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Visiting France in late September

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Jul 24th, 2012, 11:33 PM
  #1
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Visiting France in late September

Hi all,

My partner and I are visiting France in late September for around 9 days. We are mainly staying in Paris, but would like to spend 2-3 days in the region.

I am having trouble deciding on the region/city to visit outside of Paris. I love history and would love to visit the "old" france - medieval villages castles etc to experience the culture. I am also interested in the village markets that some places have. Did some research and found out that most places like that are in central or south of france. However, I am a but confused as to which place to visit - we only have 2-3 days so I want to make sure we can target the right place . Any suggestions would be great!

Also the tricky part is finding a way to visit those villages (i.e. taking a train from Paris to a nearby city, then take another train or drive etc). Would be great if someone
can also provide a travel route to the city.

Ideally, travel will not take a lot of time as we only have 2-3 days.

Cheers!
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Jul 24th, 2012, 11:42 PM
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Burgundy might be the best choice. Take the TGV to Dijon and drive around from there for a couple of days.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...55059630/show/

Most of the pictures are geo-tagged.
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Jul 24th, 2012, 11:47 PM
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I was also going to suggest burgundy. Lovely villages, Dijon is great...

You may also like Alsace, trains to Strasbourg are frequent and short and the villages are lovely.

You could also go to Loire Valley and visit the chateaux of the region.

You probably want to rent a car for a few days wherever you go so you can access the smaller villages.

Enjoy!
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Jul 24th, 2012, 11:54 PM
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I would get out to Chartes & the Loire Valley. Both are near Paris. Chartres has a wonderful cathedral and medieval town centre and is accessible by train. There are bus tours of selected Loire Valley chateaux from Tours or from Paris. Or alternatively hire a car for a few days & do your own tour staying at Chartres & Amboise. Local info centres (e.g. in Amboise) or prior research on the internet will help you decide which chateaux to visit. If there's time you could even widen the tour to include some of Burgundy (Vezelay, for example).
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Jul 25th, 2012, 05:06 AM
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When I think of half-timbered houses, medieval town centers, and chateaux, some of the places I think of are near Paris, like Provins and Pierrefonds. (The markets in Paris are far better than what you'll find in the small towns, but if that interests you, you'll need to schedule your visit for the particular town's market morning.)

You don't need to go far from Paris to find what you're looking for. You can get to some places by train or even bike. For a look at where you can go on a bike, look here:
http://www.frenchmystiquetours.com
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Jul 25th, 2012, 09:39 AM
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There is a simple rule: You find the prettiest villages in the regions where they grow wine.

This rule is underlying the suggestions that were already given: Alsace, Bourgogne, Loire valley.

The TGV from Paris to Dijon takes 1:35. In Dijon, I would rent a car for your two days. Just drive the Route de Vin - it will lead you through picturesque villages automatically. Of course, there are castles in the region - one, the Clos Vougeot, is especially interesting because it houses a wine museum. You can even sleep in castles without paying a fortune, e.g. here:

www.chateau-saulon.com

Or, if you are willing to pay a fortune and to be among Americans, here:

www.chateau-gilly.com

If you prefer Alsace, you may take the TGV to Strasbourg (2:19). Again, I would suggest to rent a car there. From Strasbourg, drive in southwestern direction until you find the vineyards in the foothills of the Vosges. Beautiful villages are Boersch or Ottrott, a picturesque small town is Obernai. If you want to drive further south, Riquewihr and Eguisheim are storybook villages. Again, there is no shortage of hotels in the region.

In Ottrott, we liked this hotel (but there are more):

www.leclosdesdelices.com

In the Loire Valley, the villages are a little less picturesque, but you have an abundance of splendid castles. The TGV from Paris to Tours takes 1:14.

You find dozens of castle hotels in the Loire Valley, here is our favourite one:

www.tortiniere.com
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Jul 25th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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You find the prettiest villages in the regions where they grow wine.

Not true for the Dordogne, the Haute Provence and the Auvergne.
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Jul 25th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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Burgundy isn't a bad idea. They have markets everywhere in France, there are plenty in Paris itself, which are probably better than in some small village. The markets in cities are better because more vendors will go to them due to more customers, of course. In Provence, they will be in the larger towns (eg, Apt) and will be better than some village (which may not have any, depending on how small it is).

Rouen is actually one of the best-preserved medieval city centers in France, but it's no village.
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Jul 25th, 2012, 10:38 AM
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<>

Not true at all. No matter what direction you head to from Paris you will find pretty villages, markets, and medieval architecture. Absolutely everywhere.

Burgundy and Alsace are two good suggestions, and easily reached by train. But really, you could take any number of two- or three-hour train rides and be someplace wonderful and within easy grasp of lovely villages. You'll need a car most likely, though, as the prettiest places are often difficult to get to on public transport.

Go online and look at Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, or get ahold of the book by that name. It will help you zero in on what's most appealing to you.
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Jul 25th, 2012, 12:42 PM
  #10
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Hi Ash,

I suggest that you train from Pris to Dijon, stay at http://myhomeindijon.com/ and let Coco (she is one of our members) take care of you.

Her apt is lovely and she is an excellent guide.

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Jul 28th, 2012, 08:45 PM
  #11
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Thank you all for the recommendation! I am now tossing between the Loire Valley and the Dordogne region.. Sarlat looks really interesting, but I have no idea how to get there.. any suggestions?

Also, I read that most shops and tourist areas do not open on Sundays. Is that true?
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Jul 28th, 2012, 09:06 PM
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You get to Sarlat by taking the TGV to Bordeaux or Libourne, then taking the Corail train to Périgueux and renting a car and driving. Or take the train from Paris to Brive and do the same. Or take the train from the Gare d'Austerlitz through Limoges to Périgueux and rent the car. Lots of ways to skin that cat.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 09:07 PM
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BTW, the Dordogne is WAY more interesting and pretty than the Loire.
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Jul 29th, 2012, 03:16 AM
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>>>BTW, the Dordogne is WAY more interesting and pretty than the Loire.<<<

That is certainly a matter of personal taste. The Loire Valley has the most spectacular castles in France and is easy to reach from Paris.

The train ride from Paris to Sarlat takes about 6 hours. Given your timeframe, you will spend a lot of time on the train. And following St. Cirq'a proposal - checking out of your hotel in Paris, riding to the train station, train ride, renting the car, driving to your hotel, checking in - you will lose two full days just for travelling to and from.

Sarlat is a picturesque town - if you are looking for something similar but closer to Paris, Auxerre (in the Chablis wine region) would be an option. Just 1:40 from Paris.
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Jul 29th, 2012, 03:21 AM
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>>>Also, I read that most shops and tourist areas do not open on Sundays. Is that true?<<<

All tourist areas are open on Sundays. Some museums are closed on Mondays OR Tuesdays. Most shops which are of interest for tourists are open on Sundays.
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Jul 29th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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It wouldn't make sense for a "tourist area" to be closed on Sunday. I'm not sure what that means, but presume it means some tourist attraction or museum. In fact, in some cities, the exemptions to Sunday store closing laws are those exact tourist areas where they can remain open. These are cities I'm thinking of, but in general, tourist things aren't closed on Sundays.
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Jul 29th, 2012, 01:21 PM
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Just throwing another idea into the pot: Normandy. It's closer to Paris. You can take a train to Bayeux and pick up a rental car there, see the Bayeux Tapestry. Depending on where you base, you can daytrip to Rouen and Honfleur, even Mont St. Michel. We did a daytrip drive in the Pays d'Auge, stopped in Beauvron-en-Auge, one of the (many) most beautiful villages of France, and at the cute checker-boarded Saint-Germain-de-Livet. Late September should be prime time for apples and cider; there's a cider route in this area.

And, of course, there are the WWII beaches and the great Peace Memorial Museum, outside Caen. And the seaside resort towns of Deauville and Trouville, but they're past their prime time in September. So lots to do if the weather doesn't cooperate.
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Jul 29th, 2012, 02:16 PM
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I think Normandy is a great idea. It is closer to Paris and can be seen in less time. While we love the Dordogne, with only 9 days especially if you plan to spend time in Paris, you won't have time to do it justice. We have spent a week there on two occasions and have wished for more time.
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