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Five free days in France - Where should we go?

We are starting our trip in Amsterdam for a cruise to Norway. We then have 11 days before a River Cruise from Paris to Normandy, returning to Paris. We are looking for suggestions for the 11 "free" days. One option is to take a train to Aix En Provence and rent an apartment for 5 or 6 days touring the surrounding area by car. We are unsure of what to do for the remaining 5 or so days. Any suggestions of an area to base ourselves or short tours for the remaining five days would be welcome.
Thanks

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
13896 posts

Where does the Amsterdam-Norway cruise leave you? If it's back in Amsterdam, it would probably be cheaper to fly to Marseille/Provence airport than to take the train (or Nice or Lyon, etc). See www.skyscanner.com. If your interest is primarily in the south of France, then Rick's Provence and French Riviera guidebook is his best resource for that, covering Aix and other destinations that aren't in the general France book.

If you're interested in the area around Nice (for instance), you could drive from Aix to Nice in as little as two hours. But I'd prefer to drive via a more leisurely, scenic route and then make a second base for the coast around Nice.

Posted by Adam
Boston
3533 posts

If you start in the south, per Laura's suggestion, and need to be in Paris for your second cruise, then you could work your way north. Logical stopping places include Lyon and Burgundy.

I have visited Aix as a day trip (from St. Remy). It is very pretty, but I should prefer someplace closer to the Rhone as a base from which tour that part of Provence.

Posted by janettravels44
Chicago
3831 posts

I'd choose the Dordogne or Burgundy over Provence. Burgundy has the advantage of being very near Paris.

Posted by Coco
Dijon, Burgundy, France
102 posts

Burgundy is an excellent suggestion and Dijon its capital is a great base to explore the region, the wine coast for example (Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune if you are wine lovers) and there are many days trips to make; some ideas here https://tinyurl.com/zv947yv

Here are videos of Dijon TO that I usually suggest to watch to give you an idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5CojSGoJ4k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AhaK1TFbS8&t=9s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zih7Xss12XE

Bon voyage!

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
10104 posts

Burgundy and Alsace are good choices with a car. There's lots to explore in both. You could easily drop a rental car in Strasbourg and take the TGV to Paris.

Posted by Fred OP
Lone Tree, CO, United States
27 posts

Really appreciate the comments, many good ideas shared. We are returning to Amsterdam after the Norway cruise and agree it would be better to fly to the southern part of France as suggested. Checked into cost of trains and approaches $300 per person easily. And thanks for the suggestions on perhaps better options of where to base and travel by car. We might base ourselves in one area for a few days, then move from place to place. There are four of us traveling.

Thanks again
Fred VT

Posted by Fred OP
Lone Tree, CO, United States
27 posts

PS Yes we are wine lovers and basing in Burgundy is something we will definitely look into, thanks