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Our trip itinerary in 2012- what do you think


Oct 19th, 2011, 03:32 AM
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Our trip itinerary in 2012- what do you think

We are a late 50's Australian couple - DH still working. We have been to France before so some high profile places e.g. Provence, Dordogne are not on this trip. We are also not going to Paris as we are planning a longer stay on a future trip. We fly out of Brisbane on Mar 22 [Thurs] and back on may 26 [sat] . After an overnight stay at CDG, we fly to Bordeaux where we pick up our lease car. This gives us nine weeks on the ground. We have been to France at this time before and know it will be cool to start.

We stay for a week in an area in a holiday rental. Our gites are usually
in the countryside or small villages. Within the week we will do longer day trips if there is something we want to visit. Prior to our trip we do lots of research and compile our own "guide" to each area. We have never had any difficulty filling in a week. We like driving around and stopping in small towns and viillages, countryside and natural features, churches, chateaux, bridges, markets etc. and of course food and wine.
For us, it is really about just being there and enjoying what each has to offer.

Here is our plan.

Week 1- Gers - near Lectoure

2- Aude- Couiza, south of Limoux

3- Aveyron- Marcillac- Vallon - between Rodez and Conques

4- Haute-Loire, near Brioude

5- Charentes- Maritimes, near St Jean d'Angely

6- Brittany, near Dinan

7- Normandy, Pays d'Auge south of Lisieux

8- Picardy, near Peronne

9- Champagne, near Epernay.

We have booked our gites and are just waiting to finalise a few with gites-de-france.
What do you think? I will add that we enjoy being a bit 'off the beaten track' sometimes and visiting areas that seem to be less visited by overseas tourists, if the travel forums are any indication.
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Oct 19th, 2011, 05:08 AM
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In some respects it doesn't matter what we think. Sounds like everything is pretty well set. ... but since you ask,

Some of this is distinctly off the beaten track and it will be very interesting to read your report to get info about places many of us have never even considered (I've taken over 50 trips to Europe, many in France, but have really only visted 4 or your 5 selections.) I'm looking for new options and will eagerly await your info from this trip. Good luck.
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Oct 19th, 2011, 05:56 AM
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Looks like you have done a lot of thinking about where you want to go. While it wouldn't be my trip, I encourage you to go for it. No matter how many times I go to France (have been 8 times), I couldn't skip Paris. Other than that, it sounds very relaxing and we'll look forward to hearing about some of the places we haven't been.
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Oct 19th, 2011, 09:08 AM
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For Brittany I would find a base either farther west or farther south (Golfe de Morbihan area). What is to be seen near Dinan can be seen on the way to Normandy (Mont St. Michel is actually in Normandy).

Browsing in these sets might give you some ideas:


I've written a few trip reports that might interest you; click on my name to find them.
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Oct 19th, 2011, 04:48 PM
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This sounds interesting. It’s good that you’ve allowed enough time to explore each of the areas you’re staying in.

We like to get off the beaten path too. On our most recent trip we didn’t hop around as much as usual, just stayed in a few areas and slowed way down. We spent part of each day walking along country roads, canals, part of the GR22, and a voie vert. After the lunches we ate, we needed to walk! It was our favorite trip so far.

I think anyone who likes to get off the beaten track could have a great trip by doing a little advance research on several websites.

Top of my list would be the Most Beautiful Villages of France. France has 155 villages with this official designation. We’ll go out of our way for one of these–haven’t seen one we didn’t like so far. I just checked; there are now 156.

Because I love flowers, we seek out the Villes/Villages Fleuri, a scheme which awards up to four flowers for villages and towns that make the effort to beautify with annuals and perennials, and there are some really remarkable ones:

If you are interested in old churches, chateaux, manor houses, mills, Roman ruins--even the most obscure little bend in the road, if it has a name, will probably have something of interest on the patrimoine-de-france website.

There’s also a website called Plus Beaux Detours. Brittany has websites for its Petits cites de caractere, villes d’art et d’histoire, and villes historiques.

Dinan is the only place on your list we know anything about. We liked it quite a bit. Nearby is the canal of the Rance, great for walking. Lehon is a classy stone village on a hillside which goes down to an old arched bridge over the Rance. A short drive away is one of the great flower towns, St Juvat. There’s not much to the town other than its amazing floriferousness, if that’s a word.

Becherel is a short, scenic drive away. This little town is a great destination for booklovers. It’s one of Europe’s best book towns (though most of what’s stocked is French publications). A great view from the parking area at the top. We spent a very happy afternoon here.

We spent most of a day driving around the Rance, keeping as close as we could to the water’s edge. St Suliac gets a thumbs-up from Michelin, but it just didn’t grab us.

Just goes to show that somebody can tell you what they like, but they can’t tell you what you like.
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Oct 20th, 2011, 02:46 AM
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Thanks for your replies. I realise this may be not what everyone wants to do, but that is what is great about individual travel. This will be our fourth trip to France [17 weeks so far] and we have loved every moment whether it be in a more well-known area or a lesser visited region. I know we are lucky to have the time to spend a bit longer in places [DH juggles rec. leave and long service leave] and our stays are very relaxed.

Mamcalice, we loved Paris and hope to spend a longer time there -perhaps four or more weeks- in the future [next few years]. I sometimes look at reports of trips where people only visit Paris and think I could not miss country France.

We do a lot of research before we go. We try to visit the Plus Beaux Villages - have lots lined up for this trip. There are lots in the Gers and Aveyron. Also find the villagesdefrance site good and have a plus beaux detours book we picked up on a past trip.

Michael,Brittany is an area we hope to revisit and stay in a different part. This trip we will visit Mont St Michel from our base in Brittany. Coquelicot, you sound like us. I have to confess to being a slow traveller at heart. We love the way we travel and feel very lucky to be able to do this. Some of our fondest memories of our stays in France are of the simple experiences.

I will definitely post a trip report on our return. But I do agree that what we like may not be what you like and vice versa. And that is a good thing, I think. There is something for everyone.
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Oct 20th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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Are you familiar with the trip reports that Fodorite FMT has done? He's another person who loves the back roads. His trip reports are part photo essay and part irreverent travelogue. Sometimes the trip report is a day out near Paris on his bike, sometimes it's a vacation with his wife. I loved the one where they meandered from Giverny to Gisors and another one where he biked the back roads to Chartres. Annecy is their most recent trip, but here's a link to something from earlier this year:

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Oct 20th, 2011, 11:34 AM
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I think that coming up from the Charente area it would make sense to have an intermediate stop. For a few days I would stay in the Golfe de Mobihan area and then stay 2 nights near the Mont St. Michel on the way to Normandy.

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Oct 20th, 2011, 12:14 PM
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I love it. Given 8 weeks, I might do something similar.

The Gers is very different from those Provencey/ Dordogney/ Parisy places, and I'm sure you'll have a good time. Please take time to visit a couple of Madiran vineyards. It will still be quite cold. when you get there. I know the area 50 miles south of there very well, so shout if you want to know anything about it.

I tend to agree with Michael. I prefer the far west of Brittany; and you could do your Mont St Michel bit en route to Normandy.
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Oct 20th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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Oct 20th, 2011, 01:47 PM
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rhon, you obviously know the sort of travel style that suits you, so your trip should be a huge success.

However, since you have solicited our opinions, I wonder if a week in each of 8 rather rural locations might become a bit "samey" in the end? - i might have put in a city stay once or twice, or have picked one place to stay longer to use as a base. you might even have given yourselves a month in Paris and still have had plenty of time to see some countryside.

please come back and tell us about your trip.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 03:17 AM
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Once again, thanks for your replies and suggestions. Yes, our trip is definitely off the familiar path and very rural. However, after a few trips to France, this is what we really enjoy. We may not stay in the larger cities, but when we are in the area, we do day trips into them. This trip is 'ticking' a few boxes for us - lots of Plus Beaux Villages and bastide villages, Carcassonne [love it or hate it], Cathar castles, Conques, Puy en Velay, La Rochelle, Cognac, Mont St Michel, St Malo, Dinan, Normandy [cheese & cider & lovely countryside], the Somme, Villiers Bretonneux and Australian War Memorial, Champagne, Troyes. Not only are we looking forward to 'ticking' these boxes, we are looking forward to just being there and absorbing each different region.

All being well, this will not be our last trip to France. We are already planning our next trip[ is that a bit sad !?!], and this will be revisiting some areas. On DH's retirement we would love to stay for a longer time in a few places. At the moment, DH loves driving in France [ for us that is on the other side of the road] and I enjoy navigating, but there will come a day.... So at the moment. this is what we like doing- not for everyone, but not so bad.

I will report back next year on what I know is a trip we will love. We look back at our photos of previous trips and just can't wait.

Happy travels.
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