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4 week itinerary

Lake Macquarie...
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4 week itinerary

Hello,

We are two 60 year olds visiting France (have never been to Europe) for the first time. We will have all of June in France for "slow travel".

By this I mean that we just love to explore an area by basing ourselves in the one spot for a week and use that as a base, driving no more than say 2 hours to visit neighbouring towns/areas.

We adore the outdoors and appreciate lovely countryside and small towns.

We love farm houses (as booked in Italy) and will possibly book at least 5 of these for our vacation in France.

We thought a combination of rental vehicle and train for France.

One suggestion on an Italy forum was for us to rent our first vehicle in Menton. If we did this, where would be the best place to drive to so that we can stay at least 5 days?

All of the regions of France look so appealing. I guess that the coast (except for Brittany) is not so important to us (we have the most amazing beaches here in Australia!)

Provence, Rhone Valley, Burgundy, Alace and Lorraine, Loire Valley are some of our destinations over the month. Is this doable?

Oh, hubby is a keen cyclist. Is it feasible to train or drive to the Pyrennes region and where to?

Sorry if there are too many questions?

Thank you, Chris

Toowoomba, Australia
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1. Re: 4 week itinerary

We are also Australian and in our late fifties and have now had four trips to France since 2006. We too are ' slow travellers' and stay a week at a time in holiday rentals. You will find that most rentals are for a week with change over day being Saturday. Of course there are always exceptions, but this is what we have done. There are rentals out there to suit all budgets [ we travel on a fairly strict budget compared to trip reports I have read] and in all locations. We tend to stay in the country or small villages as we do not eat out a lot., but others prefer to stay in towns with shops and restaurants. There are gites to suit all requirements.

In planning our trips [ our most recent was nine weeks end of March to end of May this year ] we try to have it flow from region to region when we change gites. Our Saturdays are often longer than many on forums are comfortable with e.g. six to seven hours, but check in is often 4.00pm and we are early risers! so have a day to fill. We look at these trips as a chance to see new areas or re-visit previously visited areas , or to stop at something on the way. e.g. in 2008, we stayed near Mazan in Provence and stopped at Pont du Gard on our way to Eus near Prades in the Pyrenees Orientales. An early start, at Pont when it opened and arrival at Eus late afternoon. Some would see this as too big a day, but we did not find it too much. In answer, you could comfortably do Provence, Rhone, Burgundy [ one of our favourite regions ] and Loire in four weeks.

We always have a car so I cannot comment on trains other than to say that France has an excellent rail system from what I understand. You probably realise that car hire gets cheaper the longer you have the car. So it would probably be cheaper to hire for the whole time rather than several hires with train travel in between. But you need to do what suits you. We like the flexibility that having a car gives us. But we do not stay in large cities e.g. Nice where a car would be less necessary.

My suggestion would be to get a map of France and some guide books and look at what appeals and where they are in relation to each other and plan a comfortable trip . You sound as though you realise that you cannot see it all and I hope you have a wonderful trip. Our first was in 2006 for five weeks and we decided then that even if this would be the only trip we made, we were going to take our time and enjoy just being there. That trip was Loire, Dordogne, lower Burgundy, Alsace, Burgundy [further north]. Enough to make us realise we would be back and have now spent 26 weeks in France. We find it an affordable and rewarding way to travel.

Happy planning.

Lake Macquarie...
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2. Re: 4 week itinerary

Wow, what a reply!! Thank you.

Should mention here that I have been wading through lots of web sites, past TA trip reports etc for this trip and not solely relying on help from Advisors.

Your way of travelling is just what we do -

For the month of May in Italy I have booked farm stays at Sorrento, also just outside of Montefalco, Chiusdino and Lucca (and amazed at the low rental costs for even 4* ratings). We love self contained so that we can prepare our meals and head off quite early in the mornings to make the most of our days. That is not to say that we are on the go the entire time. We like to stop and "smell the roses"!

So, firstly thank you for letting me know that most rentals are Saturday to Saturday. That works out perfectly for us arriving in the south of France from Italy on Saturday 1st June.

Since your email, I have been sourcing out rental vehicles (Auto Europe) and find that they are fairly reasonable. As you mentioned, the longer the hire, the cheaper the rental. Actually we are not great travellers on the train, however we are doing a little of it in Italy (from Rome to Sorrento and Sorrento to Orvieto where we collect a vehicle) and from Pisa to the French border).

Could I ask if you feel that we could do Provence, Rhone, Burgundy, Loire adding Brittany to that itinerary? In saying that, we would possibly like to have 2-3 nights in Paris before flying out for home on the 28th.

Could I also jump ahead a little and ask whether you have stayed in self contained in Paris? I think that may need to be a priority for booking as the Tour de France is early July and possibly hordes of people in Paris prior to it happending. Maybe a hotel would be better, close to the "sights" with easy access to get to the airport.

Again, thank you so much for your contribution. Much appreciated!

Toowoomba, Australia
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3. Re: 4 week itinerary

You may be able to do it all if you have shorter stays, perhaps three and four days instead of a week in places. But then it will be harder to do self catering. We would probably stay in western Provence ,drop the Rhone and go directly to Burgundy. The problem with Brittany is that it is a long way across and out on its own. We stayed south of Dinan in May and it is lovely. But as I said, a long way from the Loire for example. And if you include a couple of days in Paris as well, well your time is dwindling. You could do a mix of gites for a week with short stays in between to move along more quickly.

We had a week in Paris in 2010 and stayed in an apartment. Might not be possible for only two or three nights. We are looking at a longer stay, at least two weeks next time. Perhaps 2014.

Hope you can work out a solution. You may have to return!

Lake Macquarie...
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4. Re: 4 week itinerary

Me again!

Since sending the above this morning, | have been researching as much as possible areas we would be able to cover without "stretching" ourselves.

This is keeping in mind renting gites for a week from one Saturday to another.

Of course, am still not sure, but think we will do Provence, Rhone Valley, Burgundy and the Loire Valley and into Paris for the 3 days.

We will most likely book a hotel for our days in Paris.

Thank you again for the trouble you have gone to helping with our itinerary.

Chris

5. Re: 4 week itinerary

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