countryside, which is the most efficient way to experience something other than urban areas. I would not book the flights until you know what you want to do. Guidebooks (Michelin Green Guide to France?) would help in establishing a plan. If one chose Burgundy or decided that Normandy might be what you want to see, a return flight from Paris might make the most sense. Nice a logical return from the Provence, Bordeaux or Toulouse from the Dordogne, although PREM fares are so low that taking the train back to Paris might be cheaper than an open jaw.

For car rentals, look at www.kemwel.com or www.autoeurope.com (they are sister companies) which will give you a base if exploring other car rental offers.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 08:28 AM
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I'm with Ira on Lyon. October can be a good time of year to see vinyards, but if the harvest is late you may find it is still on. Going south ensures that you benefit from any warmer weather still about.

The idea of going to Avignon (by train) is good, the town has been welcoming pilgrims for a fair few hundred years and so they will welcome you in. From the station you can walk (or take a taxi) straight up the main drag which is lttered with good restaurants.

There are other good towns like Avignon, Nimes, Arles, (Nice I'm told) and of course you can rent a car to tour vinyards from there (though a car in town is pretty useless. You could also look at Beaune for a similar sort of visit further north (though this is very wine focused).

Do use the trains they keep city to city visits very affective though you do need a car for countyside visits.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 09:21 AM
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Lyon is wonderful, but not for a week. And Avignon isn't a day trip from Lyon. Do you have a map of France?

I would head to your farthest destination first, then work your way back to Paris. You can fly into CDG and get immediately on a TGV to Avignon, rent a car and tour the Bouches-du-Rhône area (Pont du Garad, Les Baux, Arles, the Camargue, St-Rémy, Uzès, etc.), then continue north and maybe spend a couple of nights in Lyon, dump the car and then a train back to Paris.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 09:47 AM
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Actually, Avignon could quite easily be a day trip from Lyon on the TGV, it isn't that far, only an hour. I've done many day trips that take that long or more (I've actually done Lyon as a day trip from Paris).

I would choose a less urban location for my second week, also, though, I agree with that. Lyon is a large city. I'd go for Provence myself.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 09:50 AM
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Agree, I would select either burgundy or Provence for my second week. Also agree with starting there and ending in Paris so you don't need to worry about catching your flight home at the end of your trip.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 09:52 AM
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Lyon is an excellent city, but it is an insufficient contrast to Paris. I would recommend Strasbourg or Marseille.

Look up Marseille and you will see that it is just beginning its years at the European City of Culture -- it has spent 1 billion euros to make some extraordinary changes to the city (magnificent new museums and a totally revamped Vieux Port), and they are an absolute must to see this year if at all possible.

I am currently planning my own trip to Marseille.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 12:09 PM
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Thanks for the feedback folks, its appreciated.

To Ira, thanks, I'd be willing to drive as from what I have read many locations are more easily accessible by car. I was thinking to train it from Paris south, and drive from there. My air tickets are through air miles so leaving from a southern location is fine.

I wasn't intending on spending the week in Lyon, but use it rather as a base to visit the area.

Christina I agree with you that maybe I should move further south and use that as a base to visit Provence.

After reviewing flight options, I could leave from Marseilles, any comments on using Marseilles as home base to visit Provence?

Thanks again
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 12:22 PM
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With Lyon as a base you'd have to do considerable driving to see most of the Provence sights. You would do better to use something around Avignon--but not Avignon itself, to avoid congested driving. Either Uzès or St-Rémy would do nicely.

I also wouldn't put Marseille high on the list for a first visit. If you want another urban area, head to Aix-en-Provence.

But above all, try to get to the beautiful city of Nice. It doesn't feel like a big city at all, rather a group of neighborhoods. The area you would probably want to explore is actually quite small: the Promenade des Anglais, the area around the Place Masséna, and of course the old city, Vieux Nice. Flying into Nice and working your way west would give you a lot of flexibility, and you could ultimately take the TGV back to and fly out of Paris.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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We have been to Paris 5 times. We either add an extended visit of 3-5 days to another region (Normandy, Burgundy, Riviera, overnight train to Venice) or at least interject a day trip to 'outskirts' every 3-4 days from Paris. These included: Barbizon/Fontainbleu, Auvers-sur-Oise, Giverny, Versailles. Total trips usually run 2 weeks +. In Normandy we stayed in 3 private chateaux (very reasonable)and toured Honfleur, Dieppe, Etretat, Normandy beaches, Mont St. Michel, Chartres. In Burgundy we stayed in Epernay, Dijon and in Chenenceaux, returning to Paris through Loire Valley. But the day trips to Barbizon, Giverny were wonderful as well. Burgundy would be beautiful in October. There is so so much to see in Paris, each time we go we explore more. Particular faves are: Rodin Museum, Museum of Art/Design (near Louvre on right bank -- stunning Lanvin apt. in there), Orangerie, St. Chappelle, Luxembourg Gardens, Ile St. Louis, Pere Lachaise, Montmartre, in addition to the 'heavy hitters.' I would not spend much time in Lyon either.
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