Traveling to France

Old Oct 29th, 2012, 07:12 PM
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Traveling to France

My wife and I along with another couple are planning to spend two to three weeks in France. Our primary purpose is to explore the country and experience the foods and wines. We are planning mid-September to begin our trip. Our first consideration is to rent a villa for one week in two different regions of France and use the dwelling as a hub for our exploration and experience. The third week my wife and I would be exploring by ourselves. We have visited Paris many times and we never tire of the city. Our last trip was to Provence for two weeks. Suggestions as to where we should consider going for this trip, places to stay?

Thank you in advance for your input.

Scott
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Old Oct 29th, 2012, 08:47 PM
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My wife & I have spent 81 weeks stayng in various Gites in France, plus another 3 months in apartments in Paris & St Tropez. We move around, & have stayed in around 18 different loactions.

Our favorite regions are:
- Provence & the Dordogne (tied for first)
- Cote d'Azur & Brittany (tied for 3rd)

- Alps, Pyrenees, Languedoc, Augergne, Franche Comte, Pays Basque, Normandy, Lot, Alsace, Burgundy/Beaujolais, Nord, are all fantastic.

I strongly urge you to NOT rent a villa for 1 week - rent it for 2 weeks. One week is too short, IMO. We have rented a few gites for 1 week, and we barely get comfortable with the "surroundings" before it's time to leave & move on. Quite often when we rented a gite for only 1 week, we returned the next year to explore what we didn't see on the prior one-week trip.

If your plan is for 2 or 3 weeks in France and you have already visited Provence - rent a place in the Dordogne for 3 weeks.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 30th, 2012, 02:04 AM
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I would be happy with 2 x 1 week gite (being the word you want rather than villa) staying as you describe. I think Stu's list of areas makes great sense though my sequence would be different and more like

Alsace/Champagne, Western Loire, Chablis/Auxerre/Sancerre, Southern Burgundy, Languedoc

If you accepted an out-of-wine region I would include Normandy/Brittany as well.

I'd start with gites-de-france.fr (I think there is a .com version as well) and once I had begun to chose a "Department" and even a few towns I would then also check town websites to see if they have simpler and cheaper gites on their website. Generally gites-de-france is very good and secure website with some very nice places to stay but you can often get great bargins on town websites.

French gites do have some interesting foibles as the French themselves sometimes take their own towels and sheets, while most offer linen rental. Just go with the flow over this. The other issue will be payments and you may find that technology such as paypal or bank transfer can get a little tricky, but enjoy the process.
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Old Oct 30th, 2012, 05:39 AM
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ira
 
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Hi fit,

Good suggestions above.

If you do not wish to return to Paris or Provence, I suggest the Dordogne and/or Alsace.

You might find my trip reports helpful. I can no longer recommend our hotel in the Dordogne, however.

Ira Returns From 22 Loverly Days in Europe - Sep, 2009
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-in-europe.cfm

Ira Visits Zurich, The Bodensee, Alsace and Paris – May 2008
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35136218

Ira Visits Europe – May, 2007 (Salzburg, Fuessen, Bodensee, Burgundy, Alsace)
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=35014078

Ira Does France (Bordeaux, Dordogne, Paris) 2005
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=34676645

Enjoy your visit.

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Old Oct 30th, 2012, 08:21 AM
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Here is something I posted on the Fodors forum about renting Gites through Gites-de-France.

We "secure" gites about 1 year in advance. For our upcoming trip in June/July next year, we reserved 2 gites about May of this year. Gites in Provence & other popular destinations sell out quickly. Places like the Pas de Calais - not so fast. Most gites are rural - not in cities.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...e-web-site.cfm

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 30th, 2012, 09:21 AM
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if you are interested in food and wine, consider staying in a town rather than in the countryside - much better when it comes to being able to walk home from the restaurant, plus it's very nice to be able to go out in the morning and buy the croissants and bread without having to get in the car.

the ideal size IMO is one that is big enough to have a choice of restaurants but small enough that it doesn't take ages to get into and out of. Sarlat in the Dordogne and Saumur in the Loire are two of our favourites, and would make great bases for a 2 week trip.
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Old Oct 30th, 2012, 11:37 AM
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Saumur is lovely. Had an intersting experience there as parking is a problem in the center I saw someone who looked like he was leaving his spot got out and asked if he was leaving. Got ripped up one side and then the other for not speaking french. "This is France, not New York..SPEAK FRENCH!!!" Was flabbergasted but then rescued by a local who not only came to my assistance but called a policeman over who addressed the rude person very directly.DH and I were then invited to share a glass of wine with our white knight. Both the rescuers apologized profusely and hoped our visit was not marred by their rude countryman. So we were very inpressed with Saumur and surrounds. A lovely small town beautifully situated in the Loire!! @ weeks will be great but sadly not enough!
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Old Oct 30th, 2012, 11:57 AM
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amer_can,

we had no parking problems in Saumur as our hotel had [and has] private parking:

http://www.lelondres.com/>>

it was a very typical old fashioned very proper french hotel when we stayed there, but it's since been "done up". still in a great position with parking though!

your experience with the local and his friends is exactly the reason we travel, no?
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