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Any other suggestions?

So far this is what I am thinking of doing for my monthish long trip to France and touching in Netherlands. Any tips would be appreciated.

Arriving June 10 to Amsterdam for 4 days.
Train to Lille to pick up rental car. I night in Lille
Drive to Bayeux for 3 nights
Loire Valley for 3/4 nights-open for suggestions of place to stay
Sarlat for 5 days-open for any airbnbs
Carcassonne for 4/5 days- as above
Annecy for 2 days, drop off car and train back to Paris.

Posted by
21041 posts

Four or five days seems a long time to stay in Carcassonne.

Posted by
5251 posts

I agree about Carcassonne. One night, preferably inside the old city so you can experience it after and before the crowds. Or maybe two nights with one full day between if you want to see more of the "new" city below. You could use it as a base for exploring the Cathar country around it, if that interests you enough.

I haven't been to Annency, but it seems a long way to drive for such a short time there. I'd suggest either spending more time in that region or saving it for another trip.

Otherwise I think your plan works well. Presumably you've already been to Paris and don't want to be there this time.

Posted by
259 posts

The Dordogne is not only Sarlat, you can widen your search from 20mi around Sarlat to Brive-La-Gaillarde to the North and to the Parc Régional des Causses to the East, and find splendid places.

I agree with the previous posts. 5 days in Carcassonne is too long unless you are going to visit the Cathar castles or the Corbières vineyards (which is not safe if you are driving).

In this case you could reduce the length of stay in Carcassonne and transfer this or these days to the next part. The distance between Carcassonne and Annecy is significant (6 hours drive minimum), so you could also make an intermediate stop, for example in Avignon

Posted by
1993 posts

That's an interesting itinerary.

Annecy makes little sense to the continuity of your trip. Why are you including it? It's a nice city with a lake, but unless you have a very important reason to go there, cutting it would be the first change I might make.

If you just want to travel from Amsterdam to Bayeux, take the train and rent a car in Bayeux. Taking the train to Caen could also work. It´s a long, expensive drive, and Lille for 1 night is not going to add much to your itinerary.

Bayeux to the Loire Valley looks fine, 3 days/4 nights is a good amount of time to cover the highlights. Sarlat for 5 days is good, which can include much more than just Sarlat.

The next segment is a bit concerning, 4/5 days in or even around Carcassonne is overkill, unless you are particularly interested in the Cathar culture and are determined to visit as many Cathar castle sites as you can. You could arrange this to spend a week on the Canal du Midi from perhaps Bram to near Béziers, (I am not sure what options currently exist). You rent a boat, travel the canal, see everything up close, and continue 7 days later at some point farther to the east. Just a thought.

From Sarlat, I recommend traveling eastward but at a latitude farther north and explore either Languedoc, (Montpellier, Nîmes, Uzès, le Pont du Gar, maybe Aigues Mortes as a Carcassonne replacement), or continue to western Provence, which is arguably one of the most popular tourist destinations in France. 10 days would not be too much time to spend exploring Avignon, Arles, St Rémy, Isle sur la Sorgue, Gordes, Rousillon, Baux les Provence, and Aix-en-Provence.

Take the train to Paris from one of the cities, such as Nîmes or Avignon.

Not clear on how much time you actually have, but Amsterdam, Normandy, the Loire Valley, and Paris can easily fill 3 weeks or more.

Finally, reserve your hotels in advance, don't try to find accommodations on the fly this year. You might be sleeping in the car.

There are a lot of possibilities, and much of what I outline might take 6 weeks or more. These are just malleable suggestions that take you to the highlights.

Posted by
108 posts

Thanks everyone. Let me add some more clarification :)

Lille was chosen as not to far from Amsterdam and not having to go through Paris and change trains etc. I am now looking at Bayeux for rental car pick up but not so thrilled about the Paris part. We are trying to avoid big cities (and have been to Paris three times).

I'm glad the Normandy part and Loire sounds good and Sarlat. We are hoping not to have too many stops (although it looks like that is what I was doing!) We are happy staying in one location and riding bikes, hiking and exploring. So, I can modify the Carcassonne part to a couple of days and end in Montpellier or go east ..

The reason for Annecy was it is a beautiful place and I need to get back to Paris to fly out on July 5 and my partner can either fly out of Geneva or Nice on her way to Prague. We spent two weeks in Provence last year so that is why we are skipping that area.

Hope that makes more sense :) I appreciate all of you reading and answering my questions and giving suggestions. It is very helpful. Any other thoughts :)?

Posted by
1993 posts

I can understand your preference to avoid a station change in Paris, but doing so makes the most sense for your itinerary.

You can arrange for transportation from Gare du Nord to Gare St Lazare in advance, someone will be waiting for you upon arrival:

You will want to purchase train tickets as soon as possible as prices continously rise: