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Two weeks in France

 
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countrygirl



Joined: 01 Jan 2007
Posts: 7
Location: North-west NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:42 am    Post subject: Two weeks in France Reply with quote

Could I please prevail upon all you willing Francophiles to advise me and my dh how we can best spend two weeks in France in June with a rented car (or without)!

We are keen to see the two World War sites in the north, then make our way towards the Loire and perhaps down to Provence or the Haute Savoy. Is this too ambitious? We thought we would start with perhaps three or four days in Paris.

Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated, and we would love a recommendation to a good hotel in the St Germaine area of Paris. Also, what do people consider the best accomodation guide, perhaps for small hotels and b and b's.
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, Countrygirl, how I envy you your trip--especially if it's your first to France. Your plans are reminiscent of the first trip we made there, so I'll give you the benefit of our experience.

Keep in mind, this was many years ago, so I have a limited memory of specifics. However, we spent nearly a week in Paris, which is certainly not too long. Then we got a car in Paris and, for the next week, made the loop going west through the Loire, checking out a couple lovely chateaux (don't try to do too many...you'll get "chataeud-out"), went up through Brittany, around through Normandy, and back down to Paris. Don't miss Mont St. Michel or the World War II beaches in Normandy. With a father and uncles who fought during that war, I found that I spent most of my time there fighting back tears. And the French haven't forgotten that time. At least, 20 years ago, there were many people still living who remembered it. They could not have been kinder or more welcoming to us. (One wonders if we Americans would get the same reception these days, but that's another story.) I clearly remember absolute strangers in St. Mere Eglise treating us as though we were long-lost relatives--and including us in a village wedding celebration! It was wonderful.

As to trying to get to Provence on this trip, that's for you to decide, but be advised that it is really quite far from your main destination, and you don't have a great deal of time. On that first trip, we purposely limited our travels to that Paris-Brittany-Normandy loop and found it an excellent plan. If you want to devote less time to one of these elements, say less time in Paris, you might decide it's worth it to you to go south. If I remember correctly, it's about an 8 hour drive from Paris, 4 hours on the train. Others in the forum will certainly have better info about this than I have.

Please keep us informed...I'm living this vicariously with you!
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds great!

My only advice to you is to really check out your car hire contract carefully.

We got caught when we planned a similar trip 2 years ago. Most of the cars have limited (and I mean very limited) km's. We went through the km's in 2 weeks, and we had hired the car for 4 weeks!!! Shocked The excess km's cost us more than the car hire did! We had to finish our trip a week earlier than planned as we couldn't afford any more km's.

Also unless you are extremely good with maps and snap decisions based on roads that are not named... hire a car with a gps or bring one with you. Most cities are well signposted, but we found that some of the country towns had no streetsigns at all. Made life interesting to say the least when trying to find hotels... Laughing

Having said that, there are companies that will increase your km limit. You will just have to search, or better yet, get your travel agent to search for them.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh what a lovely experience awaits you!!! I would suggest, if you are wedded to the Normandy/Loire/Paris experience---and there is no reason in the world not to be! that you wait to do Provence and Languedoc another time but perhaps add a dip from the Loire down into the Burgundy region and spend a day or so operating out of Dijon.
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melinda



Joined: 01 Oct 2004
Posts: 256
Location: Richmond, VA, usa

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

we had good luck with europecar (sp?) because we needed automatic transmission (I am the only person in the world who can't drive stick shift) and I would go with Loire & Burgundy (food & wine so wonderful) in addition to Paris of course...
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Rachel



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 296
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to agree with everyone who's said that it's best to do either Normandy/Loire/Paris or Provence/Paris - as well as the issue of distance and travel time, both Normandy/the Loire and Provence are incredibly rich, varied and beautiful places that merit at least a week in their own right and it would be a real shame to give either short shrift.

My one new bit of advice is to take a daytrip somewhere in the Ile-de-France from Paris. Versailles is the obvious one, but as far as palaces go I much prefer Fontainebleau (more intimate, less intimidating and, dare I say it, much more beautiful). And of course June is the perfect time of year to visit Monet's garden in Giverny...
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I concur with the idea to either go north or south - but trying to do both will be not very fullfilling in two weeks, IMHO.

I was not very familiar with Normandy until 3 years ago. We did a home exchange and stayed in Granville - about 60 miles south of Cherbourg and right around the corner from Mt. St. Michel. We took day trips around the area and just fell in love. We spent 2 days in Caen at the Memorial a la Liberation and wandering the D-Day beaches. The Memorial is impressive, educational, humbling and moving and the beaches really bring home to you the level of courage and fortitude required. If you took a week or 10 days just puttering along the Normandy coast - From Honfleur-Deauville-Trouville (just CHARMING with a capital C) to Caen, across the D-Day beaches, to Cherbourg, down the coast of La Manche and over to Mt St Michel, you would have a wonderful trip. That would give you 4-5 days in Paris, which I think is the bare minimum, no matter HOW many times you've been there!

We did a Loire/Brittany trip in 5 days a few years ago that was wonderful and spent 9 days in Provence & Langue d'oc in 2002 - just SPECTACULAR. That time we spent 5 days in Paris and it wasn't enough!
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countrygirl



Joined: 01 Jan 2007
Posts: 7
Location: North-west NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:43 am    Post subject: Two weeks in France Reply with quote

What a joys to live in the age of the WWW and thank you Clotilde for bringing us together.

First of all, thank you everyone for your considered comments. My husband and I live in a remote area, 100km from our nearest small town, so it has been helpful to do a reality check on how far we could reasonably travel in two weeks. So now we have to decide - north or south!

The suggestions about car hire were very helpful, Debbie and confirmed my husband's suspicion that a GPS would be money well spent. I will scour my new Lonely Planet guide for places you've all recommended and will post an update in a week or so.

Any further thoughts would be gratefully received!
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melinda



Joined: 01 Oct 2004
Posts: 256
Location: Richmond, VA, usa

PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

we didn't have any trouble navigating the french roads......Paris is a challenge, but we chose to take a tgv from paris to dijon & rent the car there so we didn't have to drive in or out of Paris....we prefer the smaller roads to autoroutes, but if you're in a hurry, they r well marked....and if u veer off the beaten path on a smaller road, you might find something wonderful anyway...and you'll certainly find a great market, vineyard, or local restaurant with great food...we drove a bit around burgundy & then the Loire & turned the car in in Tours....and took tgv back to CDG
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