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First time to France - some guidance please :)

Newcastle, Australia
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First time to France - some guidance please :)

My husband and I (33yrs old) will be leaving the kids at home in Australia and taking a 10 day holiday in France in October 2014.

We have no idea where to begin planning!

Are you able to offer suggestions for hotels, areas to stay in, great 'local-style' cafes and restaurants, etc.

Some info about us: we really appreciate good wine, cheese, desserts (ok, food in general!), we are happy to walk long distances, we will be relying on public transport/taxis while there,...

We want to see most of the obvious things, but would also like to spend some time scouring markets or antique stores looking for treasures to take home.

Would love to do a wine or cheese tour to any of the wine regions (need suggestions on which ones or even the names of tour companies).

My husband would like to see Normandy, so suggestions on the best way to get there and how long we should stay.

Thanks so much!! Any advice is appreciated!

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Paris, France
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for Paris, Loire Valley
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1. Re: First time to France - some guidance please :)

Your question is far too general in scope for anyone to be able to make useful recommendations. 10 days is not a lot of time for exploring the countryside unless you have no interest in seeing Paris. Keep things as simple as possible, peruse several guidebooks to develop your specific interests, and forum members will help you with the details.

Le Bugue, France
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2. Re: First time to France - some guidance please :)

No one can answer this broad a query. People have written millions of pages on these topics. Get ahold of some good guidebooks like the Michelin Green Guides, and maps, and narrow down your focus. Ten days is a short trip for a large, diverse country.

Los Angeles...
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3. Re: First time to France - some guidance please :)

Ten days frequently means a maximum of two areas, as more would start getting rushed. Probably the first thing to indicate is whether you want to go to Paris and if so, that will take at least half of your available time. Or do you want to visit the south of France (which is not that close to Paris), and if so, would you prefer the towns on the coast around Nice or the villages/towns farther west in Provence? Once you decide, and then factor in the interest in visiting Normandy, it's a possible framework. But it's all subject to your own preferences about what you want to see and how much internal travel you want to do.

Champlon, Belgium
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4. Re: First time to France - some guidance please :)

If you are confining yourselves to using public transport, rather than hiring a car, you should limit yourself to towns and cities with good rail links to Paris and/or each other.

Generally, other public transport in France is geared to getting people to/from school and work and isn't very tourist friendly. In many cases you could make an essential journey by, say, bus but the effort will waste a lot of your valuable time. Obviously, this doesn't apply within Paris itself, even if the Metro routes sometimes seem to be bafflingly complex and meander around missing obvious destinations.

5. Re: First time to France - some guidance please :)

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