Road Trip

Nov 29th, 2013, 10:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1
Road Trip

Planning a 2 week road trip through France next fall. I am starting in Paris (2 days), to Normandy (3 days), Mont Saint Michel (1 day), Bordeaux (4 days), and Nice (4 days). We are staying in B&B's. If you have any "must-see's" in these regions, please let me know. Also, driving in France experiences. I would love to drive through some small villages, cheese and wine.

Thank you!

dtsron is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 01:21 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 320
My first question will be - Have you been to Paris before? If yes, OK. Maybe two nights. If no, then you are not spending enough time there.

In all your planning, you have to remember that two nights in a place gives one full day. Every time you move on you will spend time doing it - whether it is by train, car, air. For example- I checked Michelin for MSM [ which is in Normandy ] to Bordeaux. 6 hours with tolls. You need to add to that time for rest stops, meals and anything unpredictable. In other words, a full day.

I have to confess that, as much as we enjoy wine, four nights in Bordeaux would not be my choice. May be a couple of nights.

Bordeaux to Nice - eight hours + extras. A very big day looking through the windscreen.

We love driving around France, but we have a lot more time when we do it. If you want to drive around, and to see country France I think you need a car, you may need to think about what is achievable in the time you have. Of course you could do the itinerary you have suggested. Some big days where you pass by lots of great places without time to stop. Or you could reduce your expectations and choose to spend more time in places.

Perhaps Paris, Normandy [ which is a large region ], back to Paris for train to Nice. We have not been to Nice but it seems you do not need a car if you are based in Nice. Or forget Nice and spend your time in Normandy, Brittany, Loire. Or forget Normandy and travel by car through Burgundy, Provence and onto Nice.

This is useful for trip planning, times[ add a bit ], tolls and scenic routes.

Are you flying into Paris and out of Nice?

Good luck.
rhon is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 02:07 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 320
Some more things. Fuel is usually cheaper at service stations attached to a supermarkets. Be aware that they can often close for a couple of hours over lunch [ weekdays ] and not open at all on Sundays. At these times fuel is available by credit card, but unfortunately for overseas tourists , there is no guarantee their card will work. The same goes for toll booths [ always have cash ] and tickets booths at train stations.

We really enjoy driving around France, and as Australians, that means driving on the opposite side of the road. So you should not have a problem.

Here are some sites for browsing.
rhon is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 05:03 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
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It's possible to spend two weeks driving around Normandy alone. It covers a big area, the scenery is varied,and it's well populated, with lots of interesting places off the tourist radar.

Driving is our favorite way to travel in France. On a two-week trip we used to head for Normandy (upper and lower) and then go on to the Loire and we were happy going no farther. Now we take three weeks and don't even go as far as the Loire. But you may want a little more touristic excitement than we do!

Rhon has given you some good websites to look at. I'd add the Villes/villages fleuris website.

We map the Villes fleuris and the Plus Beaux Villages and when we're driving through an area we try to hit every one of them. In fact, we spent one whole day near Fougeres just driving from one Village Fleuri to another, and it's one of my favorite memories of France.

You are going to have so much fun collecting information for the trip! You'll find wine and cheese wherever you go, so don't feel you need to go where the vineyards are. If you plan well, you can follow your own interests--walking, biking, visiting churches, market days, and so on. Whatever your hobbies or jobs are at home, it's fun to see the difference in another country.
Coquelicot is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 07:43 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Ron...I feel you're making too big a swing to include Bordeaux and Nice for less than 14 days of travel. Take a look at a good road map (Michelin)of France and you may agree. I would consider Normandy, Loire and a dip into the Dordogne or Burgundy..leaving Bordeaux, Provence, and as far east as Nice for another time. I've always enjoyed driving in certainly will.
tower is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 09:13 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,479
I'll assume two things:

You have an open jaw ticket landing in Paris and leaving from Nice.

You like to drive and just have a brief look at known sights.

Still, I would skip Bordeaux because the town and the scenery to get there are not that great, go to Normandy, swing back through the Loire valley to Burgundy (an alternative to Bordeaux for wine tasting), and travel down to Nice either quickly or less so according to how you schedule things in between.
Michael is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Ditto Michael's idea.

In 1977 I was planning our first trip to Europe. I wanted to go to Bordeaux. I went to the French National Tourist Office in San Francisco (before it moved to LA) and the agent told me to go to Burgundy instead. We now travel to France about twice a year & spend 2 months there - in different regions. I've visited the city of Bordeaux three times (which was OK) - about a 3/4 day visit, IMO. But nothing I've read since '77 has convinced me to visit the countryside around the "famous" winegrowing areas (except for St Emilion & Sauternes).

As others have noted - IMO you are making the typical first-timer mistake of trying to see too much in too little time. I made this mistake on our first trip in '77 and my mother & sister bailed out about half-way through the trip. They didn't enjoy seeing Europe from the back seat of a car.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Nov 30th, 2013, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,642
That's a huge swath of territory to cover in just two weeks. You won't have much time for wandering through beautiful villages.

I'd narrow the scope considerably. First, ditch Bordeaux. There's wine everywhere in France, if that's what you were thinking, and it's not a particularly pretty area. From Normandy you might want to swing over to the Loire for a day or so, then make your way down through the Dordogne, then through Languedoc-Roussillon (the Albi/Toulouse area), then on down to the coast and east to Nice (I also assume you are flying home from Nice). Try to stay on the N and D roads. The autoroutes are useless for getting a taste of French countryside.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 30th, 2013, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,214
This is my own personal feeling, but I would absolutely not want to spend 4 days in Bordeaux. Until recently, I would not even have wanted to spend even one day there (which I have done in the past and not liked it at all), but I have read some recent articles that imply that Bordeaux is becoming more interesting and relaxed and less uptight bourgeois.

Now, Toulouse is another matter -- it's a great city in that area. Even though I just spent one night there last year, I made a photo report about it:
kerouac is offline  

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