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Paris, then 6 days on the road in France. But where to go?

Paris, then 6 days on the road in France. But where to go?

Old May 22, 13, 9:59 am
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Paris, then 6 days on the road in France. But where to go?

I am putting together an itinerary that involves 7 nights in Paris at the front end and 3 nights in Brussels at the back end. (We fly in and out of those cities respectively.)

In between I have 6 nights that I would like to use for a road-trip and I was hoping for some advice as to a compelling destination.

My wife and I will have a 8-month old with us so we don't want to be in the car for excessively long periods.

Initially I was thinking Loire Valley and then drive up to Normandy, but on further consideration that may involve too much driving for just 6 nights. Now I am thinking just Loire Valley but I am open to other destinations as well.

Would it make sense to rent a car in Paris, drive southwest and overnight in Blois, Tours (x2 nts.), Saumur, Angers, Nantes and then just take the train to Brussels via Paris? Or should we spend multiple nights in fewer destinations?

For what it's worth, I have never been to France and it's been several years for my wife, so it's all new to us. Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old May 25, 13, 12:06 am
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The Loire Valley and Normandy aren't very far away from Paris, so I don't really think you would worry about having to be in the car for long periods of time. I think you're correct to not do both areas because there is so much to see in both areas.

In Normandy, Giverney (Monet's house and gardens), Rouen (the Cathedral), Jumiege (spectacular ruined abbey - a real hidden treasure), Bayeux (the tapstry), Honfleur, Calvados, the Normandy Beaches, Mont. St. Michel, etc. are all fascinating and are not going to require you to be in the car for long periods between them.

Same idea with the Loire Valley. I'd go to Chartres first and then on to the Loire Valley. Depending on where you choose to go, you can do two or three chateaus each day. I'd add Chenonceau to your list.

If you haven't been to France, I think I'd choose Normandy over the Loire Valley unless you have a particular interest in the latter, because of the variety of what you're going to see in Normandy. Either way, it'll be great!

And yes, rent a car in Paris and good luck trying to get out of the city. Once you're outside of Paris, the driving will be a breeze. Within Paris, not so much. I'd rent near or at the Montparnasse train station so limit the amount of time driving in the city.
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Old May 25, 13, 1:49 am
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Have you considered coming to visit us here in Alsace?

En-route stops could include Rheims - stop for the cathedral and taste some champagne! (Approx 2 hours drive from Paris)

Verdun - visit the world war memorials

Strasbourg - plenty to see, including the cathedral, Petite France, the Alsacian Museum, a lovely boat trip of the centre, good food and wine

Colmar - a short hop south - beautiful village, cathedral, Petite Venise, lovely buildings, cafés etc

From Colmar, Freiburg in Germany (40 mins drive) (or just popping over to Breisach (20 mins drive) which is actually on the Rhine) to see a change in country, culture and enjoy wines and good food.

Baden-Baden (an hour north of Strasbourg) for the Caracalla Baths, and a typical spa town where you can actually taste the waters (at your own risk, YUK!)

Europapark in Rust, approx 1 hour from Strasbourg, 40 mins from Colmar - a theme park to rival Disney with far less hype, great rides and yet another Mouse! (Euromaus)

The Wine Road - the part between Ribeauvillé and Colmar is particularly attractive.

Various Alsacian villages - Riquewihr, Turckheim, Bergheim, Eguisheim, Kaysersberg plus all points inbetween

The Vosges mountains and the Route des Cretes - approx 1 hour west from Colmar (via Munster (Maison du Fromage (cheese museum)), with lunch at a ferme auberge, and visit to the Altitude Garden plus walking on the top of the crests of the Vosges)

The pottery villages of Betschdorf and Soufflenheim - approx 45 mins north of Strasbourg.

And a stop off in Luxembourg City on your way to Belgium.

OK, so there's far too much for the time you have available but you might decide which of these would suit ...

And here's another wacky, off-the-wall idea ...........

Travel north from Paris to Amiens, and see the cathedral and the watergardens (Hortillonages). Maybe visit some of the Battle of the Somme sites ... Thiepval monument, Bapaume, Albert .. and Laon - the medieval hilltop city is superb and timeless (recommend staying at the Etap Hotel, clean, comfy and cheap). (Days 1 and 2)

Head for the channel coast. Take a day trip to the UK ...either with your car, in which case I recommend visiting Canterbury, or as a foot passenger and see the town centre in Dover or get a train to Canterbury .. (Day 3)

Drive along the Belgian coast seeing the dunes and the resorts and enjoying mussels and chips. End up in Bruges (Brugge). (Day 4)

Spend a day in Bruges. (Day 5)

Drive to Brussels via Ghent. (Day 6)
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Old May 25, 13, 9:54 am
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YOu could do Loinre Valley OR Normandy.

Loire-- I recommend using Amboise as a base. Small enough to park and drive a car, but good commerce (hotels restaurants) and centrally located between the sights.

Normandy-- Use Bayeux as a base, very small medieval and picturesque. The drive to the Eastern part of Normandy is about an hour 15 min, (Honfleur, Camembert) and you are only 20 min from the Normandy beaches.

Lots and lots of tour guides about both of these areas.
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Old May 25, 13, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by Alsacienne View Post
Have you considered coming to visit us here in Alsace?

En-route stops could include Rheims - stop for the cathedral and taste some champagne! (Approx 2 hours drive from Paris)

Verdun - visit the world war memorials

Strasbourg - plenty to see, including the cathedral, Petite France, the Alsacian Museum, a lovely boat trip of the centre, good food and wine

Colmar - a short hop south - beautiful village, cathedral, Petite Venise, lovely buildings, cafés etc

From Colmar, Freiburg in Germany (40 mins drive) (or just popping over to Breisach (20 mins drive) which is actually on the Rhine) to see a change in country, culture and enjoy wines and good food.

Baden-Baden (an hour north of Strasbourg) for the Caracalla Baths, and a typical spa town where you can actually taste the waters (at your own risk, YUK!)

Europapark in Rust, approx 1 hour from Strasbourg, 40 mins from Colmar - a theme park to rival Disney with far less hype, great rides and yet another Mouse! (Euromaus)

The Wine Road - the part between Ribeauvillé and Colmar is particularly attractive.

Various Alsacian villages - Riquewihr, Turckheim, Bergheim, Eguisheim, Kaysersberg plus all points inbetween

The Vosges mountains and the Route des Cretes - approx 1 hour west from Colmar (via Munster (Maison du Fromage (cheese museum)), with lunch at a ferme auberge, and visit to the Altitude Garden plus walking on the top of the crests of the Vosges)

The pottery villages of Betschdorf and Soufflenheim - approx 45 mins north of Strasbourg.

And a stop off in Luxembourg City on your way to Belgium.

OK, so there's far too much for the time you have available but you might decide which of these would suit ...

And here's another wacky, off-the-wall idea ...........

Travel north from Paris to Amiens, and see the cathedral and the watergardens (Hortillonages). Maybe visit some of the Battle of the Somme sites ... Thiepval monument, Bapaume, Albert .. and Laon - the medieval hilltop city is superb and timeless (recommend staying at the Etap Hotel, clean, comfy and cheap). (Days 1 and 2)

Head for the channel coast. Take a day trip to the UK ...either with your car, in which case I recommend visiting Canterbury, or as a foot passenger and see the town centre in Dover or get a train to Canterbury .. (Day 3)

Drive along the Belgian coast seeing the dunes and the resorts and enjoying mussels and chips. End up in Bruges (Brugge). (Day 4)

Spend a day in Bruges. (Day 5)

Drive to Brussels via Ghent. (Day 6)
Also some great ideas - I have done the Reims/Epernay thing a couple times and loved it. Personally, I wouldn't recommend it if you're driving, however, unless you just want a quick taste and see the area. To really experience it, you need to be driven, so you can enjoy the champagne worry free.
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Old May 27, 13, 4:37 pm
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Thank you for all of the wonderful ideas!

I gave strong consideration to visiting Alsace when I was originally planning to fly out of Strasbourg or Basel, but flight availability for Aeroplan rewards was abysmal out of both locales.

The main goal of the road trip is to get out of Paris and see some of the rest of France... I have heard nice things about the Loire Valley from friends, so that is what's attracting me there. Even though I suppose Normandy might make more sense geographically (i.e., one way car rental from Paris > Brussels), the thought of visiting the Loire by car and then taking the train to Brussels certainly has appeal too.

However, at this point it is very much looking like Loire Valley, partly because it seems well suited to someone who is not accustomed to travelling in France. I'm thinking it would be 3 two-night stays... starting in Amboise (thanks menton1!) and then two other points... perhaps Saumur and ??? (to be determined)

Thanks again for the advice so far. You have all confirmed my suspicion that Loire Valley & Normandy might be a bit too much to cram into 6 days.
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