My husband and I are planning our first trip to France this Fall. We'll be traveling light and looking to spend 2-3 days in an area to explore/wine/food/hike. Would love to hear from others who've been there where you think we should go and what to see? Thank you so much. In the early planning stages and looking forward to using this site.
Food + hiking + prehistoric cave art = Dordogne. It's my favorite region of France. You'll need a rental car, though.
Will you be renting a car for the 2-3 days or needing to depend on public transport? Did you want several areas for 2-3 day stretches or just one area and then the rest of your days in Paris? (See how I slid that in there? I hope you are going to spend a nice bit of time there!)
PS It appears your thread got posted twice. You'l want to delete the other one. If you go to the other thread, there is an option under your name to delete.
I second going to the Dordogne on the route from Bordeaux.
Your method of transport will make a big difference. With a rental car you can get to smaller villages and explore more countryside, with only public transport you will be more limited to larger towns/cities and popular sites.
Also does your 14 days include the two travel days? If you really only have 12 days on the ground it will limit your options a bit more.
With 14 days you could do: Normandy, Loire Valley, Paris; Dordogne, Loire Valley, Paris; Paris, Loire Valley, Provence; Normandy, Brittany, Paris.
I'd suggest limiting yourself to one geographic area, even if it's wide. For example, you can visit Southwest France and include the Dordgone, the Basque region, and the Bearn region. All of them have plenty of wineries, food and hiking. But you will need a car.
Another vote for the magnificent Dordogne Region. Visit Cave Art and weather permitting conoeing the Dordogne River from Cenec to Beynac past medieval castles and villages.
Really appreciate all the replies so far. Clearly I'm just starting and a novice but willing to do the research and love the planning. Short list is coming together: starting and ending in Paris, probably; definitely Dordogne (weather in October?)-perhaps Tours/Ambois on the way from Paris? Definitely Chamonix and perhaps Avignon area on the way there? Would rather have a few bases and spend 2-3 days to branch out. Is it better to rent a car (parking available and reasonably priced? But not in Paris? We are ok with buses/trains. Thanks again for the help. The more I learn the more I need to learn!
Just remember France is pretty big. It's not as big as Texas but almost, so you may have to rein yourself in on how many areas you visit.
I hope you'll do at least 5 nights in Paris. I'd divide it up into 3 at the beginning (your first day may be kind of wasted if you have jet lag) and your ending 2 nights will give you a full day to enjoy Paris (plus give you some flex in case of a train strike or some unforeseen circumstance putting a dent in your return plans) before you have to pack things up that night for a return. Remember when you are planning that 2 nights = 1 full day of touring in that place.
Definitely Chamonix and perhaps Avignon area on the way there?
If you're going to the Dordogne, those are way too much out of the way for the time you have. On the other hand, your mention of Tours/Amboise is better. On our last trip to the Dordogne (Beynac), we stopped overnight in Montrichard on the way back to Senlis (near CDG airport).
As to a car, you of course wouldn't want one in Paris. But in the Loire, and especially the Dordogne, you would want one. You can always take the train from Paris to, say Tours, and pick up a car there.
I'd say 6-7 days in Paris to start (without a car of course), then take a train to Tours or nearby and rent a car. Explore the Loire and Dordogne regions for 2-3 days each, or just one for a deeper dip, then drop the car and take another train back to Paris or even CDG the night before your flight home. Having just a few bases for several days each is better than moving your stuff every day. Keep in mind that changing cities will take at least half a day from your sightseeing.
Another great area to explore is Burgundy, which would mean a train from Paris to, say, Dijon, and the car from there. You could finish with a few days in Lyon (without the car), then train back to Paris or CDG.
This website shows train schedules for different routes, this one is good for shopping for car rentals. There should be no dropoff charge if you return the car elsewhere in France.
The Dordogne is a special, wonderful place. However, if you only have 2 or 3 days, you will feel cheated, because it will take you one of those days to get there, and another to depart.
This is especially true in October when failing light limits sightseeing hours on the ground.
If you can fit the Dordogne into your itinerary, with a car, then it is an excellent choice. But I would want at least 4 nights (3 full days) there--5 would be better.
From Paris, Bordeaux is only 2 hours by super fast train, and you can rent a car there. Fly home from Bordeaux or Toulouse (another charming destination).
With two weeks, I would go to a region for a week and rent a cottage or apartment and use it as a base and have a car. Then I would return to Paris and spend the last week there. You could train to the region you choose on arrival and pick up a car the next day and drop the car in Paris on return. We usually drop at an airport now to make it easy on us, but have in earlier days dropped in central Paris.
I love the Dordogne. You could arrive at CDG, train to Bergerac, spend the night, pick up the car in the morning and head for the rental. Other regions that would make a great week: Burgundy, Provence, Normandy and Brittany. Two or three days requires 3 or 4 nights. You could do two areas and then return to Paris but IMHO a week reduces the time spent on logistics and increases the pleasure of being in a region.
If you fly RT to Paris then end with Paris rather than wasting the day before your flight rushing back to Paris. Use the first jet lag day getting to your furthest point'
I'm considering this myself. I'm thinking of going in October, rather than my normal September trip, so I can participate in more sailing races in September here at home. Because it's October, I think it makes sense to stay south. The idea right now is a little more than two weeks to cover a loop including the Bordeaux, Dordogne and Languedoc areas. Paris flights are usually much cheaper than other French cities. When I get a little more clarity. I may fly into Paris, stay a couple nights, take a train to a city like Poitiers, rent a car, drive south through the area, then catch a flight from Toulouse or Montpelier back to Paris for a few days before the return flight.
We always spend October in France... Sometimes we go the last week in September, but usually spend the month of October. We fly into Paris for a few days, pick up our rental car at Orly, and drive to Burgundy. We usually spend a week or two in Montreal and surrounding villages and then work our way south stopping in St. Julien de Civry which is west of Lyon . We work our way down to L' Isle sur la Sorgue for a week or so and explore as well as going down to Collioure at times..then taking a different way back to Paris for a week . Our favorite area is Burgundy with wonderful villages like Semur en Auxois and Chateauneuf en Auxois. My husband is a photographer and the wonderful light in this area makes great photos!