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Two weeks in France - need help Stu Dudley and others!

Two weeks in France - need help Stu Dudley and others!

Old May 28th, 2012, 06:25 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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Two weeks in France - need help Stu Dudley and others!

We are in the early stages of planning a two week to France for late June, 2013. We have been to Paris a few times before, but have not traveled much in other areas of France. The first 4 days, including the day we get there will be spent in Paris. It's possible we would choose to spend an extra day there to take a day trip to the Champagne area by train, taking a private tour with La vigne Du Roy Champaigne tours out of Reims. We are trying to decide what to do with the rest of our trip. The Burgundy area, in particular Dijon, appeals to me in the little I've read so far. So does Arles and Provence, where St Remy, Gordes, Uzes, and Avignon keep coming up as interesting places to see. The Dordogne area is mentioned frequently as a lovely area to visit, but I don't know if that is too much to fit into this visit. We are not interested in Normandy or the French Riviera on this trip. We like traveling by car, enjoying small villages and beautiful vistas, which hopefully will include heather blooming. We also enjoy good food and wine, beautiful Cathedrals, and getting a sense of the history of the area. We are very comfortable renting a car in whichever outlying area you recommend to pick it up after Paris, and would return it and take the train back to Paris for our departure home. We have traveled extensively in Tuscany and Umbria, and followed Stu Dudley's suggested driving itinerary there, which we loved. We stayed in Agriturismos in out of the way areas, and so I presume Bread & Breakfasts would be more to our liking in France than hotels. So......, what itinerary would you suggest given our time frame and interests, where would you recommend renting a car, what "home base" or two would you recommend as a point from which we could explore the areas, and are there any accommodations or restaurants that you can recommend in these areas? it's alot to ask, but any help that can guide us in making travel decisions will be greatly appreciated!!!
italynovice is offline  
Old May 28th, 2012, 07:21 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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Using info and suggestions from Stu, we are staying here for 2 weeks as our base in Provence for our upcoming September vacation:

We are flying into Nice, spending 5 days there first and then picking up a rental car [through kemwel]. We will head to Montpellier for 4 days after the 2 weeks in Provence, then turn in the car and take the train to Paris. We thought it would be easier to visit Arles, Avignon, Nimes, and Orange.
DebitNM is offline  
Old May 29th, 2012, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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If you loved Tuscany you will love Provence and the
Le Mas Perreal!

Here is a 13 night itinerary:

Arrive Paris
4 nights Paris
- train to Reims, Champagne tour, rent a car in Reims, drive 3 hrs to Beaune (Burgundy) (or rent a car in Paris drive to Reims)

2 nights Burgundy, sleep in or near Beaune
- drive 3 hrs, possible stop for lunch in Avignon (old town-Place de l'Horloge), visit the major sites-Palace of the Popes, bridge of nursery rhyme fame, the garden, etc.
Drive 1 hr to Le Mas Perreal

5 nights in Provence staying at Le Mas Perreal
We stayed here in July 2010. Fantastic B&B. Wake up realizing "I am in Provence", then a gourmet breakfast, plan your day with help from Kevin, your dinner with help from Kevin in St Saturn or one of the near by hill towns or at your day activity.
Browse the Le Mas website now for more info.

- leave Le Mas, drive to Arles visiting LeBaux and Pont du Gard enroute.
1 night in Arles(or St Remy).

- spend the day touring Arles.
1 night in Montpelier

Fly home from Montpelier making connection at CDG.
( If you want to fly home from Paris, skip the night in Montpelier, drive Arles to Avignon, turn in car at TVG train station, take TVG Avignon to Paris( 2hr 40 min trip, spend
1 night in Paris.)

Itinerary option
Skip Burgundy, take TVG Paris to Avignon, rent car in Avignon. Spend extra day(s) in Le Mas or Arles.
dugi_otok is offline  
Old May 29th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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If you are making a visit to a "wine region" like Reims, I would not follow it up with more of the same like Burgundy unless wine is a passion for you. All vineyards look the same, even if they produce completely different wines.

Provence is an excellent destination -- but then again, so are Alsace, Brittany or Dordogne...

Renting a car will allow all the improvisation that you could possibly want, particularly in function of the weather. You do not need to lock in every hotel reservation ahead of time, and many hotels allow you to cancel on the same day up until 18:00 or 19:00 if you unexpectedly decide to change direction.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 01:10 PM
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I would land at CDG and then immediately take the TGV from CDG to the Avignon TGV station & stay 5 nights in Provence. Mas Perreal is fine.

Then drive to the Dordogne, stopping at Carcassone along the way for a 3 hr visit. Then head to the Sarlat region & stay 5 nights in the Dordogne.

Drive 1 1/2 hrs to Collonges la Rouge, visit, then drive 15 mins to Brive la Gaillard, dump the car, and take the train to Paris for your 4 night stay.

If you have an extra day, after Carcassonne drive to Pech Merle cave for a tour. Also visit the village of St Cirq Lapopie, and stay overnight at Domain de la Rhue near Rocamadour. Visit Rocamadour late that afternoon or have dinner there. Next morning admire the view of Rocamadour from l'Hospitalet, and tour the Gouffre de Padirac cave, the villages of Autoire, Loubressac, Carennac, and Martel. Then west to Sarlat.

Do you have my Provence & Dordogne itineraries??? If not, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach a copy to the reply e-mail.

Provence & the Dordogne are our two favorite regions in France - followed by Brittany.

You'll see lots of vineyards in Provence - Mas Perreal is surrounded by them. Visit some wineries in the Cote du Rhone. Also miles & miles of vineyards on the way from Provence to the Dordogne.

Not many cathedrals in this itinerary, however - except in Paris or a day-trip to Rheims or Chartres from Paris.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 29th, 2012, 03:32 PM
Join Date: May 2012
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We are photographers that spend part of every year in France.Here are some of our favorites that would fit into your schedule.We, like you usually start out in Paris...then we always drive from Orly where we pick up our car to the Burgundy region. We base ourselves about 2hours down the A6 close to Avallon in the wonderful medieval village of Monreal. we stay at the maison creme anglaise which is a great B and B, gite and very comfortable French cottage.This area is located very nicely so you can enjoy the Morvan forest, the Burgundy canal,with the wonderful village of Chateauneuf en Auxois , other villages Noyer, Beaune Semur en Auxois, Vezely, Flavigny, the wonderful market of Louhans, Chalon sur Saone and bigger Dijon.The driving is lovely and the back roads are scenic.
We then drive down to Isle sur. La Sorgue with it's incredible Sunday market. this town has. Wealth of antiques and brocante from Friday to Monday.It is also centrally located to see the villages of the Luberon and the Cotes de Rhone.On the way back up to Paris we always make a side trip to western Burgundy to the extraordinary Chateau Vaulx in St. julien de Civry.It is close to Charolles on the west side of the A6.Marty one of the owner will cook for you and it is just a marvelous experience. read the reviews on TA.they are actually all true. if you had more time we would recommend the Aveyron area ....Belcastel and Sauveterre, but this itinerary makes a nice little loop and back to Paris.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I have to say Stu's recommendations are better than mine. We did exactly what Stu proposes in a counter clockwise direction in July 2011. I will repeat it here.

We flew Los Angeles to Toulouse.

Spent the first night in Rocamadour at the Domain de la Rue.

The next morning we toured Gouffre de Padirac cave, visited villages Autoire, Loubressac, and had lunch in Carennac. We then drove to near Sarlat where we rented a gite for 7 days.
One of our day trips while at Sarlat was to tour Pech Merle cave, drive the Cele valley to Figerac to watch the Tour de France.

Then we drove to Carcassonne for one night.

We then drove to near Saint Saturnin-Lès-Apt for a 4 night stay at Le Mas Perreal

We then took the TVG from Avignon to Paris spending 4 nights.
What a coincidence.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 08:51 PM
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I love all these suggestions! As soon as we firm up our plans, I will contact Le Mas Perreal, as it seems like it is just what we are looking for in terms of accommodations in Provence. Stu's recommendation would allow both time in Provence as well as the Dordogne. I always like to spend time in bigger cities first, then enjoy the outlying areas where the pace is more relaxing. However it does seem more efficient to take the TGV directly from CDG to Avignon to begin the trip, saving Paris for the last days. It would seem that we would need to save the Burgundy area for our next trip, if indeed we choose
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Old May 29th, 2012, 08:57 PM
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The TGV from CDG to Avignon is VERY RELAXING (I try to get PREMS on first class). I love it after a very long flight starting from the US west coast.

Stu Dudley.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 09:00 PM
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if indeed we choose to spend time in the Dordogne. Any suggestions for accommodations in that area? We'll also look over Rocamadour and domain de la Rue. And I've emailed to get Stu's itineraries in these areas. Lots of reading and looking over maps to do, but this gives us a good base from which to start doing our detailed planning, and lots of good ideas!
italynovice is offline  
Old May 29th, 2012, 09:05 PM
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Ok, you've talked me into TGV from CDG to Avignon as first leg of trip!
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Old May 30th, 2012, 04:29 AM
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We stayed here just outside of Scarlatti and it was fabulous! Highly recommend it, lovely owners, great breakfasts and well located for the whole area

Scarlatti is a great place to base.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 04:31 AM
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Sarlat!! Stupid autocorrect!!
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Old May 30th, 2012, 06:50 PM
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Hi italynovice

Here is a suggestion for accommodation in the Dordogne.
Le Tour de Cause

It is written up in Rick Steves France 2011

It is rated excellent 42/42 on Tripadvisor, many photos.

The B&B is a renovated farm that is owned/operated by a couple from California.It is near the main tourist area of the Dordogne.

A couple of photos from our 2011 vacation

dugi_otok is offline  
Old May 30th, 2012, 09:26 PM
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>>Le Tour de Cause
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Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 02:14 PM
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Great recommendations! Making contacts and dong early planning! Just what I was looking for in terms help in getting trip ideas off the ground!
italynovice is offline  
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