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From Paris to south of France?

Newcastle
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From Paris to south of France?

We have already driven from Paris to Dijon to Lyon so we want another route of places we have not seen. We have also been to Orleans.

I am looking at this:( A 10) Paris to (A 71) Bourges to Nevers to Vichy to Clermont Ferrand to (A75) Millau to either Montpellier or Beziers to (A9) Arles to Saint Remey then back to Narbonne or Carcassonne most fantastic fireworks for Bastille Day) then on to Lourdes or Pau. Then on tothe Atlantic coastal towns south then north etc..

The second route would be something like this : (A10) Orleans to (A71) To Bourges to Chateauroux to (A20) Limoges to Briv-la-Gallarde to Souillac (A20) to Cahors to Montauban to (N88) Albi to (A75) Millau to Montpellier to Arles (A9) to St. Remy then back to Narbonne or Carcassonne most fantastic fireworks for Bastille Day) then on to Lourdes or Pau. Then on tothe Atlantic coastal towns south then north etc..

Main objective right now is to find a different scenic route to Southern France .

Which of these two routes would be the most scenic ?

Andrésy, France
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1. Re: From Paris to south of France?

The most scenic is via Clermont Ferrand - Millau. Why go from Bourges to Vichy via Nevers? Via Montluçon is more direct & prettier. & if you want scenery & are not in a hurry keep off the motorways. You'll see more & pay less. Look at viamichelin.fr or mappy.com for route planning.

Paris
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2. Re: From Paris to south of France?

Via Millau you get to see the Pont de Millau which is stunning. There is no scenic overlook yet (possible this summer) so you need to go down into Millau if you want to get a good luck at the bridge beyond driving over it. Also dont forget Roquefort for interesting guided visits of the caves and Conques (near Rodez) for the most amazing collection of Middle Ages icons and a stunning Romanesque church in a beautiful little village. Its a UNESCO world heritage site and was on the pilgramige route to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle in Spain. http://www.conques.fr/

Paris, France
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for Paris, Loire Valley
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3. Re: From Paris to south of France?

France is a real adventure. There is no route upon which one begins where he will not find an absolute amazing combination of new architecture, food, customs, history, stunning scenery, and even an occasional different language (le patois).

For scenery however Auvergne is not yet inundated by tourists and arguably one of the most beautiful regions of France. Some of the highlights traveling primarily A75 South of Clermont Ferrand:

Exit A75 just after St. Flour, continue eastbound on D990 to Le Puy en Velay. This is a beautiful old city nestled amid rolling hills near the Loire River. Reserve at the Hotel du Parc http://www.hotel-du-parc-le-puy.com/ and do not miss its unassuming restaurant. Francois Gagnaire is a young and very talented chef who will one day be charging much more than he does now. French critiques have raved about him and I consider this one of the best places I have eaten in France, especially for the price.

Return to A75, proceeding just south to the Ruynes-en-Margeride exit and follow D909 south to Garabit staying at the hotel Beau-Site http://www.beau-site-hotel.com/. Here we see the Garabit viaduct, built by Gustave Eiffel. The bridge is illuminated by night and is a very impressive site. The restaurant hotel is very comfortable and quite accommodating (moderately priced as well).

Return to St. Flour via A75 (admittedly the wrong logical way but this is vacation) and continue south on D921 with possible stops in Chaudes-Aigues (we like Hotel Beausejour 04.71.23.52.37) or Neuveglise (Hotel Relais de la Poste with an unbelievable view).

Continuing southbound on D921, stop in Laguiole to purchase some of their famous knives. Sets of these table knives (known by their horn handles and bee emblems) have sky-rocketed in price recently but these are the originals. The brand names to look for are David (factory near the town’s entrance) or Calmels (only sold at their small shop in town).

Exit Laguiole to the east on D15. You’ll pass the renowned restaurant/hotel of Michel Bras. At one time reservations were required months in advance and I assume that is still the case: http://www.michel-bras.com/.

Continue on D15 to Aubrac for lunch at Chez Germaine (closed Sunday evening and Mondays). Germaine died several years ago but her restaurant remains the absolute finest place in France for Aligot. Aligot, a mixture of mashed potatoes and young cow’s milk (for example cantal) was virtually unknown outside of Auvergne until several years ago when it began being served in Paris, almost as a fad food. (Best place in Paris for aligot is L’Abmassade d’ Auvergne in the 3eme.) We go just for the aligot but all of the food here is excellent, even by French standards and worth the side trip. You might be surprised by the number of people eating here as the location is very remote but its reputation is widespread. Though no one here leaves hungry, try a fruit tart dessert, share if you must but they are not to be missed. Return eastbound to A75.

Finally, the French autoroutes can be quite expensive however A75 south of Clermont Ferrand is free of all tolls.

Ohio, USA
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4. Re: From Paris to south of France?

I agree with everything MorganB and Sarastro have said. Auvergne is one of the most rewarding places to travel in France. The scenery is magnificent, and the food wonderful. There are beautiful unspoiled villages to be discovered, and fewer tourists than perhaps anywhere else in France.

The area of extinct volcanoes (more than 100 of them) known as les Puys south and west of Clermont-Ferrand is fascinating, and the view from the summit of le Puy de Dome spectacular.

Perhaps more than any other part of France, this region will reward you for getting off the Autoroutes and major roads and exploring the byways.

If you want to try excellent aligot with a more modest bill than you will get at l'Ambassade d'Auvergne, go to La Lozere, rue Hautefeuille, near place St-Michel in the 6th, where it has been on the menu for ages. They only serve aligot on Thursday nights and reservations are absolutely essential, probably at least 24 hours ahead.

Incidentally, many well-known Paris bistros were started by people from the Auvergne. (It all has to do with the importation of coal from the mines near Clermont-Ferrand to Paris in the 19th century...)

Northern California
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5. Re: From Paris to south of France?

The scenery along the Autoroute du Soleil can be very nice, especially the sweep through the Rhône Valley--and the drive will take substantially less time. How many days do you have for the trip?

Switzerland
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6. Re: From Paris to south of France?

Don’t drive through the Auvergne without seeing a bit of the Haute Loire area. Le Puy-en-Velay has already been mentioned – a walk (climb) to the top of the Aiguilhe is an amazing experience and well worth the effort. I stayed a few nights in a little hotel in Tence, Hotel de la Poste, family-run, a Logis de France – need I say more! Delicious food, comfortable and convenient room, and inexpensive too. Tence is a small town on the Lignon river. A few kms up-stream is Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, renown for hiding thousands of Jewish children during the war. The area is covered with well-marked foot paths, not only the Santiago de Compostela trail, beautiful scenery and easily reached mountain tops, the Mezenc culminates at 1753 metres and offers a fantastic view. In good weather you can see as far as the Mt. Blanc. A wonderful break away from cities and heavy traffic.