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4 nights in France somewhere new - but where?

Hi fellow travellers. I'm planning a trip (from New Zealand) for about 6 weeks this September ish which will include the Uk, France and then Italy.
This will be my 60th birthday trip and we have been to Europe a few times before.
After the UK we will have 3 or 4 nights in Paris (there seems to be a family rule that if you go to Europe you have to go to Paris!!)

I'd like to then go somewhere new in France for 4 nights before we go to Italy.
We have been everywhere in the original first edition Rick Steves 22 Days in France (bought because it had Paris, Mont Saint Michel and Carassone - the only places my 23 year old self knew for sure I wanted to visit) so we've covered I guess the main places.

Maybe Lyon or Bordeaux?

We love history, architecture, museums, churches, cafes, people watching and food. Towns or cities are both good and last year we stayed in Salamanca and Coimbra both for 4 nights and that was about perfect, but could easily have done another night. Does this give an idea of what we like?

Any thoughts or suggestions gratefully appreciated - I love to hear peoples ideas and experiences.


Posted by
2387 posts

Where exactly have you been? I have no idea what was included in the original RS 22 days in France.

Posted by
17 posts

Sorry, I wasn't very clear about where we'd been.
Brittany: Honfleur, D-day beaches, Rouen
Loire valley
Dordogne area
Beaune (but a long time ago)
Alsace - Strasbourg and Colmar but also a long time ago

Posted by
7447 posts

Are you interested in the French Riviera? There’s a lot to do in that beautiful area.

Posted by
8222 posts

Two short trips we loved:

St. Malo in Brittany with some day trips to towns in the region

either would be a terrific short trip.

Strasbourg is good too -- but I prefer those above.

Posted by
121 posts


Based on your expressed interests, I'd choose Lyon as it has everything you like: great history, architecture, museums, cafes and food. The Notre Dame de Fourviere at the top of the hill is gorgeous, and just down the street, literally, is the ancient Roman Amphitheater where they still hold concerts. The Presque Isle, old Town, and Confluence are great areas to walk, stroll and sight see (as is the Parc Tete d'Or), and the River Walks are beautiful at night. As for food, you can't do any better than Lyon. From there, you could do a short day trip via train to Dijon, if you wish (about 1 hour 30m direct).. Lyon is, I think, the third largest city in France, so if after Paris you want to "downsize" you might consider going to Avignon - much smaller, but with lots of day trips to fantastic history, architect and ruins- Nimes, Arles and the Pont du Gard - all within 30 minutes train ride (Pont du Gard is available via bus - although I rented a car to see it).

Finally, Bordeaux is also beautiful and absolutely worth a visit, but it is way southwest of Paris, so you'll have a longer trip over to Italy.
Good luck

Posted by
284 posts

Since you're going to Italy from a logistics standpoint, I like Lyon, Avignon, Provence, Nice choices. You can take a train into Italy very easily. Whatever you do, enjoy your trip!

Posted by
464 posts

After your time in Paris I would fly from Paris to Nice. The French Riviera in southern France near Nice has spectacular scenery with the Mediterranean and mountains in the background. We enjoyed Nice, Villefranche sur Mer, St Jean Cap Ferrat, and Monaco. Regional trains and buses connect those areas. Then you could go on to Italy from there.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks all, some great suggestions. I'm leaning towards Lyon but will investigate the other suggestions - so helpful as always everyone

Posted by
435 posts

We traveled to France in September, 2022, and we especially enjoyed visiting Annecy and Chamonix. We spent 4 nights in each city, and loved them. The cities were charming and so beautiful! We would love to go back again. We traveled from Chamonix to Annecy by BlaBlaBus, which was comfortable, inexpensive, and faster and more direct than the train route.

One thing to share that we did not know...most of the lifts close in mid September in Chamonix. We arrived the day after they closed! We had hoped to take a lift up and walk across one of the Balcon paths, and then take a lift back down...nope! We did take the cogwheel train to Montenvers, which was great. I just wanted to mention the closures because it was a surprise to us, and you mentioned you're traveling in September. One of my dreams was to have a meal in a cafe partway up the mountain - and we did do that in Montenvers, just fyi.

Lyon isn't far from there...and that will be our next place to visit, I think. So if you choose Lyon, consider Annecy and Chamonix, too...really memorable.


Posted by
1021 posts

TGV to Avignon. Rent a car. West is Pont du Gard, Uzès, Nimes. East is The Luberon - quintessential Provence. Perched villages, Provençal architecture, wineries, food. Finish in Aix-en-Provence for train to Italy.

Posted by
14580 posts

Another vote for Metz, aside from the pertinent reasons listed above, this is the place you want to see and base out of for exploring Lorraine.

From 1648 Metz plays another important role in European history, not as the political football as is popularly characterised .

In 1944 it was the area of Metz that blunted Patton's drive , his war of movement, since effecting the breakout in Normandy.

Numerous small towns and villages , eg , Thionville, Verdun, Valmy, Varennes , St Avold, Gravelotte-St Privat, etc can be visited and explored in this area of Lorraine, better still if you have the flexibility of being motorised.

If you run into tourists of any number, they'll be primarily French

Posted by
10 posts

Lyon hits every button you mentioned above: it's a foodie town, two rivers, cinematic history, and it even includes Roman ruins.
one night in Beaune and 3 nights in Lyon, then continue to Italy. You can fly out of Lyon.

Posted by
2064 posts

We stayed in Lyon last year and loved it. Very easy to walk around or take public transportation. Many great restaurants.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks everyone for the great advice. It is soooo hard to chose where to go, everytime I start thinking about it so many more places seem like good ideas! But we have concluded Lyon is a good option for us. We want to stay in one place without a car and easily get there between Paris and Bologna.

Posted by
8222 posts

We are doing a 3 night side trip to Lille from Paris this spring; what in particular do you recommend seeing and doing there -- or eating there/