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10 days in France

Hello!
Planning a quick trip to France as a surprise for my sister (clean bill of health!).

We have previously been the France (lived their as children, have returned several times to visit family)
Mainly looking someplace new to relax and explore something new.

We have 10 days on the ground (travel to/from CA is not included in these days).

Thinking the last 2 days can be spent in Paris (been there numerous times) - Looking for ideas on how to fill out the first 8 days; would like to explore Brittany/Loire Valley/Burgundy regions but know we do not have enough time for all. Car is not an option - all travel will need to be on trains. Huge history buffs (WWII and Royalty especially); not big wine drinkers (wine tours will honestly bore both of us); love both large cities and small villages (Grandmother lived in a town with less than 100 persons)

Travel will be in late October/November
Any ideas will be appreciated...Thank you

Posted by
5700 posts

We love rural France but it really does take a car. Some ideas without. Go to a place that can serve as a hub. e.g. In Normandy you could go to Bayeux and then take a day trip to Mont St Michel (the hotel Churchill does a van trip) and another day do a tour of the Normandy landing beaches (Overlord as an all day tour that launches from near the Churchill that is very good) That is 3 nights 2 days right there and in Bayeux you also have the Cathedral, the Tapestry (so worth seeing). You could look into bus connections for other towns or see about other tours.

In the Loire if you are in Tours you could do mini van tours of chateaux.

with 8 days to play with you might try to find a hub for 4 nights/3 days in two regions.

Posted by
4125 posts

You will be handicapped without a car. Those small villages are not served by rail. You'll miss a lot.

Lots of great stuff to see in Burgundy that is not wine related, but not without wheels.

One thing you can do is take a train to Bayeux and book a tour of the WWII beaches. There are also Loire bus tours from Paris and, I believe. from Amboise. I have zero experience with these.

Brittany is largely inaccessible without a car, but maybe someone else will have some tips. You can certainly get into the region easily enough by train from Paris, but after that, I'm not sure what your options are. Local trains do serve some of the coastal destinations.

The rail connection to Amboise from Rennes is not bad.

I hope that gives you some things to think about.

Posted by
11704 posts

Once you get out into Normandie and Brittany a car really helps you explore. If you're comfortable prioritizing and visiting fewer sights, a bus may be the logical choice - the problem is trying to see multiple sights in a day because connections consume too much time.

You could, for example, take a train to Caen, see the D-Day museum and stay a night. Connect, by bus, to Bayeux to see the Tapestry and take ahalf day Overlord (D-Day) guided tour - maybe two nights with one full day. Connect, again by bus, to Honfleur for two nights to soak up the ambiance of the old port town. When you add a day back and a couple in Paris, that's a reasonably paced trip to Normandie. If you add Mont St Michel, it starts to get rushed using bus transportation because of scarce connections. If you add Etretat to see the cliffs, you make it near impossible without a car.

Posted by
16762 posts

Connecting from either Normandy or the Loire to Burgundy, trains usually go through Paris and require a change of stations by taxi or metro. In this example, there's one Tours-to-Dijon connection that avoids Paris, with a change at Nevers. It takes 5.5 hours instead of 4, but is also cheaper and doesn't require reservations. From Dijon, you can also train to Beaune.

Tours Th, 27.10.16 dep 08:17 IC 4412

Nevers Th, 27.10.16 arr 10:24

Transfer time 1:06 h

Nevers Th, 27.10.16 dep 11:30 TER93159

Dijon Ville Th, 27.10.16 arr 13:48

How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it. But buying tickets for France will be through other agents (voyages-SNCF, Rail Europe, or Captain Train).

Posted by
7124 posts

In Brittany you have Quimper, Rennes, St Malo and Nantes all easily accessible by train from Paris.

Posted by
151 posts

Of course a car gives more freedom and allows to save some time to see more places during the day, but still public transport in Brittany allows to reach many interesting places. Once in larger cities (like Rennes, Nantes, Vannes, Quimper, Saint Malo...), you can rather easily reach some smaller and interesting towns with trains or buses (Dinan, Fougeres or Combourg from Rennes, Dinard from Saint Malo, Auray from Vannes, Le Croisic from Nantes...). You can get some connections between Normandy and Brittany (train between Caen and Dol de Bretagne for example).

Here are some links to get a better idea of public transportation in Brittany:
- check your itinerary with trains and buses on http://www.breizhgo.com/en/
- map of trains in Bretagne : http://cdn.ter.sncf.com/medias/PDF/bretagne/carte_TER2015_1500x1070_03_tcm55-12725_tcm55-75430.pdf
- for various interesting places in Bretagne, get some advices about how to come on http://visite.bretagne.free.fr/index.php/en/cities/saint-malo.html (Saint Malo for example).
A private guide is also an alternative not to rent a car and to save some time if some places you want to reach have bad connections.