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France 24-day Itinerary

Hello, and thank you in advance for any tips and suggestions! I'd appreciate a critique of a trip planned for June, 2020. It's been 30 years since my last visit to France (primarily Paris and the southern region). I don't expect to be returning soon, so I'd like to get a taste of several other areas. Traveling solo means I'll be more interested in getting to locations, rather than casually meandering along the way. I travel lightly and often, and practice being an appreciative guest in a foreign land. I like art & architecture, wildlife & pastoral scenery, B & Bs, local food, music, and history. I welcome your comments:

6 nights -- Normandy, meeting & staying with friends who live near Bayeux.

1 night -- Mont St. Michel, having rented a car in Caen, and spending the night at the Auberge de la Baie.

2 nights -- Loire Valley, seeing 3-4 chateaux/gardens and the equestrian center in Saumur, perhaps staying centrally near Tours.

3 nights -- Dordogne (via Oradour-sur-Glane), seeing the caves, castles, and markets, and staying near Domme.

1 night -- Lyon.

2 nights -- Chambery/Annecy area, for alpine views or national park hikes, sweet wines, and perhaps a farm stay.

2 nights -- Colmar area (as above).

1 night -- Reims.

5 nights -- Paris, staying at the Hotel Diana after returning the car to CDG.

I'm wondering if I should allow another night in both the Loire and Dordogne areas, and reduce my time in Paris? Best sites to see with limited time, in the French Alps/Jura/Alsace? Thank you again!

Posted by
421 posts

May I suggest that you might want to not skip around so much? Spending 1 night in Lyon is not worth it. We spent 4 nights there and there is much to do.

The amount of traveling you are doing doesn't really allow you time to casually meander. It sounds like you are doing a lot of traveling and not a lot of time spending time in the towns.

If I have 2 weeks or so, I usually pick 3-4 cities, rather than trying to see everything.

Posted by
15 posts

Hi, Rizell -- thank you! I meant to say that I won't be meandering on this trip, and will intentionally try to get from Point A to Point B. ;-) You are correct -- sadly, I am using Lyon only as a stopping point between the Dordogne and the Alps. Same with Reims (perhaps going straight into Paris and making Reims a day trip is a better idea). I appreciate your comments, since the scale of the trip is hard to visualize, and perhaps too broad...sigh! Any suggestions on what to omit?

Posted by
11 posts

My wife and I did a hectic (for me at least, as I do the driving) loop in which we spent 4 nights in Paris, then just 2 nights at each of 5 other locations (Caen, Tours, Lyon, Gevray-Chambertin, Nancy) and back to CDG for our last night in country before flying home.
Never again! My new rule is: at least 3 nights in each location when traveling for enjoyment. Not certain if my wife agrees with my rule. I'll find out when we plan our next international trip.

Posted by
15 posts

Ah, bob.rench1177, that does sound difficult. I'm hopeful that my first and last weeks will mitigate the heavier traveling in the middle ;-) Perhaps I should combine the alpine stops (Chambery/Colmar) into a single stay? Any ideas??

Posted by
5067 posts

My thoughts:
1) One night in Lyon -- driving. If you are only doing this as a rest stop, stay outside Lyon -- my husband found the driving in Lyon far worse than downtown Paris.
2) Colmar is really a long drive. Delightful area, but drop it.

Posted by
15 posts

Laura B -- wow, great advice about Lyon, and I will look more closely re Colmar. Thank you! By the way, my original plans were guided by the Rick Steves 21-Day Driving Itinerary -- cutting out the southern part of the country -- but I have never taken one of his trips/tours.

Posted by
8 posts

Hello. Planning a trip is a personal thing. You do what you want to do. But I also feel you are jumping around a lot, such as 1 night here and 2 nights there. Since you said you have been to Paris before, maybe remove 2 days from Paris, and add 1 day to the Loire Valley and add 1 day to Annecy. The Loire Valley has so many beautiful chateaux to visit. Annecy is a charming town on the lake with the Alps behind them. Annecy is a smaller (and more modern) version of Venice with canals and bridges. If you like cookoo clocks, this is the place to get one. Near Annecy is the mountain town of Chamonix. You can take a number of aerial cable cars up to the mountain top next to famous Mont Blanc. Breathtaking scenery, but be aware of the high altitude that does effect some people. Also, there can be a long wait getting the cable car to get back down. But, bottom line: it's your trip and have Fun! Ed

Posted by
15 posts

Ed -- thank you for your reply. I'm not a fan of cuckoo clocks, but your description of Annecy and its nearby mountains definitely appeals. Adding a day to both the Loire Valley and the Dordogne, bypassing Lyon, and reducing time in Paris is starting to make sense. I appreciate your comments and the gentle reminder that it is my trip ;-). Spending 25 days in one country -- knowing that others might visit 3-4 different ones in the same time frame -- shouldn't be such a puzzle, and is probably due to an embarrassment of riches! Thanks for the feedback.