Notices

Paris and where in early April?

Reply

Feb 10th, 2014, 08:20 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 117
Paris and where in early April?

My husband and I are flying into Paris at the very end of March and flying out a little more than a week later. We will spend a couple days in Paris (and have been there several times before) but also would like to spend a few days somewhere else, exploring villages and countryside. We will rent a car. We love eating and wine and cathedrals. Where to go, given the time of year and given that we don't want to spend TOO much time traveling out from Paris to the second locale. We have thought of the Loire Valley, or Burgundy. There? Somewhere else? All would be new to us.
emnyc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 11th, 2014, 09:15 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,522
If wine is on your list and you don't want to go far from Paris then the Loire or Burgundy are your best options. You can look at these two threads for info about places to visit in both regions:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Burgundy.html

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-de-france.cfm
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 11th, 2014, 09:17 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,522
Also, since you're driving you should get good maps and I like the Michelin maps. Here is my standard advice about Michelin maps and some other tips:

Get your hands on the Michelin maps. You want the ones of the scale 1:200,000 (regional maps) or 1:150,000 (departmental maps, more detailed, cover slightly less area) for whatever regions you visit. A nice feature of the 1:150,000 maps is they show the starred attractions in the corresponding Michelin Green guidebooks. The Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historically/touristically interesting things such as châteaux, ruins, churches, abbeys, scenic view points, caves, Roman sites, megaliths, designated scenic roads and many other things. Usually when I'm exploring various regions in France I just look at the map and I am able to plan interesting and scenic drives just reading the map. For instance, I usually look for a designated scenic road, which are highlighted in green, and I especially look for towns with the historic church and/or château icon. I also try to make sure the route goes through as many small villages as possible. Usually putting all these things together I find interesting and scenic drives without even knowing where I am going and with no assistance from a guide book. Often these places are never mentioned in guidebooks and remain completely unknown to many tourists.

You can buy the Michelin maps from their website and here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:200,000 scale maps of France: http://tinyurl.com/4bt96ev

And here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:150,000 scale maps of France:
http://tinyurl.com/6mt4n64

You could also buy them here but then you can't do research beforehand. The maps can be bought in many places such as bookstores, news stands, magazine stores, larger supermarkets, department stores, hypermarkets and in the full service rest areas on the autoroutes, just to name a few.

You need good guidebooks for whatever region in France in which you will be traveling. I like The Michelin Green Guides. If you need restaurant info then get The Michelin Red Guides, which cover restaurants.

And speaking of Michelin, you can go to the website viamichelin.com and get info on drive times and distances, toll and fuel costs and suggested routes (i.e. scenic routes). The drive times given do not consider stops (fuel, food, bathrooms) nor do they consider bad weather and bad traffic. I find the drive times very accurate when these factors are accounted for. The time estimates can break down when you are driving in congested urban areas, like in or near Paris, due to the unpredictability of heavy traffic or traffic jams. They can also be affected on peak travel days, specifically on autoroutes leading to/from popular destinations.

You should also acquaint yourself with rules of the road in France and road signs and such and this website will give you some useful tips:

http://www.nickbooth.id.au/Tips/FrenchDrive.htm

Here is some other general advice for you. You should google the tourist office websites for any region, département, city , town or village you may want to visit. You will find loads of info on these websites including hotel/accommodation and restaurant info as well as what to see and do in the area. Occasionally the websites have English versions. In doing a google search enter the words "office de tourisme" followed by the name of your region, département, city, town or village and this will bring that place to the top of your search.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 11th, 2014, 09:50 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 13,962
The Loire is perhaps our least favorite "countryside" location in France - but the Chateaux are great. Some people get "chateaued-out" after 2-3 days, however. Then what??? Especially in early April, when there is a good chance of rain.

I would head to Provence. It's a 2 3/4 TGV ride there. Usually, better weather than the Loire or Burgundy Lots of wine stuff with the Cote du Rhone area there. More "cute little villages" than you can possibly visit on a short trip. Beautiful countryside, Roman ruins, Gorges, mountains, cave with stalactites & mites, interesting large cities, art - lots of different stuff in Provence.

We prefer Provence over Burgundy - although Dijon is our second favorite city in France (tied with Toulouse).

Stu Dudley

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 11th, 2014, 10:39 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,566
I'm with Stu--Provence by train. All the charm you can handle.
Gretchen is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 11th, 2014, 12:09 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,812
I love Provence, but in March? No thanks, plus the cathedral count is not huge in Provence.

Dijon is an interesting city, Beaune is wonderful nearby but this area is really about wine and might be a bit sleepy in winter.

In the Loire Valley, there is Chartres and the cathedral in Tours. You can be in Blois in little more than two hours drive from Paris and the châteaux are not anywhere near as crowded in March as they are in the summer months. I should think that March is a great time to visit the otherwise overcrowded châteaux.
Sarastro is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 11th, 2014, 04:54 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 117
Why do you think no Provence in late March, early April, Sarastro? Is it because more of the attractions of Provence are outdoors, so if it is raining there isn't as much to do, while in the Loire Valley one can do the interior of chatueaux?
emnyc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2014, 01:47 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,812
There are many wonderful places to explore in France, but I return to your original question; Paris and where in little more than a week during March. Visit Paris and drive somewhere for a few days or, in other words, pickup a car in Paris and return it to CDG.

I would lean towards the Loire Valley, because of the interest in cathedrals, the close proximity to Paris, and the châteaux not being swamped with tourists as they are in summer. March is actually a good time to go to the Loire Valley. We were at Chenonceau early a few weeks ago and there was hardly anyone there. In the summer time, there will be rows of buses in the parking lots, each carrying 50 people.

Unless you have a 9am CDG departure, you can drive from either near Burgundy or the Loire Valley directly to CDG and still make your departure.

The Loire Valley or Burgundy options fit better into your stated overall objectives and are easier to accomplish particularly given the limited time constraint you have.
Sarastro is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2014, 07:40 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 13,962
>>exploring villages and countryside<<

Not as much of this in the Loire as there is in Provence, IMO. We've vacationed for 18 weeks in Provence, 6 weeks in the Loire, and 4 weeks in Burgundy and Beaujolais. There are 3 hr TGVs between Avignon & both Paris & CDG - so the issue of distance should not be a factor. We hate driving near Paris.

What city in the Loire rivals Avignon, Nimes, Arles, or Aix??? I'm not a fan of Tours at all - too much of it was destroyed in WWII & not re-built so nicely.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2014, 09:28 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,522
I think either option is fine but a reason why I personally would choose the Loire or Burgundy with only a few days for a visit is because every few hours is precious in such a short time period. I prefer Burgundy to the Loire so using that example you can already be visiting sites in Burgundy in 2 to 2-1/2 hours from Paris (Auxerre, Vézelay, Noyers-sur-Serein, Semur-en-Auxois etc.) while you'd otherwise still be on the train heading to Provence and then have to allow time for picking up your car and driving to your first visit.

I agree the weather will likely be better in Provence in late March/early April and I do find the scenery better and in general many of the villages more interesting in Provence than Burgundy or the Loire but both regions still have interesting towns and sites to visit and Burgundy does indeed have places with nice landscapes, more so than the Loire.

Picking up a car in the south of Paris near the périphérique puts you right near the highway to either the Loire or Burgundy.

Not a big fan of Aix though I do like Nimes, Arles and Avignon. But Blois, Chinon, Loches, Saumur and Angers are not bad places to visit and the châteaux in that region are hard to match.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 12th, 2014, 11:27 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 13,962
For Sept this year, we've reserved a gite for 2 weeks that's just outside of Blois in the Loire. We have no desire to drive a car into or out of Paris - so we're taking the TGV from Blois to Paris. I think the train to/from Blois or Tours in the Loire, or to/from Dijon or Auxerre in Burgundy would be a wise choice - especially for someone who is driving for the first time in France.

- Paris to Tours (Loire) is a 1 hr trip & there are 5 departures between about 7am and 1PM

- Paris to Dijon is 1 3/4 hrs with 6 departures between 7 & 1

- Paris to Avignon is 2 3/4 hrs with 8 departures between 7 & 1.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:50 PM.