Tour of France

Old Aug 8th, 2017, 11:13 AM
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Tour of France

As a highschool graduation gift, my parents are taking me on a trip to whereever I desire and France has always been a dream of mine. It will be four of us (my parents, my best friend, and myself) and we will only have about 7-10 days. We will be going some time in May or June... and that's about as far as I've gotten. Trying to plan a trip is so hard especially when you want to see so much and have only a relatively short amount of time.
We will most likely be flying in to Paris and I would like to spend at least two days exploring Paris. However, from there I would love to explore the countryside. I don't know if the best option is to stay up north and see Normandy (the alabaster coast looks gorgeous), or go down to Provence and visit the charming towns. The Loire Valley also looks amazing as I love castles and their history.
I guess my real question would be what you think the best places would be for a groups first trip to France (actually, Europe in general) to give us the best overall feel of France without rushing around so much we can't enjoy the trip.
I'd appreciate any tips! (as you can tell, I'm pretty lost )
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Old Aug 8th, 2017, 11:30 AM
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For starters, in your planning, count the nights in any given location rather than "days" as it's a clearer measure of how much time you have for activities unrelated to travel. So, for instance if you have 10 nights in France, count it as 9 days. Then subtract any days on which you move to a new location as a travel day, after all the segments involved getting to a new location, plus out of 1 hotel & to the station, in to another hotel from a station is pretty much gone. So if you change locations once and must return to Paris to leave, you'll have approximately 7 full days for sightseeing.

After all that, I'd pick 1 additional location to see after (or before) Paris and also say that 2 days, I think you'll find, isn't enough for this most beautiful of cities. I'd spend at least 4 nights (3 days) in Paris. You could easily spend all your nights there as the city is surrounded by world-class places to go on day trips and also beautiful small towns & countryside accessible easily by train.
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Old Aug 8th, 2017, 11:31 AM
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With only 7 to 10 days, you really don't have much time, so you have to plan carefully. And two days is hardly enough time for exploring Paris.

Normandy is west of Paris, and a short tran ride away, and would be good for 3 or 4 days. Provence requires at least a week just to get started.

For a first trip, I would recommend at least 5 days in Paris (two days is hardly enough time for exploring the City of Light), and a few days exploring the Normandy coast.

Check out:
Haute Normandie - Rouen, Monet’s Gardens, the Route of the Abbeys and the Alabaster Coast
Basse Normandie - In the land of William the Conqueror, half-timbered houses, Calvados, Camembert and D-Day
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Old Aug 8th, 2017, 11:46 AM
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You could spend all that time in Paris, with day trips to places like Rouen and Chartres.

However, I would consider taking the TGV (fast train) south to Nice, which is a great base and shouldn't be too crowded in May.

Fly into Paris and out of Nice, that's a multi-city option on sites like, but better to actually book the tickets direct with the airline.

For train info see
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Old Aug 8th, 2017, 11:54 AM
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Yes Paris for say 4 days - do a short day trip to say Versailles -then hop a bullet TGV train to say Avignon - great base where to rent a car -be comfy driving in France - and hit several nearby cool sights - or to Normandy or Loire or French Riviera - all have great bases from which to drive or take trains or buses to nearby sights.

For train info yes check - great on online ticketing you can do yourself at and other sites I like (check French section of European Planning & Rail Guide online);

Normandy could be sweet - D-Day beaches (June 6th special observances); Mont Saint-Michel -again rent a car and even drive to the Loire for a few days and bullet train back to Paris.

So generally 4-5 days in Paris and 4-5 in a region outside of Paris.
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Old Aug 11th, 2017, 12:54 AM
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I agree that Paris needs at least four days or you will leave in total frustration.

If your parents are willing to rent a car for the rest of the days in France, it will give you much more freedom to revise your plans depending on the weather or sudden whims.
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Old Aug 11th, 2017, 01:22 AM
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What do you want to see in the countryside?

WWI or WWII history?
Castles or chateaux?

There are lots of options but to best use your time pick one in addition to Paris. Don't forget - you can and likely will plan a trip back!

Before you book your flights decide where you want to go. Flying in and out of Paris may be the best, but if you decide to go south, flying into say Nice and home from Paris might make the most sense.

Enjoy the planning!
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Old Aug 11th, 2017, 05:26 AM
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Paris for only 2 full days - if never been there 3-4 would be better and the do a trip to some nearby place like Loire Valley or Normandy where you could do D-Day beaches around Bayeux and Mont-Saint-Michel-take train to Bayeux from Paris then train to Mont-Saint-Michel and bus-train via Rennes back to Paris.

For Loire take train to Saint=Pierre-des-Corps and then to say Amboise -great base with own great chateau and hop mini-bus tours that in a day take you to some of the most famous Loire castles.

But do not short change Paris if never been there.
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