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10 Days in France--Need Advice...

Is this too aggressive of an itinerary for a 10 day trip in France? All travel will be by Train/Bus. 3 days in Paris, 2 days in Annecy/Lyon, 3 days in Arles, and 3 days in Nice Day 1-Fly to France in AM, rest Day 2-Paris, Sightsee Day 3-Paris, Sightsee Day 4-Paris, half day trip to Versailles Day 5-Paris, Day trip to Reims and Champagne Country, Leave for Burgundy Region, Stay in Annecy or Lyon Day 6-Stay in Annecy or Lyon, Day trip to Lyons and Chamonix Enjoy the Alps Day 7 Stay in Arles, day trip to Avignon, Pont du Gard, Nimes, AIX Day 8 Stay in Arles, day trip to Isle sue Sorgue, St Remy, Les Baux Day 9 Leave Arles,Day trip to Marseilles and then head to Nice Day 10 Stay in Nice Day 11 Stay in Nice, day trip to Monaco, Cannes, Monte Carlo
Day 12-Fly Home from Nice in AM

Posted by
9110 posts

It goes to pot as you leave Paris: 1 - - there's no way you're going to leave Paris, go look around Reims, and then make it to Annecy/Lyon on the same day 2 - - there's no way you can make it from Lyon to Chamonix and back and have time to enjoy the alps, all on the same day - - you might maybe could from Annecy 3 - - there's no way you can even get to Avignon, Pont du Gard and Nimes in the same day and see everything unless you have a car and, even then, it would be a jump-out-and-look - - and you still couldn't make it to Aix 4 - - you can't do a trip from Nice to Monaco/Monte Carlo and Cannes in the same day - - they're on opposite sides of Nice I'm sure Adam mispoke and meant to say something like 'western Provence' since Nice is in one of the six departments that make up Provence.

Posted by
456 posts

Christine, it sounds a bit busy. You're covering a number of different areas in France and that requires a lot of time on the train. Here's one suggested itinerary: Days 1 through 4 - Paris with a side trip to Versailles. Days 5 and 6 - Reims Days 7 through 12 - Arles and fly home through Marseilles. Doing all those side trips with public transit will take some time and planning. A car would simplify this part of your trip. If you already have a flight booked from Nice, you could spend days 10 through 12 there. Good luck and let us know what you decide to do.

Posted by
4125 posts

Of course you want to see as much as you can. But the whole day trip to the Alps thing is too much, and I think you will have trouble getting to all those destinations in Provence in the time you have by bus and train only. Also, maybe better to stay in Provence and not go to Nice? Your call of course, but it's a lot of your precious 10 days in transit.

Posted by
524 posts

Christine What Ed said! Have you bought the Rick Steve France Guide? This will give you tons of great sightseeing and transportation information. Including how long it takes to get from place to place by train. When you depend on the train, although there are many options, it is still not as flexible as a car. In fact, in order to see Provence properly, you need a car. Once you have read through the Helpline replies and the Guide, you can work on your 2nd preliminary itinerary. Get a calendar such as wincalendar.com free Word version. Add your new itinerary to the calendar. Then add the travel times which you can determine below. It is important to nail down your travel time. For trains, use the bahn.de web site to determine train time. You don't have to your actual start and end time but you can figure out how long the train takes from place to place. Surprisingly, it often takes 1/2 day to go from place to place. To the train travel time you need to add the following: pack/check out of hotel, hotel to train station, wait for train, then reverse. Get oriented, get lost, etc. So are you traveling more in a day than you can fit in? Like your first itinerary? You obviously want to have more time sightseeing than on the train. Continued below.

Posted by
524 posts

Continued from Above Sadly, you are going to have to cut many of the destinations from your plan. IMHO, you should cut these places first: Lyon, Alps, Marseilles, Monaco, Cannes, Monte Carlo. Also, if you have never been to Paris before, I would add more days. And Versailles really takes 2/3 of a day at least. For the Provence part of your trip, you really need a car. If that is not possible, there are day long tourist bus trips from the larger cities which you can research and may be able to reserve in advance. These will get you to the full range of Provence places you want to see. Also, there are trains along the coast of the French Riviera including Nice which you might find interesting. Keep us posted as you continue to work on your itinerary. Bobbie

Posted by
837 posts

Christine, I am not nearly so negative as the above posters, provided you are willing to drop the bus/train requirement once you leave Paris. If so, with a few adjustments, I think most of it is doable.

Posted by
8700 posts

While I would prefer a better balance between travel time and sightseeing time than is possible with your proposed itinerary, I'll give you an idea of what might work for three of your days. Day 5: You can take a direct TGV from Paris to Reims, departing at 07:58 and arriving at 08:44. You can leave Reims as late as 20:15, connect in Paris, and arrive in Lyon at 23:56. If you want to spend the night in Annecy, the latest you could leave Reims is 17:15, connect in Paris and Lyon, and arrive at 22:59. Day 9: Trains run at least once an hour between Arles and Marseille and it's a one-hour ride. You can leave Marseille as late as 21:31 and arrive in Nice at 00:05. I'ts a 2 1/2-hour ride. Day 11: Personally I would skip Cannes in favor of Antibes. There are several regional trains per hour all day long and the ride from Nice takes just under 30 minutes. You can get from Antibes to Monaco in just under an hour with service at least once per hour. You can leave Monaco as late as 23:18 for the 22-minute ride back to Nice. For detailed timetables go to the German Rail site.

Posted by
837 posts

Christine,
I would suggest several changes. First, I would delete days 5 and 6 and substitute a day trip to Chartres on day 5. On day 6 I would take TGV to Avignon and tour Avignon. On day 7 I would rent a car at the TGV station and spend 2 days touring Provence. On day 9 I would drive to Cote d' Azur, skipping Marseille and heading instead for Cassis, driving along the coast through St. Tropez, and Frejus. Stay somewhere along the coast. On day 10 continue drive to Nice with stops in Cannes, Antibes, and St Paul de Vence. Day 11 bus to Eze and Monoco and walk Nice. If you want another day in Nice, cut one of two: day 5 in Chartres or drive all the way to Nice on day 9

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you all for your wonderful feedback and suggestions. It is definitely helping me revise our itinerary so we have a realistic and enjoyable trip. This is my third trip seeking out advice like this and with the help of Rick Steves and all of you, its been wonderful. Thank you again! Cheers!

Posted by
7701 posts

David's suggestion is excellent. You'll see plenty of spectacular mountains along the coast. If you do take his suggestion of staying in Cassis, be sure to reserve in advance. Hotels are limited there. By the way, Monte Carlo is a neighborhood inside Monaco.

Posted by
22 posts

Well, thank you to everyone who responded. Tickets have been booked and here is the itinerary that my friend and I agreed on. I truly appreciate the wisdom and guidance for our trip. We are so excited! Safe travels! 3/22 Day 1-Fly to France in AM, rest  3/23 Day 2-Arrive and Stay in Paris, sightsee  3/24 Day 3-Stay in Paris, sightsee  3/25 Day 4-Stay in Paris, take a day trip to Versailles 3/26 Day 5-Stay in Paris, sightsee 3/27 Day 6- At the Gare de Lyon in Paris, leave for Southern France/Provence/French Riviera by train, stop and tour Avignon (2.38 hours by TGV), stay in Avignon 3/28 Day 7- Stay in Avignon, rent a car, sightsee by driving to Pont du Gard and Nimes 3/29 Day 8- Stay Avignon, sightsee by driving to Arles and Les Baux 3/30 Day 9- Leave Avignon, sightsee by driving to AIX en Provence and then Cassis, stay in Cassis for one night 3/31 Day 10- Leave Cassis after breakfast and enjoy the town in the am, sightsee by driving along through St. Tropez and Frejus, stay in Antibes 4/1 Day 11- Stay in Antibes, sightsee by driving to Cannes and St. Paul de Vence, and Antibes 4/2 Day 12- Stay in Antibes, sightsee by driving to Nice for the day 4/3 Day 13-Stay in Antibes, sightsee by driving to Eze and Monaco
4/4 Day 14-Fly Home from Nice Airport in AM

Posted by
4125 posts

That (#2) sounds really nice, Christine. Hope you have a great trip.

Posted by
2945 posts

Your revised trip looks really good. Although I don't know why this board hates Marsielles so much. I really love it. It's unique. But I recognize that I'm weird. I tried to take my brother there (just as a brief stop between Paris and Cassis) and he didn't care for it at all. Le sigh.