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18 days in France

My husband and I are flying roundtrip into Paris from the States. We have 18 days in late November/early December to explore. We're thinking of the following itinerary: Have tentative itinerary of what cities and in what order. We''l spend the last week in Paris with day trips to Versailles and Belgium. Planning to follow an abbreviated version of this with the addition of Brussels and Bruges as an overnight side trip:
http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/france/franc22.htm Going to skip the Alps and Alsace, drive to Lyon from Nice and drop off the car. Take the train back to Paris. We've already been to the Swiss Alps and Strausbourg when we went to Germany a few years ago. What do you think? Since this is the off-season, will the Rivera still be worthwhile? Any places we should spend more time in? Finally, where to stay? And should we rent an apartment in Paris rather than a hotel room. Would love to have a kitchen and laundry onsite.

Posted by
10297 posts

If in Paris for a week, an apartment makes a lot of sense. As for the Riviera, it's always a nice relief from the gray skies of the north combined with the short days to visit the Riviera, the sea, the houses on the hillsides, the mountains, even in winter. It's not warm, the way we think of Florida or California, but it's the south.

Posted by
4132 posts

That time of year, you can travel without reservations and make decision on the fly. So if the weather is bad on the day you are leaving for Nice, you can (if you like) head for Lyon instead. Or ditch the car and go back to Paris for a few more days there. Similarly if you find that your visit to Versailles does not awe you, you are not alonetake it as a warning that you can safely skip the Loire chateux, or at least cut things short there. Finally if things work out, you can get a train from Lyon directly to deGaulle the morning of your flight. Spend the extra day in the Dordogne or Provence.

Posted by
94 posts

We were at Versailles in September. Be warned that there is an exhibition of Japanese comic book sculpture all throughout the building. It's kind of crazy and filled with Japanese tourists. Our favorite part was The Hamlet. Make sure you explore the grounds there.
We spent 2 nights in Bruges and loved everything about it. I would definitely return there. One night was sufficient for Brussels because we only wanted to see Grand Place & Mannekin Pis. Flying out of the airport there was very nice.

Posted by
403 posts

Lisa: If I understand your plan correctly, you intend to drive straight from Nice to Lyon, return the car, and train to Paris. Now perhaps you intend to stop along the way, say in Provence, and that is why you need a car. But if you are planning on simply seeing Lyon and then Paris, it makes more sense to TGV directly Nice to Lyon or even Nice straight to Paris in 5.5 hours. The Riviera will be sunny but windbreaker chilly, though the hill towns such as Eze might be rather cold. If you plan to stay down on the coast, a car will be a nuisance rather than a help. Provence in late November (Avignon, Arles, pont du Gard, etc) will be somewhat cold and windy, but certainly tolerable for someone from Seattle. I can't speak to the apartment question, but a hotel in Paris that I have enjoyed on several occasions is the Hotel Castex in the Marais district, which has discounts for stays beyond 3 days...check out their website.
Should be a great trip!