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A week in Paris or a week in Provence?

In July next year we are going on a Rick Steves 3-week best of Europe Tour. The tour ends in Paris. The tour itself only allows about a day and half in Paris - which I realize is no where near enough time. At the end of the tour we have allowed for an extra week on our own (my wife and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary on this tour!). We are debating between just spending that extra week in Paris (with perhaps a day trip or two to Versailles or the Loire Valley), or do we travel south and spend a week in Provence, rent a car and see that region? Our return flight home departs from Paris - so we'd have to come back to Paris if we went south. We have never been to France before - so what should we do? We're thinking we want a very relaxed pace for that final week as we will have been on the go quite a bit on the 3-week tour. Any recommendations on how to spend that last week?



Posted by
8291 posts

Happy Anniversary!

I would stay in Paris. For one thing, you will already be there. No need to travel back and forth to Provence. What you will see on your tour will barely scratch the surface. One of the wonderful things about being in Paris is sitting at a sidewalk cafe and people watch. Or explore a beautiful park like the Luxembourg Gardens. There is no need to just rush from one tourist sight to another. Find a happy medium. You don't have to worry about driving. Day trips are easy. You could go to Versailles. Or Giverny. Or both, though I wouldn't recommend doing it in the same day.

On the other hand, Provence is wonderful. It will take time to get there and then back to Paris to go home. Another suggestion is to go to Burgundy, which is closer to Paris. You could spend a few nights there and the rest of the time in Paris. You will be busy, whichever option you choose.

Posted by
9110 posts

Paris and Provence are a three hour train ride apart. Paris is a hub, you'll probably pass through it dozens of times if you continue traveling, with plenty of opportunities to pause.

Posted by
11450 posts

After a three week tour,, I would stay put in Paris.. I would do a few daytrips,, Versailles and Givnery ( to see Monets Gardens) are nice and easy to do on your own.. plus if you visit Giverny you can enjoy a bit of the country side if you rent bikes and ride there from train station.. they have done a lovely bike path that follows the river .. decommissioned old railway line. You could also take the Fat Tire Bike tour there.. when I took it we had people from 8 to 70 on it.. so its not a case of needing to super fit.

You could also do a shorter trip out of Paris.. over an hour on a trian will take you to Tours where you can rent a car and tour the Loire Valley for two or three nights.. easy and not too far from Paris but an opportunity to get into the country side as the Chateau are sprinkled about.

Other easy daytrips Epernray ( visit Champagne houses).. or Chartes ,,

Paris itself can EASILY fill the entire week.. you will not have seen everything.. plus to enjoy paris its best not to be in a big rush.. take your time.. plan one "big" sight a day and spend rest of the time wandering, cafe sitting etc.

Posted by
1277 posts

Gord - My first trip to Provence was in July because I wanted to see the lavender fields. If that appeals to you, you might choose Provence. Get Rick's Provence book and see what interests you. There is so much to do and see in Provence including the markets, scenic villages, Roman sights, small museums, wine tastings, and you can go at a slow pace. It will be hot but it is likely to be hot in Paris too and I'd rather be outside the city in summer. You can't go wrong either way but it seems like the perfect time to see Provence. The train to Avignon is easy and you can rent a car there. Hope you have a great trip.

Posted by
1796 posts

After all that moving around I'd stay put in Paris. Rent an apartment. Paris is worth the extra time.

Posted by
262 posts

Another vote for Paris. Been lucky enough to visit both, many times and love both.
You will have done lots of moving around in the first three weeks, stay in Paris and enjoy your trip!

Happy Travels!

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies. There are things you mentioned I hadn't considered. Looks like Paris is the affirmative vote and that is where we are now leaning as well. I think we would regret leaving Paris right after the tour as there is so much to see. I think a week on our own going at a relaxed pace through Paris is the way to go. That sounds very appealing to me especially after 3 weeks on tour.


Posted by
1020 posts

I love Provence but Paris gets my vote as it's my favorite city.

Posted by
3696 posts

I have been to both a number of times, but my vote goes to Provence. I do not think of Paris in July as being relaxing... far from it. It's packed and it's hot and there are lines everywhere. I would take the three hour train, rent a car and explore away from the crowds. You will have been herded around for a few weeks with a bunch of people... I would opt for some peace and quiet and lavender fields and vineyards.

Posted by
943 posts

I also vote for a quiet week in Provence. Although the RS tours are an incredible experience, it can be exhausting by the end. I quiet hill town or villa in the countryside would be a nice end to that trip. :-)

Posted by
69 posts

If you stay in Paris and happen to have a free Saturday - I would recommend a train ride to Melun to visit Vaux Le Vicomte (rather than Versailles). There is a shuttle bus that meets the train from Paris and will transport you to Vaux. Here's the webiste: It was not crowded at all when we visited in June, unlike Versailles. (We met several other RS fans, books in hand, during the visit).

If you choose Provence, I would recommend you stay in Avingnon and day trip to other towns. RS has a great Provence book you should read as there are many towns and vineyards worth visiting.