PART 1 of 7
We are a couple who traveled in France for 4 weeks from Aug 24 to Sep 20, 2021, visiting parts we had missed previously. This trip report is in 7 parts, connected as replies to this Part 1. The towns we stayed in are listed below; we visited many others:
- THE LOIRE – AMBOISE: 3 nights (Part 2)
- UZERCHE: 1 night (Part 2)
- DORDOGNE: 6 nights (Part 3)
- LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON – PUYCELSI: 1 night (Part 4)
- LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON – CAUNES-MINERVOIS: 1 night (Part 4)
- LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON – COLLIOURE: 3 nights (Part 4)
- LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON – CARCASSONNE: 1 night (Part 4)
- LYON: 2 nights (Part 5)
- BURGUNDY – MEURSAULT: 6 nights (Part 6)
- NORMANDY – HONFLEUR: 2 nights (Part 7)
- CHARLES DeGAULLE (CDG) AIRPORT: 1 night
We rented a car when we left Amboise, returning it in Carcassonne; we rented another car when we left Lyon, returning it at CDG Airport. Travel from CDG to the Loire and from Carcassonne to Lyon was via TGV.
Initially we planned to spend half our time in Spain. Due to COVID, a few months before departure we decided to restrict the trip to France. The timing was fortuitous as regards COVID infection rates and restrictions: when we departed the US, the US infection rate was rising and above that of the falling French rate; in addition, France had eased travel restrictions. Given these conditions and not knowing what 2022 will bring, we chose to NOT postpone our trip.
This trip to France was wonderful, exceeding expectations. There was a dearth of tourists from non-EU countries. We felt welcome, and came to appreciate the COVID-related controls on entry to museums, restaurants, etc.
OUR FAVORITE 11 ACTIVITIES:
- Viewing Prehistoric Cave Art at La Grotte de Font-de-Gaume and Lascaux IV
- Canoeing the Dordogne River
- Driving the vertiginous Gorges de Galamus
- Visiting Château de Chenonceau in The Loire
- Visiting the Cathar fortresses Château de Peyrepertuse and Château de Quéribus
- Visiting the memorial village Oradour-sur-Glane
- Relaxing overnight in the village of Puycelsi
- Viewing lightning over the floodlit walls of La Cité in Carcassonne
- Doing a day trip from Burgundy to MuséoParc Alésia and Abbaye de Fontenay
- Enjoying a wine-tasting meal at Domaine Comte Senard in Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy
- Visiting Monet’s House and Gardens in Giverny
- With tourist numbers reduced due to COVID, most places we visited were uncrowded. Most tourists we encountered were from EU countries.
- Passe Sanitaire: For us the system worked well, providing reasonable confidence that adults around us in museums, restaurants, etc., were either vaccinated or had recently tested negatively.
- We purchased airline tickets 3 months before departure. The price of our flights varied wildly in the three months leading up to our departure. I changed tickets several times (for the same flights), finishing in a higher class at a lower price than our original tickets.
- Flight to France: I posted our experience with COVID documents on the RS forum: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/report-flew-into-france-cdg-aug-24-passe-sanitaire-experience
- Return to US: I posted our experience with COVID test and documents on the RS forum: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/report-20sep-return-to-us-from-france-via-amsterdam-checks-of-our-covid-related-documentation
- Train tickets. We used the OUI.sncf mobile app to purchase our INOUI TGV tickets while in the US and used the sncf mobile app to purchase TER tickets while in France. Both apps worked well, and we never used a paper ticket.
- We found that due to COVID, restaurants in France were sometimes short-staffed, with some reducing the number of customers served and/or hours of operation.