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Trip Planning Advice

Kingston
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478 posts
21 reviews
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Trip Planning Advice

I am in the early stages of planning a trip to France for May of 2012. It will be a graduation gift for my daughter. We will also be bringing her close friend.

I am trying to fit in a little something for everyone! We will start in Paris for 4 nights. I know that's not a lot of time, but my husband does not enjoy "big cities" so much. We will then stay for 3 nights in Bayeaux to visit some of the war memorials and beaches (his passion). We have agreed to end the trip in the south, either Nice or Villefrance, probably for 4 nights.

This leaves us only another 3-4 nights to spend somewhere else. I would like to break up the trip south, and see something different from the places we are already staying. My husband and I love scenary, food, wine. The girls like castles and shopping.

Can anyone provide me with some ideas? I have considered Provence, but wasn't sure if this would interest the girls so much.

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Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
Caveau du Gigondas
Gift & Speciality Shops
Collines de Provence
Gift & Speciality Shops
Souvenirs de l'Ubaye
Gift & Speciality Shops
Maison Telme
Gift & Speciality Shops
Liverpool
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1. Re: Trip Planning Advice

How will you be travelling? If you decide on castles, it would be worth considering the Cathar castles in Languedoc and Midi Pyrenees regions. You could base yourselves in or near Carcassonne, but a car is probably essential to visit the castles.

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Midi-Pyrenees
Midi-Pyrenees
Occitanie, France
Kingston
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478 posts
21 reviews
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2. Re: Trip Planning Advice

Thanks for your reply. I should have mentioned that yes we will have a car.

Ohio, USA
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3. Re: Trip Planning Advice

When you mention "castles" what do you have in mind? Are you thinking of medieval fortresses, often in ruins, or Renaissance and later palaces such as Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte in the Paris region or Chenoncea and Chambord in the Loire? If it is more the latter then combining the Loire with Normandy would make a lot of sense and would minimize your driving. The Loire also has many medieval castles incidentally, including Chinon, Langeais and Loches

Don't forget to factor travel time into your itinerary. It will take you two fairly long and uninteresting days to travel from Bayeux to Nice by car or one excruciatingly boring day with about 13 hours driving. You can make the same trip in much less time and probably less expensively by train or by a train/plane combination. The Loire valley to Nice would take almost as long, Paris to Nice only a couple of hours less.

You are probably right to consider Provence, or perhaps you could just add some time in Normandy where there is a lot more to see than the beaches and memorials, as important as those are, and on the Riviera.

Whatever you decide unless you plan to visit somewhere en route, I would suggest that you drop the car in northern France or in Paris and take the high speed train to Provence or the train or plane to Nice.

www.viamichelin.com will be a useful preliminary route-planning tool. Add a good 25% to their time estimates as these are based on absolutely perfect conditions, no traffic or construction delays, and no stops of any kind along the way. The site will also give you options to avoid the major highways, highly recommended if you want to see the scenery and stop at the towns and villages along the way. The Autoroutes will get you from A to B as quickly as possible but for the most part you might as well be driving the major highways across North America. You can also get an idea of fuel and tioll costs on the same site. Gasoline is VERY expensive in France. Diesel is a little cheaper and will give you more miles per liter. Your least expensive rental option will be a manual transmission diesel-engined car.

www.,tgv-europe.com will give you train timetables and fares. You cannot book most trains more than 3 months ahead so you would probably want to look at fares for the very end of August but note that those may be higher than you would have to pay because of heavy summer demand.

Air France and easyJet both fly economically from Paris to Nice if that option seems worth exploring. You might even find that it makes sense to book round-trip flights to Nice via Paris with a stopover in Paris in one direction.

Maybe since this is a gift for your daughter have her look at a guidebook, such as the DK Eyewitness guide to France and pick out a region that appeals to her that you could then work into your itinerary.

And try not to fall into the trap of trying to cram in too much. Often the adage "less is more" is a good one to live by when trying to plan an itinerary.

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Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
4. Re: Trip Planning Advice

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