Where to Go in France in October?

Apr 2nd, 2012, 12:51 PM
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Blaise, I'm not sure what you're doing, but I just picked a random date in October and came up with loads more trains that it seems you did (for Libourne; I didn't check Brive, but I can).

At any rate, an hour and 15 minutes is absolutely NOT enough time to catch a train at Roissy. First, you may "land" at 9 am, but it can take forever and a day to taxi to your gate (sometimes a half-hour). Then you have to go through immigration (long lines usually). Then, if you've checked luggage, it could be another 30-40 minutes. Then, if you've landed at Terminal 1, you need to get yourself to Terminal 2, where the TGV station is (another half hour or so). I do this a LOT, and I always give myself around 3 hours from landing to boarding a train. I would probably be aiming at taking the 12:25 train (which is one that I can see, but looks like maybe you cannot).

At any rate, it's way too early to be BUYING tickets. The PREM fares won't even be available for you until 3 months out from your date of travel.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 01:04 PM
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Others can answer this question better but I would say 1 hour 15 minutes might be cutting it close to catch a train after your flight.

It looks like Alsace is ruled out and if you're from SoCal and don't want that type of vegetation and landscape but are seeking lush, green and hilly then I say your choices are certainly Burgundy and the Dordogne. StCirq can tell you much more about the Dordogne since she's been living/traveling there for a long time. I'm no Burgundy expert but I've been enough to know about the points of interest. You saw my report so you know there are plenty of lush, green hilly places near Semur. Another lush, green and hilly area of Burgundy would be the Morvan region south of Vézelay and Avallon (which are both worth a visit):




The area between Beaune and Dijon and east is flat but just a few kilometers west of the area between Beaune and Dijon the landscapes are quite hilly. These two places are right at the base of the hills. The A6 autoroute which runs north to south in this region runs right along the base of the hills separating hilly from flat terrain.



Another green hilly area to explore would be the area between Tournus and Cluny:



Lots of tiny cute villages around here such as Brancion, Chapaize, Cormatin (château here) and many others. Look on the Cluny and Tournus websites and you'll find out about the other villages and sites in this area. These links might help too:



Whatever region you choose make sure you have Michelin maps of the scale 1:150,000 or 1:200,000. I plan all my vacations using the Michelin maps and tourist office websites.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 01:09 PM
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Great summary!

Overall, I would choose Provence or the Dordogne. We've been to both places, and enjoyed both very much, but we returned to the Dordogne on a subsequent trip, which shows that we liked it more! Burgundy just did not "click" with me when we visited there. Partly, IMHO, there was less to do, at least in terms of the art and history that I love. Also, while I love all food, love French food, and am a real foodie, Burgundian cuisine just does not appeal to me as much as that of the Dordogne (lots of foie gras!) or Provence. Obviously, a very personal opinion, but it sounds like your wife feels the same way.

I think it will come down to, maybe primarily, the travel times involved; Provence is easier to get to.

Some of the other differences, to me:

- Provence has a more spare, bare beauty, in the same way that I find beauty in the landscape of the U.S. Southwest. Dordogne is lush, green, with meandering rivers and picturesque cliffsides.

- The Dordogne was a big battleground (region) of the 100 Years War, and has numerous castles (of the defensive type) from that time period. Also the amazing prehistoric sites. Provence has a lot of old Roman stuff.

- The biggest wine area in the Dordogne is actually to the west, in Bordeaux.

You will have a wonderful time in either location. And wherever you don't visit on this trip, you can do next time!
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 01:20 PM
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Blaise - We spent five days exploring Burgundy last fall, based in Beaune. Our focus was neither food nor wine, but rather scenery, architecture and history. If you'd like to get an idea of what you can do venturing out from Beaune, you might want to read that section of my trip report:


Here are links to my pictures from that trip:

MaineGG is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 01:35 PM
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>>I loved the pictures of Semur-en-Auxois<<

This is one of the "cute little villages" that we were underwhelmed with (along with others in Burgundy). From the outside, it looks fantastic - from both the northern approach and also from the river on the south side of town. In fact, there is a picture of this latter exterior view in my Michelin Green Guide to Burgundy. However, when we went inside the "old" section of town - we though it was very bland. The architecture wasn't that interesting and there wasn't much "going on" (cafes, shops, etc). I can think of perhaps 30 similar-sized villages in Provence & 15 or so in the Dordogne area that we've enjoyed more.

Dijon in Burgundy is our favorite city in France after Paris. Aix & Avignon in Provence are in our "top 6" large cities in France. Beaune in Burgundy and Sarlat are in our "top 5" smaller cities, and Auxerre (Burgundy) is not far behind - as is Arles in Provence & Perigueux & Figeac in the Dordogne general area. But like I wrote earlier - there is a lack of "cute little villages" in Burgundy compared to Provence & the Dordogne. Noyers is nice and so is Vezelay (although it is a little too touristy, IMO).

The "thing" we enjoyed the most in Burgundy was the Chateaux - we probably visited 20 of them in both Beaujolais & Burgundy when we were there for 4 weeks in '08. We stayed 2 weeks in Beaujolais & 2 in Burgundy just outside of Beaune. It is quite hilly south of Beaune - our gite was up on a hill overlooking vineyards.

We've vacationed for 18 weeks in Provence, 10 in the Dordogne, and 2 in Burgundy.

Our favorite regions in France are Provence in Spring and the Dordogne in Fall & Spring (both tied for first). After that:
- Cote d'Azur
- Brittany
- Languedoc/Roussillon (kind of a mixture of Provence & the Dordogne)
- Alsace for 1 week (repetitious after 1 week)
- Burgundy

We've spent 4+ weeks in the Alps & 1 in the Pyrenees, but these are pure "scenery" places and shouldn't be compared with Provence/Dordogne/Burgundy/Augergne/Brittany/Normandy, etc.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 01:45 PM
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StCirq, thanks again! I think what's going on is there are trains that show up when you navigate in French as opposed to English. At least that appears to be what has happened to me. I found more trains when I went in and tried in French. Too bad I don't speak French!

And thanks to MaineGG and FrenchMystiqueTours for the additional info on Burgundy.

My wife thinks I'm nuts because I'm so passionate about planning trips to Europe. I'm literally always planning. It's cool to discover this site and see many others have the same passion I do.
Blaise22 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 01:53 PM
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Stu, I saw your list of cities on another post. It intrigued me. It made me decide I will definitely spend a day in Dijon when we get to Burgundy, whether or not on this trip. Have you made a similar list of villages and towns with less than 10,000 people? Or maybe your top ten villages and small towns in the Dordogne? The most striking ones in pictures that have caught my eye are Beynac and Rocamadour. Also, do you know if they still rent canoes in October or is that too late in the season?
Blaise22 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 02:02 PM
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They MIGHT be renting canoes in early October, depending on the conditions, but almost certainly not after mid-month.

Rocamadour (which technically isn't in the Dordogne) doesn't hold a candle to dozens of other Dordogne towns. It's geologically interesting, but far from pretty. Beynac and La Roque-Gageac are the ones that get photographed most often, and for good reason, but there are gorgeous towns and villages all over the Dordogne: Monpazier, Tamniès, St-Geniès, Limeuil, St-Léon-sur-Vézère, St-Jean-de-Cole, Domme, Castelnaud...the list is endless.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 02:22 PM
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>>Have you made a similar list of villages and towns with less than 10,000 people?<<

Nope - we love "cute little villages" and we've vacationed in France for more that 3 years. So we've naturally visited hundreds & hundreds of small villages. Here is my list of medium sized villages/cities, although I haven't updated it in a couple of years.

Cities with a population greater than 10,000 but less than 85,000
1. Sarlat
2. Colmar
3. Beaune
4. Auxerre
5. Chambery
6. Vannes
7. Annecy
8. Troyes
9. Albi
10. La Rochelle
11. Figeac
12. Perigueux
13. Arles
14. Bourges
15. Dinan
16. St Malo
17. Quimper

Small villages in the Dordogne area north of the Lot River - in no particular order:

Colonges la Rouge
Roque Gageac
St Cirq Lapopie
Brantome (looks better from the ourside, IMO)
St Genies
Ste Alvere
St Leon

Do you have my Dordogne itinerary??? If not, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach it to the reply e-mail. I've also posted my favorite restaurants in Burgundy several times on Fodors.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2012, 05:40 PM
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Stu: I too love and admire:
Collonges la Rouge
... but I have recently been upbraided in these pages for casually and imprecisely referring to them as part of the Dordogne region (which is not a region -- Dordogne is a department; the old pre-revolutionary region is Perigord)

They are, more correctly, in Correze department(hence the Limousin region) or in the Lot department (hence Quercy region).

I think.
tedgale is online now  
Apr 5th, 2012, 10:34 AM
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Well, after carefully discussing all of our options with my wife, we have decided to stick with Burgundy. The relative ease of getting there was the deciding factor over the Dordogne, given our limited vacation time. There were two deciding factors over Provence for this trip. One, I would like to take Stu's advice and see Provence in the spring when the lavender is blooming. And two, I don't want to do a lot of driving every day on this trip. I live in metro LA and I HATE driving long distances day after day, it's not my idea of fun on vacation. When I look at the different sights in Provence that I want to see, it seems like it is an hour each way to most of them, whether you are based in St Remy or Avignon. I think when I do get to Provence, the thing that will make more sense to me is to change hotels at least once to avoid some of that driving. Plus, there is so much to see there I think I will need more than five days. On my next trip to France, I would like to include both the Dordogne and Provence with a week or more in each region, and do it in the spring.

As for Burgundy, the weather won't bother me at all. Perfect weather to me is 60 degrees with gray skies, and as long as the highs are not in the 40s or lower, it won't bother me at all.

Our plan is to stay all five nights in Beaune. We will take a day trip to Dijon by train for all of one day. We will rent bikes one day and ride through the vineyards, seeing various small towns and sights around Beaune. So that just leaves two full days to do by car. One of those days I want to head south to Château de la Rochepot, Château de Cormatin, Tournus, and Cluny. The last day I want to head north to the Abbey of Fontenay, Chateauneuf, Semur-en-Auxois, Château de Tanlay and Château d’Ancy-le-Franc. This may be too much driving.

Does anyone have thoughts on other things I should add to our itinerary or subtract?

On the way back to Paris, my tentative plan is to drive, stopping in Vezelay on our way out of Burgundy. Then I want to head up to Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, before dropping the car off in Melun and taking the train back to Paris. Does this seem like too much to do in one day? Or if there is room for more, I would love to also see Château de Bazoches since it's near Vezelay and looks amazing.
Blaise22 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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>>Château de Tanlay and Château d’Ancy-le-Franc. This may be too much driving.<<

It is a lot of driving - but mostly easy freeway stuff.

Both Tanlay & Ancy le Franc close for lunch, and the last tour starts "some specified time" before their published closing times. Closing is usually the time the gift shops closes. So this means you'll need to plan your itinerary around these closing times.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Apr 5th, 2012, 10:59 AM
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Forgot to mention;
- Save your ticket for Tanlay, & that will get you a discount for Ancy le Franc
- save your ticket for Ancy le Franc & that will get you a discount for Abbey of Fontenay
- save your ticket for the Abbey & that will get you a discount for Bazoches

no ticket discount for Rochepot or Cormatin (our favorite).

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Apr 5th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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On your last day it's not the driving distance but how much time you have left after the driving to visit two châteaux, an abbey and two villages. Are you doing interior visits of the châteaux and abbey? I say see what you can see and if you can't see something don't rush trying to see it all. Enjoy what you have time for at a relaxed pace. Even the day you head to Cluny looks busy but see what you can do.

I would see how much time you have left after Vézelay and then make a decision. It's about a 2 hour drive to Vaux from Vézelay and plan on spending 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours at Vaux. Then it's a 10-15 minute drive to the train station in Melun after that. Check the closing hours of Vaux and your car rental place and those may be the determining factors, although maybe you can drop-off after the rental agency closes (understand you can't do a walk-through with an agent to verify no damage to the car though). Trains to Paris from Melun run in the evening with direct trains every half-hour to hour and more frequent but slower RER D trains run even later.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
May 2nd, 2012, 10:00 AM
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The problem with planning trips months in advance is there is a tendency to keep planning. I was just looking at photos of places like Turenne, Collonges la Rouge, Castelnaud, and Carennac and I just can't let it go. I have three kids ages five and under and there just are not going to be that many chances for us to go to Europe for the next few years so I think we should go to the place we most want to go.

I see there is a train from Paris to Libourne that will get there at 5pm. I was thinking we could rent a car there and instead of driving all the way to Sarlat in an incredibly tired and perhaps dangerous state, we could head to Saint-Emilion and have a nice dinner and spend the night. Then the next day we could take a leisurely pace getting to Sarlat, seeing some nice sights along the way. That would still leave us four nights in Sarlat.

Does this seem like a reasonable plan?
Blaise22 is offline  
May 2nd, 2012, 10:17 AM
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>>Does this seem like a reasonable plan?<<

Perfect. We did that once.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jun 21st, 2014, 06:39 AM
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My sisters and I are also going to France in Oct,2014 we plan on frying to the south of France we only have 4 days on our own before we have to go back to Paris to join our tour. we also plan on doing a couple of day tours of the region. we are hoping to see Nice, Aix-ne-Provence, Monaco, Eze, Burgundy, maybe doing the hop on hop off bus tours of the cities.
loretta5m is offline  
Jun 21st, 2014, 07:41 AM
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Don't fry too much -- it can be sizzling down there. ;-)

I don't quite see a question in your post, loretta.
kerouac is online now  
Jun 22nd, 2014, 07:17 AM
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Plus she's reviving a two-year-old post. Better to start your own thread, loretta, -- with questions. Click on the orange box at the upper left of this page.
Mimar is online now  

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