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November trip to France

I am planning a trip to France in November....I am planning for about 10-11 days. Any thoughts, suggestions. My plan is;
fly into Paris on November 18th. take train to Caen and rent a car, drive to Bayeux and do Mont St. Micheal and do a little touring in Normandy. (I Have taken a short Normandy tour before) Spend 2-3 days in Normandy then go to the Loire Valley. For 2-3 days. I was thinking of using Tours as my Base to work out of, Leave car in Tours and take Train to Paris spend 3 days in Paris. Then Fly home. I have been in Paris 2 other times for a total of 10 days.
1. is Tours a good place to base out of for the Loire Valley?
2. Am I pushing myself to much in Normandy and the Loire Valley?
3 should I do only the Loire valley and spend more time there? Split my time between Tours and Paris?

Posted by
848 posts

Just got home after a 15 day trip to France. It worked out beautifully......we flew into Paris, got a car, drove to Giverny for a night. From there we spent 1 night in Honfleur, toured Rouen, Etratet and spent 3 nights in Bayeux for all of the Normandy sites. We drove to Mont St. Michel for 1 night and then based ourselves in Amboise for 3 nights to see 6 chateaus and castles in the Loire Valley. We loved Amboise and it was a great place to use as a Loire Valley base. We drove back to Paris after that and spent 4 nights there and then flew home. We looked at Tours to base but Amboise seemed better to us. We did Usse, Amboise, Chenonceau, Cheverny, Villandry and Azay-Le-Rideau.....which was plenty for us ( Chambord was closed due to flooding ).
We have been to Paris once before doing all of the museums so we stayed on the Ile St. Louis this trip and relaxed those last 4 was great!
Hope this helps!

Posted by
6163 posts

Tours is a big city with a fine cathedral and other sights (neglected by the RS guides unfortunately) but for purposes of a Loire base it may be too big, take too long to get in and out of each day. With your timeframe I'd choose a base either east or west of Tours and stay on that side. Amboise (east) and Chinon (west) are popular choices but there are plenty of others (we liked St-Aignan, east of Tours).

I don't think you're trying to do too much, but do take account of the drive times between Bayeux and MSM, and then down to Tours area, as you plan. They're not trivial. Via Michelin is a good driving planning tool, but typically underestimates actual driving times.

Posted by
1898 posts

If you push yourself too much or not, always remains at the end personal. But once at your destination likely you will adapt yourself to another rhythm and not always easy to heave an idea about sitting behind the drawing board. So plan with priorities and be flexibel about other things. Keep room for changes on the spot as you will discover likely many things to pay attention to, you can not think about at home. If you stay at a B&B, they have most of the time local tourist info and good tips and so can make change your plans. Happens many times with me, making the trips just what I’m looking for.

But as a plan to start with I think too there is nothing wrong with it. Guess touring in Normandy means if reading well a few days near Le Mont-Saint-Michel, so likely you pay a visit to Dinan, St. Malo and Cancale (actually is Brittany, just detail). But November is usually not the most inviting period weatherwise for outdoor activities and so close to the sea and with the open flat land around Mont-Michel there can be strong chilly wind and be quite unpleasant. So maybe like to stay there less longer as planned, so again plan flexible.

Driving further to Tours or Amboise is some 375km, so you will need to make one or a few stops. If you drive along Fougères and Vitré, both places are certainly worth a visit. Le Mans has a nice city centre too and the Race Car Museum near the entrance of the race track is also worth to consider.

I can recommend a central located place too, to stay for visiting the châteaux in the Loire Valley as you will have to drive mostly along local roads (you really need to be focused, you will see) and can be very time consuming.

Posted by
7175 posts

Day 1 - Arrive Paris. Train to Rouen (1nt)
<< pick up hire car >>
Day 2 - Drive via Honfleur to Bayeux (2nts)
Day 3 - Normandy Beaches
Day 4 - Drive to Mont St Michel (1nt)
Day 5 - Drive to Loire Valley (3nts)
Day 6+7 - Visit chateaux
<< return hire car >>
Day 8 - Train to Paris (3nts)
Day 9+10 - Paris
Day 11 - Fly home

Posted by
14 posts

Tours makes a great base for the Loire Valley and that time of year you will definitely need a car, many tourists busses aren't running and some are not easy to access by train (esp my favorite, Chambord). Although there are plenty of big chateaux accessible by train if you prefer thay. I'm a chateaux junkie so I would always prefer extra time in the Loire Valley. I saw something like 15 chateaux during a month in Tours and it still wasn't enough! But Normandy is great too, just a different type of history so it depends what interests you. Also be careful because many chateaux, museums and other sites severely restrict their hours in the off season. If you have the car while in Tours parking in the city center will be difficult, Bayeux wasnt a problem though.

Posted by
776 posts

Sounds great. I would base my self in Amboise. I was not a fan of how big Tours was and thought Amboise to be so charming.

Posted by
96 posts

I agree with those who recommend Amboise as a base. I've been to the Loire Valley three times, and each time I've stayed in Amboise. Tours is a bit larger than the other cities/towns there, and it's not that great to just wander around in. There are a lot of places that you can easily drive to from Amboise. Chinon is also nice, but I've never stayed there, and is more west. Keep in mind that cycling to several chateaux is also an option, if that's your thing. Have fun!

Posted by
360 posts

I will add to the recommendation for Amboise -- we loved it there, as it's big enough to have a lot of restaurants/shops but not too crowded so that it's hard to get in/out of. We went to Ricks' top three recommendations (the three Cs) and Azay le Rideau (which was covered in scaffolding when we were there, so you may want to check before going), and then spent some time wine tasting in the area (we were castle'd out after five). We also hit Blois on the way down from Paris, which was a much older castle than the others that we saw, so it was interesting to see the difference in the styles and upkeep.