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Need help with itenerary in France

Old Apr 19th, 2010, 07:07 PM
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Need help with itenerary in France

I admit I don't know much about France and the destination options are overwhelming me. I would like to spend 9 nights in France because that is about how long I can get off of work in one shot. I've been to Paris previously and am absolutely OK with returning for a spell but I am open to other suggestions. Paris seems a particularly good place to wind up due to the availability of direct flights to the U.S. I prefer a good mix of urban and rural, countryside and seaside.

Tentatively I am thinking 3 nights in Nice, 3 in Avignon and 3 in Paris, connecting via TGV between each, in that order. I do not intend to rent a car; driving in a foreign country seems like pure stress to me and not my idea of vacation and I fully intend to partake of the French wine and don't want to drink and drive. While in Nice I am thinking a day trip or two to Monaco, St Paul de Vence and/or Villefranche sur Mer via public transportation. While in Avignon I am thinking daytrips to Arles via train and winecountry via private tour. I would like to see Aix en Provence but I can't figure out a good way to work it into this itenerary. If there are any other smaller, must-see towns (I especially like hilltowns) painlessly accessible from Avignon I would be interested in that as well.

Instead of Paris I might be open to spending the last few days in Bordeaux or Lyon. I can't tell if the TGV goes from Avignon to Lyon or not....it appears it does not go to Bordeaux but there are local snail trains of course. For someone into food, wine and architecture, does one stand out as a must see destination more than the other? Might there be yet another city with good air options back to the US to end up in after Avignon that hasn't crossed my mind? Or does it make more sense to just spend 4/5 days in Nice and 4/5 in Avignon and fly out from Marseilles and skip that third destination? Options, options...

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 10:58 PM
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My preference would be just two destinations in your time frame, particularly as you mention wanting to see more of Provence. So, I would either spend the entire time south or split the time between Paris and Avignon as bases. Have a great trip whatever you decide.
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 11:19 PM
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Think about a Loire Vaalley option - Tours or Blois, perhaps?
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 12:04 AM
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Check the train times. Loire valley requires return to Paris and changing station to catch the TGV to Avignon resulting in the loss of time.

With Avignon as a base you can visit Arles, Nimes, Montpellier, Marseille, Cote d'Azur, and Lyon by train. There are buses to more local things e.g. Pont du Gard.

Avignon is 2.5 hrs from Paris.


Peter
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 12:44 AM
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I would choose two bases; Paris and either Avignon or Nice. Depending on your interests. From Nice you can easily visit the coastal area of the Cote d'Azur and Monaco by train. Plenty to keep you occupied for 4 or 5 days.
You could take the train from Paris to Nice, then fly back to Paris to connect with your flight home.
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 02:35 AM
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Hi! If you go to Avignon, you have to visit "Palais des Papes". http://www.travel-avenue.com/7287958...s-avignon.html

Visit this website to book your TGV train Tickets
http://www.tgv.com/EN/index_HD.html

Hope you will enjoy France!

Emilie
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 04:55 AM
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Your plan makes a lot of sense. If you are taking votes, though, I do agree that I'd reduce your visit to two bases to make the most of your time, and I think Nice and Avignon work perfectly since you have been to Paris before.

We did not rent a car while we spent a week in Nice, yet we easily managed to visit towns as far north as Grasse, as far west as Cannes, and as far east as Menton, all by train and bus. All in all, within six days, we probably visited by bus and train at the very least 12 towns/villages (we were visiting art museums with our Cote d'Azur museum pass).

mpprh was so right to state: "With Avignon as a base you can visit Arles, Nimes, Montpellier, Marseille, Cote d'Azur, and Lyon by train. There are buses to more local things e.g. Pont du Gard." It sounds as though you've already down some research on this.

As you may know already, travel time to Avignon by TGV from Nice is actually a tad longer (around 2 hrs 54 minutes several times a day) than your transport to/from Paris's Gare du Lyon, but all in all, once you arrive in Nice, the time needed to get to the points to take a train or a bus drops dramatically. The Nice airport is very close to town, so getting into your hotel is quite easy, and the Nice train station is very central. While the Avignon TGV station is outside of Avignon, there is a navette from there every five minutes into town. The Avignon Central station in the town is very accessible.

It sounds as though you will have a good trip!
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 06:15 AM
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The Loire Valley is great if you want to do fairy-tale châteaux, or happen to be a fan of the wines from that area, but it's one of the least scenic areas in all France. If I had only 9 days, I'd never consider it as an option. And even though I am a fan of Bordeaux, unless you're an oenophile with a particular interest in Bordeaux vintages, I'd cross it off the list as well.

I think dividing your time between Paris and Avignon sounds ideal. From Avignon you have lots of options for public transportation to other places in the area, and the TVG connection to Paris is great. Be sure to look into cheap PREM fares, which you can buy 3 months out from your travel dates, on the SNCF website.
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 09:55 AM
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I'd forget the Loire, it isn't that interesting IMO. Besides, it isn't very convenient to your desires or itinerary.

I'd probably just choose two also in 9 days, but 3 isn't that bad. You might just forget Paris, actually. It depends what you most want to see -- around Avignon or around Nice, they are very different. Nice isn't like a lot of France, and has that strong Italian/riviera thing as well as the whole resort thing. But you can easily get a flight out of Nice, so you could end up there. It would be easier to depart from Nice than from Marseille if you are really in Avignon when there.
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 09:58 AM
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oh, as for the TGV -- it goes down from Paris through Lyon to Avignon, then to Marseille and Nice. So definitely you can get from Avignon to Lyon on it. Bordeaux is on the completely opposite side of the country.
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 12:33 PM
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Marseille has no direct flights to US, and Nice has very few US connections. Best bet is to return to Paris on the TGV for the flight home or fly with a cheap airline to London and fly from there.

Peter
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 05:26 PM
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Thanks so much for your insights all. This information is very helpful and I do very much appreciate it. Now if I can just make some decisions!
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