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which region would be 1st choice

We will be in Paris for 3-4 days to include daytrips to DDay and Versailles, I don't know if or when I would be back in France so I would like to visit other regions. I plan on 2-3 days in Loire Valley. And I would like to visit another region. I cannot decide on Provence or Alsace or the Dodgone region. If you had one (1) choice, which would it be and why.
Our plans to visit France will be either last week of April/1st week of May or last week of September/1st week of October. I do not plan on renting a car.

Thank you!!

Posted by
31468 posts


Taking a "daytrip" to the D-Day beaches will be a LONG day. Depending on what or how many of the sites you want to see, staying at least one night would be a really good idea. Bayeux is a good spot to stay as it's relatively close to the beaches (it was one of the first towns liberated).

Since the beaches and various sites are quite spread out, Bayeux is also a good place to book a day tour with a local firm (most here, including me enthusiastically recommend BattleBus). Since you don't plan on renting a car, you'll need transportation to get to the beaches.

Happy travels!

Posted by
9110 posts

TGV Paris to Aix is three hours. This is a constraint of time??????? Walking from Rue Cler ("where I frequently stay") to Marais ("where I often stay") and back is two hours. Go figure.

Posted by
8766 posts

If you have never been to Paris before, 3 - 4 days including two daytrips wouldn't allow much time there. Versailles is an easy day trip, but when I was considering a daytrip to the D Day beach area everyone discouraged me because it is so hard to do. Especially without a car! I decided to save that for another trip.

How many total days do you have for your trip?

Posted by
9110 posts

To complicate the whole Normandy mess, you absolutely can't go to Bayeux without spending at least a good hour looking at the tapestry.

Posted by
4125 posts

My first choice of what to add would be Paris. It is the center of the country, one of the great cities of the world, requires no car to get about, and includes a taste of every other region of France.

If you are in Paris for 3 days and spend two of them on day trips, that leaves one day in Paris. That scarcely seems worth it and suggests that maybe Paris is not a priority for you.

You might want to think about that, and spend time where you really want to be. That's a personal choice, not a value judgment.

Two great times of year for such a trip, by the way.

Posted by
22 posts

thank you all for the quick reply.

my husband loves history so it sounds like I need to stay overnight to see DDay.

I can add another day in Paris. I know there's so much to see in Paris, just do not know if and when i will make it back to France...

What is your opinion on doing a daytrip of Loire Valley, skipping Versailles and maybe doing Chartres. Personally a couple of Chateaux is enough for me. I love seeing different towns.

Posted by
22 posts

Hi again - another question..

I have been to Cinque Terre, is Provence similar? If I choose to spend a couple of days in Provence, which town should we stay. (except for Nice)

or am I better off going to the Dordogne region for something different?

Thanks again!

Posted by
12040 posts

You can go to the Loire and back in one day, but you can't see much, maybe two chateaux at the most. And you would really need a rental car once you arrive to be able to see even that much, as public transportation in the region is not an efficient method to visit the various sites.

Posted by
9110 posts

For a short time in Provence, Nimes is the place, and find a way to get out to Pont du Gard (ties with Segovia as the best aquaduct in Europe).

Arles and Orange have more of the same if you like Roman stuff.

Avignon is only mildly interesting unless you have an over-riding interest in the split papacy.

Aix is great, but takes a while to know. Good base for lots of day trips to places mentioned above.

Posted by
3551 posts

Provence. A classic french historical, picctureque area. Wine, food and friendly french. However you will need a car to see tis region well.

Posted by
4125 posts

Re Provence versus 5Terre versus Dordogne valley:

I think the differences between the Italian Riviera and Provence vastly outweigh any similarities. Not sure why you would think they are alike. I cannot tell you which you would enjoy more.

The Dordogne valley and surrounding parts of Peregord are fabulous, but given your tight tight schedule and lack of car I would choose Provence, which is logistically sweet.

In Provence Nimes is not a bad choice, but I'd pick Arles, with a day trip (if you have time) to Nimes and the Pont du Gard. Rick Steves has some specific suggestions for getting about in this region without a car.

Posted by
22 posts

When I mentioned Cinque Terre, I was thinking of the Riviera. Sorry.

Posted by
1525 posts

We were in all of these regions last summer.

You don't say, but I assume that this 3rd region would be for only 2-3 days and that the total time for the trip is around 10 days. Is this correct?

If so, then time is your biggest enemy.

A good, basic & quick visit to the Dday area would be a 1/2 day from Bayeux (spend the other 1/2 day IN bayeux & sleep there). Visit omaha beach, where there is a small memorial and then just up the hill is the American Cemetary, where there is a very good museum that tells the story of the invasion in very human terms. So that's all one, very busy but productive day.

Then I would skip the Loire valley all together. Why? Because there are two reasons to be there; 1) to slowly absorb the lovely valley region, which you don't have time to do and 2) to see chateau that will all seem rather dull after seeing Versailles. The chateau are mildly interesting, but let's face it, there is something rather repugnant about that much wealth wasted on little-used piles of stone. So see the biggest pile while you are in Paris and skip the Loire because you don't have time to soak it in.

But I think it is important to spend a few days seeing rural France (to contrast with Paris), so I would spend them in the Dordogne river valley. Base either in Sarlat, which will have many options, or in one of the dozen small riverside villages a few miles south. Spend your days wandering these villages (each with its own castle or small chateau) and soak in the history, the truly genuine cuteness (as opposed to Disney-esque cuteness of the more touristy destinations), and the relative peace and quiet. It is a place worthy of remembering.

So maybe 4 days in Paris, 1 in Normandy, 4 in Dordogne and 1 back to Paris? Or 3-1-4-2 would work, too and you could sleep in two different neighborhoods in Paris to compare & contrast?

Good luck!

Posted by
12882 posts

Hi Joan,

To answer your basic question as to which of the three regions I would pick given just one choice, I would pick ALSACE hand down!!

Skip Provence and the Dodgone region. I have been to Provence twice to see a few of the doesn't do anything for me, I have to admit that I have not visited the Dodgone area, but Alsace I have been there a few times AND would definitely go back again; that place is interesting, even fascinating, and exciting, culturally and historically.

Apart from Paris, the region of Alsace and eastern France is one of my top three favourites in France. It has great white wine and I like the food, but, then, the food everywhere in France is great. Both time slots that you indicated are good for visiting Strasbourg, which is impressive and gets pretty hot (over 30C) in the summer, hotter than Paris. While you are there, see as a day trip Nancy or Colmar, for a small place go to Obernai from Strasbourg.

Strasbourg is much more attractive and captivating than Metz, which I don't recommend at all since you have a time constraint, and, besides, Metz is not Alsace. Seeing Alsace will be well worth it.

Posted by
8279 posts

If I were you I would do Paris, at least 4 days, Versailles and Provence...hands down (as others suggested).

Posted by
68 posts

I would HIGHLY recommend the Dordogne Region. My husband and I spent 4 weeks in France in October 2009. We spent an unplanned 8 nights in the Dordogne Region, and we LOVED it! We stayed in a charming B&B in a small village near Sarlat, and we never ran out of things to do in 8 days! We visited several prehistoric caves, castles, gardens, markets and one beautiful village after another. We still didn't get to do everything we wanted to do in 8 days. The Dordogne Region has something for everyone. We had a car, and we didn't drive more than an hour or so on any given day.