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Paris-Loire-Avignon-Barcelona itinerary (help)

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Dec 17th, 2014, 05:19 PM
  #1
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Paris-Loire-Avignon-Barcelona itinerary (help)

Hello,

I am thinking about a itinerary from Paris to Barcelona, my preferences are the loire valley and carcassonne.

For convenience, as we are travelling with a lot of baby luggage, I thought I could hire a car in Paris (Day 7) and drop it off in Carcassonne (day 11) but I realised that it´d be very tiring to do that in 5 five days

So, now I am thinking about cities that have direct trains connections. From Loire there are trains to Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpelier or Avignon. I liked Avignon very much, is 3 nights enough for Avignon and a daytrip to Carcassonne?

Day 1 Eurostar to Brugge
Days 2-3 Brugge (daytrips to Guent/Antwerp)
Day 4 Thallys to Paris (stopover Brussels)
Day 5-6 Paris
Day 7 Tgv to Tours
Day 8 Tours (daytrips to Chambord, Amboise, Chenonceau, Villandry)
Day 9 Tgv to Avignon
Day 10-11 Avignon (daytrip to CARCASSONNE)
Day 12 Tgv to Barcelona

Thank you very much
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Dec 17th, 2014, 05:24 PM
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How old is the baby - an infant who will sleep most of the time or a toddler that will want to be out and about?

And there is no way you can possibly see 4 major chateaux in one day (we did two per day when there, except for one day we did a son et lumiere in the evening).

Overall I think you are trying to do too much with an infant along.

Also, what time of year are you traveling?
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Dec 17th, 2014, 05:50 PM
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You are traveling every single day except 2 days in Paris. IMO this is over-stuffed and definitely not a trip for a family w/ an infant.

I'd be Bat S*&t crazy by day 7.

Cut your plans in half or there abouts.
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Dec 17th, 2014, 08:59 PM
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Hello,

@nytraveler ,
Well, my baby has almost 2 years old and he is very active.
In fact, we even brought him to oktoberfest this year and he had a great time there. I think he is used to travelling =)
He is not a problem, my real concern is about the baby luggage.

I am assuming that is possible to take a tour to visit 4 chateaux in a day, isn´t is?

What @janisj makes me think about is to cut some hotel changing, i mean i could stay in Paris and get a excursion to loire, instead going to Tours . Do you think it could work?

Day 0 London
Day 1 Eurostar to Brugge
Day 2 Brugge
Day 3 Brugge (daytrip to Guent)
Day 4 Thallys to Paris (stopover Brussels to see Gran Place)
Day 5-6-7 Paris
Day 8 Paris (excursion to loire)
Day 9 Tgv to Avignon
Day 10 Avignon
Day 11 Avignon (daytrip to nimes)
Day 12 Tgv to Barcelona
Day 13-14-15 Barcelona
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Dec 18th, 2014, 05:53 AM
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A bit better but I would cut the stopover in Brussels since you are lugging a lot of baby stuff around. You are still planning a lot of hotel changes in a short amount of time. Do you live in London? Could you skip Brugges and Ghent on this trip and add the time to Paris and Barcelona? If you live in London, a trip to Belgium at another time would be easy.
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Dec 18th, 2014, 07:29 AM
  #6
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I see @mamcalice, but i am from Brazil and it´s quite difficult for us to go on vacation to Europe.

Maybe it´s a single opportunity in life to have some nice belgian beer =)
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Dec 18th, 2014, 07:40 AM
  #7
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So your suggestion should be something like this?

Day 1-4 London

Day 5 Eurostar to Paris

Day 6-10 Paris

Rent a car gare du nord

Day 11 Tours (stopover Chartres and Chambord)

Day 12-13 Tours (daytrips to chateaux)

Return the car in Tours

Day 15 TGV to Paris

Day 16 Renfe to barcelona

Days 17-19 Barcelona
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Dec 18th, 2014, 10:40 AM
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This isn't very possible. I'd cut out the Loire valley myself if you must go to Barcelona. Otherwise, cut out Spain and stay in France. I don't think it's possible to do a day trip to Carcassonne from Avignon, it's too far.

It's your Loire Valley stuff that throws things off since you are then returning to Paris (for one night? why?). Why are you renting a car at Gare du Nord, anyway? Chartres and Tours are to the SW of France, not the north. Just seems a waste of limited time.

You could take a train from Tours to Barcelona via Bordeaux and Toulouse which would make more sense to me, and would be shorter, also. I guess you don't want one long train ride from Tours to Barcelona, which is possible (about 10-11 hours). Of course you'll have to transfer in Paris, anyway.

But if you go to Toulouse from Tours, that only takes about 5 hours (with a change in Bordeaux, which is a small station). Then you could stay in Toulouse one night, it's a pleasant city, and then the train direct from Toulouse to Barcelona is only about 3 hours. So that's a total of 8 hours on a train, not 10. Both ways require one transfer. And you've already been in Paris, anyway, so going back for one night is kind of a waste.

Now I wouldn't really do either (not wiht a baby) as I'm not that batty about those chateaux in the Loire, to be honest. I went once and it was pleasant, you hear about them, but it wasn't my first time to Paris that I felt I had to see those old stone houses. IN fact, I think Toulouse is more interesting than the Loire.

this trip just sounds exhausting to me, to be honest. It wouldn't be so bad if just 3 cities -- London, Paris, Barcelona. You seem really interested in those chateaux for some reason, I guess if it is some special lifelong interest of yours, sure. But otherwise, I'd forget the Loire. There are plenty of other things to do in Paris (a day bus tour will be rather expensive from Paris for 2, I don't think worth it myself).

But if you must see the Loire, I think a day bus tour would actually be cheaper than all the rigamarole you are going through (renting a car, staying in a hotel, then going back to Paris to waste a day just getting there and staying one night in a hotel, etc.). But I don't think they would allow a baby on the tour (not if the baby is less than 3 yo), and it would be too long a day with a baby in tow. A private tour with just your family would be too expensive (around 1000 euro for the day).
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Dec 18th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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Check your other post. I responded there, as did others.
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Dec 18th, 2014, 11:33 AM
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Hello Christina,

Where are you from? Maybe for you a chateaux be a simple thing. But for me, it ´s a complete different way of life. We do have a lot of beatiful things in Brazil, like landscapes and beaches, but not a single castle in the whole country =)

Well, thinking about this topic answers, i am considering change my plans , spent an extra time in Bruges (or Brussels) and Paris and forget the south of France. Something like this

I´ll take a car in gare du nord, because eurostar trains get first there and I always choose a hotel next to the trains station

Day 1-4 London
Day 5-8 Brussel - train 3hr
Day 9 Blois - rent a car at Paris or Orleans
Day 10-11 Tours - return the car in Tours (or Paris)
Day 12-15 Paris
Days 16-18 Barcelona
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Dec 18th, 2014, 01:01 PM
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Day 10 - 11 I would stay in Amboise a much much more romantic place than large busy Tours - you can return the car at Tours' St-Pierre-des-Corps mainline station (the old Tours intown station is a deadend - many trains only stop at St-P-des-Corps and all the major car rentals are there and as it is out of town a few kms it is much easier to drive out of then Tours.

Base in Amboise - really close to Chenonceaux and Chambord and of course its own great chateau. Villandry is an outlier beyound Tours and IMO not nearly as impressive as other Loire castles.

Advance purchase can save tons of money on TGV trains - www.voyages-sncf.com or www.capitainetrain.com (same trains same tickets easier for many to use than the official SNCF site) - for lots of good info on French trains: www.seat61.com (great info on discounted tickets); www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com for general info on trains and where to go.
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Dec 18th, 2014, 02:16 PM
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If this was my trip, I would take either the 8:17 or the 12:17 TGV from Brussels Midi, that gets into St Pierre des Corps (Tours) 3 hr 42 mins later - with a train change at CDG airport (small station).

I would much rather pick up a car at the St Pierre des Corps station than in central Paris & have to navigate out of Paris. I hate the Paris Nord station anyway - very confusing, IMO (we speak French & spend 2 months in France every year).

We were in the Loire Chateaux area for 2 weeks this past Sept & returned a car in Blois. The Europcar office is in the outskirts of Blois, but we returned the car at the Anne de Bretagne hotel in town and they got the car to the Europcar office (Europcar may have actually picked it up there). The Hotel is next to the Blois train station - and we took the train to Paris. I also noticed Avis (maybe Hertz) parking spaces at the Blois train station - so I assume that Avis/Hertz cars can be returned at the Blois train station. If you need to save some money, you could stay at the Anne de Bretagne hotel www.hotelannedebretagne.com ,return the car in the morning on the day before you leave, and visit the Blois Chateau (across the street from the Anne de Bretagne hotel) and city of Blois that day. This would probably save a day's rental cost. Verify this first, because a 2 day car rental might be the same as a 3 day rental.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 18th, 2014, 02:44 PM
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I'm from the Midwest US. A chateau is a different way of life for me, that's for sure. But they are empty now, you know, and many of them don't even have furnishings in them. YOu can see plenty of chateaux without going to the Loire, anyway, so I've seen plenty of them before going there. Chantilly, for example, is just outside Paris and an easy day trip. Another outside Paris (but not as easy to get to as Chantilly) is Vaux-le-Vicomte, and St Germain-en-Laye has a chateau, it's just a suburb. Malmaison is a chateau where Josephine and Napoleon once lived, it's just outside the city limits and quite lovely. I guess since I'm from the US, it's easier for me to get to Europe so I've seen dozens of big old stone houses or castles for rich people in various countries, that's all. I've seen several in England, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and many in France.

So if your only reason for going to the Lorie is to see a chateau, you don't have to go there for that. If you count palaces, there are plenty more in/near Paris, like Fontainebleau (which is more like a chateau to me than a palace).

There are lots of train stations in Paris, so staying at a hotel near Gare du Nord just because you arrive there isn't necessary. It would make more sense to stay near where you wanted to rent a car and would return by train (which is Gare Montparnasse), or near the station where you would leave to go to Barcelona (which is Gare de Lyon). But I wouldn't necessarily rent a car in Paris, anyway, as others said.
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Dec 18th, 2014, 03:56 PM
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IMO, the Gare du Nord isn't really that nice of an area to stay in.

Lots of Chateaux pictures in my wife's Shutterfly book. Most had furniture in them, and a few are still lived in.

http://share.shutterfly.com/share/re...=1EYt2Llw1ZMpC

Click on "view Photo Book" on the first page, and then "full Screen" on the second. The Loire Chateaux are in the second half of the book. Chambord & the Gardens of Villandry are "short-changed" because the book had a maximum number of pages allowed. Chambord & Villandry will be in a separate book (not started yet).

We also visited Fontainbleau and Vaux-le-Vicomte on another visit to France this year. Fontainbleau (along with Versailles) were a little overwhelming.

IMO, if you only want to visit 1 or 2 chateaux - you can do that with day trips from Paris. If you want to visit 4 or more chateaux and also visit a little countryside - go to the Loire (although the countryside in the Loire isn't as scenic as other areas in France).

Stu Dudley
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Dec 20th, 2014, 04:49 AM
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@StuDudley, great to know about this train from Brussels to CDG. Maybel I could hire a car there (CDG) and go North to Normandy (2 nights) , then Loire (Amboise or Blois) (2-3 nights), return the car there and then Paris (3 -4 nights) by train.

What do you people suggest for a very brief Normandy itinerary? I don ´t have any interest in D-Day beachs, but liked very much Mont saint Michel and Rouhen.
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Dec 20th, 2014, 05:17 AM
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@Chistina Maybe I forget to say that me and my wife already know Paris, Eiffel, Louvre, Versailles, etc. We are also sure that Paris is a fantastic city and has much more things to do, including those chateaux nearby you´ve mention and even a Disneyland for our baby delight.

But...we are trying to have a different experience in France this time visiting the countryside togheter and Loire seems a perfect place for that. We are trying, but if it´s not really possible we know we can always have good options next to Paris. That´s our Backup plane.
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Dec 20th, 2014, 08:33 AM
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Unless you really like to "be on the go" from 9am to 6pm with little relaxation, cafe sitting, and "rest stops" - I would just stick to one location outside of Paris if you only have 4-5 days available.

You might get "chateau-ed out" with 4-5 days in the Loire - and if you do, the countryside there is not as scenic as in Normandy and the cities/villages are not as interesting as those in Normandy (except for Chinon), IMO.

So for Normandy, I might do 2 nights in Honfleur, 2 nights in the Pays d'Auge visiting some chateau, and then a morning at Mt St Michel. Then stay in Rennes the last night, return the car, and take the TGV from Rennes to Paris. Rennes is one of our "top 5" large cities in France.

If you want to cut down on the driving, you could also stay the last night in Rouen and skip MSM & Rennes. Rouen is in our "top 6" cities.

I think I sent you my Normandy itinerary by e-mail. There are more details in it about visiting Normandy. If you don't have it, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll send it to you.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 20th, 2014, 12:34 PM
  #18
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Stu Dudley

To be honest I am not impressed about Honfleur, i´d prefer to drive from CDG to Rouhen and then to some city next to Mont St Michel before going to Loire or back to Paris.

I don´t know Rennes, but i ´ll do some research about that.

Where do you recommend to sleep when visiting Mont St Michel?
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Dec 20th, 2014, 09:29 PM
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Have you already visited Honfleur and the area immediately around it??? What didn't you like about it??

We've never stayed near MSM - we visited it from Dinan as a day trip.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 21st, 2014, 08:16 AM
  #20
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StuDudley,

We had never been to Honfleur , it´s just a feeling... maybe i am wrong.

If I catch the Brussels-CDG-Tour, rent a car in Tour, visit Mont St Michel, return the car and catch a train to Paris, what cities would you recomend to stay in 4 days?
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