We are in the early planning stages for a trip next summer. I'm thinking about spending 4 nights in Paris followed by visiting the countryside of France for my remaining 6 nights. This France trip is in the middle of a month long vacation so jet leg will not be an issue. We plan to rent a car for the countryside and spend night one night (not part of the 6) in Burgundy on our way to Germany. Question: how would you spend the 6 nights? We are considering Normandy ( not really interested in D day beaches) Brittany, Loire Valley, Provence, or any other areas. We have already been to the Burgundy region (loved it!) and Colmar. What would you do with these 6 nights?
I think Tom has a good plan centered on the Loire. Lots of chateaux to visit, Tours is a good central base or you could pick a nearby town for easier driving and parking. If you get chateau'd out, as we did, the zoo near St-Aignan is supposed to be one of the best in Europe: http://www.zoobeauval.com/. Another choice might be the Dordogne, further south, with caves and castles and beautiful scenery and decadent food. Sarlat or one of the nearby towns would be a good base. Maybe I should drive down and crash the Sacramento RS group meeting so I can join your dialogue with Andrea! ;)
I think you should skip Germany. You've been there, done that many times. Tell Monte you want to see new things. I also think you should go back to Burgundy and do a self-drive canal boat for at least a few days. Oh, and don't forget to take me with you! ;-) Okay, in all seriousness I think you would love Provence. You could take the train from Paris and pick up the car there. Otherwise it would be a long drive. If you want to stick closer to Paris I think combining either Normany/Brittany or Normandy/Loire would be great. Only 4 nights in Paris? I think you should have at least 5 nights to give you 4 full days. Where will you be coming from when you get to France?
We plan to fly to MUC and drive to Slovenia and spend several nights there, back to Munich for a few days and then take the train to Paris. Then, do Paris, the countryside and head toward Germany and drop the car while still in France and train the rest of the way to Frankfurt to meet up with our German friends who want to take us to some northern German island and then into Sweden and we'll fly home from there. So that's why we are headed to Germany. We don't mind driving a lot, but France is so big and we have only 6 nights. We were thinking of only 4 nights in Paris because we are really more country people than city, but want to do it justice too. So, you think we should spend 5 nights in Paris? That doesn't leave much time for the rest of France. I need more days!
Yes you do need more days!! Sounds like a great trip though. Okay, 4 nights in Paris. You can go back the following year with us before we do the canal boat! :-) France is big, so grouping places together makes sense. I think you would enjoy any of the scenarios I mentioned before. Do you have the France book? If not, let me know. I can bring mine to the meeting and you can take it home with you. You are coming this month aren't you?
Yes, we will be there! I have an old France RS book, but would love to see what you have. Thanks!
So, whatever we do we will plan to work our way towards Germany and plan to spend our last night in near Beaune before dropping our car.
Love to hear everyones ideas!
My France book is from 2006, so not so new!! I have a Provence book from 2011 that I can bring.
Have you thought about heading to Champagne country and east? Reims (via Epernay) is an easy ride and would be a good first night stay tasting all the way. Then on to Metz for a night and on to Strasbourg for a couple of nights if you have not been there. My other thought is drive to Tours and do the Loire Valley; a visit to the caves of Vouvray outside of Tours; a night or two in Amboise to do the chateau tours (maybe even stay the night at the Hotel du Grand St. Michel next to the Chateau de Chambord; reservations in advance a must) and then drop down to Lyon for a night or two before heading to Beaune (via Macon of course!). The drives are for the most part short (Loire Valley to Lyon will take the most time) allowing for plenty of stoppage time along the way. Remember, not knowing exactly when you will be there, the Tour de France is run from the end of June into the first couple of weeks in July; stopping somewhere on that route I would think would be fun!
If you've never been to Provence, then that is the place. You are a bit short on time to swing by the Dordogne. I mean, you could do it, but it would be a lot of driving. But Provence is logistically very sweet from Paris, because TGV. And it is fabulous, though I have never been in high season. You could manage Normandy, perhaps with a swing though part of Brittany. If those loom large in your hearts, maybe that is the right choice. But my money is on Provence. Plenty to see there for 6 days, or shift a day to Paris, or make a stop in Lyon on the way to Beaune. Don't bother with the Loire or the Cote d'Azure.
@Dick - Come on down to the meeting. Sept. 21st, so mark your calendar. If you need a place to stay, Susan & Monte have plenty of room. Their address is
Consider Dordogne! There are lots of things to do for 6 days/nights! Castles, caves, canoeing, markets, beautiful scenery, small villages. We spent 6 nights last May based in La Roque Gageac and had a great time! Beynac or another nearby village would be great as well.
Ok, so now I'm really thinking about Dordogne and Provence! Could I do both with 6 nights between the two? How would you suggest I do both?
That's a tough question! Personally I'd pick one or the other - either would be great! Edit: We've most recently visited Dorgogne so it's my new favorite!
If it was me and I had 6 days and a car, I would drive from Paris to Amboise (or somewhere near there) and stay for 2 nights spending 1 full day seeing the chateaux and since you're going in summer you could see one of the sound & light shows in the evening. Then I would drive to a home base in Provence for the next 4 nights exploring the hill towns, markets, maybe lavender fields (depending on your dates), etc. It's a short time for Provence (it's a big area) but a good taste. Many people here will give recommendations for places to stay in Provence. I stayed in Roussillon and found it very convenient for exploring that part of Provence. If you want to explore a different area of Provence I have heard that St. Remy de Provence makes a good base for that area or Arles too has been mentioned as a home base. A lot depends on if you want to spend the 6 nights in one place or more and how much driving you want to do - Provence would leave you closer to your next destination in Burgundy than the Dordogne would.
Dordogne is gorgeous, and canoeing down the river is a must. I would only be concerned that 6 days is not much time and Dordogne is in the opposite direction from Paris as Germany. (~5 hour drive one way). If you're okay with the driving, Paris -> Loire -> Dordogne -> Burgundy could work. Or Paris -> Dordogne -> Les Baux -> Burgundy. (Les Baux is just incredible, even more so if you are into ancient history -- in which case you could stop by Pont du Gard on the way). Again, that's a lot of driving, perhaps you'd be better off sticking to Normandy/Provence/Champagne and saving the south and west for another trip.
I'm so confused! I picked up RS books from the library today and all of France seems wonderful. It is so hard when you haven't been somewhere to decide where you want to go. Thanks so much for all the ideas!
Susan and Monte confused now! Score another one for the Helpline! ;) All I'd add (to the confusion) is that our own preference is to pick a base and stay 5-10 days to explore a region or a big city. Dividing six nights between, say, Provence and Dordogne would be too rushed for us, not doing justice to either area. But you guys have been around the block enough to know what works for you. Everyplace you're considering is great, so you can't go wrong!
Yes, Dick, you are right. We really can't go wrong. I just wish I could take a quick trip to each region and then choose. We like to take it a bit slower, but then I start adding on areas that then make it fast! A home base is a fine approach, and we prefer small villages and countryside to cities. We stayed in the Burgundy region and loved it. We had a home base in a village of just over 100 people...that is really more our style. We prefer to stay away from the crowds, but then I guess good sites have crowds....confusing!
See, all this talk is why I think Provence is a better fit for this particular trip than the Dordogne. I love the Dordogne, but it (a) is hard to get to which (b) makes it particularly unfortunate to go to that trouble without enough time to justify the trip. Since you are headed east, stay in the eastern half of France. You will be wowed in Provence.
The obvious solution is to just go east this time, and start planning your next trip (or three) to see the rest of France.