French countryside journey
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Apr 2, 2012 8:13 AM Last Post By: travelinstyle46
Mar 27, 2012 8:48 PM
French countryside journeyHello
Would really appreciate any ideas to assist my planning
In September my husband and I have 10 days in France , first for my husband , second time around for me
We have earmarked 3 nights in Paris and from here on is where I need help
Planning to catch a train out of Paris to a town / city ? to collect a hire car
We then have 5 nights to see a tiny bit of France
I would appreciate suggestions as to which area to concentrate on ( maybe a big ask ) we would rather concentrate on one area than madly fly about and do nowhere justice
We love food , wine , walking quaint streets , in pretty villages , trying to immerse ourselves for a brief moment into another way of life , not necessary to be on a coastline , love countryside .
We would rather not be staying at a different town every night , prefer to base ourselves in a town and do day trips .
I welcome views !
Mar 27, 2012 10:07 PM
1This is a bit of a big ask to be honest, because good food + wine, quaint streets, pretty villages and immersion can be found in all parts of France. Tis the season for wine harvesting across much of France, so the wine areas will have festivals on all over the place.
If either of you are into history, you could go hit the Normandy area and visit the various WWII sites such as Omaha, and the Normandy American Cemetery located in Colleville-sur-Mer - there's a cracking museum there apparently, but I've not yet visited the museum. Nearby (140km) is the world famous Mont St Michel.
If a spot of mountains is more your thing, grab a TGV train (pre book for cheapest ticket prices) down to Bellegarde and hire a car from there towards Chamonix (don't drive from Paris, too far, too slow) and enjoy the scenery on a mini road trip. Note that fuel prices in France are roughly twice what they are in the States (I see you're off to Hawaii) or around 25% higher than Aussie prices, depending on where you live in Oz). Mountain walking abounds or you could take a cable car up to Aguille Du Midi, or check out the ice carving inside a glacier at Mer de Glace.
I would normally also suggest a trundle around Provence (once more getting there via TGV). It's still very pleasant indeed in September unless the Mistral wind blows in and again, there's lots to do. You could go watch bull fighting as a random example - see http://www.arles-guide.com/arles_guide/events_and_festivals_in_arles_france/corrida_course_camarguai. Note however that the majority of the famous lavender will have been harvested by the time you'd arrive.
Alternative ideas are too numerous to list but if you like surfing you could head down to south west france - the ASP world tour will pop through at the end of September/beginning of October. Failing that you could always head down to the mediterranean coast, but it's a bit of a hike and the beaches are... well, if you live in Australia and have already been to Hawaii, I wouldn't bother, although the seaside towns are pleasant. Then again you could always head to Dordogne and go running around there, it's very rural, has some wonderful castles and the world famous lascaux cave paintings (although these days you see an identical replica - too many people saw the original and the humidity is destroying the paintings so it's scientists only now).
To be honest, given your criteria, which doesn't rule many things out apart from a handful of industrial areas such as Bordeaux city area, parts of Lorraine and the area around Calais, I'd grab a guidebook to France and start looking into it - this would be the best next step. LonelyPlanet's version is very good.
Mar 27, 2012 10:42 PM
2I disagree with the first poster in that there are plenty of areas with not very much to interest tourists where you may even have a hard time finding a place to eat on a Saturday afternoon as the town or village closes down completely.
I think that the small towns and villages of the Alsatian Wine Route at the base of the Vosges Mountains between Obernai and Eguisheim would fit your needs perfectly. Just one beautiful place after another with well-kept old buildings, wineries and flowers. I doubt if you can find better anywhere in Europe. Then there are the two excellent mountain top places, the fortress Haut Koenigsbourg and the convent Mont Ste. Odile, and there are plenty of castle ruins about. We enjoyed our two day stay in Les Trois Chateaux hotel in Ribeauville. Their food was excellent and their dining room was crammed full of locals at noon further validating our opinions. I've never seen people put away such vast amounts of good food!!!! You'll have an excellent time there, and enjoy the Choucroute Royale.
To get there, take the train to Strasbourg and enjoy this lovely town for a day. Take a boat trip around the island where the oldtown sits and past the European parliament buildings, see the cathedral, visit places that appealed to you from the boat, and then rent a car for the countryside.
Mar 27, 2012 11:00 PM
Mar 27, 2012 11:41 PM
4this kind of thing ("i want to visit Paris then somewhere else nearby over 10-ish days") seems to be asked a fair bit lately, so search around on here for other posts and replies. some have been pretty good.
such as this one on Northern France:
or this one:
or this one:
various "favourites" kind of posts like this:
search around for the anyportinastorm dudes too, they have good stuff on France, like this on Amiens:
Mar 27, 2012 11:42 PM
You can consider somewhere along the Loire. Lots of castles, walled towns and history thrown into the mix, and a wine-growing region as well. Reasonably close to Paris to minimize to-and-from travel time.
Mar 28, 2012 2:13 PM
6Thanks Louis X1V
That menu in Beaune looks amazing , very affordable compared to Melbourne Aust prices , am very pleased we will be able to eat so well within our budget
I loved Beaune , spent an Easter there 30 years ago , a trip back there really appeals
Also love Alsace so M deciding now to choose one of these two areas
Thank you again for your help
Mar 29, 2012 12:02 PM
7If you were thinking about Burgundy here's my trip report about spending a week-end near Semur-en-Auxois and exploring both the known and the completely anonymous villages in that area as well as some scenic countryside. The report is full of photos:
Mar 29, 2012 2:14 PM
8disagree entirely about Bordeaux. It was a rundown industrial city in the past but it has since been redeveloped and has become well worth a visit. From Bordeaux you can reach the wine growing chateaux and the coast. I would suggest however that from Paris you get the TGV from Montparnasse which will take you to Tours in an hour. From there you can visit the Loire valley area, its vineyards such as Vouvray, great chateau such as Chenonceau and Cheverny, lovely towns such as Chinon and Loches and you might even see Mick Jagger having a coffee in Amboise( he has a chateau nearby). All these destinations are possible by public transport and if you need a guide let me know.
Apr 2, 2012 7:53 AM
9All of the above is good. In over 30 visits to France the only place on the not going again list is Lens and we even managed to buy a grandfather clock there, but that's a different story.
Close to Paris in September is obviously the Loire valley and Brittany and Normandy. There are some lovely areas north of Paris including Champagne but it may be getting chilly by then (equally it might be perfect).
North West Burgundy is beautiful with walled towns/villages, mediaeval houses and bucolic streams and scenery. Vezelay and Noyers-sur-Serein will fit the bill perfectly as places to stay. Chablis is also on the Serein about 15 minutes away and whilst not an old village it is pretty enough with many, many wine tasting opportunities. There are two grand chateaux nearby and many other things to potter about and see. It even has one of the great cheeses in Epoisses (sp?).
Apr 2, 2012 8:13 AM
10Another vote for the Alsace. It meets all your criteria with ease.
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