Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

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pop77
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Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by pop77 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:17 am

Planning a two week vacation in France this summer. Trying to plan an itinerary, Currently thinking of 3 days Paris, 2 Days Normandy region, 2 Days Loire Valley / Lyon, 3 Days Nice region . This is a loose itinerary - open to suggestions. I will be flying in and out of Paris.


Is it better to take the train or drive? This is for a family of three. Looks like driving will be more economical but wondering about gas costs/tools/expenses I am not thinking about /challenges due to language etc (ability to read signs).

Any insights is greatly appreciated.

stan1
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by stan1 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:23 am

I'd do the trains, but leave Nice/Monte Carlo for another trip so you aren't moving around as much in a 10 day trip. Three days in Paris is short especially if you haven't spent a lot of time there before.

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Bogle7
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Drive Vs Train? Both.

Post by Bogle7 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:53 pm

I love trains. Hate driving.
But.
Based upon experience: you are going to need a car in Normandie.

I would spend 5 days in Paris. Recover from jet lag. See many of the great sites.
Definitely visit: Musée d'Orsay, Tour Eiffel, Musée National Picasso-Paris, Centre Pompidou, (skip the Louvre).
Consider this wonderful small hotel -- https://www.delambre-paris-hotel.com . It is perfectly located. A very quiet street. We have stayed in it 4 times.
Do a lot of walking.

Take the train from Paris to Bayeux. Rent a car in Bayeux. 3 days
Definitely see: The Bayeux Tapestry (https://www.bayeuxmuseum.com/en/the-bayeux-tapestry/), the German cemetary (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Cambe_ ... r_cemetery), walk the beaches, WW2 museum in Caen (https://normandy.memorial-caen.com)
Consider this hotel -- http://www.chateau-de-sully.com . Very relaxing. We enjoyed our stay.

Drive to Tours. 3 days.
Lots to see. Car is required.
Chateaux -- https://frenchmoments.eu/top-10-most-be ... re-valley/

Train to Lyon. 4 days
Food capital of France. (We will be there in March for 6 days for the first time.)
Consider day trip (46 minute train ride) to Saint Étienne for 2 good museums and eating.

Train to Paris.

Skip Nice as it is GU for you on this trip. (We will be there in March for the first time.)
Last edited by Bogle7 on Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

oxothuk
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by oxothuk » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:00 pm

You will definitely want a car for Normandy and the Loire and The Riviera, although I agree with the earlier poster that that is too much for a 10 day trip. Driving in France (outside of the big cities) is not particularly stressful.

I would recommend that you take the train from Paris to Normandy (Caen would be a good choice) and pick up a car there. Drop the car off at your last destination in the country and take the train back to Paris from there. One way rentals within France have little or no extra cost.

On our last trip to France my wife and I took a morning TGV train from Nantes direct to CDG airport, leaving us with plenty of time to spare for our afternoon flight back to the US

Big Dutch
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by Big Dutch » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:08 pm

We did 2.5 weeks in France a couple of years back and combined train and car. I'd recommend a car for getting around certain locales on your own. Driving, signage, etc. weren't an issue for us with the assistance of GPS. Just stay out of the left lane if you're not moving fast, the French admirably self-enforce their passing lane.

I'd agree with the previous poster not to spread yourself too thin. We spent 6 days in Paris and left wishing we could stay longer.

~Big Dutch

caffeperfavore
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by caffeperfavore » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:14 pm

Why not both? Do trains as much as possible and rent a car for a day or two when you need it here and there.

You're pretty spread out. I'd focus on just a few areas and enjoy them. I might consider Paris > Loire > Bordeaux/Dordogne and back to Paris instead. Or, substitute Normandy for Bordeaux if that's of special interest to you. Or, I would consider Paris > Lyon > Provence and back. I've really enjoyed Nice and the surrounding areas but would save that for a southern focused trip.

Driving will probably be more expensive than you think, especially if you use the autoroutes with their tolls (which you surely will if you want to get anywhere quickly). Gas is pricier than the States too (if that's where you're coming from).

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GerryL
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by GerryL » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:15 pm

I have never driven in France and have no intention of doing so, but with a family and with your plans to visit Normandy and the Loire Valley, it makes sense to use a rental car -- once you get out of Paris. A car will make it easier to get around those two areas. You won't need/want one in Lyon.

I agree with others who have advised against trying to include Nice on this trip and adding time in Paris and the other areas.

Lyon is my new favorite city! Easy to get around on the multi-modal transit system and much to see. I have spent two weeks there twice.
Tip for Normandy: Granville. It is a small beach town on the north side of the Bay of Mont St Michel. Expansive beaches that totally disappear at high tide. Great seafood.

Let us know how your plans develop!

PS I love France. Lived in Paris as an au pair 50 years ago and, after a long time away, have been returning almost every year since retirement.

Another note: Be aware of some key dates. The weekend between July and August and at the end of August are "code red" for traffic -- including car and train. Don't even think about trying to get anywhere on those days.

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pop77
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by pop77 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:41 pm

Thank you all for your valuable inputs. Looks like I might have to see France in two trips :D . I will reach out as the plan solidifies further.

jebmke
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by jebmke » Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:46 pm

pop77 wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:41 pm
Thank you all for your valuable inputs. Looks like I might have to see France in two trips :D . I will reach out as the plan solidifies further.
We used to take two week trips from Brussels and typically chose two places to go/stay and spent a lot of time in the surrounding area. There are tons of villages and out-of-the way things to do in France that it would be a shame to speed by many of those experiences. Make sure to try to find some bikes to use when in the countryside. Plenty to see at slow speed.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

neilpilot
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by neilpilot » Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:28 pm

pop77 wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:41 pm
Thank you all for your valuable inputs. Looks like I might have to see France in two trips :D . I will reach out as the plan solidifies further.
Only 2 trips? I have several friends that think their 1 week visit to Paris, with 1-2 days trips thrown in, means that they have experienced France. Sort of like a Frenchman who spends a week in NYC and then crosses the USA off their list.

We spent all of our 18 day visit in 2018 in the Dordogne and still didn't get to do all we wanted to do in the area. Don't forget to add Corsica to your list.

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GerryL
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by GerryL » Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:40 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:28 pm
pop77 wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:41 pm
Thank you all for your valuable inputs. Looks like I might have to see France in two trips :D . I will reach out as the plan solidifies further.
Only 2 trips? I have several friends that think their 1 week visit to Paris, with 1-2 days trips thrown in, means that they have experienced France. Sort of like a Frenchman who spends a week in NYC and then crosses the USA off their list.

We spent all of our 18 day visit in 2018 in the Dordogne and still didn't get to do all we wanted to do in the area. Don't forget to add Corsica to your list.
I'm finally going to get to Corsica this year! I'm taking a cruise along the coast of France, from Barcelona to Genoa. Dordogne is on my want-to-see list, as is the Ardeche -- but both are difficult if one does not intend to drive. For next year I'm thinking about a tour program in Bordeaux (with Dordogne) or Brittany/Normandy.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Two Week Vacation in France - Drive Vs Train

Post by WhiteMaxima » Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:55 pm

A train pass and a bicycle.

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