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9 Day Trip Suggestions

My wife and I will be visiting France for the first time for 9 days in September. We are looking for some suggestions on how to split up our time, and recommendations on what to see. We really want to see the castles in the Loire valley, spend some time relaxing in the French Riviera, and I would love to see Normandy Beach. We are a big fan of charming towns. Any recommendation would be much appreciated.

Thank You

Posted by
5192 posts

That's a lot for 9 days. Does that include your travel time? At that time of year you could concentrate time in"harvest" areas, especially if you enjoy wine. Perhaps a few days in Paris, Alsace where you can visit the half timbered wine villages, and Loire for more charming towns, chateaus and wine.

EDITED TO ADD- In addition to looking at some guide books, I would recommend watching all the tv shows and videos available on the website that pertains to France. For guidebooks for France, I really like Rick Steves' and the Eyewitness Travel series. I like Eyewitness because of the extensive diagrams of certain sites and also I find the photos helpful to get a visual idea of places. Sometimes I also look at Lonely Planet and Fodor's.

Posted by
6780 posts

For a first time trip, it’s understandable that with so much to see and do in France, there’s a temptation to see and do a lot. France is as big a Texas, though, and that’s a lot of ground to cover in 9 days. If you’ve got 3 main destinations, though, and I’m assuming that Paris is maybe also part of the picture, if for no other reason than arriving and/or departing at/from Paris, you can do short visits to those 3 spots.

If you haven’t already gotten a Rick Steves’ France guidebook, that’s a great thing to have. If you land in Paris, see the city and/or rent a car or take the train or bus to Bayeaux, home of The Tapestry, as well as a Normandy Invasion museum and a nice cathedral. Visit Normandy beach(es) from there.

Head to Amboise in the Loire valley (drive? Fly? Train?), then to The Riviera in Nice, then back to Paris for the rest of your 9 days. If possible, fly “open jaw,” flying in to Paris, then out from Nice, to avoid the extra time returning to Paris.

Posted by
44 posts

I think most people here would recommend two or at most three regions, and probably close to Paris. Which would mean the Riviera is probably out, unless you want to lose two of your nine days to travel (in addition to the weird jet-lag day you'll have at the front of the trip).

For charming towns relatively accessible from Paris, it's really hard to beat Alsace. The train from Paris to Strasbourg or Colmar is fast and regular, and both put you close to the route du vin villages like Kayserberg, Riquewihr, and Ribeauville that are lovely.

If you wanted to do three regions, maybe you'd have to do the Loire and Normandy. Both are within a couple of hours of Paris by train.

Posted by
3972 posts

If it were me, I'd stick to sites relatively close to Paris-the Loire and Normandy, and I assume you want to spend some time in Paris.

Posted by
11294 posts

Just agreeing with the others. You are proposing to cover the length of the country (Normandy to the Riviera) in 9 days, which will be the opposite of "relaxing." So, just pick one or two areas, preferably near each other, and find places to relax there (there are small towns and beauty spots everywhere).

If you are going to see Paris on this trip, don't forget to budget time for that as well. If you want to focus on other areas, that's fine too, but you'll probably want to spend your first night and last night there. First night, so you don't try to drive while jet lagged, and last night (maybe at an airport hotel), so you don't miss your plane.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you for all the suggestions and tips. The 9 days does not include any travel time. It would be a total 11 day trip and i subtracted 1 day on each end for travel.

Posted by
4129 posts

A whirlwind tour would let you manage a taste of any 3 f you and yours are very nimble, except not Normandy and the Riviera. The 3 closest (Paris, Normandy, Loire) would be the easiest.

You might have a better trip if you try to cover less ground, with Normandy or Loire plus Paris and take some day trips from Paris. It depends on your style & preferences.

Posted by
6087 posts

I agree with Adam. Start and finish in Paris, plan a few days in either Normandy or the Loire with a rental car. The easiest plan would be to get and return the car in Caen or Rouen (for Normandy) and Tours (for the Loire). There's good train service between Paris and those cities.

"Normandy Beach" is really a series of beaches where the D-Day invasion took place, best experienced on a full-day guided tour from Bayeux or maybe Honfleur. But there's much more to see in Normandy -- Bayeux, Honfleur, Mont-St-Michel, Rouen, maybe Caen.

Posted by
15448 posts

My guess is that the riviera in September will be too crowded to be relaxing, not to mention how far away it is. Normandy, Loire, and everything in between can easily fill up 9 days without Paris.