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21 days in France - itinerary

My husband and I (both in our early 60's) are planning for approximately 21 days in France Fall 2022. I speak a little French and I am working on it to improve my conversational french. The regions we are most interested in are: Burgundy, Provence, Cote d'Azur, Dordogne, Bordeaux. We may consider a side trip to Corsica if time allows. We will probably fly into and out of Paris as that may be most economical for us coming from Western Canada. We could rent a car for the entire trip or take train/bus from region to region and rent car once there if required. I realize that some regions will require car more than others. 3 plus nights in each area would be best as we find anything less makes for a hectic trip. We are looking forward to a moderate to slow pace, time for exploring and enjoying nature and food/wine, biking, kayaking/canoeing, easy to moderate hiking, time on the water in barge or boats for a few hours or 1/2 day, views, meals in unique spots. When looking back at trips we have taken to Europe in the past, the most memorable times have been biking in vineyards in Tuscany, kayaking through caves in Lagos, enjoying wine tasting and food in family vineyard with spectacular view, walking on cliffs in Lagos, picnic in Garden in Rome, and evening of Fado in Lisbon. This is the type of trip we are looking forward to in France. If you have an itinerary in mind or can comment on the regions we are looking at and how it might work, please let me know. Thank you so much!

Posted by
5260 posts

I'd suggest a train from either CDG or Paris to either Dijon (in Burgundy) or Bordeaux, then rent a car for the rest of it. Starting with a train ride probably means initially going into Paris (to Gare de Lyon for Dijon, Gare Montparnasse for Bordeaux), but that would be easier and safer than trying to drive around the outskirts of Paris after an overnight flight. Your longest driving day would be from the Cote d'Azur to the Dordogne, or vice versa. Via Michelin shows the drive between Nice and Sarlat taking about eight hours (with no stops, therefore unrealistic). You could break up that drive with a night in Languedoc, for example Carcassonne.

The problem with trains for a trip like this is that most of them route through Paris. Trains are a great way to get between Paris and outlying cities where driving is easier, but the car will give you flexibility for the rest of your trip.

This is an ambitious itinerary that could become "hectic" as you don't want. You could have a much more relaxed trip either to the southeast (Burgundy, Provence, Cote d'Azur) or southwest (Dordogne, Bordeaux), saving the other area for next time. I think adding Corsica would increase the hectic factor considerably.

Posted by
3304 posts

The first thing that jumps out at me is that you can take the TGV from Paris to Nice or Avignon to get yourselves started. I would also check out the price/ convenience of flying straight to one of the southern airports. If you end your trip in Bordeaux, it’s pretty easy to get back to CDG. I would rent a car at the first stop and keep it until the end of the trip. When we last traveled in that region, we decided to fly back to Paris from Bordeaux, rather than drive. I don’t remember why.
The Dordogne River is perfect for canoeing, and the region has great sights, food and wine. I recommend at least 4 nights. 5 would be even better.