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France for 2 weeks- June'16

Hi,
I along with my husband are planning a road trip in France in June'16 for 2 weeks. This is our third visit to Europe; we have been to Republic of Ireland in 2014 & Austria / Germany (Alpine regions) in 2015. I've been reading quite a bit about the country since a month, and am really fascinated by the variety that it offers- spectacular landscapes, vineyards, great food, historical places and perfect for art lovers. The more I read about it, the more I want to see EVERYTHING!!
We are planning to fly from Mumbai, India on 11th June, land in Paris and depart from Paris again on 25th June.
We understand that June is a peak time for tourists in Europe, hence we wish to base ourselves mostly in small, quaint villages (of course Paris being an exception).

Both of us are very interested to see cute villages in the countryside (However, I have had an overdose of them in Austria and Germany), do some wine tasting, drive through pretty landscapes, visit atleast one beach and engage in some outdoorsy activities (like parasailing, canoeing, etc). We are not big fans of history, but we do want to see important historical sights in Paris. I really want to dedicate 4 days to this wonderful city; it's my dream to visit Paris !
We don't mind stretching ourselves a bit since this is our first trip to France, and it's unlikely that we will return :) We'd rather explore an unseen country next!

Here's a tentative itinerary that I prepared basis my research. Requesting your honest opinion about the same! Thanks in advance :)

11 June- Land in Paris at 8-9 am. Stay overnight for 4 days
14 June- Day trip to Versailles

15 June- Rent a car in Paris early morning, set off to visit Monet's garden in Giverny.
After the garden trip, drive to Amboise : 224 km. Visit one or two Chateaus. Stay overnight
16 June- Visit the remaining one or two Chateaus. Stay overnight

17 June- Drive to Dordogne region (327 km).
Visit Sarlat or Lascaux caves. Stay overnight
18 June- Sight seeing in nearby areas of Dordogne (Please suggest). Stay overnight

19 June- Drive to Toulouse (271 km). Relax/ light sight seeing (Please suggest). Stay overnight

20 June- Drive to Nimes/ Uzes (292 km). Stay overnight. (I know that we are stretching a bit here, but this 1 night stay is in
order to reach Lyon with a break journey
)

21 June- Drive to Lyon (251 km). Stay overnight
22 June- Day drip to Annecy (300 km roundtrip). Stay overnight at Lyon

23 June- Drive to Beaune (150 km). Visit the vineyard. Stay overnight
24 June- Remaining sight seeing

25 June- Drive back to Paris (311 km). Drop the car. Reach airport at noon. Catch a flight in the evening

I know that there's a lot of time and scope to further improve my itinerary. I'm trying to fit in too much in 2 weeks. But I have tried to limit the driving distance between two towns to around 300 km. Will have to check the actual time on Michelin. Given the superb roads in France, I think the drive will be smooth. My hubby dearest is used to drive for even longer hours! In the above itinerary, I could not fit any coastal region, please suggest some good beaches that are a short drive from Nimes/ Toulose)

So, dear travellers, your suggestions/ criticisms are welcome!! Please help me design my dream vacation :)

Ciao!!

Aditi Gupta
India

Posted by
11450 posts

There is no way I would ever plan to arrive back in Paris and catch a flight that evening on same day!!! One delay could cost you your flight home! Arrive in Paris night before.

On 15th you may have time for one chateau not two, but seeing three the next day, while rushed, is possible.

I personally would find all the driving tiring, but I understand others enjoy them, it does seem like too much car time to me.

Posted by
724 posts

June is a lovely month to visit France. I think you are doing too much driving. The roads are good but if you are on an autoroute, you'll go fast but you'll miss the charm of France. If you go on the smaller roads, you won't go so fast but you're more likely to see the charm. My favorite memories of France are the unplanned things.

If you only have 2 weeks in France and you don't expect to come back, you will have to choose you destinations very carefully and you will have to skip a lot. Since you have been to the Alps already, and you're only thinking about a day trip from Lyon, I would just skip the Alps entirely this trip. Also, skip Toulouse. It's a big city. You mentioned that you were more interested in villages.

I think your itinerary is ok to start with but after Dordogne it seems to be mostly driving. If you skip Toulouse, then you could go straight to Provence. Skip
Lyon of you don't intend to go to the Alps. Leave the car in Provence and take the train back to Paris. That's a more conventional trip.

If you want something different, try this. After Dordogne, go to Salers in Cantal. Spend 2 nights. Go hiking at Puy Mary during the day. Then head towards Burgundy. There are many small towns and villages in Burgundy.

Posted by
7124 posts

I think you are cramming too much in and unfortunately will need to drop some of your plan ...

11 June - Paris (4 nts)
15 June - Rouen (1 nt) for Giverny
(pick up hire car early morning of 16th)
16 June - Tours (2 nts) for Loire Valley
18 June - Dordogne (2 nts)
20 June - Arles (3 nts) for Provence
23 June - Lyon (2 nts) for Annecy
(drop off hire car early morning of 25th)
25 June - Depart from Paris (direct TGV from Lyon to CDG)

Also, as a funny little note, plural of 'chateau' is 'chateaux'.

Posted by
605 posts

Aditi,

Here's my thoughts:

11 June- Land in Paris at 8-9 am, drive to Amboise, visit town, relax (sleep Amboise)
14 June- Visit two or three - I recommend Chenenceau (sleep Amboise)
15 June- Drive to Dordogne, see Castle Beynac (sleep in Beynac)
16 June- Lascaux caves and area in the morning, Canoe the river with stops in towns in the afternoon (sleep Beynac)
17 June- Vist Sarlat, Castlenaud, and a goose farm (sleep Beynac)
18 June- Drive to Arles (takes about 6.5 hours), (sleep Arles)
19 June- Visit Sainte-Maries-de-la-Mer on the Mediterranean, see the Carmague (sleep Arles)
20 June- Choose 2 - visit the Pont du Gard, travel east to the Lurberon or visit Les Baux and the Carrieres de Lumieres in the (sleep Arles)
21 June- Ditch the car and train to Paris (sleep Paris)
22 June- Paris (sleep Paris)
23 June- Paris/Versailles (sleep Paris)
24 June- Paris (sleep Paris)
25 June- Paris (sleep on plane)

Notes:

June is lovely and not that touristy. The roads in all of these places are not very busy and the French (and other Europeans) are still in school. I think it is the best month to visit.

I have been to these places and also to Beaune and Annecy. I love Beaune and Annecy very much, but logistically, you may be better off with an itinerary that cuts them out. You could do this in reverse and cut out the Dordogne and the Loire, but you've seen the Alps (as another poster noted) and I personally like the Dordogne the best, so I went with this plan instead.

Check out the podcast www.joinusinfrance.com - they've got great information on just about all of these places. I love the show and recommend it often (too much?) on this board.

By leaving directly from Paris on day one and training into the city from Provence, you would be cutting out a lot of car dropoff/pickup logistics. If you don't want to drive jet-lagged, train directly from CDG to Tours, pick up the car there and then it is only a 30 minute (easy) driver to Amboise. Lot's of folks do that.

If you want to avoid trains altogether, then I would probably sleep in Beaune on June 21st and just have one less day in Paris. Personally, if I did that I would cut out Versailles as you will have seen several palaces in the Loire.

Best of luck!

-Matt

Posted by
61 posts

Thanks so much for your feedback.. Kind of expected it. Loved all your suggestions :)
I can think of 2 options-
Stay longer in Dordogne, and just visit Lyon/Annecy after that... Fly back home from Geneva.
Or
Skip Dordogne. Just visit Lyon/ Annecy and Burgundy after that. Drop the car at Lyon.

Would you help me decide between Dordogne and Burgundy?
Quaint villages and pretty landscapes are our thing. Also some interesting activities will be a cherry on top.. Personally I'm looking forward to canoeing on Dordogne river.

Posted by
3303 posts

I agree with those who have suggested that you cut your chateau time to one day. Also, that you eliminate Toulouse and Annecy. Give the Dordogne at least one more day. There is a good report on this forum about the poster's Dordogne trip. Check it out. It will give you all the specifics - - - towns, activities, lodgings - - - you need.
Keep in mind that viamichelin time estimates are about 25% too low for the real world
Not being a beach person, I can't make any concrete recommendations; however, you might look into the possibility of adding a day in Normandy for beach time.

Posted by
7124 posts

Some of your original expectations are unrealistic. This one day, for example ...

15 June
Rent a car in Paris early morning.
Set off to visit Monet's garden in Giverny.
After the garden trip, drive to Amboise : 224 km.
Visit one or two chateaux.

You seem to be wrestling with Dordogne vs Burgundy, but seem totally uninspired by Provence to even consider it at all. I wonder why this is so? Many people consider Provence to be the epitome of rural France, and it is particularly delightful in late June.

Posted by
61 posts

Hi,
Thanks for the reality check everyone! I thought about it and everything you said is just bang on.
Not being a beach person, I'm actually okay not considering Provence (and the Côte d'Azur). Also, it's about 500 km from Dordogne.
Instead, how about this-

11 June morning- Land in Barcelona:
Stay for 4 nights. Side trip to Montserrat

15 June morning- Take a train to Toulouse (3 hours)
Hire a self drive car. Drive to Sarlat (2 hours)
I know I waged half a day here but that's fine. I think the drive itself will be worth it.
Stay for 4 days

16 June- canoeing in Dordogne river.
17 June- side trip to Beynac, Perigueux and villages like Domme

18 June- side trip to Bordeaux (wine tour). Visit saint Emilion on the way

19 June- leave for Amboise. Visit 1 château
20 June- 3 châteaux visit

21 June- leave for Giverny & Versailles. Reach Paris in evening. Drop the car. Stay overnight in Paris

22-24 June- stay in Paris for 3 full days

25 June morning- fly back to Mumbai