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Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Oz4
Brisbane, Australia
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Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Planning our first trip to France for our family with 2 boys aged 5 and 9. We are arriving at the very end of August and are starting with 1 week in Paris and ending with 1 week on the Canal du Midi (Carcassonne to Adge) in house boat. It is the 11 nights inbetween which I would like a little trip advice.

We will have a car, we like driving (both for getting from place to place and just randomly for pleasure) so we are not too concerned about jumping in the car every couple of days. My current thinking is a trip that looks something like this :

28 AUG : 1 week in Paris (with a day trip to Versailles)

6 SEP : Leave Paris and drive towards the northern WW1 sites. We would like to visit area of significance to Australians - Villers Bretonneux/ Poziers? - overnighting there. (ideas on what is possible with such limited time please)

7 SEP : Drive to Mont St Michel area. Overnight. Depending on arrival time vist either this day or before leaving the next day.

8-11 SEP : Loire Valley, somewhere in the chateux district with the aim of being close enough to visit Blois, Chambord and Cheverny, if possible.

11-14 SEP : Somewhere in the Dordogne/Perigord area or possibly a bit further west towards Bordeaux. Visit Cave sites, see primitive art and medevial villages etc. (would day trips be possible from Bordeaux?)

14/15 SEP : Carcassonne

Depart on Canal trip

I have included the dates in case anyone knows of event/ festivals /markets we should try and catch. Other than that I'm looking for general feedback. Is it too rushed? Suggestions on bases for the 3 night stays and day trips. Anything specific in these areas of interest to children (boys!) etc, etc, etc. All comments welcome. Thanks.

melbourne
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1. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

We are actually in France at the moment from Melbourne- a couple in our 60s. Fortunately we have a lot more time and I think in all honesty you will find it a very hectic trip. We leased a car from CDG airport in Paris and drove to Hesdin which was pretty central for many of the WW1sights. Unfortunately we missed Villers Bretoneux as it is just before Amiens and didn't want to back track.We did visit a very interesting war museum La Coupole which was a huge underground system of tunnels and bunkers where Hitler launched V 2 rockets on Britain. This also had displays on WW1and 2. We also visited the Australian digger at Bullecourt and the largest war cemetery at Ablain St Nazaire but that was French. There are many war cemeteries ( Commonwealth ones). If you stayed at a place called Peronne you should be able to do several paces.

On your way to Mont St Michel stop off at a place called Honfleur ( just over the huge bridge near La Havre). Wonderful medieval port, it was greats particularly as there was a market on the Saturday.

You have to pay quite a bit in tolls either cash or card but some do not take visa so we used AMEX. Also in some cases there is a long distance between petrol stations and again some whilst open 24 hrs they have a card system which only take French cards.We now keep our car filled.

Mont St Michel was very crowded even in May. It takes almost 20 minutes just to walk from the carpark to the new shuttle service they

have. We spent at least 3 hours there and we only did the Abbey not all the museums. The drive to the Loire Valley is about 5 hours or so .

A place called Fourgeres has a wonderful medieval fortress with great displays. Trouble is in France there is just so much to see.

We are staying in Gites found through www.owners direct which have been great.

Blois, France
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for Blois
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2. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Blois (or close to) will be your obvious choice for a base when you are in the Loire Valley if these are the 3 chateaux you wish to visit.

What sort of accommodation are you looking for and what sort of budget do you have in mind?

Oz4
Brisbane, Australia
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132 posts
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3. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Thank you so much mahaMelbourne, for your detailed comments. Such useful info, I am sure we will reference later on regardless of what we end up doing.

Unfortunately for us, we are not likely to return to France again for a very long time - if ever. It's so far from Australia and so expensive, especially travelling with children. (Many from Australia who are not doing the 'post-school' or 'post-retirement' trip, try to cram way too much in when travelling. I certainly am guilty of that.) I expect I will love the country and want to return, but may not get there again until the boys are grown and left home! When we are retired we will have plenty of time, haha.

In the meantime, we have to decide what to do for our upcoming holiday... I am torn. So many decisions.... I will give this a lot more thought. Thanks for your advice. With regard to Loire Valley, I have been looking at houses in either Vouvray, Sologne or Indre (vastly different style and budget) as I wish to consider visiting at least 1-2 of the big 3 chateaux ; does anyone have any comment on those specific locations?

Thanks again.

Nouic, Haute Vienne
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4. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

You are obviosly interested in all things war so do not miss out on " Oradour sur Glane", its on your way to the Dordogne, and as you may not be comming back very worth a visit, oradour.ord , place to stay is Nouic, read the comments on TA , just type in Nouic and you have a chioce.

Oz4
Brisbane, Australia
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5. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Thank you johnFR87, more research required. We're going to give this trip - or something very like it - a go! It's not an option to just pop back for a short trip, and we do like to be on the move a bit, rather than nesting in one place when we travel.

At worst, we can still slow things down if it all becomes too much. But at this stage I am really only concerned about those first couple of days in the north. Let's see what happens...

Thanks everyone.

melbourne
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91 posts
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6. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Having just visited Amboise today this is where we would stay if we came again. It is a lovely town not as big as Blois and close to several of the Chateaus.

Oz4
Brisbane, Australia
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132 posts
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7. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Thanks again mahaMelbourne. I have been checking it out. Sounds like you are having a good trip and hitting many I've the spots I'd like to include.

Auckland, New...
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8. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Hey Oz4...we are planning a month in September with our 9 year old. We've been to France before and love it...you'll be hooked and you'll find a way to come back! We have learnt form previous trips....see less and spend more time in each area. Small French villages are so lovely. I'm less enthused about Paris - it's lovely but it is a big city and I know I am going to get shouted at by all the many Paris lovers on here...but I choose Vienna and London over Paris (for different reasons about each). That doesn't mean you shouldn't go...but maybe you can steal a night or two from Paris to allow your WW1 sights to be fitted in. I absolutely loved Versaille and would love to go back- this time we will go to Fontainbleu. The Loire is great for kids - the Chateaux allow so much space for story telling and help history come alive. I recommend staying in Chanbre d'Hote (B&B) as a very very special experience. My other huge recommendation is the Sawdays books or websites for accommodation. We've used these guides in both France and England. Sometimes we can't find a Sawdays recommendation in an area we are looking in and that is fine - but is where I look first. All the best in your adventure!

Oz4
Brisbane, Australia
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9. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Thank you, travellingbuzz. I am sure I am going to love Paris. There are many, many bit cities I do love (Rome, New York, Chicago, Santiago...) But I know that's not for everyone.

I am definitely looking at B&Bs. And some smaller prive chateaux. (I loath concrete jungle chains). I am trying to narrow it down now. so many wonderful places to choose from...

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Trio plan: 4 weeks north to south including Loire Valley

Your trip sounds lovely but will be hectic with a lot of driving. We were recently in the Dordogne area staying near Sarlat where we visited some interesting caves. We thought of going to Bordeaux but there is so much to do in this area and I don't think it would be worth driving so far out of your way to get there. We also stayed in a lovely castle near Cahors called Chateau de Mercues. You could do day trips from here and it is a little further south on your way to Carcassone. We visited Albi not far from Carassone as well and stayed in a lovely B&B in a village near Cordes.