I need help planning a trip to France in August with my two tween boys. We plan to take the TGV from CDG airport on landing. The options are 3-4 hour rides to either Montpellier or Bordeaux. My husband and I love wine and kids like to eat and stroll (flâneurs). Would Bordeaux five nights, the tgv to Carcassone three nights and the Montpellier 4 nights be a good plan? The last day will be on tgv back to Paris CDG. We would like to avoid driving there. Also would like to settle into the VRBOs and explore the towns instead of rushing through. Other option is just Bordeaux with day trips on public transport. Any thoughts or others regions would be welcome. Thanks
Bordeaux is a handsome city but not terribly exciting. Five nights seems rather a long time to stay there for the typical tourist. I enjoyed my side-trip to St.-Emilion, which is picturesque but touristy.
I haven't been to Carcassonne, though I have seen bits and pieces of the strip of France just north of the Spanish border.
Montpellier has a medieval city center, quite atmospheric. It's a major university town, but I guess there wouldn't be as many students around in August.
Heat may be a significant issue in August, though average highs and lows in Bordeaux are a few degrees (F) below those for Montpellier, and Carcassonne falls in the middle.
I don't have children so am not well-positioned to offer an alternative, but I suspect that from the kids' perspective, the itinerary would benefit from some tweaking. If you're OK with doing some rural driving, I'd consider the Dordogne/Lot.
The only 2 cents i can add is.... definitely go to Carcassonne. The oldest, intact castle in Europe. It is incredible and your boys will love it. We were just in Provence for a week and Carcassonne was the highlight.
acraven is right... it will be HOT in August, and lots of tourists. June is better if you can manage it.
I agree that Bordeaux is nice, but not full of exciting things to do. If you decide to rent a car I would consider staying in the Dordogne Valley. Plenty of interesting things for kids, caves and troglodytes and a lot of vineyards in the area as well. I'm sure you can find a nice VBRO in the region. If you Google Dordogne Valley you can find a lot about the region.
Many years ago, we had a gite for a week (booked thru VRBO or Gites de France, don’t recall), a bit north of Bordeaux city, in really neat Saint-Andre-de-Cubzac, just down the road from St. Emilion. But once we arrived in Bordeaux by train, we rented a car to reach our Gite, and then used it to explore the region, including driving past the grand vineyards and their imposing entrances.
If you’re planning on avoiding driving, instead of Bordeaux, what about TGV to Avignon, and finding a place in the old city, inside the old Avignon city walls? Lots to see wandering about Avignon, and the Rhône Valley vintners would argue that they’re in THE place for wine enthusiasts! Buses can shuttle all of you and to one wondrous Provençal village after another. Take a trip to Orange, Les Baux, Arles, Nimes. If your kids aren’t already fans of enormous ancient Roman structures, they probably would soon be. Then continue to Carcassone, then Montpelier, which also now has great transport.
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Based on the flight landing time and availability of trains from CDG and general crankiness of the boys, I think we may take the two hour ride to Lyon(more frequent trains from CDG), stay overnight as we are familiar with the city's layout and then mosey to Avignon, Montpellier, Carcassone and some Lauguedoc villages- skip Bordeaux this trip. Getting out of CDG into Paris and then waiting for the apartment/hotel to check in has to be the most stressful part of trips to France. Hence, the decision to take the CDG train..CDG to Bordeaux seems iffy.
Carcassonne should be wonderful with Tweens. As often noted, stay at least one night there so you can visit after the crowds depart and before they arrive the next morning.
A beach trip is also good. We went to Sete, which is nearish by train Montpelier. the big square in Montpelier has lots of street entertainers, so they might enjoy that.
You could wind your way to Avignon/Provence before heading back to Paris. You could have a couple driving forays to Les Baux (they have a really cool light show there) and/or do some family hiking in Luberon.
August may be hot and lots of tourists but I bet the strikers will be vacationing instead of striking then.
Just wondering if you have visited the Dordogne region with your family? I think that would be really interesting for your sons. There are lots of amazing caves with cave paintings and stalagmites and stalactites. You take a train in one cave; in another cave, you take a boat ride.
You can also go for a boat ride on the Dordogne River on a gabarre. Or go canoeing . And there are several amazing castles in the area, too. Just a thought.