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Any recommendations for itinerary

I’ll be going to France in December with my 21-year-old daughter and will be there for 9 days from late December to early January. We will spend 3 days in Paris but then I am not sure whether we should visit Chamonix and Annecy or Provence. Both areas sound amazing but it will be winter and I’m not sure which would be better based on the time of year. Also, does anyone know whether buses/trains shut down on New Year’s Day. Any comments would be so appreciated.

Posted by
19217 posts

II suggest you read about the mistral; you risk running into that wind in Provence in the winter. I don't go to Europe at that time of year, so I have no experience upon which to base a destination suggestion. MIstral aside, I'd certainly expect milder weather in Provence than in Annecy.

If you plan to do significant sightseeing (museums and such), it will be important to check the official websites for opening days and hours. It's not just a matter of specific holidays; plenty of sights in southern France close an extra day or two per week outside of the summer season.

Rick has a guidebook for southern France that has more detailed coverage of that area than the general "France" book. If you end up deciding to head to Provence, that book will be very helpful to you.

Would you be willing to rent a car for a few days while you're in Provence, or must all your travel be via buses and trains?

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks for your mention of the Mistral. I hadn’t thought about that. I’m fine with driving and if we decide on Provence, I will do that. I hadn’t bought Rick’s other book on Provence yet since we are still trying to decide which area to go to. I’m just concerned about getting hotel rooms ASAP since we only just definitively decided to go to France two days ago and thus am trying to pick an area first, secure hotel rooms, and then look into the details of our itinerary.

Posted by
7729 posts

From November 1 until April much of Provence shuts down from tourism. You are much better off in the cities: Arles, Marseille, Aix-en-Provece. And the Mistral, which blows about every third day, makes sightseeing very uncomfortable. It's also quite cold and gray.
On the other hand, the Riviera is much nicer, sunny and with a fraction of the wind. It's in the 50s. It doesn't shut down. That's where I'd head.
I have spent months in both areas in winter.

Thank you so much for this last response. That is hugely helpful. We will definitely head to Annecy and Chamonix this winter and try to go to Provence another time. Thanks so much!