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Change of plans - new itinerary suggestions for France?

So a number of you recently encouraged my wife and I to omit Prague from our otherwise French only trip. We have decided to spend our full 15 days solely in France so we can focus on the best it can offer while not stressing about catching a late flight to Prague for a quick few days before heading back home.

So we now have 3+ extra days to add to France. Any suggestions on what we should add?

Here's our current itinerary (SEE CAPS FOR EXTRA DAYS WE CAN ADD):

03/26 - Arrive in Nice 12:30pm, tour Chagall Museum, eat dinner in Old Nice

03/27 - Day trip to Antibes, Picasso Museum

03/28 - Day trip to Monaco, Eze by Car or Villefranche by train

03/29 - Morning in Nice, afternoon train to Arles

03/30 - EXTRA DAY IN ARLES, visit Roman Amphitheater

03/31 - Morning train to Beaune, tour Hospital, sleep in Pulignay-Montrachet

04/01 - Tour Vineyards, eat at Levernois Hotel, sleep in Pulignay

04/02 - DAY 3 IN BEAUNE OR TRIP TO COLMAR?

04/03 - COLMAR OR REIMS OR PARIS?

04/04 - Versailles, dinner in Paris

04/05 - Paris

04/06 - Paris (OMIT COLMAR AND ADD BEYEAUX/MONT ST. MICHEL 2 DAYS)

04/07 - Paris

04/08 - Morning flight to Seattle

Any thoughts or ideas? We'd like to see as many things without sacrificing the pleasant flow of a well planned trip.

Posted by
10344 posts

Ni Nick: I think you'll be glad you decided to omit Prague from this trip!

Posted by
63 posts

Hi again, Kent!

Yes, I know, based on my very limited knowledge of horticulture that grape vines don't sprout till later in Spring... So, to clarify, we will plan on touring the Dirtyards near Beaune. The Gite we are staying at in Pulignay has wine tasting, and that is truly the focus of our stay in Bourgogne.

Thanks for keeping me honest, though.

Posted by
63 posts

I've been trying to get onto autoeurope.com for car rental rates, but the site's been down. I was chatting with Steve Smith last week and he mentioned that would be the best way to go. We'd also really like to try bikes. Your thoughts?

Posted by
10344 posts

So you're staying near one of the Puligny-Montrachet wine communes? Which one? Chambolle-Musigny (red Burgundy) or Puligny-Montrachet (white Burgundy, my guess)?

Posted by
10344 posts

Ahhh, sleeping in Saint-Romain then. Well, you'll need a car. I think it's going to be too early in the season for cycling. You weren't sure you wanted to pack a jacket for dinner, so you probably don't want to pack the windproof clothing you'd need for cycling that time of year.The AutoEurope site is up and running, I just went there, you can pick up/drop off in Beaune, looks like a total cost of less than $100/day. The car will give you the ability to drive the part of the Vineyard Road north of Beaune, where the more famous names and stops for tastings are, suggestions would be: Meursault, Vougeot, and Gevrey-Chambertin.

Posted by
63 posts

Oh yeah, I just checked the Autoeurope site as well. Great prices. The other gite I was checking out is actually in Puligny-Montrachet (I sent you a different link earlier) it is here: La Clé des Vignes. Literally on the edge of Puligny.

You think 2 nights is sufficient for this area?

Posted by
10344 posts

Yes, I think 2 nights is a good allocation of time for that area, given the rest of your itinerary. You asked what to do with the 3 extra days you now have after deleting Prague, and you mentioned Reims or Colmar. To get from Beaune to Reims, by train, you go through Paris, not sure that makes sense for you, interrupts the flow of the trip that you mentioned before?Here's a thought:Sleep in Puligny (actually St-Romain) 3/31 and 4/01 as you've already plannedThen directly to Paris, the next stop in the sense of the flow of the tripSleep in Paris the last 6 nights (wait, keep reading) but with 2 or 3 day trips from Paris to (select 2 or 3 of these) Versailles (only takes 1/2 a day), Chartres (1 day but an easy day trip), and Reims.The idea behind the last 6 nights in Paris is that it avoids further packing up, moving to the next hotel, etc, you'll have had enough of that by then. Being your wife's first trip to Paris, she'll want 3 full days, at least, just to explore Paris with you; and then your choice of doing either 2 or 3 day trips, from Paris, you come back to the same bed every night. Just a thought.You mentioned Bayeux, it's difficult to do as a day trip from Paris, if you mean to go to the D-Day Beaches. Mont St Michel is an optional day trip, say instead of Reims--but it's a long day trip from Paris requiring that you either sign up for an expensive day-trip bus tour or, on your own, go by train and then switch to bus, reversing that on the way back.Just ideas to get your itinerary-planning juices flowing!

Posted by
63 posts

Wow, I never even thought of that. Sounds like a great idea. 2.5 hours to Paris, then we're done with the luggage for the rest of the trip.

How do Reims and Chartres differ in terms of personality/tourist saturation, etc?

Posted by
10344 posts

Yes, done with the luggage for the rest of your trip! And 6 days in Paris, your wife will love it (you too). Plus exciting day trips.Reims is the capital of the Champagne region and is also about an hour away from Paris with the new high speed train line. You could combine a visit to the world famous Reims Cathedral with a visit to one of the famous champagne cellars, you can tour a champagne cover right in Reims, Mumms is closest to the train station.Chartres is only a one hr train ride from Paris. Chartres offers a pleasant small town break (from Paris). Cobbled old town center. The main sight is the Chartres Cathedral, one of the better examples of Gothic cathedral architecture, along with the Reims Cathedral.

Posted by
10344 posts

It may be good that you have not yet finalized your sleeping accommodations in the Bourgogne. Here's why I say that: the location to home base out of for wine tasting in Bourgogne should be made, IMO, after deciding whether you're most interested in:red burgundy (and of course I'm not referring to the inexpensive red Calfironia wine that calls itself burgundy, but rather to what in Oregon we call Pinot Noir)white burgundy (our chardonnay)or Beaujolais. I'm going to guess that we can eliminate Beaujolais right off, as that region is mainly south of Macon (although to my taste Beaujolais is the easiest red wine to drink for someone who wants to try a good red but has no experience drinking good red burgundies, the Beaujolais will ease them into the experience and prepare them for the Pinot Noir experience).

Posted by
63 posts

Thanks for the observations. I do enjoy the red burgundies, and that is my purpose for choosing this stop over anywhere else in France. Beaujolais is a nice wine, but not the one I'm serious about. I love the subtle, earthy balance of the burgundies. Although, I am very much a novice on wine, I am very interested.

I'll admit to ignorance on the categorizations within the Cote D'Or, as it seems each vineyard yields enormously different results.

My wife and I are on a fixed budget, which means that we won't be shipping the Grand Crus home to In-Laws, but we would like to experience as much as possible in the mid-range.

Posted by
10344 posts

You're into red wine, so you may want to consider the Cote de Nuits sub-region of the Cote d'Or as a place to home base out of, this area is just north of Beaune.Pouligny-Montrachet is a producer of white Burgundy. The Cote d'Or region as a whole produces both red Burgundy (our labels would use the name of the type of grape, Pinot Noir) and white Burgundy (our labels would say Chardonnay). But it's the northern subregion of the Cote d'Or, named the Cote de Nuits, that specializes in the reds you're interested in. Or you could home base in Beaune itself, booking sleeping accommodations that state they will facilitate overnight parking of your car in a secure area; sleeping in Beaune would give you the ability to cover the entire area from a central location.

Posted by
663 posts

Nick, have you tought of stopping by the pont du gard on your way from Arles to Beaune? It is a 2000 years old roman aqueduc, which is worth the small detour. Have a great trip!

Posted by
3101 posts

Hi Nick!
I really like your latest itinerary--Kent's got you going in the right direction! I think that Arles is a good option rather than Avignon and 2 nights in Arles is perfect!

The hotel Domaine de la Corgette near St. Romain looks like a great option at a reasonable price. I'd stay there rather than in Beaune since you're planning on renting a car anyway. The tour of Hotel Dieu is interesting and worthwhile--we enjoyed lunch at Bistrot Bourguignon in Beaune--the owner is a local wine expert.

Then, six nights in Paris is an excellent idea! Also, keep in mind that there will be plenty to keep you busy in Paris for 6 days--a day trip is a great option but don't feel like you're going to run out of things to do in the city.

You are going to have an awesome time!

Posted by
63 posts

Hi Martine,

How long woud you allow for a tour of the Pont du Gard?

Thanks for the suggestion.

Posted by
4125 posts

Nick, you will not regret having a car in Burgundy. If I understand right that you will be traveling by train the rest of the time, you may want to consider a French rail-drive pass. These let you rent a car at one or more locations along your trip at very reasonable rates.

Posted by
663 posts

hi Nick, we spent 2 hours max, if you think you will want to walk on the highest level of the aqueduc you will need to book a guided tour at the main entrance. www.pontdugard.fr/index.php?langue=GB

we did not know and only could go up to the second highest brige.

Posted by
67 posts

sounds like a wonderful itinerary...I stayed in Arles for a week in 2001 and stayed at the Hotel de Musee,in RS book...delightful place...simple but clean room,lovely courtyard...stairs only though, but very affordable and very nice folk running the place...just in case you wanted a rec...Avignon is a nice place too,mostly for the Chateau de Pape and the bridge but I liked Arles much better...have fun !

Posted by
207 posts

Nick,

We absolutely loved Beaune and Colmar and enjoyed Rheims and its champagne industry...If we had to put them in order, we would suggest Beaune first, Colmar a close second and Rheims nice, but a distant third. George Werner, Pittsburgh