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Need help to spend time in France-Alps in late September

Need help to spend time in France-Alps in late September

Old Jun 30th, 2012, 03:40 PM
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Need help to spend time in France-Alps in late September

I am planning to spend 3 or 4 days in France-Alps from my 11-day France trip. I plan to go hiking and take the tram while I am in there. I'd appreciate all suggestions on whether it's worth to stay 1 night in Chamonix or should I just take a day trip from Lyon. What is the best transportation to take? My plan is to spend 2 days in Nice, 3 to 4 days in Lyon, 2 days in Lourdes and the rest in Paris. Should I take the train for my entire trip or should I rent a car? Please let me know. Thanks.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 03:45 PM
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Well it's unclear

1) how much time you actually have
2) what order you're thinking of

If you want to see the French Alps you should go there - not stay in Lyons (which is a city worthy of its own visit)

Nor is it clear that you have allowed any time to get from one place to another (which days are for travel and which are for sightseeing)

Also Lourdes is completely off the beaten track and nowhere near your other sites - how do you plan on getting too and fro - and have you allowed 3 days for the vist (one day to, one day there and one day from)
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 04:13 PM
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Thank you nytraveler.
I think that I need to reconsider my trip's plan. My original plan was: after the plane arrive in Nice, I plan to spend 2 days there. Take the train to Lyon early morning on the 3rd day and spend 1.5 day in Lyon (4th). Then take the train (on the 5th) to Chamonix in the morning and spend the entire day there. Go back to Lyon for a night and head to Lourdes the next day which takes about 8 hours train ride. My plan is to spend 2 days there and head up to Paris before flying back to Portland, OR.
I really welcome your suggestions on changing my itineray and if there are other nice places to go around Chamonix or Lyon instead.
Thanks.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 05:01 PM
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Well Lyons won't help with the Alps - it's not in them. It's a charming city - but if you really want to see any of the Alps you should plan on several days in/near Chamonix.

The tip as you have it planned will leave you with half of your time spend in travel instead of sightseeing.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 05:25 PM
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Lourdes connects poorly to any of your destinations by ground: Paris 6hrs, Lyon 8hrs, Nice 9hrs. The only improvement you can make is to reduce one of these long trips. Your current plan is to do two of them: 8hrs then 6hrs. Nice to Lyon connects so so.

Does Lourdes have to be in the middle of the trip? If you can move it to the beginning or the end of your trip, you can reduce the long ground portion to one trip. However, Tarbes-Lourdes airport (LDE) connects only to Orly, Barcelona, Brussels, and Milan so the air approach can be also troublesome.

What you have is a four vertices itinerary where two of the tip point Lourdes/Paris/Chamonix/Nice require length trip into and out of wich two out of four can be improved by flying into one and out of the other. You still have two remaining tip points to deal with. These destinations don't group well.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 05:46 PM
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You are right. I didn't realise that I will end up taking too much time traveling. That means I'd better take Lourdes out of my itinarary. Do you have any suggestion on other other towns other than Nice, Lyon, Chamonix before visiting Paris? Should I include renting a car to visit smaller town besides taking a train?
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 07:48 PM
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Here is a resource to get relevant train travel time info:
http://www.voyages-sncf.com/.

If you plug in Lyon (Part Dieu) to Chamonix you find that the travel takes 4hrs. From this, it is unlikely that you can do a meaningful day trip to Chamonix from Lyon. If you want to spend 4 days in French-Alps, then you would need to stay in Chamonix (or other towns.) That leaves 7 days to do Lyon, Paris, and Nice. Do you really think you can add more places to your itinerary? Also, is Lyon a destination or what you thought was a base to visit Chamonix?

Whether renting a car makes a sense or not depends on what you want to do with it. The existing destinations alone seem to more than fill up your time. Where do you think you can go with car within the available time?
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 08:39 PM
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In that case, I should not continue with the trip to Paris at all. Lyon is one of my destination but I am not sure how may days should I spend there. I might spend 3 days only in Chamonix. Is it better to fly back from Geneva or from Lyon at the end of my trip?
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 08:54 AM
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If you're going to be around Chamonix you should spend time around Annecy. Here is a link to a trip report I wrote (with lots of photos and desriptions) about spending two weeks there, including a day trip trip to Chamonix. The report also covers several beautiful hikes I did around Annecy:

http://tinyurl.com/7er3tjn
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 10:38 AM
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Where are you flying back TO? If to the US you can get direct flights from Geneva but not from Lyons.

Have you now decided to drop Paris.

You hae me confused - and I'm not sure tha tyou have really consolidated the trip.

I think you need to lay it out:

Day 1 Depart US
Day 2 Arrive?
Day 3 In ?
Day X Depart to US

And if you have travel on a day - that is travel, not sightseeing.

So how many days total is it? What are the must sees?

Then someone can give more details. But you don;t have time to add places - you need to be removing places.
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 11:47 AM
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If you want to incorporate Lyon and the Alps, a trip to either Alpe d'Huez or Les 2 Alpes would be closer to Lyon. They are both about 2 hours from Lyon by car. I spent 4 summers in Les 2 Alpes and it was spectacular. Alpe d'Huez is very well known since the Tour de France stops there every summer. If you are not renting a car, there is a bus from Grenoble to Les 2 Alpes (or there used to be).

Annecy is also lovely - more of a regular town. Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d'Huez are skiing resorts and at Les 2 Alpes there was summer skiing as well on the glacier.
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 03:29 PM
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frenchmystiquetours: thank you for your input. I definitely will read your reports and take your advice to go to Annecy.
palatino82: thank you also for your input. I will consider a trip to Alpe d'Huez. I love to visit beautiful villages and go hiking.
nytraveller: I will take 12 days instead and change my arrival in Paris instead of Nice.
Day 1-3 spend 3 days in Paris then head to Lyon.
Day 4-6 might just spend 2 days in Lyon + visit Alpe d'Huez.
Day 7-8 visit Nice for 2 days.
Day 9-12 ends my trip in Chamonix
I don't count the flight time from and to Portland, OR which is 2 add'l days for total of 14 days.I travel solo and often times I do not organize my trip well that's why I appreciate all the inputs.
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 05:03 PM
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You are still bouncing around - Chamonix is much closer to Lyons - and Geneva - than to the south of France.

A more sensible option would be to land in Paris, then train to Lyons and whatever parts of the French Alps you want to see - Annecy, Chamonix etc - which are all fairly close together - then head for Nice - from which you can get a flight back to the US.

Much less bouncing around.
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 05:27 PM
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In October 2007 my sister and I went to Switzerland stopping in Paris for 2 days (we've been before), then took a train (3 hrs. to Geneva, and then 1/2 hr. to Montreux) We spent 2 days in Montreaux which is in French Switzerland. From there we took the panoramic train to the Berner oberland, the Jungfrau area, and trained to the top of the Jungfrau mountain. It was an incredible trip. We returned from Zurich.

For your trip I would spend more time in P
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 05:32 PM
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Sorry, my reply was cut off. For your trip I would spend more time in Paris and then travel to the alps in Switzerland taking shorter train trips. On another trip you could visit other cities in France. If not, limit this trip to Paris and other French cities that connect more easily. Best wishes, Gladys
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 07:25 PM
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Wow. I've got so many good advices. Thank you all!
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