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A few more questions about travel basics

Hello all. Thanks so much for your ongoing help. We leave Thursday!
We are a family of 4: mom, dad 21 YO daughter and 16 YO son. We have all had a lot of fun in planning, but have a few more questions.
1. In regard to train travel, how much time do we need to arrive at the station before our train departure time -- is it like an airport where you have to go through security, etc., or can we just get there a few (15?) minutes before departure time? (for TGV trains.)

  1. One day we will be driving from Beaune to Avignon. Do you have any favorite stops/detours along the way?

  2. Here is our itenerary outline. Do you see any problems or have suggestions about how to better organize?

Paris - Friday, July 17 Arrive CDG 2:25. At the airport buy carnets and museum pass. Take taxi into city to hotel in 6th Arr. 
Drop bags and freshen up.
Go to the Louvre this afternoon. (open until 10 p.m. on Fridays.) Late dinner, then Eiffel Tower tickets at 11 p.m.
Day 2 Saturday, July 18 Follow Rick Steve’s “Historic Paris” walk, featuring Ile de la Cité, Notre-Dame, and Sainte-Chapelle
Have lunch in Latin Quarter. 
After lunch, stop at City Pharma. Take the train/metro up to Sacre Coeur. Explore the neighborhood.
Evening: Cruise the Seine River on Bateaux-Mouche.
Day 3 Sunday, July 19 Tour the Orsay Museum. Follow Rick Steve’s Champs-Elysées walk from the Arc de Triomphe downhill along Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Tuileries Garden, and the Orangerie Museum. After dinner, walk by Notre-Dame at night.
Day 4 Monday, July 20 Breakfast at a cafe after we checkout of hotel. Train to Dijon. In Dijon, pick up rental car. Drive to Gite in Volnay. Explore the area.
Day 5, Tuesday, July 21. Wine tour with Max.
Day 6 Wednesday, July 22 Explore the area, including Beaune, Fontaney Abbey. Dinner reservation in Beaune.
Day 7, Thursday, July 23 Visit Chantier Médiéval de Guédelon.
Day 8 Friday, July 24 Drive to Avignon. Explore Avignon.

Day 9, Saturday, July 25 Senanque Abbey near Gordes. Afternoon in Pont du Gard.
Day 10, Sunday, July 26 Arles. Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Day 11 Monday, July 27 Return to Paris via train. Depart for home. 

Posted by
23728 posts

Sherrie, you have two number ones and a day one.

Your first number one - you need enough time to walk through the station, find the platform with the train, walk to the train, in a TGV you need to walk to the coach with your seat on it, hump you and your luggage (look around after you get on in case a case is on the platform) up into the train, and a minute or two to settle down.

If it is not a TGV you need to put the ticket in the stamping machine before you get on - add 30 seconds in case the first one doesn't work.

I allow about 10 or 15 minutes - you may want to allow 15 to 30 for the first one and then see how you feel.

Day 4. You will be leaving Paris from Gare de Lyon. Gare de Lyon is a very - very - large station. The tracks (platforms) are in two well separated areas. One of the sections refers to the platforms by number, the other by letter. Be sure you have enough time to get to the right part of the station when the train is posted on the screens.

In my experience the train to Dijon can be in either part.

I would allow a good half hour for that train because of the size and complexity of the station. More if you or anyone in your party is easily confused or moves slowly.

Second question number 1. Montélimar to watch nougat being made and buying some (a lot). We particularly like Le Chaudron d'Or at number 7, Avenue du 52e RI. Their website is easy.

They are one of several all along the N7 in Montélimar. That's about 350 km south of Dijon (a few less for Beaune) and about 80 km north of Avignon. Montélimar is well signed from the Autoroute de Soleil, easy off and easy on.

Take plenty of money for tolls.

Posted by
23728 posts

I've just looked at my Chaudron d'Or km marker souvenir box and it is actually exactly 80 km north of Avignon and 343 km south of Dijon.

My box is empty. ;-(

I have a bag from Auchan but it is not the same. I must return.

Posted by
4259 posts

Sherrie, if you're flying overnight from the US you might find that first day in Paris too much. If you already have Eiffel Tower tickets for 11:00, be prepared to shorten your Louvre visit and take a nap at your hotel either before or after. And set the alarm or have a wakeup call so you don't sleep right through your ET time!

The best arrival-day advice on this board is usually to stay awake, walk around outside, avoid museums or dark places, and go to bed after an early dinner so you wake up more or less in synch with local time. You're obviously younger than many of us, and maybe good at sleeping on planes. I hope so. And of course your time is so limited you want to use it all.

Bateaux-Mouche is one of several companies that run Seine cruises. Another is Vedettes de Pont-Neuf, and there may be another also. All those cruises are about the same, so don't feel tied to one company unless there's some reason for that. Some leave from the Pont-Neuf, others from near the ET, so pick whichever is more convenient.

Posted by
20686 posts

Personally I don't see how you can do Friday. If you are arriving from the US on Friday, then jet lag will do you in prior to the Eiffel tower at 11 pm. However, if coming from somewhere else in Europe and adjusted to European time, then I withdraw my comments. For us, your schedule would be far to rigid/busy since it does not allow for any slack time or ability to adjust should something not work as scheduled.

Posted by
926 posts

I too am worried about a super late night on arrival... We also like to stay awake and get to bed after early dinner - you may need to plan in a nap to make it that late, unless you slept really well on the plane.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
38 posts

Agree, arrival day is totally unrealistic. I was dubious to read that you want to do the Louvre after a transatlantic flight. Adding on the Eiffel Tower at 11pm is a non-starter. You'll be asleep long before then. I predict you won't even remember much from the Louvre.

Posted by
603 posts

I was in Provence last week. The abbey was mobbed when we arrived at 11am. No parking! For us, we didn't care as we were more interested in chilling in Joucas and hiking in Roussillon.

Avignon traffic can slow you down. Traffic was not an issue anywhere else.

Consider flipping your Arles day if st Marie's has a market. This would also give you the chance to see a bull game in Arles and get dinner in Arles. Parking was not bad for our 2 pm arrival. I actually really like stes Marie. The water was great and the market was fun.

I would move pont du Gard into your Avignon day and reserve the other day to slowly explore the Luberon and then hit the Lumieres cave on the way home. It is weird but awesome.


Posted by
6875 posts

Big red flag:
The fastest route between Beaune to Guedelon is 2:30 each way using the autoroute, or five hours of your day. You've clearly underestimated the size of Burgundy. Check it on St. Fargeau is the closest town to Guedelon.

On the other hand, you should see about cashing in your train tickets, pick up a car at Orly and drive to Dijon because you can easily stop at Guedelon on your way south, saving yourself five hours of backtracking.

As a side note: the Festival of Avignon is going on until July 26th, so expect a very crowded town.

Posted by
4656 posts

There is no point in walking down the Champs-Elysees- it's a dull road full of chain stores and car dealerships. Get more time in the Orangerie by taking the bus from Etoile to Concorde.

Posted by
6875 posts

One more thing: you are driving south on the main north/south vacation route on a Friday during the heaviest vacation traffic of the year. It's only from Beaune to Avignon, but be sure you get an early start. You will probably beat the worst traffic which will be leaving Paris in the afternoon, but many Belge and Dutch will be hightailing it along that autoroute too, pulling their camper cars. Gong through Lyon is a crap shoot as to whether you should stay on the autoroute and go through the city in the tunnels or switch to the autoroute that circles around the city. We've done both and had jams both ways. Just listen to the autoroute radio because it announces all the accidents and delays in English, too.

Posted by
7124 posts

After arrival on Friday in no way could I face The Louvre. I would walk instead - jet lag is best handled outdoors.
Start at the Pyramid du Louvre - Tuileries (Orangerie) - Place Vendome - Opera - Madeleine - Place de la Concorde - Grand+Petit Palais - Pont Alexandre III - Finish at Invalides (Dome Church and Napoleons Tomb). This is my favourite walk in Paris.
Saturday: Orsay => Arc de Triomphe => Sacre Coeur => evening Seine cruise
Sunday: St Chapelle => Notre Dame => Louvre