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4 replies
Besides Paris, next "must visit" place in France?
mrmatt
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My summer 2012 itinerary is going to include Paris for sure. But having taken a total of 6 years of French classes, I am hoping to spend more time (2-3 days) in France besides doing Paris.

I’m looking for an authentic French location that has some interesting historical/scenic qualities to it (I know there are many-so what do you like?), but isn’t extremely urbanized like Paris.

I am considering the Normandy/d-day trip with a possible excursion to Mont St. Michel as well. I’m also considering a few days in Aix-en-Provence (or should I do Nice or Marseille instead? I’ve heard Aix is great though…).

Any recommendations or comments?

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oldlady
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2 to 3 days kind of dictates Normandy/Mont St. Michel for me. A visit to the Memorial & museum in Caen (IMO a must see) and a handful of the many D-Day sites takes about 1 & 1/2 days, plus the 2 hours to get there from Paris. Add a stop to see the Bayeau tapestry to fill up 2 days. Mont St. Michel will eat up another 1/2 to 3/4 day depending on your mode of transportation. We rented a car in Caen (car rental offices are across the street from the train station) which I highly recommend although bus tour or public transportation will also work.

The South of France requires at least 6 hours to get there from Paris. While train service is excellent along the Riviera, getting to some of the picturesque villages like Aix and others in Provence involves steep terrain and thus slower travel and often connecting by bus. It’s another good place to rent a car, although the mountain roads and ultra-aggressive French drivers (LA is tame by comparison) make it a hair-raising experience. I love the area, but I think it deserves more than a couple of days, particularly if that includes travel time to/from Paris.

desilva
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When we were in France last month, we drove through the Loire Valley and visited a few chateaux and we loved it. Just thought I’d put in the idea if you want to consider. You can take a train from Paris to Tours (which is about 1 hr from Paris) and use Tours as a base for your excursions. There are several rental agencies (Europcar, Avis, Hertz, etc) right outside Tours train station (St. Pierre Des Corpus). We hit three chateaux on that day (wished we had some more time to visit others) but we really enjoyed it. If you get to Tours early in the morning, you can easily cover a few (at least the most scenic and best known) chateaux that day. The drive itself in the Loire Valley region is really beautiful.

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mrmatt
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The Bayeux Tapestry would be pretty cool to see in addition to the D-Day area activities. If we went to Normandy, it would likely be right after Paris. However, if we go to the South of France, it would probably be after making our way through Germany and Switzerland, and before traveling down into Italy.

I am leaving from Little Rock, AR with $2200 for 28 days
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luv_the_beach
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desilva wrote:
When we were in France last month, we drove through the Loire Valley and visited a few chateaux and we loved it. Just thought I’d put in the idea if you want to consider. You can take a train from Paris to Tours (which is about 1 hr from Paris) and use Tours as a base for your excursions. There are several rental agencies (Europcar, Avis, Hertz, etc) right outside Tours train station (St. Pierre Des Corpus). We hit three chateaux on that day (wished we had some more time to visit others) but we really enjoyed it. If you get to Tours early in the morning, you can easily cover a few (at least the most scenic and best known) chateaux that day. The drive itself in the Loire Valley region is really beautiful.

That’s a fantastic suggestion, and I second it for anyone interested in the chateaux of the Loire Valley.

mrmatt wrote:

I am considering the Normandy/d-day trip with a possible excursion to Mont St. Michel as well. I’m also considering a few days in Aix-en-Provence (or should I do Nice or Marseille instead? I’ve heard Aix is great though…).

Any recommendations or comments?

I highly recommend Mont-Saint-Michel. Just west of Mt-St-Michel is a larger lovely tow called Saint-Malo (technically across the regional border into Brittany), and in between them ar some lovely coastal villages, which will require a car. If you do such an itinerary, even visiting just Mt-St-Michel in addition to D-Day sites, make sure you add extra time into the Normandy (and possibly Brittany) portion of your trip, as there will be no direct train routes for the exact path(s) you plan to take. You may have to rely on a web of trains and intercity buses. So, just make sure you have ample time for this leg of your trip. In other words….not just two days for all of Normandy.

In the south, Aix is lovely, and so is everything in the south. If you venture further east, do not limit yourself to Nice. Nice is urbanized (and so is Marseille), as they are both sizeable cities. But they are near several wonderful small towns, both coastal and inland. You may also find southwest France rewarding.


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