SW France or Lyon/Burgundy/Alsace?

Apr 30th, 2007, 10:21 AM
  #1  
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SW France or Lyon/Burgundy/Alsace?

My husband and I are trying to plan our vacation for Spring 2008. I'd like to fly into Lyon, spend a couple of days there, then rent a car and drive to the Burgundy region and stay there for 4-5 days, finally moving on to Alsace with 4 or so days there. We'd probably leave the car there and either take the train to Paris or Frankfurt to fly home.

My husband would like to do SW France -- I don't have much detail on what he's looking at except that he's thinking he'd like to go from Nimes in the east to Toulouse in the west.

Just to give some more background on what we're like...we are in our mid-30s and love food and wine. We had a fantastic driving trip a couple of years ago in France that took us from Bordeaux to Perigord to Loire.

Which trip would you recommend and why?

Thanks!!
Buster is offline  
Apr 30th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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Those are two areas that are completly different.

In Burgundy & Alsace you'll see vineyards, vineyards, more vineyards, cute villages in Alsace, lots of castles in Burgundy, great dining in both areas, & fairly flat/rolling terrain. You'll also encounter lots of American tourists and "touristy" villages. Dijon is perhaps my favorite city after Paris, and Strasbourg is wonderful also. Beaune, Auxerre, & Colmar are gems.

In the Languedoc, there is much more diversity. The terrain is anything but flat - it's quite rugged & wild. There are lots of beautiful gorges, cute medieval villages, caves with stalactites & mites, areas with unusual rock formations, nice bastide towns, wonderful rivers (Tarn, Lot). You won't encounter nearly as many American tourists in the Languedoc. The dining is excellent - but not on a par with Burgundy or Alsace. Toulouse is one of my top 5 favorite towns, but there aren't the medium sized "gems" that are found in Alsace & Burgundy. You didn't mention anything about the coast - so I'll assume you are just interested in the inland areas.

In Burgundy you can stay in 1 place and visit most of the attractions from there. Same with Alsace. This is not the case with the Languedoc - because of the rugged mountains, winding roads, gorges, rivers, minimum freeways, etc you'll have to move around a bit more - perhaps staying in 3 places to see the major sites between Nimes & Toulouse.

If you like rugged terrain & diversity of sites, and lots of "nature" - then I'de choose the Languedoc. It's a feast for the eyes - but you'll be on the go quite a bit. If you want a more "laid back" vacation and you love picture-postcard villages (Alsace), cute towns to shop in, wine, lots of other tourists, castles & gardens, vineyards, vineyards, vineyards, and some of the best dining in France - then go with Burgundy & Alsace. Some people might get bored with Burgundy & Alsace because the Alsace villages start to look the same after awhile, and the vineyards, vineyards, and vineyards might become monatenous after 9 days if them.

Burgundy & Alsace will cost you a lot more money than the Languedoc.

I have a 35 page itinerary for the Languedoc and a 5 pager for Alsace. I also have a Burgundy restaurant write-up. e-mail me at [email protected] if you want any of these.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 30th, 2007, 12:16 PM
  #3  
 
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Forgot something.

Montpellier in the Languedoc is on my "top 5" cities list. If you choose the Languedoc, have either Montpellier or Toulouse be your Lyon replacement - but 1 full day in either is about all you need.

Stu Dudley
Stu Dudley
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Apr 30th, 2007, 12:24 PM
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I would choose Burgundy and Alsace, and disagree with Stu about the sites that are available in eastern France. Perhaps no caves, but there is plenty of variety in the eastern part of France. Best might be to look for the Michelin Green Guides that cover the areas that interest you for a preliminary decision, and then ask paricipants of this board about details that they recommend within your general plan.

To whet your appetite for eastern France, you might want to look at these pictures:

http://tinyurl.com/2qcfh4
Michael is online now  
Apr 30th, 2007, 12:26 PM
  #5  
ira
 
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Hi B,

How about a compromise, visit the Dordogne?

ira is online now  
Apr 30th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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Ira,

They did already.
Michael is online now  
Apr 30th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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If "eastern France" includes the Alps, then yes - there is just as much variety there as in the southwest.

However, the OP is just inquiring about Burgundy & Alsace.

In Burgundy/Alsace there are no rugged mountains like in the SW (Vosges don't match the Cevannes, IMO), no gorges like the Gorges du Tarn & Gorges de la Jonte (and many others), no unusual rock formations like the Chaos de Montpellier les Vieux, no rivers I found to be as iteresting as the Lot, no Millau bridge, no Cathars type fortresses, no Bastide towns, nothing like Carcassonne, no Grand Causes above the gorges, no perched villages like Conques, St Cirq Lapopie, & Cordes, no hair-raising drives along the edges of cliffs (not sure this is a plus) and, like mentioned, no caves.

Actually, I found the terrain of Beaujolais to be more interesting than the terrain in Burgundy. I thought Bresse was totally boring...

The comparison is a little unfair, however, because the Languedoc takes in a much larger area than Burgundy & Alsace.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 30th, 2007, 01:49 PM
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Burgundy and Alsace has better wines in general than the Languedoc, Alsace has as many cute towns as there are bastides and Burgundy does not lack in plus beaux villages. Between Burgundy and Alsace one can choose to drive via the valley, or pass through some of the Jura mountains. Belfort is impressive as a fortification, and the Vosges has a few old castles sitting on its crest. If I were the OP, I would keep the car until Paris, passing by Nancy and Reims, or Troyes and Provins on the way to Paris.
Michael is online now  
May 1st, 2007, 06:26 PM
  #9  
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Hmmm...lots to think about. Thanks everyone!

Stu, I'll be sending you an email - thanks for the offer of the itineraries.
Buster is offline  
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