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Solo female traveling to France for 10-14 days...need help with itinerary!

Solo female traveling to France for 10-14 days...need help with itinerary!

Old Jun 11th, 2014, 04:52 PM
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Solo female traveling to France for 10-14 days...need help with itinerary!

Hi all,

I will finally be taking my first trip to Europe this fall (likely mid to late September) and have decided that I want to focus on France for the entirety. I'll be traveling alone, and I am a young twenty-something female (and...very American looking, I guess I should add, haha). While I understand the need for concern as to that aspect, I've traveled alone in Asia before, and did fine; I'm now wanting more help with planning the actual trip. I am overwhelmed at the amount of information on the internet, because I'm so detail oriented. Here are a few things to help

1. I am very much into wine. I worked in the wine industry in California, and it is now a huge passion. I'd love for the focus of my trip to be on food and beverage, esp since I'm by myself...there's nothing else to focus on I've of course wondered if I can or should go to Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone region, or anything. Since I'm alone and don't speak French, it'd have to be something doable.

2. I am on a budget. Not a college kid budget, but I'm not trying to spend tons of thousands on this trip. I'm definitely willing to put in money if it means safety, and a little comfort once in awhile. I'm thinking I should stay in as many hostels as I can, and then occasionally sleep in hotels if it's outside of Paris.

3. I would love to meet as many people as I can. I'm friendly and outgoing, but can be shy since I'm alone. I'm comfortable eating and drinking alone, but meeting all sorts of people is part of the fun of traveling alone, in my opinion.

4. I love it all - mountains, countryside, coast/beach, big city. I'd ideally like to spend 5 days in Paris to soak it in, at least, and would be happy to hear other recs.

5. Again - I'm alone, young, single, female, and blonde...and paranoid! So I want to be careful above everything else.

Any help for ideas as far as an itinerary would be great! Even just city suggestions and how long is needed there helps. As far as Paris, I'd love to hear any restaurant, cafe, or wine recommendations. Thank you so much!
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 05:11 PM
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Looking american and being young and blond have nothing to do with anything - you're not going to the amazon backwoods - but France (which has plenty of young blondes of their own). And France is much safer than any place in the US.

I have found it easy to meet people in hotels - I'm long past the age and style of hostels. You can meet people in either - just by being friendly and spending some time in the public rooms/areas - whether the bar, breakfast room, lounge etc. (I am often alone in europe since I travel a lot on business and usually add at least a day or two for myself at the end.) Although it has usually been in cities. Could be more difficult in deep countryside - but there won;t be hostels there any way. EVen medium and smaller towns should be doable.

You may want to consider visiting Lyons, Strasbourg (there is a whole string of small wine villages between there and Colmar - doable by bus or bike) and Burgundy is also a great idea - look into staying in Dijon and and doing wine tours from there.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 05:35 PM
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Since your trip is focused on food and wine and not sightseeing, I would not spend 5 days in Paris but spend 3 days of that time (if not more) in Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France.

For wine regions you should visit the areas that produce the types of wine you enjoy.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 05:44 PM
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Thanks so far! I am into sightseeing, but I can't do a lot. One museum a day is great, but enough. I am more into meeting people, getting to know the culture...and yes...food and drink
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 05:52 PM
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Good for you! No need to be paranoid, but do be wary of pickpockets in Paris. France is a wonderful place to travel solo.

When traveling alone I often prefer to dine at places with communal tables or sit at the bar to increase the odds of meeting people.

I am a big fan of the Dordogne region which is near Bordeaux. Sarlat is a larger city in this region and a good location for exploring (you will want a car though the cycling is great during the day). Some of the villages there have "night markets", where they set up long tables in the town square and there is often music (though they tend to end in early fall as the nights get cool).

In Bordeaux St.Emilion is a lovely village.

There are lots of places to rent in France that are economical (plus the added benefit of not needing to eat out every meal).
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 06:04 PM
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Thanks, you guys are great so far! I'm pretty intimidated by the idea of driving a car, so not sure how I feel about that. Also curious for weather suggestions. I don't want to go when it is too cool, at all - so wondering if mid-September is even too late? Thanks
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 10:31 PM
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Another vote for Lyon, the food capital of France. From my experience the food is not only consistently better than Paris but also cheaper. Its a clean modern city and is as safe as any other, with Vieux Lyon as one of its main attractions.
I assume you have done a bit of searching thus far on this forum and checked out your options for travel ie TGV and cheap prems tickets etc.
Enjoy your planning!
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 11:47 PM
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If you worked in the wine industry in the US, why not ask for some referrals to people/ wineries with whom your company dealt? That's often a nice introduction to a region or country.

If you drive & are competent on the roads in the US, I can't see the problem driving in France, assuming you don't plan on driving in Paris. At least you both drive on the same side of the road!

Alternatively, it may suit you better to do short tours in & around a few different regions from one or two bases.
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 11:52 PM
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"Look American" (I have images of a native American with blonde hair )

If you are visiting a french wine region with only English you will benefit from going to a wine region which is based around larger companies with a majority of its products exported to English speaking countries. That is not that English is not widely spoken (it is) it is just that you are more likely to be given time to learn information in my described environment. The obvious area is Champagne, while the wine is produced in some other small villages the main producers are in Epernay and Reims, both are easily reached by a train (and trains is what you want on your first visit to Europe have a look seat61.com to understand how it all works).

Reims is the larger (a city) while Epernay is smaller and more like a county town. All the main brands (Marque) are based in town and tourist information is set up to get you to visit. If I had a real interest I'd stay in Epernay ( a little smaller and more friendly place). If you contact TI (which is short walk from the station they can organise tours, rent you a bike etc.

http://www.mybikeguide.co.uk/Champagne_Cellars.php
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 11:55 PM
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Other alternatives are Alsace (a little more spread out along a wine road), the Loire (even more spread out), Bordeaux (great if you have references and appointments made), Rhone (long), Burgundy (spread out and used to English speakers but french would help) etc etc
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 01:34 AM
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While in Paris and when travelling around you will find restaurants that specialise in local foods, do try to mix the local wines with them and even venture into trying oddities that you might not find in CA. For instance sweet vouvray with blue cheese.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Forget the Dordogne if you won't have a car (and Sarlat is not a large city; it's a town with a population of about 10,000), and it's not a wine region and it's not really "near Bordeaux." St-Emilion, which is not in Bordeaux, but a half-hour away, IMO is overhyped and overpriced.

I agree with the recommendation to go to Lyon for great food. You could spend a day or two in/near Beaune, too, for a great wine experience. I wouldn't recommend Bordeaux, because IMO it's a stuffy, boring place (it's improved dramatically in the past 10 years, but it's still not particularly friendly), you can't just go visit wineries without personal contacts or organized tours, and the countryside isn't particularly appealing. For wine, I'd stick with Burgundy or Alsace, or get adventurous with a car and visit some wine regions not well known to Americans like Cahors and Gaillac. It would be very helpful to know some French. In fact, if you're going to pursue this passion for wine, I'd highly recommend learning the language.

There is no need to be paranoid about being single, female, blonde, and alone in France. You're far safer in France than anywhere in the USA. Pickpocketing is an issue, but all you have to do is be alert and savvy.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 09:48 AM
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Weather should be fine in late September. We're going in October this year and looking forward to fairly warm, dry weather.

As a young blonde woman, you will probably meet all the people you want to--but most will probably be men. What I'd do if I were you would be to try to hook up with a traveling companion in Paris. That way, you can split the cost of lodging and will be relatively safer as you can keep an eye on each other and your things. Of course, that means keeping your travel plans flexible so that you can jointly decide where to go and where to stay. Driving is easy in France but drive fairly slowly.

I like the ideas above of spending some time in Lyon and perhaps going down the Rhone valley to Avignon and then up to Burgundy. Spend a good bit of time around Beaune--Pinot grapes yum. Champagne region if you like that sort of thing.

Although France is a safe country, as a lone female traveler, do be aware that there are some concerns:
http://travel.state.gov/content/pass...ry/france.html
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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Of course you can travel safely, but don't assume France is like Disneyland and you don't have to take normal precautions. If you aren't used to living in a big city and being on the alert, taking metro, you make have some problems. I don't agree that you are safe in France than anywhere in the USA< either, I think that is going to make you think you don't have to be careful. There are plenty of safe places in the US, anyway, you would be safer in my small hometown than in Paris, for example. And young French guys can be aggressive sometimes, but it's not a concern like it would be in some countries where I've been (in Africa, for example, which I won't go into). I think Italian young men also have this thing for blondes.

Mid-September is a good time, it isn't that cool then, normally. I was in Lyon one year in early October, I think, and it rained a lot and wasn't very nice.

DOn't expect to meet tons of people as a tourist in 10-14 days, just not going to happen, probably. YOu'll meet more if you stay in hostels, and maybe I missed if you can speak French well, but if not, you aren't going to meet locals and be friends in one day. People out wither their friends aren't going to be that interested in a tourist. Other travelers will be more friendly, most likely.

If it were me, in September for only 10-14 days, I'd do Paris and then go to Provence. YOU could stop in Lyon en route, actually, for a couple days. something like 5-2-5 day stays, adjust as you wish.
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Old Jun 12th, 2014, 06:19 PM
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Staying in either hostels or hotels you are probably not going to meet lots of locals - but tourists from other part of the world. The best way to meet locals is to go to singles cafes or bars - but I can;t help with that.

I have met people - other women or men or couples - while staying along in hotels and either dined with them or spent time visiting a specific site of common interest. They have been either other americans or from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, a couple of different places in South America, Russia and Sweden.
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 08:19 AM
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I don't know if you're aware that the TGV (hi-speed train) fares for September just opened up: 15-20 euros oneway Paris to Bordeaux or Avignon (Provence). The fares go up as the day draws closer, so book early.
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 09:18 AM
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Basing yourself in Lyon would give you access to the excellent food (and market) in that city and also to the wines of the upper and lower Rhône Valley. That would be a feast for the senses.

Don't be concerned about driving; it's not difficult.
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Old Jun 14th, 2014, 02:02 PM
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September prices will be much higher than August, (double), at least in Paris.
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 06:17 AM
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Save some time to get down to Nice and surroundings; it has just about all of the things that you listed, especially people to meet, beaches, sun, sea and good food - even mountains!

It is not renowned for its wine; however, there are good wine bars in the city and there is a local vineyard to visit:


http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/...d-1803966.html

I think, as a twenty something, you would enjoy the experience.


PS Wine in Burgundy is far too expensive to drink on a budget - even in France!
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 06:21 AM
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Save some time to get down to Nice and surroundings; it has just about all of the things that you listed, especially people to meet, beaches, sun, sea and good food - even mountains!

It is not renowned for its wine; however, there are good wine bars in the city and there is a local vineyard to visit:


http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/...d-1803966.html

I think, as a twenty something, you would enjoy the experience.


PS Wine in Burgundy is far too expensive to drink on a budget - even in France!

And you should still be able to swim in the Med!
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