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3 months in the South of France

Mornington...
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3 months in the South of France

We are interested in renting a place somewhere in Southern France for about 3 months. We are an active couple in our 50s and wish to absorb the French culture as well as travel to other parts of France using this place as a base.

Would love to hear some recommendations about which town would be best ???

Many thanks

K& J

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New York City, New...
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1. Re: 3 months in the South of France

Which 3 months? Will you have a car? Small village or city or in between? What are your interests? Are you leaning towards coast or inland ?

I'm jealous ...:)

Louisville, Kentucky
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2. Re: 3 months in the South of France

Are you wanting coastal or inland, village or city, the Côte d'Azur or western Provence? These are just starter questions, and you will get your best response if you would share more about your interests, what kind of day trips might attract you and how you want start and end your day.

Champlon, Belgium
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3. Re: 3 months in the South of France

And what other parts of France will you be wanting to visit and how (car or train)?

There are significant upland areas not very far inland from the French Mediterranean coast and these effectively restrict travel routes to other parts of France to a handful of corridors, most notably the Rhone Valley (A6 autoroute and TGV railway) but with the A75 and A20 autoroutes (both paralleled by slow railway routes) plus the long way round via Bordeaux as possible alternatives.

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Mornington...
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4. Re: 3 months in the South of France

Thx for the quick responses. We are thinking July, Aug, Sept. Slight preference for coastal but not essential. Would anticipate mostly travelling by rail and over the course of the 3 months would like to visit all main regions at some stage.

Mostly interested in absorbing the culture - and all things French. Also love dancing and the arts .

thanks so much

Louisville, Kentucky
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5. Re: 3 months in the South of France

If it were us, I'd think of moving your trip back a month and avoiding July, especially in the coastal regions. We usually travel at the end of October, and the weather has been wonderful - some rain, but usually not extended, and comfortable temps - and the the tourist load lessens as you move into September. Result? There's a reason why travelers flock to certain locations, and you get to enjoy these wonderful places without as much hassle.

Another thought, if you are thinking this year, you may be late for a peak season rental.

Edited: 31 May 2014, 14:45
Toowoomba, Australia
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6. Re: 3 months in the South of France

Have you considered choosing perhaps three different areas around France and basing yourselves there for a month each , as opposed to one base and travelling backwards and forwards all over France. At times you will be paying two lots of accommodation and to take advantage of cheaper fares you need to book early and not last minute.

If you are wanting to explore country France, I think you need a car. Trains are great for getting to larger places, but not for the small villages and natural sites. On past trips we have stayed a week in places, and this time [ we are heading into the last week of a ten week trip ], we have stayed two weeks in places and have enjoyed staying longer. We have considered a trip with month long stays in the future.

I also agree with moving it back to avoid some of the high season.

Good luck.

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Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: 3 months in the South of France

We are currently travelling in France, by car. I believe you will find it difficult to get to small and interesting places by train. I also think you need to be clear about what else you want to see. You can't really base yourself in one place and make reasonable side trips to others without paying rent twice. France is big and even with the TGV (very fast) trains you are looking at about 3 hours for say, Avignon to Paris, so not really a day trip. And an awful lot of the fast trains radiate from Paris, not cross country.

I prefer the idea of three or four separate bases, maybe Provence, Dordogne, Loire and Paris (where you won't need a car and where many train trips are feasible)

If you are doing any part of your travel with luggage on a train, keep it as light as you can. Luggage storage is limited, some at the end of the coaches, a fair bit above your head and maybe small things under your seat or between back-to-back train seats.

And don't forget the restrictions on an Australian wanting to stay in the Schengen states (most of Europe). You may only stay 90 days in any 180 without a long stay visa, which is difficult to get.

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8. Re: 3 months in the South of France

The "south of France" is a vast area. You need to do some basic research and narrow this down. Do you want to be on the Côte d'Azur, Provence, the Pyrénées, the Dordogne, Languedoc-Roussillon....where, exactly? There's no way to pin down "a town" until you have specified at least a general area of "the south of France." I agree that three bases in three months would be ideal, unless you have some affiliation with a particular locale. You'll definitely need a car. Trains don't even go to many of the most interesting places, and public transportation is close to nonexistent in many of the loveliest spots.

I'd get out the guidebooks and maps and get more of a focus on exactly what you're looking for.

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9. Re: 3 months in the South of France

I would try to avoid July and August when most of who you will see around you are tourists (many of them French but still tourists). You will not find too much 'authentic' culture during these months.

Also one of the first decisions you should make is whether you are interested in 'countryside France' (villages and small towns) or in 'city France' (sizable cities). You may choose either, depending on what you mean by 'culture'. If you want to know France 'Peter Mayle style', i.e. the back-country, the simple life, the farmers and food growers, etc., then go for a smaller place. If you want to have access to a more urban culture (theater, cinema, music scene, night life, education etc. )then you may think on one of the larger cities - places like Aix en Provence, Nimes, Montpellier, Toulouse or Nice come to mind. A larger town/city will also give you way more options for shopping, restaurants, and travelling around, if these are things you care about.

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10. Re: 3 months in the South of France

Since you posted in the French Riviera forum, is that where you want to stay? If so, get a copy of the Michelin Green Guide to the Côte d'Azur and start reading. There are many options for spending your time.