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10 Day Family Trip to France in April

Hi all,

We are a family of 4 (2 boys aged 10 and 6) traveling to France in April. We arrive on April 13 morning and back from Paris on April 25th in the afternoon.

Needed some help with planning our trip. Not planning to do much on the day of arrival.

Here is what we have come up with so far:

  1. Paris - 4 days or so (not including the day of arrival) (13th -17th)

  2. Day trip to Normandy (Mont St Michel) - 18th

  3. Day trip to Versailles - 19th

  4. Loire Valley - was thinking we could stay for a night and visit a couple of chateaux ? Any recommendations? ( 20th and 21st)

  5. Dordogne (if possible) - 2 days - 22nd and 23rd

  6. Riverside castles - canoes, kayaks

  7. Prehistoric Caves

  8. Limestone Lasaux Caves

or

  1. Alsace (if possible) - 2 days - 22nd and 23rd
    • Little Venice
    • Colmar

Back to Paris on 24th and fly back out on 25th.
Does the above seem like a reasonable plan? We are totally open to doing things in any order and cutting out a few things to make sure the trip is not too rushed.

Any feedback regarding the above itinerary and recommendations on number of nights to stay at each location is highly appreciated. Once we finalize days at each location and book our hotels/airbnb will be looking for recommendations for transportation from one point to another.

TIA

Posted by
638 posts

I think going all the way to the Dordogne for just two days would be too rushed. Also, I think it would be possible to do Normandy in conjunction with the Loire Valley (are you getting a car for that part?). But I would skip either the Loire Valley or Dordogne, not try to do both. The other possibility would be Alsace (Strasbourg/Little Venice is in Strasbourg and Colmar) and the Loire Valley. If you did Strasbourg you could take a late train back toward Paris and just stay at the airport that last night (assuming you have a morning flight out).

Posted by
4194 posts

I'd say you're trying to do too much in the time you have. It looks like five of your 12 days will be spent travelling. Mont-St-Michel is way too far from Paris for a day trip. Other parts of Normandy are closer but you'll still spend most of the day getting there and back. The Dordogne would require pretty much a whole day driving each way, leaving no time for castles, canoes, or caves.

Via Michelin can help you estimate driving times, but it doesn't take account of heavy traffic or the stops you'll need to make on the way.

If you don't have a hotel or apartment in Paris yet, you'll find limited choices for next month.

I'd suggest focusing this trip on Paris, with a day trip to Versailles if you want. If you go to Normandy or the Loire (not both), plan to spend two nights there so you have a full day for sightseeing in the region. Chenonceau would be my "top" chateau, maybe Chambord second.

Posted by
5700 posts

I answered this on the other forum you posted in, but would re-iterate -- too much logistics. Start in the Dordogne using jet lag day to get there and spend 3 nights at least then return to Paris and skip everything else using Paris as a base for a few day trips. Get an apartment in Paris which is much nicer with kids. If you want to pick up a car in Bordeaux for the Dordogne (must have a car there) you could also drive back stopping for a a couple of nights in Burgundy or the Loire, although I wouldn't -- but if you want to fit those in you could. I'd train back, take an apartment visit chateaux and villages in the Paris region from Paris. And then you don't waste the prime second to last day of the vacation on rushing back for the flight home.

Posted by
11404 posts

Too much .

Skip Versailles ( and I do not say that lightly , I love it and have been there over a dozen times over many years ) , your children will HATE being in the palace ( hey and if you don’t believe me and go anyways just remember some lady “ told you so” lol ) - I took my 11 yr old once - she hated the crowds - all she saw was people’s backs and elbows in her face !! Yes , the gardens are fine as is Marie Antoinette’s hamlet - but frankly for the amount of time a trip takes it’s not a good use of your minutes time . My 13 son ( who I took another time ) was ok with it - he is tall and faired better in palace , and had just covered the French Revolution in school , so he had a modicum of interest , but really highlight for him was renting a bike in grounds and me letting him cycle around canal by himself .

I’d consider taking kids to Provins instead !! A world heritage site - kids will enjoy walking the ramparts and seeing one of the medical jousting or birds of prey shows , they have a horse one too I think - I’d google to see what’s on while you are there .

Posted by
143 posts

La Dordogne is so rich in things to do... it seems a bit unfair to give it inly 2 days. I spend 5 nights in Sarlat, and still did not run out of fun things to do (I was there with my children). The only question I have about La Dordogne before urging you to spend a lot more time there, is how is the weather in April...

"En Avril ne te découvre pas d'un fil, en Mai fais ce qui te plaît!"

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks a lot for all your responses. Here is what we came up with based on the feedback. Does this sound more reasonable?

Day 1/Night : 13th April: Paris - Local

Day 2/Night 2: 14th April: Paris - Local

Day 3/Night 3: 15th April: Paris - MSM (if we do it we will do a bus tour)

Day 4/Night 4: 16th April: Paris - Local

Day 5/Night 5: 17th April: Paris - Local

Day 6/Night 6: 18th April: Paris - Local

Day 7/Night 7: 19th April: Paris - Local

Day 8/Night 8: 20th April: Paris - Local

Day 9/Night 9: 21st April: Loire Valley

Day 10/Night 10: 22nd April: Loire Valley

Day 11/Night 11: 23rd April: Loire Valley and drive back to Paris

Day 12: Drive back to Paris in the morning/afternoon and stay in Paris

Day 13: Fly back.

NOTE: In Loire Valley we plan to do the following chateaus:

  1. Chateua de Chenonceau

  2. Chambord

  3. Clos-Luce (Leonardo Da Vinci's residence)

  4. Villandry Gardens

Lastly what are the must do/see places in Paris and any tips on booking tickets for any of these trips?

Posted by
1528 posts

Mont St Michel is too far as a day trip- it's a 4 hour drive each way.

With 10 and 6 yo boys I'd skip Loire chateaus and go to Dordogne- lots more there of interest for them. Frankly 1 chateau a day was enough for us- I can't imagine boys that age enjoying any more than that.

You have 12 nights
If you don't want to travel on arrival day then split Paris I guess.
4 nights Paris
5 Dordogne- really need a car here
3 Paris

Posted by
506 posts

You wrote:
"Lastly what are the must do/see places in Paris and any tips on booking tickets for any of these trips?"

Are they old enough/responsible enough/interested enough for their own cameras? Mine loved documenting their trip and it gave them something to do if they weren't really interested in, for example, a cathedral.

I don't know the interests of your boys so I'm just guessing here, but if the whole family is ok with stairs you could climb the towers of Notre Dame and view the bells and gargoyles. You book your entry time the morning of and pay after you enter. If you have a Paris Museum Pass the towers are part of it.

If you type "Paris with children" in the search bar at the top of this page you'll get a host of suggestions.

Posted by
16 posts

We are planning a family trip to France this summer so I've been looking at a lot of itineraries. We will start in Normandy and from there go to MSM and on to Dordogne (then Provence and Paris). If you are in Paris and want to head to either the Loire Valley or Dordogne, I'd consider staying in MSM/Normandy and then driving on to one of the other places rather than taking a day trip to MSM and then heading back over there. If you aren't going to one of those other places, then your plan makes sense. Enjoy!