Two Weeks in France
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Mar 9, 2013 6:32 PM Last Post By: 0live
Mar 5, 2013 7:57 AM
Two Weeks in FranceHello Thorn Tree!
I am going to be in France for two weeks in late June and am on a BUDGET. This will be my first solo trip and I am very excited, but I need some seasoned travelers' advice!
I want to split my trip into 3 parts: Provence, beach, and Paris.
In Provence, I want to rent a bike and ride from town to town. I've done something similar to this in Italy, but with an organized group. Does anyone know a reputable rental company? And perhaps if they have maps/GPS systems? Also, I've noticed that the smaller villages are low on accommodation. How should I go about planning this bike trip?
I am then wanting to go to a beach. Any beach. I'm wary of going to Nice or the Cote d'Azur because from my understanding, it is expensive. What is a good beach destination in France for late June for someone on a budget? I'm not looking for a big party atmosphere. Ideally, the town would be small and quaint, the kind of place where I could go onto the beach and read a good book and then go into a local cafe.
And then I'll be in Paris! I've been to Paris three times before, so I think I'm set with Paris.
Regarding transport: would purchasing a 3-day rail pass save me money? Is it more convenient? I am worried about not having a seat on some of the busier trains, specifically the ones going from Paris to Provence.
Please offer any and all advice you have! And please pardon the clutter of this message.
Mar 5, 2013 8:48 AM
Mar 5, 2013 9:01 AM
2Whoops, sorry - looks like I left out a word. Let me elaborate...
I am a student on a student budget, meaning that staying in hostels, buying food from the supermarket, and traveling on the cheap is what I am looking for. I am hoping to spend a total of $1500 for the two weeks, this is without flights which have already been booked.
I saw that a rail pass was $220 for three days. Factoring in $20 a day for food this leaves me with $1000 (USD) for accommodation, bike rentals, and potential excursions. At $1000 for two weeks, let's say $700 of that for accommodation - meaning I want to find places I can sleep for less than $50 per night.
I hope that clears things up.
Mar 5, 2013 9:25 AM
3I don't know what value your dollars are as we use euro's here. So hard to help but seems like a low budget for someone visiting two of the most expensive places in France and then having to go a long way, of your route to find a cheaper beach destination. Also whilst cycling village to village you will not find hostels so you will have to hope that the villages fairly cheap boarding as lot in Provence do not.
Mar 5, 2013 2:17 PM
Need to ask you about the cycling part... Do you mean you'd like to do day trips on the bike and come back to the same place each night? Or do you want to do a few day long tour?
That's how I understand you saying riding from town to town. If this is the case, it won't work the same as the tour you did in Italy. When you're on the tour, your luggage is carried for you in a van, doing it yourself you will need to carry everything on your bike.
If you mean to do day trips, I would suggest you stay in Avignon. You can do very nice trips from there and even take a train with your bicycle if you want to go further. My suggestions would be: Arles, Les- Baux, Orange, Vaison-la-Romaine, Pont du Gard to name a few. It all of course depends on how many kms round trip you think will work for you.
As for maps, you can plan and check some distances here (choosing the bike icon) http://www.viamichelin.com/ but I would suggest you buy a Michelin map that shows smaller roads when you're there. Can't seem to find my map now, but I think they were the green ones.
Sorry, don't have info on bike rentals, both times we brought our own.
Let me know what you're planning and I can probably give you some route suggestions. There are also several books about cycling in France that would give you some route ideas.
Mar 5, 2013 2:41 PM
5Thanks for the replies!
In Italy, we actually had to carry our own belongings in panniers... it wasn't "supported", but it was led by a guide so that we didn't need to have maps.
I think I will take your suggestion and do day trips from Avignon, that way I can guarantee cheaper accommodations as well as not having to lug my belongings around for a week.
Mar 5, 2013 2:57 PM
6Ah, that's good. So you know what you'd be getting yourself into.
If you stay in Avignon for a full week, renting an apartment might be a good option. Getting some groceries and having breakfast and some dinners at home will cut your costs. Also, a weekly market is on Thursdays, just across the river in Villeneuve-des-Avignon. Actually staying in Villeneuve might be a more economic option....
Do a little research as to where you'd like to go, what you're interested in. But definitely buy a map, no fun to keep getting lost on a regular basis. Been there... ;-)
Mar 5, 2013 3:39 PM
7A standard backpacker budget in W. Europe is generally accepted here on the TT to be 50E per day. That's hostels, supermarket food and the odd beer or museum entry but not including transportation. Recently there has been some disagreement with that figure and 60-70E is being advocated as more appropriate by some regular posters.
Dollars is a meaningless term unless you specific what dollars? US, CAD, AUG, SGD, etc.
If it is US then the 50-70E becomes $65 -90 at current exchange rates. So your hope for $70 per dayincluding food is at the low end and will not cover bike rental as well as any other form of transportation within France.
It is entirely possible to do what you did in Italy through a bike rental agency. There are plenty that will set you up with a 'self-guided bike trip'. Supply the maps, panniers or even have your bag moved for you if you wish. Obviously cost will be higher than just renting a bike for day trips but can be done quite easily if you really want to do that. Maybe you should consider saving more money and doing what you really want to do rather than compromising to save money.
Just Google, 'bicycle rental provence' and you will find plenty of sites like this one: http://www.provence-cycling.co.uk/home/organizing-your-stay/renting-a-bike.aspx
Olive, a true traveller is never lost. I've been a mite confused from time to time but lost, never. North is always north and west is always west. How could anyone be lost. ;-)
Mar 5, 2013 3:47 PM
8"Olive, a true traveller is never lost. I've been a mite confused from time to time but lost, never. North is always north and west is always west. How could anyone be lost. ;-) "
Ah, yes. I agree with you, mostly. However, when you're on the bike a simple wrong turn not caught in time can mean 2 or 4 hours delay, missed lunch or getting to your destination after dark. Neither of which you want to do when your transportation relies on your strength, and your safety of being visible on the road. ;-)
Speaking of lunch... Mia, remember that lunch is served between noon and 2 pm. Period. ;-)
Mar 5, 2013 4:32 PM
9There are lots of free beaches at the côte d'Azur.
Between Nice and and Antibes (stones), Saint-Tropez (sand), Golfe Juan (sand), Le Lavandou (sand), Hyères (sand)....., to many to write down.
Mar 5, 2013 5:00 PM
10Yes, possible Olive, possible. On the other hand a simple wrong turn can serendipitously turn into the best turn in the road you have ever made. I once ended up on a wrong road when hitch hiking through France and had to spend the night in an unplanned hotel in the middle of nowhere. Turned out to be a ski season hotel and they promptly offered me a job for the season. ;-)
Regarding lunch from noon till 2pm. Ah yes indeed. Once when cycling the Alsace Route des Vins, I stopped in a village for lunch at a nice looking restaurant. It was open although it was around 2.15pm. Inside I saw that they had a nice patio in the sun out back and so that's where I headed.
When the waiter arrived I asked in my best Canadian English if I could see a lunch menu. He replied in French that lunch was finished. I smiled and replied in my meager Canadian school French, 'je suis avec ma bicycle monsieur. Pardonez moi. A sandwich?' He replied, 'Il sagit de france', in that haughty tone taught in all Fench waiter schools it seems. He annoyed me and so I said, in my haughtiest and best Parisian French, 'Malheureusement, je suis. Garçon, convoquer s'il vous plaît le gestionnaire immédiatement.' That got his attention. He replied, 'une minute s'il vous plaît.' Went away and came back with a lunch menu.
No doubt he realized I was about to complain about his rudeness and was capable of doing so in as haughty and fluent a French as necessary. Of course you can't always count on a rude waiter to help you out like that, so yeah, best to eat before 2pm. ;-)
Bluesart, Antibes is my favourite town in the region and the beach is sand as is the beach at next door, Jaun Les Pins.
Mar 5, 2013 5:06 PM
11Occurs to me I should have added a translation.
He said, 'you are in france' and I replied, 'unfortunately I am. waiter( or boy) summon the manager immediately.'
Mar 5, 2013 5:52 PM
Mar 6, 2013 8:25 AM
13Post your cycling questions on the Grenoble Cycling Pages website . I would stay in Bedion rather than Avignon and do day rides . Have a great trip !
Mar 6, 2013 8:55 AM
14Just a few pointers ...
Provence is more expensive than Languedoc
Languedoc has much the same weather and better beaches
Languedoc is flat - good for biking !
Another cycle tour website : http://cyclinglanguedoc.com/
(3 star Hotel)
From US$214.90 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$186.04 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$145.89 per night