Tentative France itinerary Sept/Oct2022

Old Mar 4th, 2022, 10:02 AM
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Tentative France itinerary Sept/Oct2022

I am putting together an itinerary for our trip to France in the fall, beginning the second week in September. We are a retired couple in our late 60s and early 70s, active and experienced in self-guided car travel. We have traveled in France before - five weeks in Alsace-Lorraine and Burgundy, as well as numerous stays in Paris (a favorite that we will never grow tired of).

What do you think of this?

Day
1 Flight from California to Paris
2 Arrive CDG in mid-morning. Train from CDG to Lyon. Check in hotel in city.
3 Lyon - explore city on foot, old town, cathedral. etc.
4 Lyon - more city exploration, walking tour, etc.
5 Pick up rental car, drive to Annecy, check into hotel (with parking)
6 Annecy - explore Annecy drive around the lake, possible hike.
7 Annecy - explore Chamonix (not a fan of switching up hotels for a night, but would it be better to stay in Chamonix overnight?)
8 Aix en Provence - Drive here and stay in airbnb with parking
9 Aix en Provence - Over the coming week, explore the town and surrounding countryside and villages. One of the days drive to the coast to see Nice.
10 Aix en Provence
11 Aix en Provence
12 Aix en Provence
13 Aix en Provence
14 Aix en Provence
15 Arles - drive to Arles, stay in airbnb - explore the surrounding countryside and villages
16 Arles
17 Arles
18 Amboise - will be a long driving day to Loire Valley - check into Amboise airbnb
19 Amboise Chateaus , vineyards, etc
20 Amboise
21 Amboise
22 Amboise
23 Amboise
24 Train to Paris - drop car in Tours
25 Paris - apartment in St Germaine
26 Paris
27 Paris
28 Paris
29 Fly home from CDG

I've booked a fair amount of these - mostly the airbnb's and the flights. So far they're all refundable, so any changes are still possible.

Looking for suggestions for not-to-be missed experiences, places and restaurants. We enjoy walking/hiking, sampling wines and local cuisine, and scenic drives. We are not much into shopping or super touristy places, although I know that obviously some of the "don't miss" places will be favorites of tourists, so no problem there.


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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 10:25 AM
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The one area of France that I don't care about (after having visited), is the Savoie/Alps. No history, and the scenery is nothing special when you look at the Swiss or Italian Alps. Annecy is a very popular destination, but I have to say I can think of a hundred other places to go in France that I like better. Chamonix is fun, but not really worth the bother. Traditional villages are few and far between. You'd be better off visiting Le Puy (and nearby Polignac), which is sensational, one of the most unusual and stunning destinations in France. That at least puts you in touch with Auvergne which is a more satisfying travel region.

Last edited by shelemm; Mar 4th, 2022 at 10:32 AM.
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 11:37 AM
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Aix is our favorite city in Provence, but it is not centrally located to visit the sites most people want to visit in Provence. It is probably too late to change plans - just expect to spent more time than you might like on the Autoroutes & small roades going "elsewhere". I would have stayed about 2-3 nights in Aix & the remainder in the Luberon near Gordes, Menerbes, Roussillon, etc.

Hope you really love Chateaux. We've spent 9 weeks there - so we are big fans of Chateaux. But the countryside & cities in the Loire are not as interesting as those in other regions in France.

I attach 4 itineraries
Provence & Cote d'Azur
Alps,
Lyon
Small on on the Loire..

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
File Type: doc
Alps.doc (69.0 KB, 21 views)
File Type: doc
Loire Chateaux area.doc (25.5 KB, 38 views)
File Type: doc
Lyon.doc (26.0 KB, 20 views)
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 05:44 PM
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Well, I lived in Grenoble in the early '70's (a few years after the winter olympics there), and I love the area, especially Annecy, and Chamonix-Mont Blanc. Both are beautiful areas!

I love Aix as well, and it's a great university town, but an over 2 hour drive (or 3 hour train trip) to Nice. Maybe you could break that up by spending a couple of those nights in Nice and check out the really lovely beaches in Antibes, Golfe Juan, Juan les Pins, and even the free beach in Cannes. Great fish restaurants along the coast . . . although now missing from Golfe Juan is the famous beach & restaurant on the beach, Tetou. It was hit by the wrecking ball about a decade after we'd last visited in 2009. But still some sun and eat places just east of Golfe Juan in Juan les Pins.
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 07:10 PM
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Yes the summer months would be too hot in Italy to do much sight seeing or waking around outside.
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 07:54 PM
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We love Aix!!!! Our daughter lived there for a few years so we visited quite frequently and really enjoy it. The old town is lovely with lots of squares, fountains, cafes, markets, etc. However, I do agree with Stu that Aix is not very centrally located to the Luberon villages and other places in Provence. So I would spend 2 or 3 nights in Aix and 4 or 5 nights in St. Remy de Provence, which is much better located. From St. Remy you can easily visit Les Baux and the beautiful Luberon villages. The asylum where Van Gogh spent a year is also in St. Remy along with the Glanum ruins. St. Remy is smaller than Aix but is very pretty with lots of cafes and restaurants.

Nice is a long daytrip from Aix. I would spend a night or two in Nice but that probably means deleting some nights from somewhere else. That would be up to you.
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 11:01 PM
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An outing to Chamonix can be done in a day. Rather dawdling in the valley, take a cable car up the mountain and then perhaps walk down. I think that Les Montets is doable that way, but I don't know how much time the hike would take.


Going up the pass overlooking the lac d'Annecy is also a worthwhile excursion:


Both types of paragliding can be done with a professional, for a fairly steep price. I believe it was 80€ when the pictures were taken in 2003.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 03:02 AM
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If you want a nice hike/walk near Aix have a look at Mt Sainte Victoire. A Grand Site de France and much painted by Cezanne, we stayed at it's foot, on a campsite a few years ago, and enjoyed some good walks in the area.

https://www.aixenprovencetourism.com...oire-mountain/
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 07:09 AM
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Your month-long trip has some similarities to the trip we're planning for late Spring. We also fly into Paris, then are going to Lyon. The more I look, the more there is in Lyon that I want to see! We're spending four nights there. We're also spending three nights in Arles, and also ending our trip with time in Paris. (Our other days will be in Narbonne and the French and Spanish Basque country)
On our last trip to France, in 2019, we spent our Provence time in St. Remy. We chose that town because we had been before and liked it, and we planned to spend time in the northern parts of Provence, and in visiting vineyards. While many people like the Luberon, it's not our favorite. One day trip we made, not for everyone, was to Chauvet, to see the reconstruction of the cave paintings. It was a pretty drive and amazing to see. Most of the visitors were French, but they do have some tours in English. On the way back we stopped at a lovely little restaurant at the side of the road for a leisurely lunch. From St. Remy, we also visited Arles and Nimes, which we hadn't been to before, but enjoyed it. A smaller site that we enjoyed was the Abbaye de Montmajour.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 07:53 AM
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Could Annency and Chamonix be day trips from Lyon?
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Surfergirl View Post
Well, I lived in Grenoble in the early '70's (a few years after the winter olympics there), and I love the area, especially Annecy, and Chamonix-Mont Blanc. Both are beautiful areas!

I love Aix as well, and it's a great university town, but an over 2 hour drive (or 3 hour train trip) to Nice. Maybe you could break that up by spending a couple of those nights in Nice and check out the really lovely beaches in Antibes, Golfe Juan, Juan les Pins, and even the free beach in Cannes. Great fish restaurants along the coast . . . although now missing from Golfe Juan is the famous beach & restaurant on the beach, Tetou. It was hit by the wrecking ball about a decade after we'd last visited in 2009. But still some sun and eat places just east of Golfe Juan in Juan les Pins.
I like the idea of driving to the coast and spending a night or two in Nice or nearby. We could just keep the airbnb in Aix - pack light for the trip, and it would also allow us to look at the daily weather for the best days to go. Right now we are finding the airbnb rentals are incredibly inexpensive overall - that's why I have gone ahead and reserved (with cancellations allowable) because I think once travel really gets going again, barring some new covid variant, rates will go up. Thanks for the suggestion!
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
Could Annency and Chamonix be day trips from Lyon?
Well, we'd like to be based there, so we can do some day hikes. And some drives around the lake. Also - don't want to have a car in Lyon, will pick up our rental on the way out.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Lexma90 View Post
Your month-long trip has some similarities to the trip we're planning for late Spring. We also fly into Paris, then are going to Lyon. The more I look, the more there is in Lyon that I want to see! We're spending four nights there. We're also spending three nights in Arles, and also ending our trip with time in Paris. (Our other days will be in Narbonne and the French and Spanish Basque country)
On our last trip to France, in 2019, we spent our Provence time in St. Remy. We chose that town because we had been before and liked it, and we planned to spend time in the northern parts of Provence, and in visiting vineyards. While many people like the Luberon, it's not our favorite. One day trip we made, not for everyone, was to Chauvet, to see the reconstruction of the cave paintings. It was a pretty drive and amazing to see. Most of the visitors were French, but they do have some tours in English. On the way back we stopped at a lovely little restaurant at the side of the road for a leisurely lunch. From St. Remy, we also visited Arles and Nimes, which we hadn't been to before, but enjoyed it. A smaller site that we enjoyed was the Abbaye de Montmajour.
Yes - it does sound as if we will be traveling through some of the same areas - albeit on a reverse route. I agree that Lyon looks as if it will be worth a few days - initially I had thought of it as a one-night stopover to get over our jet lag and pick up the rental car.

We were last in France in fall of 2018, and spent about five weeks road-tripping through Alsace/Lorraine, the Mosel River area (Germany), a week in Kayserberg, and on to Beaune, where we stayed a week in a very old home in the village of Bligny-Sur-Ouche. Dropped our rental car in Dijon and took the train to Paris for our final week.

We love to take the back roads, using an atlas map instead of the GPS. We've made some fantastic and unexpected discoveries that way - and getting lost is always half the fun.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 09:14 AM
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If you should decide to drive from Lyon to Annecy on a nice day, you might be interested in following the scenic route recommended to us by French Mystique Tours (who was a frequent contributor here when we were planning). His directions are in this thread:
Chambéry, Aix-les-Bains & Annecy

We did go up to the Semnoz plateau and I noted in my trip report: <<A huge thanks to you, FMT, for sharing your knowledge and enabling us to experience one of the best drives of this or any trip. The weather wasn't wonderful, but the scenery was, and we enjoyed being virtually alone on top of the world (except for the cows, of course) for a couple of hours. >>
3 Weeks in Paris-Lyon-Annecy-Burgundy-Reims-Paris September-October 2011



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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by MaineGG View Post
If you should decide to drive from Lyon to Annecy on a nice day, you might be interested in following the scenic route recommended to us by French Mystique Tours (who was a frequent contributor here when we were planning). His directions are in this thread:
Chambéry, Aix-les-Bains & Annecy

We did go up to the Semnoz plateau and I noted in my trip report: <<A huge thanks to you, FMT, for sharing your knowledge and enabling us to experience one of the best drives of this or any trip. The weather wasn't wonderful, but the scenery was, and we enjoyed being virtually alone on top of the world (except for the cows, of course) for a couple of hours. >>
3 Weeks in Paris-Lyon-Annecy-Burgundy-Reims-Paris September-October 2011
Thank you for this! I have copied the link.
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 04:58 PM
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There is nothing particularly interesting about driving around the lake of Annecy.
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by shelemm View Post
There is nothing particularly interesting about driving around the lake of Annecy.
Gee. We stayed in a gite in Tailloires for 2 weeks about 10 years ago. We loved driving around the lake and admiring the views.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 07:13 AM
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I can't think of any reason to spend so many nights in Aix. Avignon is a better place for regional exploration: the Mont Ventoux, L'Isle sur la Sorgue, Gordes, Lacoste, Orange, the Pont du Gard and numerous other places (the Haribo factory?).
If it were my trip (which of course it isn't), I would go from there to Montpellier for a day or two and then drive up the A75 to go north, crossing the magnificent Viaduc de Millau. You might even want to spend a night in Millau, which is an excellent stop for one night. But I would not rule out Arles, especially if you go to Aigues-Mortes for a day.

As for Amboise, yes the châteaux of the Loire valley are impressive, but in terms of visiting them, once you have seen two or three (possible all in one day), the rest are just overload, even though it is nice to drive past a few more just to see them from the outside.
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 07:27 AM
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We really liked Amboise, though we didn't visit the chateau. Just liked the town. We walked past a house where a guy was building a small aeroplane in his garage! It is also of course the place where Da Vinci died - you can visit Clos Lucé.
If you stay there head over the river to near the campsite and watch the sunset colour the chateau and town.

If you go to Aigues-Mortes wear insect repellent, even that late in the year. A little way out of Aigues is the Tour Carbonniere, which we found interesting, with a small nature reserve by it, and a good chance of a kingfisher, and maybe some flamingoes or Camargue bulls, if not horses.
Aigues was heaving when we wanted to visit so in the end we just went to the Tour and found a funny little campsite on the edge of town for the night before moving on.
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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 07:41 AM
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Amboise was actually our least favorite base on our Loire trips. We preferred Angers for the western Loire and Bourges/Sancerre for the far eastern part. We also liked Loches and Fontevraud. On our trips there (most were driving trips lasting about 10 days) we kept chateau visits to just four or five -- for example, Villandry for the gardens (and because they hold some really nice craft shows there), Angers for being in a city not so heavily focused on tourism, Chambord for the boat cruise around the canal system, and a small one like Montresor or Ainay-le-Vieil. Ainay-le-Vieil had no other visitors the day we stopped by so while my husband toured the castle, the cocker and I had the gardens to ourselves.
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