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France Road Trip Feedback, Please

New Hamburg, Canada
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France Road Trip Feedback, Please

My husband and I have just retired and will be leaving for a 7 week trip to France on September 1st. We have rented an apartment in Paris for the month of September. We plan to do some day trips during that time. Then we have rented a car for a three week road trip around France.

Our goal has been to include variety in terms of the regions and sites that we would be seeing. We have booked our accommodation, in advance, using our guidebooks and TA, but would still love some feedback regarding our itinerary in terms of suggestions for site seeing or ways to cut back in certain locals, if you think the timeline is too busy. Any thoughts or suggestions of "don't miss it spots" would be greatly appreciated.

September 30 - Beaune

October 1 - Annecy

October 2 - Chamonix

October 3,4,5,6 - Uzes, as a home base for Languedoc and Provence

October 7 - Carcassonne

October 8 - Albi

October 9 - Cordes sur Ciel

October 10 - Gramat (near Rocamadeur)

October 11, 12 - La Rochelle

October 13, 14 - Amboise

October 15 - Nantes

October 16, 17 - Saint Malo

October 18, 19, 20 - Honfleur

In hindsight, we should have requested this advice before we booked our B&Bs, but you know what they say about hindsight!

Please be kind!

Cathy

Le Bugue, France
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1. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

I'm not sure I understand the route from October 10 on. You're going from Gramat to La Rochelle (where you'll barely have a day because of the travel times), then inland again to Amboise, then backtracking through Nantes to the coast again?

Generally speaking, you don't seem to have accounted for travel times between most of these places, which is going to mean you'll have about half as much time in each place as you probably think you do.

Paris, France
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2. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

IMO this is too much moving around for 3 weeks. You're making 13 stops in 21 days. I'd suggest cutting this in half. With your plans you'll be spending a considerable amount of time driving and checking into and out of hotels.

Gainesville, Florida
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3. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

I, personally, would not want to have this many one-night stops. After you check out, drive to the new town, and check back in, you're left with only a very few hours to "see" that town prior to going to bed for the night then getting up and leaving first thing the next morning. And I especially would not want to do it multiple nights in a row - I'd rather have fewer destinations and more time to actually absorb the place I'm visiting. Plus I hate repacking & loading the car so I'd be grumpy if I had to do it (for example) on Oct. 6th, then 7th, then 8th, then 9th, then 10th. I'd be hating life by that point.

Another thing I'd worry about is the fact that if these are smaller towns they might be the "roll up the sidewalks... it's 5pm!" types. What happens if you arrive at 3pm & everything closes a couple of hours later? You've then basically spent all day driving to a new location only to have dinner & go to bed.

That might not be a concern for you and your party, though. You seem to have decided that you'd rather see a brief glimpse of each location & spend a whole lot of your time on the road between all these places, which is certainly a valid travel plan. Hope you have a great trip!

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

A few of suggestions for sightseeing: the Gorge du Herault in Languedoc. St. Guilhem le Desert is a neat little village and abbey. And, if you can swing through the Gorge du Tarn, you won't be sorry. There are also some caves called Grotte des Demoiselles near Ganges. They are limestone with many, many steps, but it was actually pretty easy and worth the time. I like Sete and Saturday is market day in Pezenas. There is so much to see and do in Languedoc that you won't be able to fit it all in. Of course, the Point du Gard is a "do not miss."

It sounds like your road trip will be in October. Be forewarned that it will get dark early and it will be chilly. We were in the Dordogne and Normandy in October and it was foggy and cool enough that we had to buy some fleece jackets. But, it was still lovely and we also had lots of sunshine.

If you are using GPS, be sure to also have some good maps. The N and D roads are excellent and the most enjoyable way to get around, but the Autoroute is best for getting from one place to the other quickly.

Have a wonderful trip - you are going to love France! Bon voyage.

Illinois
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5. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

Your itinerary is a bit like speed dating, spending a very short time with many different prospective dates. If your goal is to get just a brief taste of many different areas of France, so you can decide where you want to focus your attention for a future trip, it might work out fine for you. But if your goal is to experience France in a meaningful way, I'd recommend slowing down, choosing perhaps four or five locations (and probably less spread out), and taking the time to get to know them.

As others have said, there is no right or wrong answer here, and, if you enjoy doing a lot of driving, with limited stops, your itinerary might be fine for you. But I suspect that, after a few days of driving long distances and having to pass up many surprises along the way, you'll be wishing you hadn't tried to do so much in such a short time period.

New Hamburg, Canada
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6. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

We thought the Gramat to La Rochelle would be tight, so we booked two days in La Rochelle. We wanted to hit Nantes to take in the elephant and carrousel and knew it would be a brief stop. Because of Nantes' position just south of Saint Malo, the backtrack seemed unavoidable.

We have worked out the routes, express and more scenic, and we are hoping the scenic routes will as enjoyable as the destinations. I agree with you about losing out on time at the destinations and we hope to avoid the mistake of trying to do too much at each stop. We want to focus on one or two sights only, hence the request for "must sees". If you are familiar with these spots, we would love your suggestions for favourite sights!

New Hamburg, Canada
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7. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

Rigbyjack, I guess if we arrive later, we have a later dinner, relax and see the town the following day. We tried to include 2 or more night stays to give us some catch up time. We love the road travel and stopping here and there, so hopefully the travel part will be nice.

Le Bugue, France
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8. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

You won't have time for the scenic routes, trust me. For example, even using mostly toll roads it will take you all day long to get from Gramat to La Rochelle (oh, and it will likely be dark by the time you get there at that time of year, and I can tell you that driving into La Rochelle in the dark is a motorist's nightmare if you don't know the city well - the main artery leading into town has barely any street lamps on it at all - your only source of guiding light is the lights from other cars).

So you'll have time for dinner, a drink, and bed, then one day in La Rochelle, and then pretty much the whole next day to get to Amboise.

I wouldn't worry about trying to do too much at each stop. That simply won't be possible.

New Hamburg, Canada
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9. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

Happydaytripper, thank you for the wonderful list of your must see spots. Much appreciated! These are suggestions we really value and will take note of. We have booked La Bastide Sainte Anne is Uzes and it has a fantastic view of the Point du Gard. We are prepared for early evenings inside our B&Bs, after dinner, to relax and recoup! We are also packing for two seasons and have warm jackets and sweaters. The only thing worse than feeling cold when you are on the road is having wet feet!

My husband wants to buy a new GPS and I am all for it, with updated maps. We will probably opt for the faster route on some days, I predict.

Thank you for your good wishes. We are incredibly excited about this trip.

Montreal
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10. Re: France Road Trip Feedback, Please

The thing is that you won't be able to do the mistake of trying to do too much at each stop since you won't have time for it. Especially since in October days are much shorther. So you will be able to say i've been there... but you won't be able that you have seen any of these destinations.

Lots of 5h + days of driving... without stops, trafic, bad weather or construction delays... so more then half of your day on the roads... taking long and boring highways.

Albi and Corde-sur-ciel are so close one another that it would not have needed to change accomodation. It could have been a small rest of doing and undoing luggage, and checking in and out.

It is your trip and I respect your choices but you will be missing so much along the way and in a lot of your destination... I find it a little bit sad for you. There are so many must sees that I don't even know where to begin, And I'm exhausted just reading your itinerary... lol ^.^

I like the speed dating of toilettduckk... It really feels like it

Good luck !