France - St. Malo, Basque Country

I have about 8 days in France coming up. I'm going to spend a couple of days in Paris and would like to do some exploring. I'd love to go to St. Malo - any tips?

I also just read Rick's chapter on French Basque country and am really tempted to take a night train down there for a couple of days. Should I save that region for another trip entirely, or is it somewhere that I can be OK with going for just a couple of days?

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9245 posts

click here for 60 prior discussions of St. Malothis site will give you travel time for the Basque trip

Posted by Michael
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
34 posts

Every moment you spend traveling in country is time lost getting to know the country. Seven days is a very limited time period to see all of France. Paris in two to three days is really pushing it. Staying in Paris and then going to Versailles, Chartres, Reims, and then out to Normandy is something you should think about. Of course, there is also a trip to the Loire Valley. All of these are closer than the south of France and you will not waste as much time traveling. I speak as someone who prefers the south of France, but I recognize the importance and value of exploring the north. On your next trip, ignore Paris completely and go straight to the south and spend as much time as you can getting to know that part of the country. It is beautiful, the people are great; for me, it is the real France. Cheers.

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

I agree wholeheartedly with Michael. Eight days isn't a lot of time to cover all you want. Stick to Paris and environs, and either Normandy to the west, maybe the Loire to the southwest, possibly northeast into Belgium, or east into the Strasbourg-western Germany area. Otherwise, you'll spend all of your time travelling.

Posted by Jennifer
New York, NY, USA
11 posts

Michael and Norm - thanks so much for your replies. I've been to Paris before and have done side trips from there as well as to some other northern France areas (e.g., Rennes, Bayeux, Blois). Sorry for not clarifying that in my original post. I do plan to visit Chartres on this trip as I have not been there before.
I completely agree with you - time spent in transit does cut down on the amount of time you have to really get to know a place. I got excited about Basque Country after reading up on it and was wondering if it would be something worth doing on this trip.

Should St. Malo really be out of the question here? It looks like it's about 3 hours from Paris.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9245 posts

3 hours is just the station to station time from Paris to St. Malo. To get total travel time, add the time to get from your hotel to the train station (probably Paris Montparnasse) and the time to wait for the train. here's the train schedule, if the schedules have timed out just re-enter paris and st. malo, it's paris montparnasse.

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

The problem with doing St. Malo and the French Basque country is the travel time you will waste. Without a car, you will make slow work of it, likely having to backtrack quite a bit before you can pick up a train to head south. Paris-St. Malo is about 3 hours by train. But St. Malo to Biarritz is most of a day....9-10 hours. So that's a day gone to get down there, and most of a day to get back. I love St. Malo and the area west into Brittany...it reminds me a lot of Canada's east coast, and St. Malo was home to many of the original settlers of Quebec. But to do both areas will probably be impossible with only 8 days. To check rail schedules, the best place to go is the German national rail website.

Posted by Jennifer
New York, NY, USA
11 posts

Thanks again. I understand that the travel takes more than the actual time on the train...I wasn't planning on going out to St. Malo as a day trip from Paris, that would be pushing it.

From what it sounds like doing both areas would be too much for one trip. I think I'll do St. Malo this time and go down south next time I'm in France. It sounds like a wonderful area to explore.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9245 posts

Jennifer: That should work. If I may say so, IMO you've made good decisions, I'm glad we could help. (I've gotten so used to seeing death march day trips being proposed here, that I just assumed you were talking about a day trip to St. Malo!)

Posted by Bill
Fort Myers, FL, USA
264 posts

A day trip to St Malo from Paris couldn't be easier! I made one myself last June. As a matter of fact the organized day trip included:

Dinan

Mont St. Michel

St. Malo

All three in one day!! Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh

How does one do this?

Well the TGV train goes from Paris to Rennes. (in around 2 hours)

A minivan driver picks you up at the Rennes station and takes you to the various places.

The trip is not rushed, not in the least. There is more than ample time to see everything. It was a comfortable day and I was not tired at it's end.

This was a wonderful trip; and I wouldn't take anything for the experience.

Reservations/tickets at www.linkparis.com

This trip actually takes about the same amount of time as Rick's recommended day trip from Paris to London.

Posted by Bill
Fort Myers, FL, USA
264 posts

P.S. I have several more day trips from Paris scheduled in two weeks, June 2009.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4678 posts

If you're going to do the "Basque Country," make sure you don't limit yourself to France. Include Spain.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9245 posts

Note: The OP says she's already decided the Basque Country is too much for this trip and that she'll do Paris to St. Malo instead.