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Taking my almost 80 y/o mom - Need easy trip suggestions

Hello,

After our family December trip, my sweet mom would like to see France. We travel very differently than her - light with backpacks, but this will need to be a totally different trip — she packs in big suitcases and likes fancy hotels, lol. I imagine she would prefer to stay multiple nights in single places. It will just be her and me, and possible one of my daughters. Would travel in first part of August.

Any itinerary suggestions? We are flexible with the number of days. On/off bus tours and river cruises? She is not that interested in WW2 sites, so not sure Normandy is good. But she loves gardens and plants.

Thanks!!

Posted by
6604 posts

I took my mother to Florence and Rome with a night in Siena in between many years ago when she was 80 and it was the highlight of my life.

If you have a couple of weeks perhaps split it between Paris and one other region -- maybe two. Logistics really burns up energy and Paris offers such variety. If you fly into Paris -- finish in Paris and head to your other main location on arrival day. That first day is a waste, use it for logistics so the end of your trip is relaxed and you don't have a rush back to the airport.

If you are willing to drive, the Dordogne would be a great place to spend a week. Take the train down from Paris on arrival and rent a place and drive around the region or stay in a nice hotel with restaurant -- and drive to the various chateaux, gardens, villages in the region. It is a stunning region. And a canoe trip on the Dordogne would be gorgeous -- and if that is more than she wants to do there are also piloted boats that take several people on the river -- without having to paddle. Then drive back to Paris maybe stopping for a night or two in Burgundy or the Loire and drop the car and finish in Paris.

In Paris, you can just hop on a river cruise when you feel like it. I personally think hop on off buses are a waste of time but to each his own.

Posted by
3794 posts

Which time of the year do you have in mind?
Outside of high summer, the Nice area would be lovely, especially with her interest in plants (plenty of gardens, and beautiful natural flora too). No car needed there, and plenty of fancy hotels.

Posted by
2564 posts

Perhaps work with a good travel agent? They can likely get you discounts at the kinds of places your mom would want to stay and perhaps appropriate shopping opps and experiences.

Or do some variation of Rick's all-around-France tour.

Posted by
1990 posts

I don't see any reason why you would need a travel agent, but you do need to offer some framework other than an undetermined time, spent somewhere in France.

If France is the objective, you could easily spend a week in western Provence and 4 or 5 days in Paris. Hotels offer good deals in Paris during August (it is low season) but anywhere near the coastline will be chaos, expensive, and difficult to find accommodations.

You could also consider the Loire Valley and specifically the annual garden competition at Château Chaumont. 2 to 3 days is usually sufficient to see this region.

Another possibility is taking a deluxe river cruise for 7 days in the Bordeaux region.

Consider ending in Paris, to be in position for your flight home. Budget window is important, particularly for Paris. You have a lot of decisions to make before anyone here can offer useful specific advice.

Posted by
135 posts

We are your mother's age, but travel lighter than her and can't afford 4 - 5 star hotels. Indeed, we have traveled for years staying in apartments (VRBO, etc). I suspect that your family would be quite happy in a Paris area apartment with day trips to Givernay (garden for sure!), Versailles, Chartres and other nearby chateau. Plenty of gardens, flower & vegetable, all over that time of year. Also, minimal luggage movement.

Posted by
6604 posts

August -- absolutely need AC -- few apartments have real AC so that suggests either aparthotels or hotels.

Posted by
3681 posts

Janet nailed some good advice. Recent August weather has been extremely hot in Paris. Plus opening windows for ventilation also lets in street noise. And a hotel is more likely than an apartment to have an elevator.
One easy self-conducted tour is a ride on the Canal St-Martin ferry from Bastille up to Villette. This canal traverses locks while at eye level with surrounding apartments. No walking, except to the Metro stations at each end. Only drawback -- yet still a novelty -- is about a third of the voyage, from the Bastille end, is under ground.

Posted by
1850 posts

We were very fortunate to be able to travel with my Dad (also sweet) until he turned 95. A river cruise sounds like it might fit your mother’s travel preferences and meet your needs. I was loathe to leave Dad alone on any trip we took but had no problem doing so occasionally while on board ship. If he wasn’t feeling 100% we knew he’d be in excellent hands, could access everything he wanted, including food, drinks or entertainment, always had companionship, and couldn’t get too lost on his own. And sweet old folks get lots of attention. You might complete the trip with time on land before or after. We started traveling in earnest with Dad when he was 80 and those memories are among my most cherished. Good luck to you both and safe travels.

Posted by
5 posts

I just posted about a fabulous tour guide in Paris, Raphaelle Crevet, if you decide to go to Paris.

Posted by
5450 posts

Do you see your mother regularly, right now? I ask only because you said nothing about her energy, mobility, food peculiarities, or past travel experience. Has she ever been to Europe before? Did she express any interest in a cruise or river cruise? Does she prefer professional guides? It sounds like you can afford air conditioned hotels in August. But do you know that much Euro air conditioning is not designed to American meat-locker standards?

I'm 70, so I won't speak for a 80-year old. But does she have backaches, slow start in the morning, or other habitual needs? Does she have the good sense to have broken-in walking shoes? HOW FAR can she walk without stopping?

We like gardens too. But that's a lot of rough footing, uneven paving, and differing heights of steps. Does she visit public gardens and estates at home? August is the height of the Euro vacation season. Have you been to Europe in the summer before? When we went to see Chateau gardens, the crowding often meant we had to park on the grass, in meadows across the street from the regular parking, and walk along the roadside to the ticket window. Is she up to that? Can she take an hour in direct sun with little shaded resting space?

Posted by
2564 posts

Tim makes good points, which I was kinda hinting at with the travel agent suggestion. Make the trip appropriate for the customer.

Posted by
80 posts

I took my 86 year old mother to Europe. We went on a river cruise which was a perfect way to enjoy new places while gently floating along. Only unpack once, etc. She did the shore excursions at the beginning of the trip, but by the end she was tired and happily stayed onboard. In France there are great trips that start in Paris and sail on the Seine to Normandy and sailings on the Rhone that are from Lyon to Provence.

Posted by
108 posts

I’m really soaking up these suggestions. Great to know. She’s pretty agile still, so I’m kind of thinking of renting an apartment in Paris and using the metro and buses while she can still get around. But in the future the River cruises sound fabulous.

Posted by
16 posts

Is there a reason you need to go in August? It’s just dang hot and crowded. I would highly recommend late Sept or October (avoiding Fashion Week in Paris). So much nicer

Posted by
108 posts

Yes, I still have school-aged children and that is the time frame I have to work with. :)