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Provence or Alsace/Burgundy end of August?

Hi All,

I'm back, with a bit more detail and still seeking advice...

We (me. wife and two boys age 10 and 12) will be in France from 8/18-9/2. We have never been to France. Paris is already booked for 4 nights from 8/18-8/22 and Chamonix is booked from 8/28-9/2. We fly into Paris and out of Geneva. This part of itinerary cannot be changed.

So how best to develop an itinerary for the middle six nights, 8/22-8/27? I think we've narrowed down our options to either train to Avignon and tour some of Provence (perhaps split bases in Arles and Luberon areas?) OR train to Stasbourg (or another hub in that region?) and see the sights in Alsace/Bugundy regions while making our way south to Chamonix. In both cases, i think the plan would be to rent a car in either Avignon or Strasbourg and then drive on to Chamonix.

I think our goal for these 6-7 days would be to experience quaint/walkable towns, see some good historical sites (castles, ruins, etc.). and enjoy pretty countryside. We don't need/want more big cities as Paris will cover that...

So thanks in advance for all your great tips and insight!
Bill

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
7052 posts

I think either of your areas will provide plenty to do, but I'd keep in mind the risk of very hot weather in both locations, and consider what activities will be most pleasant if you hit a series of 88F - 93F days. I guess being in Alsace puts you in a better position to run for the mountains if you really need a break from the heat. On the other hand, you will be heading for five days in Chamonix...

Posted by JS
Bay Area
2938 posts

Both areas are a fantastic visit. Of course Alsace is closer to Chamonix.
Perhaps easier with less driving. Work out the mileage in case that matters to u.
Either location will be very crowded so book your lodging ahead.

Posted by billb OP
8 posts

JS - would you consider Bugundy (say Semur en axois area towns) and Alasace (Colmar area towns) both doable in this time frame (maybe three days each?) or best to just pick one area before heading to Chamonix?

Posted by Robert
Portland
1678 posts

It's only a little more than 3 hours driving from Semur to Colmar. Both areas are worth seeing, and you can see a lot in 3 days. Or you can shave a day off one of the 2 and stop overnight on the drive. There are some very interesting towns along the way.

Posted by markus.brall
Biesheim, Alsace, France
5 posts

I suggest Alsace as Provence might be too hot at this time of the year. At least for me it would be too hot.

Posted by Bob
Département 71
67 posts

In addition to the points made by others about potentially high temperatures in Provence that time of year, that's also nearing the end of the traditional vacation season when French families from points north of Provence head south to the coast and to family vacation houses in southern France.

Consequently roads can be jammed with Parisians, Lyonnais, and others in, and on the roads leading into an out of, Provence.

I would much prefer to be Alsace in August rather than southern France.

If you look at the prediction of traffic in 2018 based on historical observations (http://www.bison-fute.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/17237_Calendrier_Bison-Fute_2018_Web.pdf), you can see that Aug 24-26 is expected to be "difficult" traffic, with traffic in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region (which would be on a likely path between Provence and Chamonix) anticipated to be "very difficult" on 25 August.

As you head to Chamonix, if you go by Montreaux on the east end of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), don't forget to play Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water on the car stereo in commemoration of the fire.