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Recommendations for a 10 day vacation with an almost 4 year old in France

Recommendations for a 10 day vacation with an almost 4 year old in France

Old Mar 9th, 2012, 12:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 27
Recommendations for a 10 day vacation with an almost 4 year old in France


We are trying to put together a plan for a 10 or 14 day vacation in France between Sept 7th to 21st. (we may have to travel to London for 3-4 days to meet my younger brother and his family; i.e. if they can't come over to France during this time).

We just blocked the tickets, but haven't applied for the visa yet ..so we are a long way from there. But I do want to start planning (and in any case, we need to show hotel reservations in order to apply for the visa).

Would love to have your recommendations on what you think is a good itinerary. Here are the constraints:
- Ideally, my wife doesnt want us to drive. We'll want to use public transport most or all of the time
- Paris looks very expensive. Much as I want to see Paris, we probably dont want to spend more than 2-3 days there.
- Want to stay in places with kitchen/kitchenette (my son often has a hard time with richer restaurant food)
- Ideally, we want to spend at least 3-4 days in a place and explore sights in and around.

Just to give you an idea of the lines along which we have been thinking; the following locations looked interesting to us as places to explore from. But really, we are open to anything ...

Rennes (Brittany): Will it be cold in Sept? I believe we can do day trips to Mont St Michel, St Malo, Chatres from there; Does it makes sense as a base for a couple of days?

- Sarlat: Does it have enough in and around (using public transport) as a base for 3-4 days? Will it hold the interests of a toddler? Can we do a day trip to Carcassonne from there?

- The other options we thought about:
-Stay longer in Paris and to travel to a place like Avignon or Nice and explore the South instead of Central France
- Do -> Loire -> Dordogne -> take train to Barcelona -> back to Paris to fly back

There are simply too many choices (I looked at Ghent, Belgium, and immediately thought ..I wanna see that!)

We do try not to be too greedy We want to make sure there is time for an afternoon nap for the little one and that we are not exhausting him. But we also want to absorb as much France as possible while doing that.

Would love to have some suggestions and recommendations.
kaush is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2012, 01:10 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,867
take train to Barcelona -> back to Paris to fly back

Fly home directly from Barcelona, no need to trek back to Paris. Save time so you have more time to explore and maybe even save money.

Not sure of availability, but we are staying in a nice apartment in Paris at a very good rate. I have stayed at another apartment owned by the same person and he is very easy to work with: http://www.vrbo.com/371220

He only asks for a small check {prefers euros, but will take $$]as a deposit, returns it when you leave. You pay in cash when he meets you at apt. No cleaning fee either. 89 euros a night.
DebitNM is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2012, 01:11 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,867
If you have any other questions about the apt, feel free to email me at same name at gmail dot com.

And tell him Deb from New Mexico sent you!
DebitNM is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2012, 01:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 48,311
Hi, kaush.

First, please define in monetary terms what you consider to be expensive. What exactly is your budget for accommodations?

Second, scratch Sarlat off your list. You simply can't see the Dordogne without a car.

Provence is a teeny bit easier without a car, but not by much. And considering you have a 4-year-old in tow, I would highly recommend you pick another venue.

Rennes shouldn't be terribly cold in September. I know next to nothing about public transportation from there, but I do know that getting to le Mont St-Michel on public transport is a pain. I imagine Rennes to Chartres could be too. If you want to see Chartres, it's an easy daytrip from Paris.

Your decision not to drive, and having a 4-year-old with you, is limiting. You can't really hope to get out into the countryside and do or see much. Maybe you should focus on a couple of interesting cities, like Strasbourg or Lyon or Dijon and investigate organized day tours you could take from there.
StCirq is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2012, 01:42 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 27
Thanks a lot for your replies.

We are hoping to spend 10 days in France within $2500-3000 or so (all put together). We have the air ticket taken care of - so this is exclusive of that.

We can certainly drive. It is just that we thought it'll be simpler to travel by train rather than choose to get lost again and again. We tend to drive wherever we go in the States, my wife's preference is not to worry about directions, renting and returning cars etc.
kaush is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2012, 01:46 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 27

Thank you for the reference. I'll dig into the apartment location and e-mail you later tonight.

Re flying back from Barcelona, I am kind of locked into the flight into and out of Paris anyway since I already paid for one of the three tickets (for the other two, I am leveraging frequent flier miles and havent recd them yet). I was getting pretty decent direct flight back from Paris to Dallas at a really convenient day and time and picked it up on an impulse.
kaush is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2012, 01:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 48,311
kaush, in my considerable experience, it is FAR easier to get lost again and again in the States than it is in France, which has superb signage.
StCirq is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2012, 02:17 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 506
Drive!!!! Especially with a 4 year old. I would recommend stayin 3 days in Paris and then, driving down into Provence and renting a small villa with a pool. Do daytrips from your home base. The driving in France is easy and you can always rent a gps or bring your own, after downloading the maps.

We have been traveling throughout our children´s lives and have found that this is the best way. They enjoy it, we enjoy it and it saves money because a villa is less expensive than a hotel and we can make our breakfasts and one meal/day.
SloJan2 is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2012, 02:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 365
We are about to embark on our fourth trip to France. Believe me, you could do worse than be lost in France!!!. And we have to drive on the other side of the road when we visit France. We did two trips without a GPS and one with. Get a good map e.g. Michelin or a GPS and you will have no problems. I still think you need a map, but I am old fashioned. We never got lost or lost again. Having a car gives you a lot more flexibility, especially with a young child. We always go for self-catering. So you could look at some time in Paris and then choose one other area and take your time enjoying the region.

Good luck.
rhon is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2012, 02:47 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 506
Rhon, you travel like we do. getting lost is half the fun!
SloJan2 is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2012, 04:26 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 27
Thanks a lot for your responses.
..We have also started thinking Paris and Provence is the way to go.
I am thinking of taking the train to Arles or Avignon and renting a car there (assuming you can rent one there) rather than drive out of France (But we can probably figure that out later).

Thank you for helping us think through this!
kaush is offline  
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