pbd

Spending time in France etc.

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Wifey and I are planning an extended trip in France (with a little bit of Belgium included) in June of NEXT year. We like to drink wine, do a bit of hiking, and do some sightseeing. We prefer a slower leisurely pace where we get a feel for the area rather than packing up and seeing a new area every day.

We're not huge on museums but of course we want to go to the Louvre.

 

As you can see by the attached map, our thoughts are to do a bit of a circumnavigation of the country.  The initial itinerary is based on some recommendations of friends, some things we definitely want to see (Flanders Fields) and some guidebook suggestions.  Before we get too tied into a schedule, we thought we would see if the SA Community has any helpful suggestions regarding what we are missing that we shouldn't, what we have on our list but we could skip, and where to stay at each stop.

Belgium & WWI sights (Flanders Fields) - 4 nights

Reims - 3 nights

Colmar - 4 nights

Dijon - 4 nights

Avignon - 4 nights

Bordeaux - 4 nights

Amboise - 3 nights

Bayeux - 2 nights (D-day exploring)

Paris (via train) - 4 nights

 

Attached is the image of the first draft route. We would welcome any and all recommendations. Are we missing anything? Are there towns or cities that are a must see that we aren't including? Any tips on wine tasting? We are very familiar with California wine tasting but France is all new territory for us.

FranceRoadTrip.png

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5 minutes ago, pbd said:

Wifey and I are planning an extended trip in France (with a little bit of Belgium included) in June of NEXT year. We like to drink wine, do a bit of hiking, and do some sightseeing. We prefer a slower leisurely pace where we get a feel for the area rather than packing up and seeing a new area every day.

We're not huge on museums but of course we want to go to the Louvre.

 

As you can see by the attached map, our thoughts are to do a bit of a circumnavigation of the country.  The initial itinerary is based on some recommendations of friends, some things we definitely want to see (Flanders Fields) and some guidebook suggestions.  Before we get too tied into a schedule, we thought we would see if the SA Community has any helpful suggestions regarding what we are missing that we shouldn't, what we have on our list but we could skip, and where to stay at each stop.

Belgium & WWI sights (Flanders Fields) - 4 nights

Reims - 3 nights

Colmar - 4 nights

Dijon - 4 nights

Avignon - 4 nights

Bordeaux - 4 nights

Amboise - 3 nights

Bayeux - 2 nights (D-day exploring)

Paris (via train) - 4 nights

 

Attached is the image of the first draft route. We would welcome any and all recommendations. Are we missing anything? Are there towns or cities that are a must see that we aren't including? Any tips on wine tasting? We are very familiar with California wine tasting but France is all new territory for us.

FranceRoadTrip.png

 

Cannes and Monaco are worth a visit.  We were in both 2 years ago, on a Star Clipper small sailing Cruise Ship.   Star Clippers go to smaller ports, where the giant 500 pax ships cannot go.  The only giant Cruise Ships we saw in ports, was arriving in Venice and departing in Athens.  I cannot recommend them enough!  All of your  personal effects are in you cabin the entire trip and you go to a new and interesting place every day or two.  Croatia, Montenegro, were fabulous!! And the last day of our last trip we spent the afternoon crawling around the Acropolis...

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If you are interested in good food, particularly innovative tapas, the Spanish beach town of San Sebastian, just across the border, is well worth a visit. It's also the heart of Basque country so you'll get a sense of their culture there too. It would extend your mileage a bit but enable you to swing through another cool French beach town, Biaritz, and depending on your chosen route, a lovely drive through the Pyrennees. Have fun, sounds like a great trip!

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Beaune! Burgundies. Good restaurants .

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France in June = busy, book early, otherwise a 'flexible' itinerary (booked on the fly) requires a little more broad-mindedness for types of accommodation and facilities available, will also require more language knowledge.  Dont try to eat the same things you eat at home, eat & drink what is local to where you are in France and you will usually find the locals are happy to help you experiment within your comfort zone. Just like the food, most wines are sold by the district they are grown in and not so much by grape variety. French folks always have a HUGE pride for their local area.

When touring old battlefields, take a picnic and sit in the area and soak up the atmosphere. Not many of the battlefield memorials are in or near a town.

When visiting Bordeaux, take a side trip to Arcachon &  eat some crabs or oysters. And @Willin' suggestion above fits this side trip and is worthwhile - many cultural shifts an a small area.

Reims - research before you get there for when which cellar is open. The cave tours often require bookings. Very much NOT like Napa, cannot just rock up to any cellar door for a tasting, although 'some' do.

The segment you have from Lyon to Dijon I think is my favorite in your plan, the food, wine and restaurants in that segment will satisfy most tastes and budgets. If was to join you I would suggest eating out every night and "back road" exploring by day, buying picnic stuff from road side stalls of the gazillions of little farms all over the area. At what ever is your first stop in France, a supermarket will have enough stuff to make up a cheap picnic kit that can be gifted or disposed of at the end of your trip, just make sure it has a knife strong enough to cut hard cheese, a corkscrew bottle opener, and a couple of wine glass' - a breadboard is good too.  Do plenty of research on restaurants in this strip, will be worthwhile.

I know you said museums are not really your thing, but - while in Bayeux, have you heard of the tapestries ? - worthwhile IMO.

Pack light.

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100% agree on picnicking.  Marvellous food available.

I would add the Pyrenees, the Loire and Brittany. 

Also keep off the major roads, enjoy the minor roads.  You will stumble upon some beautiful places.

I'm jealous! 

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7 hours ago, pbd said:

Wifey and I are planning an extended trip in France (with a little bit of Belgium included) in June of NEXT year. We like to drink wine, do a bit of hiking, and do some sightseeing. We prefer a slower leisurely pace where we get a feel for the area rather than packing up and seeing a new area every day.

We're not huge on museums but of course we want to go to the Louvre.

 

As you can see by the attached map, our thoughts are to do a bit of a circumnavigation of the country.  The initial itinerary is based on some recommendations of friends, some things we definitely want to see (Flanders Fields) and some guidebook suggestions.  Before we get too tied into a schedule, we thought we would see if the SA Community has any helpful suggestions regarding what we are missing that we shouldn't, what we have on our list but we could skip, and where to stay at each stop.

Belgium & WWI sights (Flanders Fields) - 4 nights

Reims - 3 nights

Colmar - 4 nights

Dijon - 4 nights

Avignon - 4 nights

Bordeaux - 4 nights

Amboise - 3 nights

Bayeux - 2 nights (D-day exploring)

Paris (via train) - 4 nights

 

Attached is the image of the first draft route. We would welcome any and all recommendations. Are we missing anything? Are there towns or cities that are a must see that we aren't including? Any tips on wine tasting? We are very familiar with California wine tasting but France is all new territory for us.

 

When my son graduated from Southampton Solent in 2018, we spent almost six weeks in the area. We took the Portsmouth-Caen ferry, then rented a car and drove through Normandy, down to the Loire valley, out to Burgundy for a day (too short...but we couldn't carry much more wine anyway), then up to Paris for a week.

 

Personally, I'd consider staying closer to Beaune than Dijon it you're into wine tasting. Admittedly, we went there on a Sunday when things were closed but it just seems like...city. It lacked charm. Whereas Beaune is dead smack in the middle of wine country, and loaded with great restaurants and cool things to see and do. I've a recommended wine stop if you're headed there. Dijon is about an hour away - convenient if you want to drive through 40 miles of mustard fields for a visit. But visiting Dijon from Beaune for a day seems more sensible than driving an hour down to the Cote D'or only to have to drive back.

The Loire valley is lovely, and lots to see there. So Amboise is a good place to work from. We stayed in an AirBnB about five miles down the road in Beaumont-sur-cher, I think it was. It was called "The Pressior," and was an old converted wine press in a guy's back yard. Two Br, maybe 1Ba, I don't recall. It was walking distance to a winery though. We got very attached to the Touraine wines in general while we were there.

There was a mushroom farm/cave we toured there. The tour guide only spoke French though, but there was a handout our kids used my wife and I had little trouble following along. There are some underground carvings in the limestone that were stunning, and the mushroom farming is pretty cool. Literally cool, bring a sweatshirt.

The Bayeux tapestry is cooler than you think it will be, we enjoyed seeing it though it's crowded enough so you can't really linger too long in one spot.

Eat gallettes and drink cider in Normandy.

The Longest Day has a series of scenes in Caen, which you can still sort of see near where the ferry comes in. We watched before going to give us some context. The Normandy sites are pretty powerful.

I will have to search my memory, notes and pictures from some of those places for the restaurants, wineries and sites that we loved the most for you.

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6 hours ago, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

it'll take 3 days just to do the louvre...   

you can start here..

 

Honeslty, we like the Musee D'Orsay better than the Louvre, and still love the much smaller Musee Rodin.

The Louvre is mostly older and ancient stuff, none of the more modern materials like the impressionists is there. It's all at the D'Orsay.

The Musee D'Armee and Napolean's tomb was also nice.

 

 

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5 hours ago, NeedAClew said:

Beaune! Burgundies. Good restaurants .

Was there two years ago. It's been too long...need to go back.

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Also - avoid the "Chateaux" tasting centers. We found them very expensive. Yes, you can taste a big flight of wines, but it costs you a ton.

We visited individual wineries in Pommard, Merseault, etc. etc. and tasted many good wines at individual wineries without every paying for a "flight" or tasting fee. Of course we bought a bottle everywhere, but so what...you end up with wine.

It was going to cost us something like 25-30+ euros pp for a "tour and tasting" even though my daughter doesn't like wine and didn't plan to taste. For the cost of one or two of those tastings you can buy actual bottles of wine where you taste and talk to an employee  or sometimes the owner.

This place was cool:

https://www.beaune-tourism.com/tasting/wineries/domaine-rocault-francois-et-blandine-675054

Blandine was there minding the shop with her adorable grand-daughter. This spot had been in the Rocoult family for something like 17 generations, and the wines were delightful. She came from like a 5th or 7th generation wine family from another part of France (can't remember where).

They made a variety of wines, reasonably priced by Burgundy standards, but quite excellent. And she spent like an hour with us chatting and taking us through something like 14 or 15 tastings of everything they made. It was a little off the beaten path and small, not one of the huge Burgundy cellars.

We bought as much wine there as we did every other stop in around Beaune put together.

 

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Rilly-sur-Loire was where "Le Pressoire" was.

https://www.airbnb.fr/rooms/24960254?source_impression_id=p3_1591167507_NO1xvoFZUlYwL5om&guests=1&adults=1

Jean Paul was a great host, it was comfortable and clean and only a few minutes down the road from Amboise. When we checked in he had a chilled Touraine ready and joined us for a glass of wine in the little garden outside the house.

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As far as Ypres and Flanders Fields is concerned, there is a lot to see. I have in the past organised tours in the area, specifically around the Ypres Salient.

Just travelling through the region and seeing the multitude of military cemeteries dotting the landscape can be very sobering.

PM me if you'd like more information

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Arle, which is an historic town, and has an impressive aqueduct, is worth stopping at, and La Rochelle, both places are not very far off your planned route. My wife and I have spent a lot of time in France, traveling in a camper van 25 years ago as well as annual skiing trips, it is a stunning place, and as has been stressed above, avoid the peage where possible, the A roads are extremely scenic and you will miss a lot of the natural beauty if you are cruising at 120km/hr.

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The Atlantic beaches near La Rochelle are worth a visit. Very different than the Med in terms of appearance and atmosphere.  Many beautiful coastal towns as well.

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Plate de Hotel in the provinces.... 

and get out Paris asap

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i went on a walking holiday in the Dordogne region a few years ago.  That area is stunningly beautiful and rich in history and culture (castles, museums dedicated to Neanderthals, old walled cities, etc.).  

On the way back to Paris to catch a flight home, I spent two days in Bordeaux.  I was very disappointed:  dirty, homeless people everywhere, all kind of grey looking.... not my favourite.   One day there was plenty.  On the second day I rented a bicycle and toured the local countryside (there is a rail trail nearby).  The small villages near Bordeaux looked sad, lonely and decrepit.  

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Time is obviously a concern but a week boat charter on the Canal du Midi is wonderful. Canal opened in 1680 so it is pre-Industrial. Much of the part we did was through vineyards. In some places the vineyard has a barrel next to the canal with bottles on it. You hop off the boat and leave your money and take a bottle. Wines are very cheap and decent, not the fancy stuff from further north.

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Take the TGV to Bordeaux. Then drive SE from there. Try the Madiran wines. 

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Brugge in Belgium is a cool place to visit.  Lots of pubs serving delicious Trappist monk brew.  

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its good you put Paris at the end and there are a number of days but whats tough is that you might find its not enough and you will have to leave but then again it might end up being too much!

We found that we needed to do more research on accessible nice restaurants in Paris and almost needed a guide or something to help.

The louvre was the least enjoyed museum. Musee de Orsey, and Rodin museums were very nice

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you're completely missing provence. In june just driving through the lavender fields with the alps in the backround is worth a whole trip. stay in any of the small villages. Also need much more time on the  cote d'azur ( canne, nice, monaco ). Perfect time of year.

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1 hour ago, Elegua said:

Take the TGV to Bordeaux. Then drive SE from there. Try the Madiran wines. 

I took the TGV from Stuttgart to Gare du Nord in Paris - what a ride.  197MPH indicated on my Blackberry - smooth, quiet, comfortable, and the "box lunch" looked like something a gourmet restaurant would serve.   AND - it was $200 cheaper and 1.5 hours faster ( total elapsed time) than flying from Stuttgart to CDG. 

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15 hours ago, 42 South said:

Awesome links. We actually did the canal du midi a few years back and loved it but we didn’t see much of the rest of France. Mont St Michel is on the list. Really like the idea of staying in smallish towns as well. Excellent resources. I’ll be in touch.

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16 hours ago, Merrill Levi said:

The segment you have from Lyon to Dijon I think is my favorite in your plan, the food, wine and restaurants in that segment will satisfy most tastes and budgets. If was to join you I would suggest eating out every night and "back road" exploring by day, buying picnic stuff from road side stalls of the gazillions of little farms all over the area. At what ever is your first stop in France, a supermarket will have enough stuff to make up a cheap picnic kit that can be gifted or disposed of at the end of your trip, just make sure it has a knife strong enough to cut hard cheese, a corkscrew bottle opener, and a couple of wine glass' - a breadboard is good too.  

Great advice. Your suggestions are very much in line with the type of trip we want to take

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Welcome to my country!

Apparently you have been there before, so it will not be a total discovery.

The problem is:

- Surf Nazi is right: you completely miss Provence... and Provence in June is much better than July or August, beautiful sunny hot weather (but not too hot) and much less people.

- You miss the center part of France; Auvergne. I lived 2 years in Clermont-Ferrand. The region is made of old volvanoes, with beautiful trails; and the food! and the cheeses! Bleu d'Auvergne! Roquefort! Saint Nectaire!!

- Biarritz, Pyrénées and Pays Basque as said above are not only beautiful but a completely different culture than the rest of France. Did you know that Basque, the local language is not related to any other european language??? And the food! And the ferias!

- You completely miss Britanny! How can you miss Britanny, especially as a sailor! South Britanny (Trinité-sur-Mer, Lorient) is the Mecca of French offshore sailing!!! And Saint-Malo on the north shore of Britanny! A completely wall closed old city made of granite stones, destroyed during WWII and rebuilt to the original design afterwards. And the pink granit shore further west...

 

Change your plans right away: you need 3 months minimum. :D

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2 hours ago, A guy in the Chesapeake said:

I took the TGV from Stuttgart to Gare du Nord in Paris - what a ride.  197MPH indicated on my Blackberry - smooth, quiet, comfortable, and the "box lunch" looked like something a gourmet restaurant would serve.   AND - it was $200 cheaper and 1.5 hours faster ( total elapsed time) than flying from Stuttgart to CDG. 

Europe - where trains really work. I spent a lot of time riding the ICE and TGV at one point.

I love the Gers area of France. I'm a bit biased as my father has lived there on a 50acre "farm" for the past 20 years. 

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6 hours ago, Mid said:

Plate de Hotel in the provinces.... 

and get out Paris asap

Agree with you on Paris. Just long enough to do 3 or 4 major sites and meet up with friends. Then flee. My wife was there several years ago and doesn’t have much desire to return.

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5 hours ago, Bristol-Cruiser said:

Time is obviously a concern but a week boat charter on the Canal du Midi is wonderful. Canal opened in 1680 so it is pre-Industrial. Much of the part we did was through vineyards. In some places the vineyard has a barrel next to the canal with bottles on it. You hop off the boat and leave your money and take a bottle. Wines are very cheap and decent, not the fancy stuff from further north.

That is the one area of France I have seen. The canal du midi was very fun - the wine so cheap and good! The locks were a challenge but rewarding. 

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3 hours ago, Laurent said:

Welcome to my country!

Apparently you have been there before, so it will not be a total discovery.

The problem is:

- Surf Nazi is right: you completely miss Provence... and Provence in June is much better than July or August, beautiful sunny hot weather (but not too hot) and much less people.

- You miss the center part of France; Auvergne. I lived 2 years in Clermont-Ferrand. The region is made of old volvanoes, with beautiful trails; and the food! and the cheeses! Bleu d'Auvergne! Roquefort! Saint Nectaire!!

- Biarritz, Pyrénées and Pays Basque as said above are not only beautiful but a completely different culture than the rest of France. Did you know that Basque, the local language is not related to any other european language??? And the food! And the ferias!

- You completely miss Britanny! How can you miss Britanny, especially as a sailor! South Britanny (Trinité-sur-Mer, Lorient) is the Mecca of French offshore sailing!!! And Saint-Malo on the north shore of Britanny! A completely wall closed old city made of granite stones, destroyed during WWII and rebuilt to the original design afterwards. And the pink granit shore further west...

 

Change your plans right away: you need 3 months minimum. :D

Agh!! So much to see - so little time. Sell the house, sell the kids, we’re going to France. Ok - you have convinced me. We’ll rearrange to include more Provence and maybe some Britanny. Great to hear from a local! Thanks so much.

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Thanks to all of you. This is much appreciated and you gave us exactly what we had in mind

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7 hours ago, Laurent said:

Welcome to my country!

Apparently you have been there before, so it will not be a total discovery.

The problem is:

- Surf Nazi is right: you completely miss Provence... and Provence in June is much better than July or August, beautiful sunny hot weather (but not too hot) and much less people.

- You miss the center part of France; Auvergne. I lived 2 years in Clermont-Ferrand. The region is made of old volvanoes, with beautiful trails; and the food! and the cheeses! Bleu d'Auvergne! Roquefort! Saint Nectaire!!

- Biarritz, Pyrénées and Pays Basque as said above are not only beautiful but a completely different culture than the rest of France. Did you know that Basque, the local language is not related to any other european language??? And the food! And the ferias!

- You completely miss Britanny! How can you miss Britanny, especially as a sailor! South Britanny (Trinité-sur-Mer, Lorient) is the Mecca of French offshore sailing!!! And Saint-Malo on the north shore of Britanny! A completely wall closed old city made of granite stones, destroyed during WWII and rebuilt to the original design afterwards. And the pink granit shore further west...

 

Change your plans right away: you need 3 months minimum. :D

Sort of our feeling about France. I would LOVE to come there and spend several months kicking around the country. A couple of weeks isn’t enough.

I’ve been spoiled for visiting places forever by cruising, I can’t just bungee into a place and leave any more.

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23 hours ago, pbd said:

Thanks to all of you. This is much appreciated and you gave us exactly what we had in mind

watch this movie

Mr. Bean's Holiday

 

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20 hours ago, B.J. Porter said:

 

  I can’t just bungee into a place and leave any more.

one is being a tourist, the other a visitor..

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On 6/3/2020 at 8:23 PM, Elegua said:

Europe - where trains really work. I spent a lot of time riding the ICE and TGV at one point.

I love the Gers area of France. I'm a bit biased as my father has lived there on a 50acre "farm" for the past 20 years. 

I'm with you on that one. 

Since I live on the Polish/German border and Berlin is only an hour away, I have a Bahn Card 50, 1st class for the German rail system.  I get 50% off any ticket's normal price and 20% off on already discounted or special offer tickets.  And because I am over age 60 I get the Bahn Card for half of the regular price.  It costs me about $225 for one year.  It can pay for itself in one or two long distance trips.

Since I'm old and I like top be comfortable I chose the 1st Class card.  In effect I pay the same price that I used to pay for a 2nd class ticket and ride in 1st class, which is much more comfortable and quieter than 2nd class, especially on the ICE.  

I can get from the German town across the river, to Nuernberg (my favorite city in Germany) in 4 1/2 hours for the cost of the gas to drive there in 5-6 hours.  Plus it is much more relaxing than driving at high speeds on the autobahn which requires complete attention to the road.  I read a book, have a beer and food delivered to my seat and enjoy the view.

The only caveat is over the years, there are more and more delay in the schedule on German trains.  Appalling!

 

Back on topic, in my experience just about anywhere in France is beautiful and Paris is amazing.  I also really enjoyed a brief visit to St Tropez.  If I were filthy rich, I would have a home there.

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IMHO your schedule is WAY to aggressive.  First it may not allow time to stop and just rest.  There is only so many beautiful things you can see before they are wasted.   Sort of like chugging down a $200 bottle of wine.  
 

Also you will miss some great sites. For example Bayeux is set for 2 nights and then you go to Paris.  This does not allow time to tour Mount St Michel, or Giverny.   We drove up to spend 3 nights in Bayeux and could have spent another. After visiting Giverny on a day-trip from Paris, we realized we made a mistake.  A better plan is to arrive in the afternoon and spend the night.  This will let you tour the grounds when before/after the busloads of tourists.

Like many here we have been to Paris and France many times.  Last year we spent 5 weeks in Paris and did trips to Normandy, etc. Attempting to see Paris in less than a week is a waste of time.  As others said, The Louvre is 2-3 days.  You can tell those on a schedule as they run to all the   “must see paintings” - running by some truly beautiful works.  Even wifey who is not an art fan can spend days in there! The  Musee D’Orsay is another day or two.   That ignores the other museums.  
 

In June make time to see the Dancing Waters at Versailles!  Touring the grounds when all the fountains are on makes you really think “It is good to be the king!” (Filmed elsewhere).  But that is best done by keeping your Paris hotel/VRBI/etc and packing a small bag.  Head to Versailles and spend a night at the cheap, but clean, Accor Hotel.

 

Better than doing this in one grand tour, consider breaking it up.

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On 6/3/2020 at 6:03 PM, surf nazi said:

you're completely missing provence. In june just driving through the lavender fields with the alps in the backround is worth a whole trip. stay in any of the small villages. Also need much more time on the  cote d'azur ( canne, nice, monaco ). Perfect time of year.

.Concur. One day in Avignon is enough, then I’d move East to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Gordes etc.Plus indeed the lavender field with abbey (forgot the name)

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On 6/3/2020 at 1:37 AM, Tunnel Rat said:

100% agree on picnicking.  Marvellous food available.

I would add the Pyrenees, the Loire and Brittany. 

Also keep off the major roads, enjoy the minor roads.  You will stumble upon some beautiful places.

I'm jealous! 

Yes!

There is far far too much to do and see, but a couple of things will be more than amply rewarding IMHO.... learn some basic French. Yields HUGE dividends both interacting with people and being able to read the signs.

Paris: the Louvre is awesome but packed. Go early in the morning, or skip it to go to the D'Orsay instead. Also go to Saint-Chappelle, in the island north of Notre Dame (also worth going to, but also packed). If you like boats, go to the French national Maritime Museum in the Palais De Chaillot. I could spend a month there, it's at least worth a couple of hours walk-thru.

Any place, any/every day- walk out in the morning, pick a little sidewalk place, and have some bread and coffee or tea. It is a quintessentially French experience and I cannot describe what it will be like for you, but a friend dragged me out to do this and it was transformative... and has been for other friends visiting France.

I envy your upcoming trip.... enjoy!

- DSK

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1 hour ago, Snore said:

Sort of like chugging down a $200 bottle of wine.  

Jebus man, don't even joke about that.  That's alcohol abuse!

1 hour ago, Snore said:

The  Musee D’Orsay is another day or two.

I would have happily spent a week in the Musee d'Orsay except it was terribly crowded and the stench of the unwashed masses crowded in the Van Gogh room (one of my most favorite artists), was so thick I was gagging and I couldn't enjoy the art.  Not to mention that it was difficult to get close enough to really see the paintings due to the crowd.

On another visit to Paris, the room in the Louvre that contains the Mona Lisa was also packed, but I hate that little painting anyway, so I really didn't care.

Maybe one of the upsides of the COVID crisis will be that the popular tourist attractions in Europe will be a little less crowded for a year or 2.  Wouldn't that be sweet!

They are scheduled to let us out of Poland if we wish on 12 June, and the first thing I will do is head to Venice or somewhere to enjoy it before the hordes arrive again.

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4 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

Also go to Saint-Chappelle, in the island north of Notre Dame (also worth going to, but also packed).

The Ile St Louis in Paris is quite charming and quite quiet.

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1 hour ago, Steam Flyer said:

.... learn some basic French. Yields HUGE dividends both interacting with people and being able to read the signs.

 


That there is a true pearl of wisdom!  When I book the flight, etc. I download the country’s language in Duolingo and study it.   Everyday. The payoff?  Even if the person says “your (French, Italian, etc) is terrible, I will speak English”, the effort is appreciated.  The effort can yield a better service, and sometimes even the ‘local price’.  It also ensure you are not another ugly American.

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1 hour ago, Ed Lada said:

 

On another visit to Paris, the room in the Louvre that contains the Mona Lisa was also packed, but I hate that little painting anyway, so I really didn't care.

 


We find watching the masses in those rooms, much more enjoyable.  Most days the guards will not let people stand still in front of it.  You have to get very lucky to be there on a slow day to enjoy the Mona Lisa.

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8 minutes ago, Snore said:
1 hour ago, Steam Flyer said:

learn some basic French. Yields HUGE dividends both interacting with people and being able to read the signs.

 


That there is a true pearl of wisdom!  When I book the flight, etc. I download the country’s language in Duolingo and study it.   Everyday. The payoff?  Even if the person says “your (French, Italian, etc) is terrible, I will speak English”, the effort is appreciated and can yield a better service, and sometimes even the ‘local price’.  

THanks

You have to be willing to laugh at yourself, at least a little... whether it's fortunate or not, I've had to get used to it long since..... but other languages aren't really that hard if you just buckle down and study some.

- DSK

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2 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

but other languages aren't really that hard if you just buckle down and study some.

 

Obviously you've never tried to learn Polish!  :lol:

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2 hours ago, Ed Lada said:

Obviously you've never tried to learn Polish!  :lol:

Sorry you called me in something I should have posted.  The Duolingo trick works on Romance languages and (for me) German since I spoke a little when I was younger.

 

The Eastern European languages (aka ‘can I buy a vowel languages) like Czech and Polish are much much harder.

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34 minutes ago, Snore said:

Sorry you called me in something I should have posted.  The Duolingo trick works on Romance languages and (for me) German since I spoke a little when I was younger.

 

The Eastern European languages (aka ‘can I buy a vowel languages) like Czech and Polish are much much harder.

Speaking of buying vowels, you can always send any extra vowels you have to my non-profit organization, Vowels for Poland or VfP.

We collect any and all vowels no matter how bad of shape they're in and refurbish them in our shop. 

Then we distribute boxes of shiny, clean, smooth vowels to needy little Polish children.  The look on their faces when they see all of those As, Es, Is, O, Us, and sometimes Ys, is priceless. 

It's too late to help the adults who have finally learned to pronounce szcz and prz and other impossible strings of consonants without a serious tongue injury.  But we can spare the children the trauma of 5 consonants in a row without a vowel to ease the way.  

So please, think of the children and send your vowels to us.  We'll make good use of every one of them!

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speaking basic French is great , soon as they learn you're not English then they are happy to converse in English , rather than listen to you murdering their language ...

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18 hours ago, Snore said:

Like many here we have been to Paris and France many times.  Last year we spent 5 weeks in Paris and did trips to Normandy, etc. Attempting to see Paris in less than a week is a waste of time.  As others said, The Louvre is 2-3 days.  You can tell those on a schedule as they run to all the   “must see paintings” - running by some truly beautiful works.  Even wifey who is not an art fan can spend days in there! The  Musee D’Orsay is another day or two.   That ignores the other museums.  

When we were there in '18 we did the week long Museum Pass thing, which worked out well. Both the Louvre and the Museee D'Orsay have a day that is closed. The day after that is a FREAKING ZOO. Do not go. They are also open late once a week. This is a REALLY good day to go, crowds are lighter and you can stay until 8PM or so.

The beauty of the Musee pass is it's all the museums on the list, as many times as you want, for the duration of the pass. You can skip the ticket line, waltz in, say "Fuck, this is a madhouse" and come back another day.

So when we went the the Louvre and it was packed beyond belief and horrible (Tuesday I think, after Monday closing?) , we left and went somewhere else. Then we came back another day when the crowds were much lighter and stayed later. We went to the later day for the Musee D'Orsay and there was no problem at all with crowd madness. We also did things like signed up to go to the top of Notre Dame, then popped into the Crypt museum across the plaza while we waited, which was nice.

We also did the weekly metro pass, were were staying in an AirBnB near Gare du Nord and had zero troubles getting anywhere in the city on it.

https://en.parisinfo.com/what-to-see-in-paris/paris-pass/paris-museum-pass

Quote

Highly practical, the Paris Museum Pass cuts out the queues and is a money saver. It costs €52 € for 48 hours (2 days), €66 for 96 hours (4 days) or €78 for 144 hours (6 days) and gives free access to more than fifty museums and monuments in Paris and the Paris region,

Lucky card-holders receive free to the Arc de Triomphe, Sainte-Chapelle, Panthéon, Louvre, Musée Rodin and many more.

Please note: the Paris Museum Pass doesn’t provide access to the museums’ temporary exhibitions or to conference visits.

List of the main museums and monuments included in the Paris Museum Pass

In Paris:

 

Around Paris:

I think we only got to the seven I bolded, but we were only there a week. It was worth it.

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10 hours ago, Mid said:

speaking basic French is great , soon as they learn you're not English then they are happy to converse in English , rather than listen to you murdering their language ...

That's been my experience. If you can converse in French they will let you try, but if you've tried and get frustrated, if their English is better than your French they will switch for you.

We've never had any problems with language, but my wife and I both have conversational French.

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18 hours ago, Xlot said:
On 6/4/2020 at 4:03 AM, surf nazi said:

you're completely missing provence. In june just driving through the lavender fields with the alps in the backround is worth a whole trip. stay in any of the small villages. Also need much more time on the  cote d'azur ( canne, nice, monaco ). Perfect time of year.

.Concur. One day in Avignon is enough, then I’d move East to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Gordes etc.Plus indeed the lavender field with abbey (forgot the name)

I haven't been to Avignon for almost 30 years, but I don't recall it being a place you can spend days if you aren't leaving enough time in the Loire and Burgundy.

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14 hours ago, Ed Lada said:
16 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

but other languages aren't really that hard if you just buckle down and study some.

 

Obviously you've never tried to learn Polish!  

I hear it got hellish when they lost most of the vowels to  the Polynesians in a poker game.

DSCF5949.thumb.JPG.c105399aac9551c53809bb1fc27e20f2.JPG

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15 minutes ago, B.J. Porter said:

That's been my experience. If you can converse in French they will let you try, but if you've tried and get frustrated, if their English is better than your French they will switch for you.

We've never had any problems with language, but my wife and I both have conversational French.

Walked into a bicycle hire place in Oberammergau.

Forgot where I was and asked the proprietor "I would like to hire two bicycles please."

There was an uncomfortable silence before he said in beautiful English ..." I don't speak English."

Another uncomfortable silence as I recalled some high school German and said "Ich spreche kein Deutsch."        (I don't speak German)

Then we both had a laugh and he rented us the bikes.

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5 minutes ago, astro said:

There was an uncomfortable silence before he said in beautiful English ..." I don't speak English."

that's where you confirm you are an Australian , at which point the English will flow :)

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9 minutes ago, Mid said:

that's where you confirm you are an Australian , at which point the English will flow :)

Yeah I think he got that.  Told us not to bother returning the bikes in 4 hours, said to keep them all day.

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2 hours ago, Mid said:
2 hours ago, astro said:

There was an uncomfortable silence before he said in beautiful English ..." I don't speak English."

that's where you confirm you are an Australian , at which point the English will flow

That depends...

I had an odd experience in New Caledonia. The first couple of days there, I noticed I had several people comment on how good my French was. Odd, I mean I can communicate, but I've also been told I speak French like a German, which apparently is not a compliment. I'd never describe my French as more than "conversational" and there's a lot of things I can't discuss.

This continued throughout the whole couple of months there. Every day or three some clerk, shopkeeper or waiter would comment on how excellent my French was.

I didn't think much of it until an incident that happened near the end of our stay there. I was at the marina in Noumea, discussing something in French with the woman at the counter and a French man. We reached something I could not say, so I switched to English because I know the woman at the counter spoke well and the odds were the guy could speak it too.

After a couple of minutes he said "You speak English so well!"

I laughed and said "I hope so, I'm American. It's my first language."

"No, no, no," he said. "You misunderstand me. We get so many Australians here. But we can't understand any of them."

From that, I also learned why I got so many compliments on my French. They have very few Americans or Brits there, most of the English speakers are Aussies, with a few Kiwis in the mix. And apparently, when they speak French with their accents it is terrible.

 

Same marina, earlier in the season an American boat showed up to clear in and called the marina over the VHF to set up the clearance while I was standing there. Texans, with VERY strong southern accents. No one at the marina counter could understand them. I offered to translate...Texan to English.

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3 hours ago, B.J. Porter said:

I hear it got hellish when they lost most of the vowels to  the Polynesians in a poker game.

 

Oh go ahead and rub it in.  

That was a dark day in Polish history, and we are not proud of it.  They speak nothing of it in history class in the schools here, kind of like how the Germans didn't teach much about the Third Reich until well into the 1970s, and only in the last decade or so have they finally come clean about it.

So generations of Poles have suffered because centuries ago a foolish Polish monarch (see my sig line here) thought he could play cards better that a rotund Pacific Island ruler.  Some historians infer that copious quantities of Polynesian vodka were involved, but written records were rare back then, so as likely as that may be, it's only speculation.  

However embarrassing the situation might be, please don't punish the Polish children.  Give the gift of vowels, Vowels for Poland, VfP, is always collecting vowels from anywhere in the world.  Please, think of the children and rather than waste the vowels, send them to us.  Every year we send a team to France, where our diligent workers sweep the streets, the beaches,  under the tables at cafes and restaurants, anywhere you can think of, and reap a huge amount of barely used vowels.  We get several box cars full from our most profitable program. Yet it still isn't enough.  Once the kids taste their first vowel, and the words just slide off of their little tongues instead of being expelled with considerable force that they sometimes can't muster with their undeveloped children's muscles, they have an insatiable appetite for yet more vowels.  

It only takes a moment, scoop up those vowels, and put them in a box and mail them to us.  You don't need bubble wrap or any kind of padding, if the vowels are damaged (You should see some of the ones we get from there southern states in the US!), our skilled craftsmen will hammer them into usable condition, buff them up and they are as good as new.  

I reiterate, please think of the children!

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