Best of France
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Jul 14, 2012 10:08 AM Last Post By: Lucacic
Jul 12, 2012 11:38 PM
Best of FranceHey all,
After my trip to Paris I will be off to the Loire Valley and then Southern France. Just want to share with you my itinerary at this time and so see if I will truly be seeing the best France that is to offer in the short amount of time I have. During my trip I hope to see many historic architectural building and monument, go hiking/canoeing/kayaking in some naturally beautiful areas, visit chateaux's, visit beaches (during my time I don't think I will be swimming though) and visit medieval towns/villages. I am not one to drink coffee at cafes regularly but if it was in a charming area, I would so...if that makes sense :). Afterwards I will be going to Italy and Greece to visit the ancient Roman Ruins and I know Provence has many places similar from what I have read, would it be worthwhile visiting Amphitheaters and such in Provence solely for this, for example Alres or is there much more to offer?
Here is a rough guide at the moment, I will be starting in Paris on the 7th of October.
7th - 13th Paris - Seeing the usual sites and living amongst the Parisian's. Picking up a car and driving down to Amboise and want to drop it down south of at Tours and catch train to next destination.
13th - 16th Amboise - Visiting Chateaux and exploring my surroundings. Using Amboise as a base...or possibly Chinon?
16th - 25th Nimes/Arles/Nice/Verdon du Gorge??? - Not sure if I want to do this as from what I have read it seems I would be seeing almost the same Roman Ruinsas whats in Italy. Any Recommendations? I also thought Arles as it has as National Park. Would Marseilles or Montpelier be better?
16th - 25th I have also thought about a snow trip to Tignes/Mont Blanc/Les Diablerets, but think i might be cramming in too much. I have read there is snow on the Glaciers to snowboard in Mid October...maybe a little optimistic?
16th - 25th Nice/Verdon du Gorge. Nice as a base but would much prefer a charming coastal town as I am not sure if it many restaurants would be open and transport would be convenient. I want to spend a few nights in Verdon Du Gorge to hike/canoe/kayak and I think my base will be Castellane. As it will be Autumn, I think the foliage would look amazing
Also after France I will going to Milan/Lake Como
From the 16th - 25th is my dilemma, as I definitely want to go to Verdon du Gorge, the rest is a blur at the moment. I'd like to know what do you think would be best suited for somebody who is relying on public transport but am willing to consider hiring a car for a few days if need be.
Cheers for reading insightful people!!
Jul 13, 2012 12:08 AM
1You'll have an easier time finding information if you call the place by its name: gorges du Verdon. Gorge means canyon, and Verdon is the name of the river.
Depending on which castles you want to visit, it's probably simpler to take the train from Paris to Amboise or Tours and then hire one in the area if you want to visit several castles.
Jul 13, 2012 3:54 AM
I don't know the situation with the trees that far south. Depends a bit on the weather. The Loire should be extra-attractive with the autumn color around that time.
Nice as a base is better for day trips along the coast.
Jul 13, 2012 9:09 AM
13th 16th Amboise. Spending 4 nights in the area seems reasonable, maybe you could also add one, especially if you don't know exactly what to day in the 10 days between 16th-25th. The area is beautiful, best explored with a car. Chenonceau, Villandry, Blois, Azay les Rideau (with a really beautiful son et lumieres show) are some of the best castles in the area, maybe it will be worth to spend a couple of nights in another town in the Loire valley other than Amboise
16th 25th: about Roman ruins, I disagree with #3. I live in Italy, in a city founded by Romans, and again study in Rome, so I see roman heritage literally everytime I get out of my door (I have a quite impressive mausoleum called "Devil's Chair" under the window of my room in Rome). And therefore I can tell you that Arles and Nimes amphitheatres, and Maison Carrée in Nimes are among the best Roman monuments to be found in the world. Also Pont du Gard, which was an aqueduct bringing water to Nimes, is amazing, especially if you consider that it was built 2000 years ago.
from Arles you can spend a couple of days wandering in Camargue, a coastal region/natural park in the area of Rhone delta, an area with swamps populated by flamingoes and bulls. It may not sound that promising, but it is charming indeed, it's the most "rough mediterranean" place in France imho (even though I don't know how much enjoyable will it be in October!)
i wouldn't go to the Alps in that period, ski season won't be open yet and weather in October is really unreliable. Anyway it's easy to spend a few days in Southern France.
Or again, you could enter Italy abouple of days before (ie on the 22nd or 23th) and visit an Italian city on route to Milan (Parma would be perfect imho, it is really lovely).
Promises to be a good trip, enjoy!
Jul 13, 2012 10:08 AM
Jul 13, 2012 10:25 AM
5maybe it's cause of the language barrier, I'm sorry if I misinterpreted your point!
"If all you want to do is observe ruins as such, there's no big reason to look at the Roman remains in south France, considering you are going to Italy."
from what I read, I guessed that you suggested that roman heritage in south France would have been worth visiting only if particularly interested in the history of Romans outside of Italy etc...
Anyway, I also thought that if the OP's itinerary in Italy goes from Liguria to Milan and the lakes, he won't have many chances to visit remarkable Roman sights (don't know actually if he's planning to move south after Lombardia).
I'm not sure yet whether I really got the drift of your comment though!! (and neither sure of what "drift of your comment" means, albeit I might guess it!)
Jul 14, 2012 6:48 AM
6Great information people!
I believe it would be best to catch the train to Amboise/Tours and hire a car from there so that I can find a small town to base myself in if it be Amboise/Blois or another smaller town if I come across it. In the Loire Valley, does anybody have any recommendations of some lesser known chateaux I must visit, or miss even? And also if there is a cottage that would be good to stay at for a few nights for?
This would then bring me to the 16th, I think I would be cramming in too much if I were to go snowboarding as it is too far out of the way. I just have too many thing I want to do in France.
I will be catching a train to Aix-du-Provence (thanks for the recommendations everyone, I would have never known otherwise) and stay there for a few night before catching a bus to Castellane or possibly hire a car. From the brochure Arizona posted before, I don't quite understand it fully...is there certain days it runs and how much per person does it cost per trip? I hope to stay at Castellane for a few nights to allow me to do many of the activities. From Castellane ill then catch the bus to Nice.
I am also thinking or driving a car as I read elsewhere that a bus ticket will cost 60 Euros, is this true? If so, I think car rental would be a better option, as it allows me flexibility to drive around the area easily. Just hope it doesn't rain while I am there!!
I looked into Gorges d'Ardêche and I'm very tempted in going there instead, I am looking into it as I type. Arizona, you say they have much more impressive scenery, I believe you may right from what I the images I have been browsing through. I'll definitely have to looked deeper into it.
With Arles and Nimes, if i had more time I would been going there and unfortunately I will have to give it a miss this time. I hope to visit Camargue and Pont du Gard as the surely do look impressive. Being able to be meters from flamingoes and bulls is very inticing.
Then I will base myself in Nice and visit many of the coastal villages via public transport
From Nice I will travel Italy for about 4 weeks, I have a rough guide so far but do plan on seeing many Roman Ruins.
Jul 14, 2012 7:21 AM
7In Arizona's brochure, transport runs every day except Sundays and holidays (like today). Buses leave from the Aix-en-Provence bus station. However, that's only to Gréoux. To get to Castellane, you have to change bus, but since you are going in October, they only run on Mondays and Saturdays, unless it's a holiday.
There is no price given, but it's probably not very expensive since these local buses are subsidized by local authorities.
Jul 14, 2012 9:37 AM
8I hope to visit Camargue and Pont du Gard as the surely do look impressive
Traveling between them you'll almost stumble about an amphitheatre in Arles and/or Nîmes...
Buses very cheap in (this part of, or whole??) Gard, if I remember right € 1 for a ticket, distance irrelevant (but bjd will know for sure!)
Jul 14, 2012 10:08 AM
9arizona is right, Pont du Gard + Nimes or Arles (perhaps both, though a bit rushed!) and setting in Camargue for the night can be done in just one day, provided that you take your time to visit Camargue the day after.
It is wonderful that you have that much time to visit both France and Italy, and I'm curious indeed about your 4 week itinerary in Italy!
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