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Paris and ? for three weeks

We are planning a honeymoon for September 2015 in France for 18 days. We are in our 50's and have traveled the French Riveria, Spain and Italy in previous trips. We are looking at staying in Paris and then adding 3-4 more destinations in France. We love small towns, food, wine, and beautiful scenery. The time change is always very hard on me so we try to take it easy for a few days when we arrive. We can do Paris at the beginning or the end of the trip. We have always traveled trains/buses but are thinking of renting a car when we are outside of Paris. I would appreciate suggestions. I have all of the RS France books.

Posted by
4132 posts

Congratulations Renee. With 18 days you could visit SW France, including the Dordogne Valley. This region has everything you say you like plus magnificent neolithic cave art.

With Paris in the mix, there are two different routes that people often take to visit this region. One is to head directly there from Paris, either by train/car combination or with a stop in the Loire valley. The other is to take the TGV from Paris and stop in Provence. From Provence you can drive all the way or take the train to Toulouse or Albi or Carcassonne and pick up a car there.

You can fly home from Toulouse or Bordeaux, or reverse the entire itinerary to end in Paris.

A car is almost required for this region and can be very handy in Provence. When we made a similar trip we rented cars separately in both places.

Since you do not include Renaisance chateaux in your priorities, I'd suppose that the swing through Provence would be more interesting than a stop in the Loire.

If you do not want to go south, Burgundy is another charming rural part of France with great food and wine. I do not think it fits with either Dordogne itinerary in just 18 days, however. You could combine it with a swing through Normandy.

But I bet you'd really like SW France.

Have a wonderful honeymoon.

Posted by
196 posts


No pun but I am going to take you in a different "direction". I would spend the first two or three nights in Paris, rent a car and head out to Epernay and Reims (Champagne country). From there, over to Metz ( a place RS really doesn't address but very nice small city I was impressed by). Then on to Strasbourg and Colmar (a very walkable small town). Finally, head down to Dijon (another very underappreciated city) which is in the middle of Burgundy. The small wine town of Beaune is just outside of Dijon. If you want, you can stop in Chablis on the way back to Paris. Finally, two or three nights back in Paris before you leave. I encourage you to look up the sights in each to see if this appeals to you. The big advantage to this trip is it involves only a couple of hours driving time at the most between towns (some drives are less than an hour) and allows you a couple of nights at each stop so you won't feel rushed. Did I mention the scenery and the fine wine along the way??.........

Posted by
6670 posts

Lune de miel....I love it! Congratulations!

You have a good problem. Assuming that you haven't been to Paris before, or for very long, I'd suggest spending at least a week there, either at the start or the end or split between the two. Your jet lag recovery will be easier if you don't try to move around too much right at the start, and if you need to sleep irregularly (try to avoid) it's easier if you're in one place. Another way to think of this is that there's more to do in Paris late at night or early in the morning than in other places, should you be awake.

So you have 11 days. Adam is right about the Dordogne, full of small towns, food, wine, and scenery. Carcassonne is the only place I've been in Cathar country but Alex is doubtless right about those castles. (I guess you'll have to PM him to get the skivvy on the other nudist resort.)

Burgundy would also be a good choice, Beaune a good base. September will be harvest time in the vineyards, lots going on.

I don't see why you can't visit both areas in 11 days if you want to. Via Michelin estimates about six hours' drive between Sarlat and Beaune, about half of it on fast autoroutes. It will probably take longer, but that's still a day with time for a few stops but not much tourism. You could drive a big triangle from Paris and back, or use trains to get out of Paris and back, or save backtracking by flying home from Bordeaux or Toulouse or Lyon if there are flights that work.

And you have 16 months to plan for your 18 days! Bonne chance!

Posted by
9892 posts

I love the Dordogne and think you could have a fabulous time there, but I'm not sure why you would go to Provence to get there? Unless Provence is also part of the trip.

It's true that it's a bit far down to the Dordogne, but you would want a car while there, so taking a train somewhere first is recommended, but unfortunately there's nowhere really nearby that is TGV-accessible.

Posted by
16894 posts

Glad to see you got several good ideas. Can't argue with any of them. Bon voyage!