Solo from 1-25 Dec to France

Old Nov 9th, 2021, 08:38 AM
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Solo from 1-25 Dec to France

Hi, I am travelling solo from 1-25 Dec to France. I will be taking train or bus as my transport. I like cuisine, hiking and a good mix of sceneries and buildings.

1) My itinerary seems lacking magnificent castles like loire valley and mont saint michel.
2) Should I skip Avignon or Aix en provence so that I can make time for castles or other stuff or slow down the pace.
3) Please feel free to share your advice. Thank you very much.


1-Dec wed Paris arrive 6am

2-Dec thu Strasbourg

3-Dec fri colmar

4-Dec sat colmar/riquewihr

5-Dec sun dijon

6-Dec mon dijon/beaunne

7-Dec tue beaunne

8-Dec wed lyon light festival 8-11Dec

9-Dec thu lyon

10-Dec fri lyon day trip to Annecy?

11-Dec sat Chamonix

12-Dec sun Chamonix

13-Dec mon avignon/aix en provence worth to go???

14-Dec tue Avignon/aix en provence

15-Dec wed Marseille

16-Dec thu Marseille shd I drop by Nice?

17-Dec fri Marseille

18-Dec sat bordeaux

19-Dec sun bordeaux

20-Dec mon bordeaux

21-Dec tue Paris

22-Dec wed Paris

23-Dec thu Paris where to take Covid test?

24-Dec fri Paris depart 9pm
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Old Nov 9th, 2021, 10:45 PM
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If possible, I would try to fly into Paris and home from Marseille or Nice (or vice versa) on a multi-city ticket.

It isn't clear where you plan to sleep each night but I assume that you might have something like:
Strasbourg (1-4Dec) - I would travel to Strasbourg or Colmar on arrival in France, especially as you're arriving early.
Beaune (5-7)
Lyon (8-10)
Chamonix (11-12) and so forth. Is that right?

I'm not sure it makes sense to visit Annecy as a day triip from Lyon and then go the next day to Chamonix. Also, the journey from Marseille to Nice is about 3hrs so too far to 'drop by'. I would plot out your journey using google maps (you can enter up to 10 destinations) and also check the travel times using rome2rio.

As to whether you should alter your itinerary to include places with castles, only you can know whether you'd prefer that. I certainly don't think it would necessarily be better as you've chosen some lovely places, and with a good deal of variation.

Have a wonderful holiday.
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Old Nov 9th, 2021, 11:19 PM
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That is a VERY ambitious itinerary. Strassbourg, Colmar and Dijon are all excellent choices. I would skip the day trip to Annecy and stay longer in Lyon. Personally I would rather go see Avignon and Aix than Chamonix. Both are lovely towns. You might even want to consider visiting Arles instead of Chamonix or Annecy? But if you want to go skiing? Chamonix is a great choice.

I was in Bordeaux two years ago and apart from the Cathedral I found it quite disappointing. I can think of at least 10 cities in France that are more interesting and nicer. I think I would prefer staying longer in the south but that is just me. Do visit Marseille, Nice and maybe even visit some smaller towns such as Menton or Grasse. Or you might want go stay a bit longer in Dijon before heading towards the Provence? Plenty of castles in that area! From Marseille and Avignon it is very easy to go back to Paris by train. No worries there.
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 08:44 AM
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Thank you dreamon and djune. thanks for helping to cut down the places.
which is a better base? Strasbourg or Colmar?
which is a better base? dijon or beaune?

if i visit the south, which base is preferred for cuisine and scenaries?

i will only spend one day in chamonix if i want to see the Alps. i have checked that it is not open for hiking.
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 11:24 AM
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The best castles that I've ever seen (Germany, England, France, Czechia) were Beynac and Castlenaud-la-Chapelle; they're about 5 miles apart, in the Dordogne (FR).

It's a matter of individual taste, of course.
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Old Nov 11th, 2021, 01:19 PM
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As far as I'm concerned the only real must in Bordeaux now is the Bassin de Lumières.
Bassins de Lumières - Bordeaux | Any Port in a Storm (proboards.com)
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Old Nov 12th, 2021, 10:16 PM
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I agree that this is a very ambitious itinerary, perhaps too packed with moving from place to place instead of enjoying where you are. You are fortunate to have so much time for a vacation. Train travel is convenient, but you have to consider the time involved in getting tickets, arriving at the train station and the travel time, all of which eats into your limited time in each place. I'd pick fewer destinations that interest you and spend more time in each place. And enjoy!
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Old Nov 13th, 2021, 02:21 AM
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Revised Itinerary

Hi All, I have adjusted my itinerary to give myself at least 3-4 full days in each area.

1) Is it possible to sleep in 2 towns for Alsace and Burgundy?

2) French Riveria - Is it convenient to explore nearby towns by staying at one base? Which base will that be?

3) Havent done research from 18-20 Dec. It is either one of these – Avignon, Loire Valley or Mont St. Michel. Which is more worth?

4) Any towns to cut or give more time?

Thanks.



1-Dec (Wed) Arrival to Paris

2-4 Dec (Thu-Sun) Strasbourg/Colmar

6-9 Dec (Mon-Thu) Dijon/Beaunne

10-13 Dec (Fri-Mon) Lyon - light festival 8-11dec

14-17 Dec (Tue-Fri) Marseille/Nice – haven’t decided where to explore French Riveria.

18-20 Dec (Sat-Mon) Avignon/loire valley/ mont st.michel – haven’t research this part.

21-24 Dec (Tue-Fri) Paris and back home
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Old Nov 14th, 2021, 01:43 PM
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A couple of comments on your new itinerary. First, check out my trip report on Dijon and Beaune. It Might be helpful in your trip planning.
Along the French Riviera, there is lots to do/see around Nice. Museums of Chagall, Matisse; Villa ephrussi de Rothchild ,Villa Kerylos and the beautiful vistas from Beaulieu sur mer and Cap Ferrat, just the name a few. Then, regarding Avignon. the Loire Valley is the other direction and quite far and Mont St. Mchel is the other side of the country. Consider using Avignon as your base to see- in the 3 days you've allocated- St Remy, Arles, Les Baux de Provence, Nimes. And there's a lot to enjoy just in Avignon.
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Old Nov 14th, 2021, 02:45 PM
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Just remember that in most cities on France, non-food shops are closed on Sundays and many are closed on Monday morning (and some all day Monday). Often, when shops are closed, there are shutters covering the windows - so you can't even "window shop". In many university cities, there is sometimes graffiti on the shutters. Your original schedule has you in Dijon on Sunday and Beaune on Monday. We were in Dijon on a Sunday once (Patrimoine weekend) and except for the stuff open for Patrimoine, Dijon was quite dead. Same with Avignon when we were there on a Monday morning. However, around Christmas, shops may be open on Sunday (do some research).

The train station in Riquewihr is quite a ways out of town. Riquewihr is also quite small. I would not spend the travel time (in Dec) to go there. Spend more time in Strasbourg & Colmar.

We spent a week in July just outside of Chamonix. Mt Blanc was shrouded in clouds and not visible about 60% of the time we were there.

""14-17 Dec (Tue-Fri) Marseille/Nice – haven’t decided where to explore French Riveria.

18-20 Dec (Sat-Mon) Avignon/loire valley/ mont st.michel – haven’t research this part.""

Do so. You'll find out that it will take an entire day (5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hrs mid-day) to get to St Pierre des Corps (Loire), and Rennes (MSM) from Marseille. Longer from Nice. Then you need to actually get to either Chambord/Chenonceau or MSM. You need to change your focus. Don't think about what you want to see scattered throughout France, but what is "close by" so that you won't spend an entire day getting from A to B

FWIW, Dijon and Toulouse are my favorite cites in France (after Paris). Toulouse is not on your itinerary. I also like Aix & Avignon quite a bit.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 14th, 2021, 06:43 PM
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FWIW
MSM is an interesting sight from 1 km away, but once you're on the causeway to the parking lot, meh
IF someone had said beforehand to just look at lots of photos of it, and I had done so, I would not have then gained anything by going to it.
Vs somewhere/anywhere in the Vaucluse

Same with the Loire; unless you're REALLY into chateaux, being there isn't all that it's cracked up to be. The first one is impressive, the second one is maybe half as impressive, the third one is 1/4 as impressive. Some are not furnished, so what you see on the outside is far more awesome than the inside. In a way, they're like dumb models; pretty on the outside, but nothing upstairs.
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Old Nov 14th, 2021, 06:48 PM
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Hi StuDudley, thanks for highlighting about Sundays and Mondays. i am worried about that too thats why buffer to have another 2 wkdays.
i may probably skip Chamonix. i checked that it is not open for hiking and the cable is only available 18 Dec onwards to reach the Alps. i think it may not be worth to travel another 5hr plus just from lyon to go up for the alps for one day unless there are many things to do besides skiing.
i will skip Toulouse which is same reason as Bordeuax as many advised its too out of way.

Hi Stricky, thanks! i will check out your report for Dijon and Beaune. I realised Marseille is not part of french riveria though its on the coast. are things very different at south coast and south-east coast?

thanks.

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Old Nov 14th, 2021, 10:26 PM
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Prior to Covid, my wife & I have spent 2 months in France every year since 1999 when we retired early so we could travel more. I've written many itineraries describing places we've visited in France. Attached are four which cover places you've shown interest in.

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
File Type: doc
Alps.doc (69.0 KB, 6 views)
File Type: doc
Lyon.doc (26.0 KB, 8 views)
File Type: doc
Alsace.doc (39.5 KB, 8 views)
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Old Nov 15th, 2021, 07:56 AM
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Avignon is rather sad and dead in December but brilliant in nicer seasons. Mont Saint Michel could be a big disappointment on a crummy day, but if you are there on a clear and sunny day it would be wonderful. No way to know ahead of time. The châteaux of the Loire are not at their best either in December, barring (once again) a perfect sunny day. Probably not a great chance of that.

Marseille is always a great place but of course not at all part of the Riviera. --> Marseille 2021 odds and ends | Any Port in a Storm (proboards.com) or maybe --> The "Panier" district of Marseille | Any Port in a Storm (proboards.com)

For some reason, a lot of people here avoid it, maybe because it is the murder capital of France, but that is only among the drug dealers of the northern arrondissements where tourists never go. Even I have never been there. Everybody else is safe.

Almost every year, I have an urge to see the Lyon festival of lights and yet I never manage to go. Maybe you will finally illuminate us. (Last year it was cancelled of course.)
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Old Nov 15th, 2021, 10:21 AM
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YOu seem to know what you want, I just have a couple comments

1) Mont St Michel is NOT a "castle". It is a monastery/abbaye. It did function as a fortress, also.

2) I find castles kind of boring myself, with very few exceptions. I would never skip real living cities to view castles. I really like Avignon and Aix. I would drop Chamonix stuff. I also would drop the Loire Valley from your last question. Why do you want to go there? If it's the whole castle thing, I guess that's your interest but the countryside isn't going to be so great in December, of course. I wouldn't think castles would be either, I would imagine they aren't heated, and some are fairly bare. If you just want to see a castle, it's easier to do that in/from Paris.

I hope you are not forgetting it is winter. The French Riviera isn't going to be all that. I did enjoy Marseille, though.

Last edited by Christina; Nov 15th, 2021 at 10:25 AM.
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Old Nov 15th, 2021, 10:29 AM
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There are plenty of castles in Burgundy.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 15th, 2021, 12:15 PM
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I have been to Aix, Marseille, and various points all the way to Nice in December. It's a fine time to visit. I can't say what the schedule is now during COVID, but near Marseilles les Calanques, the boat form Mareilles to Port-Friou, the Fondation Vasarely in Aix, are all wonderful and memorable highlights.
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Old Nov 15th, 2021, 12:16 PM
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I'd drop MSM in the mid winter. I've actually spent a week in Avignon in mid winter, see also Arles and Nimes split between another week and preffered Avignon but I get what kerouac is on about it could be dull especially if you don't speak French.

Absolutely I'd stay in Strasbourg in mid winter rather than the little towns under the Vosges and I'd think Colmar is too small for long. What you might like to do is take the train from Strasbourg south towards Colmar and drop off in individual towns for a tasting or two.
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Old Nov 16th, 2021, 06:57 AM
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thanks everyone for the advice, photos and highlighting MSM is a monastery. i am really glad that shelemm and bilboburgler have visited the south during Dec and the environmental conditions are still feasible.

shelemm: it seems like 13 or 14-20dec may be a good plan to just explore marseille and other parts of french riveria before heading back to Paris. some recommended antibes as it has many connections to different towns. what is your itinerary like from Aix all the way to Nice? what is a good base at french riveria to eat and see? i am physically good for hiking.

bilboburgler: what do you mean by Avignon could be dull especially if you don't speak French? I cant speak french at all. Strasbourg is very expensive now. i just booked yesterday. will take a look at Colmar accom later.

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Old Nov 16th, 2021, 07:14 AM
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Strasbourg might be expensive because it is a popular Christmas destination.

Stu Dudley
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