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Spending 16 days in France in October!!

HI .. As a family of 5, ( Husband, wife, daughters 13, 10 and 8,) we are planning to visit France for 16 days Oct.4th to October 20th. We plan to stay in Paris but not sure how long we should stay. Then we want to visit other city/town in France. Any suggestion where to go? The weather might dictate our route. I would love to take the kids to Chamonix to luge or go towards Normandy and Brittany.
The Loire Valley and seeing chateaus and castles would be awesome as well as Mont St Michel which is a bit far. I'm torned and will take all suggestions. Renting car and train are options too. Thanks

Posted by
2323 posts

Finding accommodations for 5 in Paris will not be simple, particularly during the first part of October. You might consider reserving as quickly as possible. This hotel has a room for 5 and is well located in the 5th arrondissement, Hotel Marignan Otherwise, you will need two rooms.

Do not underestimate the difficulty of finding a place to stay in Paris for 5 people during early October.

As far as your itinerary, consider 5 to 6 days in Paris, rent a car and spend 2 to 3 days in the Loire Valley, and 4 to 5 days in Normandy which would include visiting Mont St Michel. You really need to spend the time to plan your trip. I find the Michelin Green Guides to be the most informative and they offer driving itineraries which you can incorporate into one cohesive plan.

No doubt, Paris is a good place to visit in France but AixenProvence is also a good place to visit. This is a classic old town with narrow streets and lots of bistros and restaurants with outdoor seating. I enjoyed walking through its compact Old Town during my one week trip in Aix during December last year. There are quaint narrow streets, elegant street lamps, hidden gems at every turn. A family entertainment is guaranteed here.

Posted by
12074 posts

First weekend in October is an overnight art exhibit (ephemeral art, only stays for one night). It's free and goes from something like 7 pm to 7 am. I got a really good view of many by taking a cruise on the Seine.

Now, where to go? I've done four loops in France, each roughly 18 nights including there and back. First one was Paris, Normandy, Brittany, Loire, Paris. Second was Paris, Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Paris. Third was Paris, Lyon, Chamonix, Provence, Riviera, Paris. Last was Paris, Toulouse, Pyrenees, Lot Valley, Dordogne Valley, Atlantic beaches, Bordeaux, Paris. Generally stays in Paris averaged three nights each, shortest two nights, longest five nights.

You have time to do something similar to any of them. I'm thinking October may be tough weather for Normandy, Brittany, Chamonix or anywhere north. My suggestion would be Dordogne and Lot but try to include some of the Pyrenees. I thought it would be dry like Provence but it was actually green and beautiful like Burgundy - maybe my favorite place in France now because it's also not at all crowded.

Posted by
7217 posts

October is a great month for France -- tends to be cool but pleasant. If you are flying round trip to Paris I would finish there rather than having to rush back. It is almost impossible to find a hotel for 5 and October is one of the two most difficult hotel months. I'd look for an apartment which is more pleasant anyway as you can breakfast in, have a place to store snacks etc even if you don't cook dinner in. I would give Paris 6 nights at least.

I might try 5 nights for Normandy and 5 nights in Burgundy and or the Loire. You will need a car for that part of the trip. Perhaps train to Caen on arrival and pick up a car and head for Bayeux, do the beaches the next day, head for Mont St. Michel the next day and then on to St. Malo and the lovely towns of Brittany. Then head further south and finish in Paris.

Posted by
4125 posts

I would suggest at least 5 nights in Paris, which will get you 4 full days on the ground. 6 nights would not be a bad idea! You could then add Normandy and the Loire valley, which would bring you close to Paris for the trip home.

After that it's really up to you.

Think carefully about what you and your will really enjoy, though. Some people love visiting empty old palaces, but for others it gets old fast.

Chamonix is possible too in the time you have. I would suggest breaking your trip in Lyon, a really fun city with lots for kids and amazing food. You could even stop in Burgundy for a few days, but again rural France might not be everyone's cup of tea, so think about what you want. It's a long way back to Paris so I would think about flying home from Geneva.

A third popular option from Paris is Provence. Take the train down there, rent a car, and explore the Roman antiquities and hill towns. You could end in Lyon (see above), where there are regular 2-hour trains that go straight to Charles deGaulle airport. Get an afternoon flight home, catch an early train, and you can avoid that whole inefficient thing where you spend the that last 24 hours backtracking to stay at a hotel convenient to the airport.

There are other possibilities too, of course, but with more than 2 weeks you have options. Just don't try to cram in too much, I don't think your crew will be very nimble on the ground.

Have a great trip!

PS Be more specific about what your family enjoys (do you have a castle fanatic? A fashion maven?) & I'll bet you'll hear some very specific ideas.

Posted by
629 posts

Sixteen days is a good amount of time, you should be able to see a lot. I a general sense, I would divide your trip into four, four day blocks and tweak from there based on your interest. Outside of Paris, renting a car will be your best option for five of you. Driving in France is not too daunting, and you won’t have to worry about wrangling everyone together to make a train or bus.

The Loire valley sounds like an ideal destination for a family. A few days in this region would be great. I felt a little maxed out at 4-5 chateau, but is a lovely area besides. Travel to other regions might be best achieved by turning in the car and getting a train. You have some research ahead of you to decide what interests you all, and how you might best connect them (that’s the fun part.)

Renting an apartment through Airbnb (or other agency) is probably your best bet for accommodations. Paris will always be the most difficult part of the trip, but you’ll find some great values outside the capital. I see a lot of concern on these forums about Airbnb (in Paris especially) but over a dozen different rentals I have never had an issue. I prefer them to hotels at this point.

One last note, with a family and a car, I suggest taking the opportunity to plan picnic lunches. Spend some time in the morning shopping at the different shops, let your children explore and choose some new things. Camping is big in Europe, there are always picnic areas at sights. There’s nothing better than enjoying some authentic French cuisine within view of a beautiful chateau or mountain!

Posted by
40 posts

Thank you for responding. Our kids are seasoned travelers. Last October we spend 17 days in Italy and they loved the Cinque Terra and hiking by the ocean but there favorite was staying in this hotel run Castle in Tuscany. We had a blast waking up driving to the locate village breakfast every morning. It seems difficult finding hotel run Castles in France. I also would like to go to Chamonix to luge but not sure how the weather will hold up. Any suggestions?

Posted by
4125 posts

October is usually a dry time of year, but there is always weather. My only additional suggestion about Chamonix is to expect at least a day of bad weather, so plan some rainy-day activities and plan to stay there for 3 or 4 nights so you are guaranteed some nice days.

I mean, maybe you'll luck out and get all nice days, but that way you are hedging your bets.