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Road trip in France...a working Itinerary ?

Hi !

we (2 adults and 11 and 15 years old kids) will make a 37 nights trip in France next summer (from july 5 to august 11). Our flight arrive in Paris and leave from Lyon.

We plan to allow more time than not enough in Normandy-Brittany just to (maybe, we never know) avoid the summer heat.


Paris (6 nights, near Strasbourg metro station) .Take a rental car at the end of our Paris Stay

Honfleur (2 nights, with a stop In Rouen and daytrip to Etretat)

Bayeux (4 nights, dday beaches, tapestry, MSM...)

Dinan (2-3 nights, daytrip to St Malo, Fort La Latte)

Cote de Granit Rose (1 night..still have to decide where)

Quimper (3-4 nights with daytrip in the coastal parts)

Vannes (2 nights)

Puy du Fou (1 night...on site ? )

Sarlat-La-Canéda (or near..3-4 nights)

After that we head to the moutains....(Vanoise, Alps ?) so...

Puy en Velay (1 night)

Briançon (2-3 nights)

Chamonix (2-3 nights)

Annecy (2 nights)

Lyon (2 nights...leave the car on arrival)

Any obvious mistake there ?

Thanks !

Posted by
9001 posts

Le Puy-en-Velay in the Auvergne: you could take one night away from Bayeux or certainly from Briançon to add to Le-Puy-en-Velay. This is a major, important stop, and your only stop in the Auvergne, the massif central. There will be a lot of pilgrims on the Saint Jacques route, as well as tourists, but this is la France profonde, very old roots.

You put Mont Saint Michel as a day trip from Bayeux, but you drive right by MSM on your way to Dinan from Bayeux. Did you mean for that to be one night at Mont Saint Michel?

Is there a specific reason you are giving Briançon three nights?

Posted by
335 posts

Hi Bets !

the daytrip to MSM was only to maximise our time in Bayeux despite passing by on our way to Dinan. We dont want to stay overnight.

You say that Puy-en-Valay is a major stop...a good one ? A must see ?

Posted by
9001 posts

In my opinion, yes. I edited above. It has very old roots, cathedral, other religious buildings, pilgrims on the Saint Jacques route. It's very different from the other places you are going. It's in altitude, so cooler, but lots of hills and steps to climb.

Posted by
335 posts

Bets: thanks for the answer. I must say that the final part (after Sarlat) is not fully planned yeat. Briançon is not mandatory, we were just looking to be in mountains and that region seems nice, but we are very open about going somewhere you have any ideas....

Posted by
4832 posts

Lovely as Briançon is, getting there takes a while... I would rather spend a third night or even a fourth night in or near Annecy (the Aravis mountain region immediately east of Annecy is great!). You could also add a night to Côte de Granit Rose, otherwise it is not worth the detour for just one night.

Posted by
335 posts

Thanks Balso !
Côte de Granit Rose add 1H20 of driving (insted of direct drive from Dinan to Quimper) not too bad I guess.

Posted by
22593 posts

It appears that day-tripping to Mont-St-Michel from Bayeux rather than from Dinan will cost you nearly two extra hours of driving time. Perhaps of more importance, it probably makes it less likely you'll get there before the flood of other day-trippers begins.

Posted by
694 posts

Indeed you have to go to the MSM when you are in Dinan and not from Bayeux.

Furthermore I think there is an imbalance between the two weeks you are going to spend in Brittany (by driving only around 500 km between Bayeux and Vannes) while you will only be spending 3 and 4 nights in the Sarlat region. .
You could remove one or more nights in Bayeux, Dinan, Quimper, Vannes to reassign them to Dordogne.
Also after the Puy du Fou you could stop in La Rochelle and/or Ré island or Oléron island.

Posted by
4832 posts

Côte de Granit Rose add 1H20 of driving (insted of direct drive from Dinan to Quimper) not too bad I guess

Oh, less than I thought then! Nevermind :-)

Posted by
335 posts

JoLui :Thanks for the answer

Why is it an Imbalance ? Like I've said in my initial comment , allowing more time in Normandy/Brittany is a way to (maybe) avoid some summer heat. From what we have read Dordogne was hellish this summer (long heatwaves, lack of drinking water, droughts). Maybe there's is more to see in Dordogne and we can allow one or two more days in that region but I dont think we will allows more than 5 days for Dordogne.

Posted by
9229 posts

We are in Dinan now, leaving in a few hours to relocate to Bayeux. We will stop by MSM on the way. I chose to not take away from our bases when we could do things while in transit. Dinan needs 3 nights if you want to do a day trip. We went to St. Malo on Wednesday. We spent 2 nights in Vannes and it’s a nice place. Unfortunately we arrived on a Sunday and left Tuesday morning. Sunday and Monday it was hard to find a place to eat and many things were closed. Hopefully in the summer it will be different. We spent 5 nights in Sarlat. Loved it and could have spent more time there. We spent 4 nights in Lyon in April and never ran out of things to do. We stayed in the old town, which was fun.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
694 posts

The risk of heat waves can indeed be a good argument for spending more time in Brittany, especially if you like the "beach" atmosphere.

I cannot oppose this argument since I'm in need of rain and I'm going to spend 6 nights in this area at the end of this month. :))

But I thought that spending 15 days in the same area doing 100/150km jumps from one city to another could become monotonous. And after Dinan, la côte de granit rose, Quimper, you would start to be tired of seeing the same landscape of cliffs, beaches and typical small towns and fishing ports in Brittany.
But of course it's up to you to decide according to your preferences.
Also, if you like hiking you can spend time on the GR34, the "Sentier des douaniers' trail which runs along the entire coast.

As for the Dordogne and Lot valley (which I know quite well and where I will be next weekend), note that in case of strong heat you can go kayaking and go to visit the many famous caves where the temperature stays at 13°C (55°F) all the time.

That said, another good argument in favor of Dordogne is if you prefer duck confit with Sarladaise potatoes over seafood and crêpes !

Posted by
335 posts

Andrea: thanks for that answer. We hope it will be different in the heart of summer !

JoLui: I understand what you want to say about seeing more or less the same thing and are probably right. Having that said there's people who pay a lot of money to get a house in that kind of place so they can enjoy those view on a daily basis. I guess it could be fine for 14 days ! We dont have those thing near where we live (Montréal).

I think that in the end we would have some varaition for a 38 days trip: Big cities (Paris, Lyon), ocean, clifs, mountains., forest, small villages...and should find a lot of food to enjoy. But we have taken a good note of your comment and are open to make some change to our itinerary.

Posted by
502 posts

I'm curious about your family's experiences with travel. Have you previously completed such a long trip? All the places you plan to visit are wonderful, but strung all together it sounds a bit overwhelming to me. I suspect you will need a vacation from your vacation, and perhaps a break from one another.

Posted by
335 posts

Hi Anita !
I guess we are kind of seasoned travellers.
Befire having kids (me and my wife)
- 2 months across Canada
- 1 month in Poland and Czech Républicanismes
- 3 weeks in Italy
- Many Many road trips
With out kids:
-one month eastern Canada
- 24 days Boston, Philadelphia, Washington
- 28 days Germany-Austria
- 30 days Portugal-Spain
- 32 days Croatia-Slovenia-Northern Italy
- 24 days western Canada
- 30 days US east coast
- countless short term road trips
This trip in France will be the longuest one but not by far, I think we can manage it…dont you think ?

Posted by
4 posts

How old are your kids? If you're driving that far down the coast, you may consider a day in Nantes to enjoy Machines de Illes. We just went, loved it.

Posted by
350 posts

Personally, I'd skip Annecy or give it an afternoon. That's about all I think it's worth. I'd apply more time to Lyon.

And here's another vote for Le Puy-en-Velay. It's definitely worth a day. Lots of stair climbing and sights your kids would probably enjoy.

Posted by
22593 posts

Annecy is beautiful. You can take a boat trip on the lake, and I'm nearly certain you can rent bicycles (don't know about helmets) to ride around it. Keep in mind that Annecy is near the mountains but not in them. It can be very hot in the summer; it was for me. Be sure your lodgings are air conditioned. You should also expect masses of people (I assume mostly daytrippers) in the beautiful historic center. Annecy is one of the small towns where I found the mob scene bad enough to affect my enjoyment of the place (YMMV). Other towns to which I had a similar reaction were St-Malo, Rocamadour and St-Paul-de-Vence. (That's not bad for 4-1/2 months in France in recent years.) There's a lot more to see in Lyon (I'd split the nights 3/1 myself or perhaps see Annecy in transit), but lake Annecy is lovely.