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Paris, Lyon, and ? for our 40th anniversary adventure

Paris, Lyon, and ? for our 40th anniversary adventure

Old Mar 26th, 2024, 11:07 AM
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Paris, Lyon, and ? for our 40th anniversary adventure

My husband and are making our first trip to France in the end of Sept. to early Oct., landing and departing from Paris. We are immensely excited that this long imagined trip will happen this year of our 40th anniversary (long for any couple, maybe even more rare for a gay couple). Our plans are shaping for our 13 night trip to include several to many nights staying in Paris, several nights in Lyon, and the likely possibility of a plan to include at least two or three nights into the French countryside in or near a small town. We love food (one omnivore, one lacto-ovo vegetarian), hiking, walking, history, music (especially jazz, but not just), architecture, neighborhoods, art, cultural, and history museums (large and small), and... We'd be grateful for guidance to our planning, especially identifying a special getaway town outside of the more urban areas of Paris and Lyon. My thanks to all who may contribute your tips in advance!
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Old Mar 26th, 2024, 12:01 PM
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Land at CDG & take the TGV (fast train) to Lyon for 3 nights. Then train to Avignon, rent a car and spend 5 nights in the Provence countryside. Then return the car at the Avignon TGV station and get back to Paris. Five nights there.

NO OTHER DESTINATIONS!!!!

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Stu Dudley

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Old Mar 26th, 2024, 12:19 PM
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If you were to add wine to your list, I would suggest—

Reims. A city, yes, but much smaller than the two you plan to visit. The champagne and the cathedral (site of the coronations of the kings of France) are well known. When we visit in November we will be doing a day long tour of battlefields of Verdun and other sites and monuments of World War I.

Dijon. I had seen the Mourners from the tomb of the Duke of Burgundy at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and wanted to see them ‘at home’ at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Dijon. I really enjoyed the small, quiet museum. We followed the Owl Trail, shopped at the excellent covered market, purchased mustard (of course!), and arranged for a wine tour through the vineyards.
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Old Mar 26th, 2024, 01:26 PM
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I agree with Stu about adding Provence to your itinerary. It's perfect for an anniversary celebration. Small villages, vineyards, markets, beautiful scenery, delicious food, etc. And you have so many options of where to overnight. In addition to Avignon, there is St. Remy, Aix en Provence, and Arles. My two favorites are St. Remy and Aix.

Do you plan on renting a car when you leave Lyon? Or taking the train? If by car, you can drive directly to St. Remy. If by train, you could take the train to Aix, spend several nights there, and then pick up a rental car and drive to St. Remy, about an hour's drive. Spend 3 nights in St. Remy. If you stay in St. Remy, you have to drive to Avignon (about 30 minutes) to get the train to Paris.

From these bases, you can visit the Luberon villages, such as: L'Isle Sur La Sorgue, Gordes, Roussillon, Menerbes, Bonnieux, Lourmarin, etc. and the Pont du Gard. One of my favorite villages in the Luberon is Eygalieres. This is a very non-touristy village. There is a wonderful market on Fridays, and you can visit Castle/church ruins at the top of the hill. You will hear very little English, if any, in Eygalieres.

Our daughter lived in Provence for 10 years, until they relocated back to the US recently, so we visited quite frequently. I am including the link to our last trip there in December 2022. Includes lots of photos, in case you are interested. Keep in mind this is December so it's greener/leafier and more crowded in September/October.

Provence in December
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Old Mar 26th, 2024, 02:45 PM
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Totally agree with including Provence. Aix is so charming, like stepping inside an impressionist painting. Of course Arles is super interesting, everything from Van Gogh connection to a still functioning Roman Arena. We also enjoyed Aigues Mortes at night, so different from other places and staying overnight inside the walls of the city where the crusades began is a once in a lifetime experience. The Moroccan influence on food in Aix made for some interesting and amazing meals. Give Provence all the time you possibly can.
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Old Mar 26th, 2024, 06:51 PM
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Really helpful, Stu, thanks for sharing your information and expertise built on so much experience traveling in France.
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Old Mar 26th, 2024, 06:53 PM
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Thanks for sharing these great suggestions, k_marie!
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 12:39 PM
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Karen, thanks so much for sharing your wonderful recommendations, TR, and photos! We're overwhelmingly likely to determine a Provence segment of our trip, including your tips. I'm very intrigued by your comments about and photos of Eygalieres.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 12:42 PM
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What wonderful guidance, Sassafrass, thank you! I think we're very close to finalizing a plan to include Provence, with your tips as great input.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley
Then train to Avignon, rent a car and spend 5 nights in the Provence countryside. Then return the car at the Avignon TGV station and get back to Paris.
Hi Stu - Curious if you recommend the 5 nights in the Provence countryside with lodging in Avignon, or one or more other places. Really appreciate your recommendations.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by k_marie
If you were to add wine to your list, I would suggest—

Reims. A city, yes, but much smaller than the two you plan to visit. The champagne and the cathedral (site of the coronations of the kings of France) are well known. When we visit in November we will be doing a day long tour of battlefields of Verdun and other sites and monuments of World War I.

Dijon. I had seen the Mourners from the tomb of the Duke of Burgundy at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and wanted to see them ‘at home’ at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Dijon. I really enjoyed the small, quiet museum. We followed the Owl Trail, shopped at the excellent covered market, purchased mustard (of course!), and arranged for a wine tour through the vineyards.
Yes to adding wine to our list - so thank you! Dijon intrigues me most between it and Reims, from your notes. Sounds wonderful! Any tips for choosing lodging?
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass
Totally agree with including Provence. Aix is so charming, like stepping inside an impressionist painting. Of course Arles is super interesting, everything from Van Gogh connection to a still functioning Roman Arena. We also enjoyed Aigues Mortes at night, so different from other places and staying overnight inside the walls of the city where the crusades began is a once in a lifetime experience. The Moroccan influence on food in Aix made for some interesting and amazing meals. Give Provence all the time you possibly can.
Each of these sound great, and I'm now wondering if you have any related lodging recommendations. Thank you!
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo
Do you plan on renting a car when you leave Lyon? Or taking the train? If by car, you can drive directly to St. Remy. If by train, you could take the train to Aix, spend several nights there, and then pick up a rental car and drive to St. Remy, about an hour's drive. Spend 3 nights in St. Remy. If you stay in St. Remy, you have to drive to Avignon (about 30 minutes) to get the train to Paris.
Right now our plan would be to take the train from Lyon. We've imagined choosing one lodging location within Provence, but your recommendation for staying in both Aix and in St. Remy sounds pretty great...
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 01:49 PM
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You've received some wonderful advice! I don't disagree with any of the suggestions above, but would think which locations to visit really depend on how much time you choose to spend in Paris and Lyon. Given your interests, I would think you would want at least 6 nights in Paris and at least 4 -- perhaps 5 -- in Lyon. That doesn't leave much time for Provence! IMO, there are no right or wrong answers -- it really depends on what you want to see and experience. A good guidebook or two might help you decide.

If you want, you can read about my experiences in Provence and Lyon here: A stellar month in southeastern France (I didn't visit Paris on that trip.)

BTW, if it were me, I'd fly into Lyon and out of Paris -- I'd want to save Paris for the end. YMMV.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by round2
Hi Stu - Curious if you recommend the 5 nights in the Provence countryside with lodging in Avignon, or one or more other places. Really appreciate your recommendations.

I would recommend a quiet countryside place to stay in Provence. Surrounded by vineyards & orchards (lavender if you were there in late June or July). Paris, Lyon, and Aix would be too many cities for me. Aix is on my list of "top 5" large cities in France, but it is really not centrally located in Provence to use it as a base for visiting the sites most people want to visit. Stay near Gordes, Bonnieux, Menerbes, or Roussillon in the Luberon.

Actually, if this was my trip, I would visit Paris, Aix, and the countryside of Provence. Lyon is a tad like Paris. Aix is a little different.

It's the countryside that keeps us returning to Provence.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 06:39 PM
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Good advice from Stu!
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley
Lyon is a tad like Paris. Aix is a little different.
With all due respect, I disagree. Three VERY different destinations, IMO.
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Old Mar 27th, 2024, 07:42 PM
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From Lyon, rent a car for at least three days and visit nearby Auvergne, "La France Profonde." An Ancient volcanic landscape featuring green verdant hills punctuated by black lava outcroppings. Visit farms, imposing chateaux, hike up one of Les Puys to see the green bowl of a crater. Especially beautiful in the Fall.

Bienvenue a la Ferme is a government-supported program of farms that accept visitors and sell direct or have other activities or provide meals. A great resource. A tremendous region for cheese production. Visit La Ferme de Grangers where they make their own cow, sheep and goats milk cheeses.

Check out Orcival, Anjony Chateau, Le Puy en Velay, Polignac.

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Old Mar 29th, 2024, 08:10 AM
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I would not choose the Provence for its villages, or any other rural area, without a car. Having chosen two cities and asking for a third choice, I would recommend Marseille or Nice with its easy access to the coastal sites. Either city would serve for an open jaw ticket.




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Old Apr 16th, 2024, 04:14 PM
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Plans advancing (with much thanks to thread contributors)

We've progressed with great help from the contributors to this thread, with plans now for jumping on the train at CDG after landing there, and heading directly for 4 nights in Lyon, the train from there to Avignon to rent a car and lodge for 4 nights in Gordes, returning the car to Avignon and taking the train to Paris for our last 4 nights. We've booked hotels in Gordes and Paris, and an AirBnB in Lyon.

We've begun making some restaurant reservations here and there, and booked tickets for the Jorge Drexler concert in Paris (and for the fast train from Avignon to Paris that day). Otherwise, we're continuing to develop our plans.

Many thanks to all who've shared their guidance and experience here - and welcoming any more that might be offered!
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