We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Ideas for trip to Northern France in April

Pacific NW
Level Contributor
16 posts
16 reviews
Save Topic
Ideas for trip to Northern France in April

We are travelling to France the first week of April. It is my husband's first time to Europe (I vacationed there with my family as a teenager). We will be in Paris for 3 days and will spend 2 days in the Loire Valley touring chateaux and wineries. We have an open day on our agenda and are looking for ideas. I would like to go to Giverny, as I haven't been there before and am an impressionist art fan. We are renting a car in Paris (the deGaulle airport) so have flexibility. I was thinking of adding in Chantilly on the way to Giverny or possibly Honfleur after Giverny. We're looking for a quaint, French countryside drive, as this will be after several days of busy sight-seeing in Paris. Any ideas on which route would be most scenic or other towns/villages to see instead. I have been to Versailles and since we're going to be seeing other chateaux in the Loire, don't want to overwhelm my husband with chateaux (not his thing). :-)

Thanks much!!

Washington state
Level Contributor
683 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Ideas for trip to Northern France in April

You might start by looking at one of those Best Driving Tours of France type books that you'll find in most bookstores and at the libraries. You need not buy one, just take a mental note of the places, routes suggested and then come back to Tripadvisor to get a few more specifics. The Michelin guides also have recommended driving tours.

Ohio, USA
Level Contributor
19,004 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Ideas for trip to Northern France in April

IMO you are making the classic first-timer's mistake of trying to cram too much into too little time and therefore both spending more time rushing about than makes sense and probably lessening your enjoyment of your trip as a consequence.

Six days is barely enough to take in the major tourist attractions in Paris alone. If you are a lover of Impressionist art there are at least three major museums in Paris you would probably want to visit, the Musée d'Orsay, the Orangerie and the Musée Marmottan-Monet. If you really want to add Giverny to that list you can do it easily by train from Paris in less than a full day. You can get your château fix also with a day trip from Paris to any of Versailles, Fontainebleau, Chantilly or Vaux-le-Vicomte to name only the most obvious places. But again with only 6 days I think one trip outside the city is really about all you have time for if you are not going to feel rushed.

As for your original plan and questions I think there are some logistical problems with it. Why pick up a car at CDG if you are headed to either Normandy or the Loire valley, both in more or less the opposite direction? All that will achieve would be to require that you find a more complicated route through or around the city. Driving direct to Tours as an example to begin your visit to the Loire châteaux would take about three hours, considerably more if you hit heavy Easter week traffic. The TGV to Tours takes one hour and you could pick up your car there.

You could add Giverny on your "extra" day without much difficulty on your return trip from the Loire but I have already indicated that I think you need to do less rather than more. Honfleur would add about 6 hours to your total driving time, hardly worthwhile for one night IMO.

Do you have good regional guidebooks for the areas you propose to visit? What about a decent map, even a single-sheet map of France? These are essential for planning your trip IMO whatever you finally decide. If you do drive to the places you suggest you really need a Michelin road atlas for France or the relevant 1:200,000 scale maps of the areas that interest you. A GPS loaded with European maps would also be extremely valuable.

All that said, IMO a good rule for a worthwhile trip almost anywhere in Europe is "less is more."

Edited: 07 February 2010, 12:51
3. Re: Ideas for trip to Northern France in April

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 07 August 2010, 05:18