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2 Weeks in France in December

Hi all,

I know it is still early, but together with my wife we would like to visit France in December 2015, for 2 weeks (first 2 weeks) and would like to check which locations should I base myself in. I will fly in and out of Paris, flying in early so I can go to my primary base on the same day, but I would like to leave the last 6 days for Paris. I was thinking of starting with Lyon, but don't know what the 2nd base location should be. Any help please? We will be using trains. Its important that I can do day trips from these locations with train, may be 1 to 1.5 hours distance. What do you suggest? We mainly like cities, museums and during that time Christmas spirit/activities.

Posted by
8293 posts

Nice would be my suggestion for the first part of your trip. Good museums, good rail service to other riviera locations, and it is a beautiful place to be. Then maybe Lyon, or just go to Paris from Nice for the remainder of your time.

Posted by
15944 posts

I'd consider Strasbourg. 2 hours and 20 minutes from Paris on the frequent TGV service. Christmas markets there and in Colmar, close by on the train. Also quick journeys to nearby towns in Germany, Black Forest and Freiburg, and Basel, Switzerland.

It also has direct TGV service to Lyon, so you'd have a big triangle with Paris.

Posted by
8889 posts

I second Sam with the Paris - Lyon - Strasbourg - Paris triangle.
Basel is 1 hour from Strasbourg and full of museums and an old city centre, with of course a Christmas market.
Freiburg-im-Breisgau is alos good, and a possible day trip by train from Strasbourg.

Posted by
42 posts

Thanks for your suggestions. I'm trying to leave out the Riviera region as I will be visiting in December, and wanted to stay more'near' Paris.

Posted by
42 posts

Do you suggest I do: Land in Paris then go to Lyon and then go to Strasbourg and then to Paris? Also I found people saying that from Lyon to Strasbourg it takes 5 hours, but checked on TVG and it states around 3 hours.

Posted by
8889 posts

"Do you suggest I do: Land in Paris then go to Lyon and then go to Strasbourg and then to Paris?". That is what you said you wanted to do. But you can always fly into Lyon and out odf Paris, if suitable flights exist.

Lyon to Strasbourg takes 3½ to 4 hours by TGV, without changing, about 1 train every 2 hours. But depending on time of day there are options where you change, and that takes longer.

Posted by
215 posts

Just a suggestion, if you are in Lyon around Dec 8th, Fete de Lumieres is really cool. We were there is 2012, stayed out late walking the city all 4 nights checking out the displays.

Posted by
16847 posts

If you choose to visit Lyon first, then fly there; there should be no significant cost difference and a through ticket booked on your trans-Atlantic airline is the most convenient way to make any connection. If you fly into Paris, I'd plan to stay there first, so you don't worry about flight delays. Taking a train from Paris CDG to Lyon or most other cities requires non-refundable/non-changeable advance tickets or reservations, or else costs about $120 to buy a 2nd-class ticket on the spot. Switching to a non-allied, low-fare airline is similarly nonrefundable and luggage will not be checked through.

Posted by
215 posts

From Lyon you can get to Perouges and/or Vienne in under an hour each. Perouges is a very cool medieval village, Vienne has some neat Roman ruins.
For Perouges- train to Meximieux then its a short walk up to the village(1k or so). Vienne is south, the train drops you right in town. The TI center has maps of the route around the city to see the ruins. There are markers in the street to follow but the map makes it easier.

Posted by
15944 posts

If I am correct in surmising that the OP is coming from Malta, there are nonstops on Air Malta to CDG at reasonable prices. You can get a direct TGV right from CDG station to Lyon Part Dieu every 2 hours on the current schedule.

Posted by
42 posts

Thanks all...nice ideas. Yes I'm from Malta so have to fly to CDG airport.

Posted by
42 posts

Hmmm..I thinking Lyon > Strasbourg > Paris will be the main 3 bases. Do you know of any good guesthouses in these locations? We normally try to find guesthouses first rather then hotels.

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you all for your suggestions. Now I have to chose between Lyon > Strasbourg > Paris versus Munich > Cologne > Frankfurt.

Posted by
58 posts

I loved the German Christmas markets. Why not fly into either Munich or Frankfurt. Rothenburg is a great place to visit. Nurmburg has a really big market. Stay in Germany for a few day's then go over the Paris. You can also get cheap flights from Germany to Paris if you don't want to take the train. If you can fly open jaw, it will save you travel time.

Posted by
3528 posts

Flying into one city and returning from another is a good tactic with trans-Atlantic itineraries. From Malta it is not so appropriate. I looked at www.skyscanner.com and found cheap, direct one-way flights Malta-Paris. The other French cities I chose at random did not show direct service and the rates were substantially higher. You will have to decide for yourself between the cost in time and money of returning to Paris versus a multi-destination route. (I used one-way searches because European budget airlines sell each leg of a journey as a separate fare rather than offering discounts on round-trip tickets.)

Posted by
5 posts

highly recommend strasbourg although rentals wil be expensive due to the christmas markets
food in alsace is impressive even by french standards

Posted by
14267 posts

Now I have to chose between Lyon > Strasbourg > Paris versus Munich > Cologne > Frankfurt.

Frankfurt is between Munich and Cologne, on a fairly straight line, so you'll be backtracking. It's a personal opinion, but Paris is my favorite city. Also I enjoyed the Christmas markets in Alsace much more than the German ones. There are Christmas markets in several of the towns in Alsace, especially Colmar. Alsace has more of a German "vibe" - it was sometimes part of Germany, so that would give you a little of the German experience.