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Paris to the South of France?

I posted here before about a 9 day trip to Paris with my daughter. I was planning on Paris for 7 days and then some day trips in between such as Giverny and the Loire Valley or Reims. I'm not renting a car so anything we do outside of Paris needs to be accessible by train or with a tour company.

My daughter just spoke to a friend who studied in France and she now thinks that even 7 days in Paris is too long and her friend suggested we should go to Nice and the South of France and stay for several days. She also mentioned lavendar fields along the way.

I'm trying to create a stress-free trip since we'll be two women traveling alone but my daughter likes to push the envelope. Any ideas on adding the South of France to our itinerary? Where to stay? What to do? How to travel there?

Posted by
5642 posts

Your trip is in July, right?
The south of France is often very hot in July. Last year was exceptionally hot, inland temperatures hovered around 100F for days on end. The coast is cooler.
As for lavender fields, without a car it's not so great, and after mid-July there are few blooms left - peak season is June 15-July 15 in the most easily accessed areas like Valensole and the Luberon.

This said, you could spend 5 nights in Paris and 4 in Nice, for example, travelling by train or plane between the two. But are you able to fly home out of Nice? If not, you have to go back to Paris the night before you fly home: not great.

But perhaps the best way to proceed is to ask your daughter to make a list of what she wants to see in and around Paris, and figure out how much time is reasonable for that.

Posted by
6674 posts

If you only have 2 days outside of Paris, I would not recommend the South of France, since you would waste most of your time traveling.

The Loire Valley is great, consider staying at Blois or Tours. Visit some Chateaux which are amazing.

Normandy would be another choice, or Strasbourg.

Posted by
11896 posts

Well, laughing....7 days only is too short for me for Paris! My last few trips have been between 10 and 14 nights and there are always things I have to put off until the next time. I'd do as Balso says and see what you want to do in Paris and then see how many days.

However, If you want to get out of town that is understandable. I'd concentrate on where you could get by fast train within about 2 hours or so. One other suggestion not yet mentioned is Alsace with perhaps a night or two in Colmar. I've only been there in April so not sure how warm it might be in July.

I'd not really worry about 2 women traveling alone. I'm one old geezer gal on my own who doesn't really speak French and I've never had an issue.

Posted by
20 posts

"Well, laughing....7 days only is too short for me for Paris! My last few trips have been between 10 and 14 nights and there are always things I have to put off until the next time. I'd do as Balso says and see what you want to do in Paris and then see how many days."

I also agree with the above, and am joining Pam in laughter! I have never spent less than 7 nights in Paris, but am preparing for my third trip there in May. (It is part of a longer trip elsewhere in France and the Spanish Basque Country, where we have never been.) Paris is our arrival city where we will spend only 5 nights, i.e., 4 full days. I already have serious FOMO about the things we will not have time to do!

Many of the places in Paris that are of interest (described in your initial post) are nearly identical to the ones I visited on my first trip, which was 9 full days in Paris, plus one day trip to Versailles. (BTW, I did this as a solo traveler. I loved every minute and never felt unsafe.) All of this to say that based on your stated interests, you could easily enjoy 7-9 days in Paris (including a nearby day trip or two) and not get bored. Very subjective, of course. For example, for people who do not like large cities and/or museums, 7 days in Paris may be too long, as is the perception of your daughter's friend. But that person's interests are not necessarily yours. It really does depend on what you want, how much time you envision spending in museums, etc. If you are really into art, spending the better part of the day at any of the larger museums (e.g., Musee d'Orsay, Louvre) will be richly rewarded.

A day trip to Giverny is feasible, and it would give you a taste of the countryside that your daughter is seeking. If you want to visit Maison de Monet, it is best to reserve your tix ahead of time since you'll be going in peak season.

If Paris is your first destination after a transatlantic flight, remember that you won't be able to do much on your arrival day. So, if you only have 8 full days on the ground, you do not really have time for a trip to the south or the Loire Valley. Unless you have an opportunity to stay longer than 9 days for the entire trip to France, I would postpone those farther-away destinations for another trip, when you can really focus and enjoy it. Everything is a trade off.

Posted by
1070 posts

Agree with Pam and Balso!

We could spend weeks in Paris and never see and do all we want. Nice is very nice, but hot, hot, hot in the summer (as is Paris for that matter.) Whatever you do, be sure and book hotels with A/C. A lot of smaller hotels do not provide it, so when booking make sure it says your room has A/C. The only way I could consider including Nice is if you spent, say 4 nights in Paris and 4 nights in Nice. Remember, you lose a lot of time for travel in between. You would need to fly into Paris and out of Nice to avoid backtracking. The suggestion of Strasbourg/Colmar (Alsace region) makes a lot more sense. It's less than two hours by high-speed train from Paris and has charming villages to visit. You can easily reach Colmar, Gengenbach, Germany, and other towns from Strasbourg which is lovely in itself. There is a wonderful hotel directly across from the train station in Strasbourg that you and your daughter would like (and has great A/C!) Colmar is picturesque as is Equisheim, and then there are the surrounding wine villages. If you are interested in this area, we can give you more insight. A lot less stressful to get to than the South of France with so little time.

Posted by
11896 posts

"I already have serious FOMO about the things we will not have time to do!"

@Lynne with an e....Yes, lol!! I am one that likes to at least pencil in a tentative plan for each day to make sure I get in everything I think I want to see. My visits are museum and church heavy because...well, I live in Idaho and the oldest building in the entire state was erected in 1850. So far for my next trip to Paris I am not sure I will have time for Malmaison and for the American Cemetery from WWI in Suresnes which are leftovers on my to-do list from multiple trips, lol!!

Ditto for London and FOMO there as well...never enough time for these cities for me and really, I am NOT a city gal.

Posted by
7380 posts

you do the trip you want to do but I think the friend gave really bad advice. 7 days in Paris with a couple of day trips is perfect. Going to the opposite end of the country wastes huge amounts of time in a very very short trip for very little payoff.

If you do decide to add the south leg then do that first and finish in Paris for the flight home (assuming you are flying in and out of Paris. Rushing back the day before to catch the flight will waste a whole additional day. So get a train to Nice on arrival (leave 4 hours between ETA and your train and get a TGV south. Or you could do something similar but choose a different region like Brittany. For lavender fields you will probably have to book a tour as they are rural and you don't have a car.

From an apartment in Paris you could do half a dozen really interesting day trips to chateaux, small medieval towns, a Champagne house, other small cities like Rouen without have to waste two days of your limited time on trips to the opposite end of the country.

Posted by
24050 posts

Different people have very different sightseeing philosophies. Some primarily want to see what I call the "calendar sights", which can mean viewing places primarily from the outside. If goals in Paris are limited to the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Pyramid, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the like, staying seven nights in the city may be unnecessary.

Some travelers enjoy museums, the interiors of historic buildings and churches. They need more time, because most museums take multiple hours. A week-long visit would probably require skipping a lot of places such a traveler would enjoy.

Some travelers like to wander through different neighborhoods, soaking in the atmosphere that's very different from home. You could spend months doing that in Paris.

I fall in the second and third categories and just returned from spending 20 days in Rome. When I finally get around to making my first trip to Paris since the 1970s, I imagine I'll spend at least two weeks there and be really frustrated about what I don't have time to see.

One's attitude toward meals is also a factor. If you want a nice lunch every day (taking advantage of attractively-priced weekday lunch specials), that will take a nearly-two-hour bite out of the day. You can preserve sightseeing time by choosing something like a crepe for your midday meal.

Posted by
1520 posts

I love both Paris and Nice/South of France, two totally different vibes.
If you look at the website Rome to Rio and just plug in Paris to Nice you will see he provides several options to get there, air which takes about 90 min, but then you add in the time getting to the airport (1 hour) and then being at the airport 2 hours ahead of time you're looking at a 5 hour journey OR by train which is a 6 hour journey. For 12 hours round trip journey how many days can you spare from Paris and the other day trips you have planned to make Nice/South of France worth it?
It's your daughters trip too and you could do both but then something else would need to go, like the day trips to Giverny and the Loire Valley.
I would do 5 days in Paris and 3 in Nice, then head back to Paris for that last day for the flight home. Or fly to Nice first for 3 days, then head to Paris (I would do the train, really relaxing and very easy) for the next 6 days with one day trip possible.
Nice itself is wonderful, we did a day trip to Eze on the bus and there are so many awesome little beach towns to travel to by train and Monaco is easy to travel to by train.
Hotel recommendation in Nice: Hotel Les Cigales, just blocks from the beach and a short walk to the train station and a short walk to the main street to catch the tram if needed. Lot's of restaurants close by also. I would stay here again.

Posted by
579 posts

I think the replies reflect the differences between a teen's interests and influences and other people's (especially in the age of social and streaming media). For the OP, after a stay in Paris you can take the TGV to Avignon. You can rent a car or hire a tour to go the lavender fields (Valensole plateau/Sault is the latest blooming area) and then either return back to the TGV or simply drive to Nice (return car at airport). You can book your return flight from NCE (if you have not booked already -- sometimes it can be changeable, and different routings can actually be cheaper) or take a flight to NCE to connect to your flight home. If you have not booked already you can reverse the route to get the best lavender timing.