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Provence to Paris

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May 16th, 2015, 10:59 AM
  #1
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Provence to Paris

We are planning to leave St. Remy on September 9th (though still linger in Provence that day), and arrive at Paris on the 15th. Total of 5 nights on the road.
Any suggestions for MUST see places/towns?
Where should we spend our nights? Should we stay in a different town each night, or, since we do have 5 nights, it might be better to stay 2 nights, 2 nights, 1 night?
Although I love wine, I'm pregnant so wine tastings are not part of our itinerary
Thank you for all your suggestions!
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May 16th, 2015, 11:17 AM
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I would drive to Annecy and stay there for a few days & explore the Alps. Then to Burgundy for your remaining days & visit Dijon & Beaune and a few castles in the region. Take the TGV into Paris from Dijon.

Stu Dudley
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May 16th, 2015, 11:33 AM
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Thanks Stu!
I must admit we didn't even consider Annecy and the Alps, but after reading your reply and looking it up it seems amazing!
We are of course travelling by car,
Maya
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May 16th, 2015, 11:38 AM
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Or head thru central France to the Loire Valley and galores of chateaus - easy to spend 3-4 days in a place like Amboise or Chinon two nice smaller city bases - Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, Chambord all are easy drives away (or by mini-bus tours) - then drive by Chartres en route to Paris to see the fantastic cathedral.
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May 16th, 2015, 11:52 AM
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It's an 8 hr drive from St Remy to the Loire, and about a 4 1/4 hr drive to Annecy.

Things to do near Annecy. Get the Michelin Green Guide for the Alps. The pages I reference are the pages for the site in my edition of the guide. The stars represent the michelin rating - zero to 3 stars.


Standard warning about visiting cities & villages in France
Almost all non-food shops will be closed on Sundays, and most will be closed on Monday morning also. Some will open Monday afternoon around 2:30. Large grocery stores are usually closed Sundays. Most Mom & Pop groceries are open Sunday morning, but close around 1PM. Villages that almost solely depend on tourism may have shops open Sunday & Monday. Annecy has a farmer’s market on Sunday – so some shops will be open in the area where the market is located (canal area), but most of the shops on the pedestrian shopping street will be closed.

The word “Col” is used frequently. In France, a col is a mountain pass. The “highest” point on a mountain road where the road stops going up & starts going down. Often there are monuments, cafes, viewing platforms at cols.

Sunday
Annecy market on Sunday morning– one of the best in France according to the GG
Gorges du Fier** pg 144 9:15-5 www.gorgedufier.com after the market

Tours – in order of preference (roughly)

Tour 1 – Mt Blanc*** – the tallest mountain in the Alps. Page 430 & 255
This will be an all-day event, and only do it on a clear day. It will take about 1 ¼ hrs to get from Annecy to Chamonix – mostly using the freeway. Head north from Annecy, and catch the A41 heading east to Chamonix. There is really nothing of interest in the town of Chamonix – it is only a base for Mt Blanc. Take the two lifts up to the Aiguille du Midi*** . Also, take some other lifts – perhaps le Brevent***. If it overcast when you get to Chamonix, don’t go up & find something else to do.

Tour 2 – do on clear day and get an early start (8-9am) so the sun won’t be in your face for the most scenic part..
Take the N508 southeast from the south part of Lake Annecy. Go to Ugine. Take the D109 northeast from Ugine to Flumet. Now the most scenic part starts. Take the D909 northwest from Flumet over the Col des Aravis**. If you want to hike, the Col des Aravis wold be a good place for one. Just past the Col, take the D16 west through Manigod to Thones. Then back to Lake Annecy on the D909. Once on the lake, take the lake road clockwise. Stop & visit Talloires (it is on the east side of the lake). Then continue clockwise back to your Gite.

Tour 3 – Route de la Forclaz*** pg 150 (but the map route in the GG is not correct). Do this on a clear day and in the morning. It will only take a half-day
Head southeast on the N508 again. Take the D42 (just past Doussard) north over the Col de la Forclaz. Stop at the Col for great views. Continue north & follow the road back to the lake. Head clockwise, and visit Talloires if you have not visited it yet. The views from the east side of the lake are better in the morning.

Tour 4 – best in the afternoon. Perhaps visit Annecy in the AM
The Semnoz** pg 153. Follow the route in the Green Guide

Other things you might want to do:
- Boat trip on the lake – but you can see everything from the shoreline.
- Drive around the lake – but you will probably do this going & coming from your tours
- Chateau de Menthon* close to Annecy Pg 152. We enjoyed this chateau. Nice views.

Stu Dudley
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May 16th, 2015, 11:57 AM
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It's an 8 hr drive from St Remy to the Loire, and about a 4 1/4 hr drive to Annecy.>

Well yeh if you do it all in one day - a lovely route not taken by most could go thru the Massif Central - the Mont Dore area - stop there for a day or two - old volcanoes

and though it's 8 hours Avignon to Loire the Loire is but an hour by autoroute from Paris so it is probably involving less total driving time if that is something to factor in than detour off a straight line to Annecy - a real nice area but just trying not to be too prescriptive and giving other choices - I think the Annecy area is neat but many would rather see castles than mountains so it depends on the persons.
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May 16th, 2015, 12:13 PM
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For something totally different, stop at Vulcania in Auvergne and don't miss Le Puy-en-Velay or the Puy du Dôme when you are in the area.

http://www.vulcania.com/?id=1763&L=2
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May 16th, 2015, 12:35 PM
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If the OP has a rental car, I would advise dropping the car off in Annecy & taking the 3 3/4 hr TGV to Paris. Or the 1 1/2 hr TGV from Dijon.

>>a lovely route not taken by most could go thru the Massif Central - the Mont Dore area<<

We have a difference of opinion here. Viamichelin says it is 5 1/2 hrs from St Remy to Le Mont Dore - via the Rhone River/A7 and then the A72/A89 to Cleremont Ferrand. We've taken the A7 several times and also the route to the Mont Dore area when we stayed there for two weeks several years ago. It is not scenic at all - especially past Provence with all the commerce on the Rhone & nuclear power plants. Taking a more scenic route passing Le Puy en Velay would take 7+ hours. Then it is 4 more hours to the Loire.

The OP is pregnant and this trip is 4 months away - I wouldn't do that much driving.

Stu Dudley
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May 16th, 2015, 12:38 PM
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If pregnant I would also avoid high altitudes like in the Alps that you suggest exploring?
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May 16th, 2015, 12:48 PM
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Altitudes from the Michelin Red Guide:
Annecy..............448 M
le Mont Dore..1,050 M

Annecy has a population of 160,000. There might be a few pregnant women living there now. If the OP is uncomfortable with high altitudes (she seems to have stated just the opposite), then go to Burgundy instead.
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May 16th, 2015, 12:50 PM
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PS

Chamonix and le Mont Dore are at the same altitude.

Stu Dudley
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May 16th, 2015, 01:24 PM
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Mayash - I just noticed that you are a new member of Fodors. In that case, would you like a copy of my 31 page Provence & Cote d'Azur itinerary? My wife & I have spent 40 weeks vacationing in these regions, and the itinerary describes our favorite villages, scenic drives, markets, restaurants, sites, etc. it also has a section on Provence fabric. I've sent the itinerary to over 3,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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May 16th, 2015, 11:04 PM
  #13
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Thank you all for replying!
France has so much to offer, and it's hard to decide what to do and what to skip.
For us, 2-3 days per region will do, as we are limited by time. We aren't the types that have to see everything, but rather prefer to enjoy the day and the place. Of course, we don't know which places are more recommended, which is why I sought your advice.
I never thought planning a trip would be so hard in deciding the route (I've planned our trip to Portugal last year, much easier).
Stu - thank you for offering your e-mailed help, and I'm definitely taking you up on it (we have total of 6-7 days for the regions you described)
Maya
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May 17th, 2015, 05:17 AM
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While in Chamonix last October we decided to take the 2 lifts up Mont Blanc.

I was fine in Chamonix but as the car got higher and higher, I started to feel poorly. My the time I was at the end of the 2 lifts, I was really not feeling well.

It was clear that the altitude (4,000 meters) was the cause. I actually became cyanotic and had to descend right away. And I live at altitude of over 5500 feet!!

I would not chance ascending Mont Blanc while pregnant. The views were amazing, but not worth any potential risk. If OP wants to go up, I strongly recommend asking your obstetrician.
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May 17th, 2015, 05:49 AM
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If pregnant I would also avoid high altitudes

Mothers don't live at altitude? LOL My Denver DDIL will be amazed!! ;o)
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May 17th, 2015, 06:05 AM
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DDIL ?

Some people prefer some areas.
I don't like much Annecy area - don't know why. I love the Loire. I find it THE area where you feel in France Kingdom...
True, longer drive but Paris is then closer from Loire than from Annecy.
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May 17th, 2015, 09:23 AM
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Denver is substantially less than Mont Blanc. And there a big difference when you are acclaimed (living there) vs a visit.
----
DDIL= dear daughter in law
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May 17th, 2015, 09:51 AM
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Thanks again for all your replies.
Will definitely consider altitude issue, as I'm not used to these heights.
Annecy seems worth a visit, maybe just an overnight stay, with 2 days in the area?
What about passing through Lyon and the Rhone valley on the way to Annecy?
Maya
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May 17th, 2015, 10:43 AM
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Once you get out of Provence, the Rhone Valley is not very scenic. The Alps on one side & the rugged Ardeche on the other. Like I stated earlier, there is a lot of ugly commerce along the way & a few nuclear power plants. The scenery gets better once you get past Lyon (watch out for heavy commute traffic) and get into Beaujolais & Burgundy.

You'll be in Paris next (big city). I would skip Lyon (second biggest city) and do more "countryside/mountains" instead.

When we were in Talloires on Lake Annecy for 2 weeks a few years ago, we did not even go to Chamonix/Mt Blanc (we did on a previous trip). We had plenty to do just around the immediate area.

If you want to split your time between Annecy and "elsewhere" - I would go to Burgundy. It's a lot more than just wine. Lots of castles. Here is something I wrote for a friend.

Visiting Chateaux
Look for a brochure titled “Route des Ducs de Bretogne”. http://www.route-des-ducs.com/
Save your ticket for the first chateau, and you will get a discount on the second chateau. Save the ticket on the second chateau & you will get a discount on the third, etc, etc, etc.

Monday (remember, shops close in Dijon & Beaune in the AM).
Leave the Gite & take the D17 south to La Rochepot – this is a pretty drive. The town of Orches is quite cute. Continue on the D17 to La Rochepot or Nolay.

Market in Nolay. This is a very small market, but the town has several antique shops. If this interests you, go there. I think the shops are open on Monday because there is a market there on Monday

Vist Chateau Rochepot*. Pg 279 in my Green Guide.. Note that it closes for lunch

Visit Chateau Sully* (pg 305 in GG) or Chateau Couches .

Tuesday
Visit Beaune*** in the AM. This is one of our “top 5” medium sized cities in France. Spend the better part of the morning there. The “popular” Hotel Dieu*** gets a lot of attention and it is quite elegant from the outside – but only OK on the inside. But it deserves a visit on the inside.

Afternoon – one of the chateaux you didn’t visit yesterday.

Wednesday.
Head out northwest on the A6. Get off the A6 at Exit # 21 and head towards Tanlay

Get the “Route des Ducs de Bourgogne” brochure. Remember about saving the entrance tickets.

Visit the Chateau de Tanlay**. This was our favorite chateau in the region. Tours start at 10 – so get there then . It is about a 1 ¾ drive from the gite (1 hr of freeway).

Next, drive to Noyers & explore this cute village. Note on villages in Burgundy - compared to Provence, Dordogne, and many other places you have visited in France – there are not as many “cute little villages” in Burgundy. This is one of them, but not in the “top 50%” in France.

Visit Chateau Ancy le Franc** Note that it closes for lunch – that’s why I have you visiting Noyers during lunch. If you can get to Ancy le Franc by 11:30 when their last tour of the morning departs – do that if you don’t mind back-to-back chateaux.

Visit Abbaye de Fontenay*** if you like abbeys.

Take the D980 south from the Abbey to Semur en Auxois*. See pg 296 in the GG. This village is more interesting from the outside than from the inside. As you take the R de Paris from the D980 toward Semur – there is a very nice view of the perched village. If you want to see the “scene” pictured on pg 298 of the GG. Circle clockwise around the exterior of the village to where I have marked “fantastic view” on the GG map of Semur. Next, drive toward the informatioin center (marked on map) & park your car outside the “gate” of town & explore the old section of Semur if you like.

Thursday
Visit Dijon*** This is our favorite city in France – after Paris. Find the “Dijon the Owl’s trail” brochure I sent you & follow this walk. The walk is fantastic. The “centerfold” has the route for the walk.. This may be market day in Dijon at Les Halles – but only in the AM. Lots of interesting sites to visit.

Friday
Head out north on the A6. Take the exit #22 and find your way west to Vezelay** pg 314. We did not approach Vezelay from this direction – we visited Vezelay after Auxerre. But I figured that on your last day in the gite, you might only want to do a half-day – so I “cut out” Auxerre – which is too bad because we really enjoyed Auxerre.

After Vezelay, head south on the D958 on a pretty drive to Chateau Bazoches. I mentioned Vauban earlier – this is his chateau. There is a “self guided” tour, but note that it closes for lunch.

If you don't mind a small drive, visit the Chateau Cormatin** – this is one of our favorites. The interior & especially the gardens are fantastic. http://www.castlesinsouthernburgundy...rmatin_uk.html

Stu Dudley
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May 17th, 2015, 11:40 AM
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From Wiki - the fabled Auverge region is a top spot with foreign tourists and French too - a French lady staying with me now says the French feel at least it is really beautiful - the old volcanoes, etc. No not the most touristed region of France but a lovely one to go thru en route to Paris IMO- with the Mont Dore area and Vichy, the city, a real nicd stop - no need to spend days here but taking side roads instead of autoroutes for a short spell will show this region's pleasant surprises - I've biked thru there several times and lots of isolated villages that seem lost in time.

Head thru it to the Loire Valley - this all is only an option - the route Stu describes thru Burgundy is no doubt more well known and fabulous - I would have recommeded that originally but yo said wine tastings were off the table and to pass one of those iconic wineries and not imbibe... but places like Beaune and especially Vezelay is an exceptional place.

But rather than follow someone's scripted didactic route part of the fun in France is being sponstaenous - look on a Michelin map and seek out the D (departemental) roads hued in yellow - except for around cities they are wonderfully paved roads with little traffic and each hill it seems sporting a small village and village church. Sometimes the real gems of your trips will be places you stubmled on by yourself not places you were told you should visit.

Do your own research too with Michelin green guides being my favorite for sights at least.
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