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2 weeks unplanned

We have 2 unplanned weeks of travel starting Sep 10 after having 2 planned weeks. We will have done Strasbourg...Paris...Nice and Provence.

If we wanted to have no more than 3 home bases....
Normandy area is for sure so that would count as one of the 3 bases...
we will have a car...
our first time to France...
Where would your recommendations be?

Posted by
14885 posts

I'm not clear what your itinerary is. Are you starting in Strasbourg, then going to Paris by train, then to Nice and then to somewhere in Provence? I would have spent a week with a car from Strasbourg to Paris going through Alsace and Burgundy; maybe a week from Paris to Provence. Where will you be leaving to go to Normandy? Are the 2 weeks at the end? Where do they end?

Posted by
49 posts

Ok sorry. We'll have been in France already and did Strasbourg...Paris...Nice and Provence. We have Sep 10-25th unplanned...with only Normandy and Mont St Michel as things we for sure want to do.
We will have a car...
We want to be settled in an area mostly and do day trips. We've had a lot of hustle and bustle the past couple of weeks.

The areas I've read about that interest me are: Dordogne...Loire...Brittany...and of course Normandy.
I guess I'm having a hard time committing until I get a strong confirmation from you guys.

Posted by
7587 posts

Do you mean you went to Strasbourg, Paris, Nice, and Provence on a prior trip, or earlier on this trip that you're talking about here?

Posted by
5250 posts

So if I have this right, you'll be somewhere in Provence with a car on Sept. 10 and no plans for the next two weeks, but you want to visit Dordogne, Loire, Brittany, and Normandy -- or some of those areas, including Normandy -- in that time. And I'm going to assume that your flight home is from Paris, though you didn't say so.

So, using Via Michelin to find routes, and assuming you start in Arles, it's 6-8 hours (depending on route) to Sarlat, a good base for the Dordogne. Then 5-6 hours from Sarlat to Amboise, a good base for the Loire. Then 4-6 hours from Amboise to Bayeux, a good base for Normandy. Finally 3-5 hours from Bayeux to CDG airport. In other words, four full driving days -- the Michelin tool doesn't assume any stops, and tends to be optimistic about traffic and drive times. But that leaves you 11 days, more or less, for those three areas. I think that's enough time to experience all three adequately, if not in depth. Adding Brittany would be a stretch, but you could substitute it for Dordogne or Loire, perhaps with an extra driving day. Of course, your starting point and choice of bases might differ from the above.

Not knowing more about your interests (history, art, food, wine, stuff for kids, whatever) it's hard to make recommendations. You must have a guidebook -- what draws you to each area? All are superb destinations, worth more time than you have. You might do better to pick just one besides Normandy, and save the other for a future trip. If so, the Loire would be easier to reach from Paris at some future time, so that might be the tie-breaker.

Hope this helps, have a good trip.

EDIT -- I forgot that your subsequent message mentioned MSM. In that case you might want to spend time in Brittany with MSM as a stopover on the way to Normandy, and save Dordogne or Loire, or even both, for a future trip.

Posted by
7124 posts

Dordogne for 5 nights
Loire for 4 nights
Mont St Michel for 1 night
Normandy for 4 nights
Choose a base that's central to what you want to see in each area.

Posted by
925 posts

Every where we have gone i France we have had a great time. So no recommendations other than this. France is a BIG nation. With two weeks you will likely be better served going to two places, settling in and touring in the vicinity. We rented a cottage ($37/night) outside Bayeux, and did the city of, and the Normand beaches, Caen, Falaise, and the city where they make the copper Muriel pots, and back roads. The we dropped down into Burgundy for a nice stay outside of Avallon ($42, night for a house). Do a Google map thing of driving from one city to another. France is big.

What will be more enjoyable and memorable? Driving three hours one way to see a crowded Mount Saint Michel or having a cup of coffee in a small cafe then sauntering over and sitting in Bayeux cathedral and listening to organ practice followed by a nice meal?

Really, if I wanted a vacation trip with memories of driving, I would stay in the US. I say this to warn you of a common mistake. We tend to think of European nations being the size of US states. France, Spain, Germany, they are all big places. When you think France, think Texas. Or five Wisconsins.

enjoy those great noon lunches at such bargain prices.
wayne iNWI

Posted by
4249 posts

We were in the Loire at this time last year. (We had a car and went from Alsace to Burgundy to the Loire and then took a train back to Paris) The weather was lovely and we visited Chenonceau, Chambord and Villandry Chateaus as well as doing some wine tasting and dinner in Amboise which is a really cute little town. We enjoyed staying at Chateau de Pray. We stayed three nights and I believe the third was free which made the stay quite reasonable. We enjoyed a very special meal at Chateau de Pray, as well.

I am suggesting the Loire as it is somewhat close to Normandy where it seems you will already be going. If you are close to Alsace, I highly recommend the Alsace wine route. The views were stunning, the little villages adorable and the wine very approachable.