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France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
71 posts
9 reviews
France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

Hi All,

Please review my itinerary and let me know if there are any loop holes, too rushed, or non-achievable section.

Also, if I can save some time somewhere.

I am at very early stage of planning for France tour next June. Considering my bucket list is long, mostly I will not be able to be back to France for very long time even if I want to. I totally understand 15 days are too less for covering such a culturally, historically diverse country. So mainly I concentrated on must dos and tried to pick different kind of experience which are uniquely French. This is my Itinerary Below.

Also this is the first time ever I am going to set foot in Europe and I chose France… :). Very Excited.

Day 1: Toronto- Paris

Day 2: Paris

Day 3: Varsailes-1day-night at Paris

Day 4: Paris

Day 5: Paris

Day 6: Take train to Rennes for Mont st Michael overnight at Mont st Michael

Day 6: Rennes to Tours, Overnight at Tours

Day 7: Loire Valley (3 castles) – Will Rent a car here - Overnight Tours

Day 8: Tours to Strasburg- Overnight at Strasbourg

Day 9: Strasbourg surrounding (Wineries, Some Castles, Mostly interested in the villages b/w Strasbourg and Colmar) will a rent a car for this day. Overnight at Stratsbourg.

Day 11: Strasbourg to Montpellier (Provence)

Day 12: Day trip Avignon, pont du gard, Nimes (may be)

Day 13: Day trip Carcassone and surrounding

Day 14: Lavender field (if dates match)/St Guilhem le desert/canal tour??

Day 15: Back to Paris

Day 16: Flyout from Paris

I purposely kept French Riviera and Alpes out of this trip.

We are more interested in History, Architecture, Culture

Not interested in Shopping, Farmer’s Markets, Museums (Not enough time anywhere), Beaches

So here are some of my questions

1. We will be a group of 6 (2 families) so will it be economical to rent a van than public transport specially while visiting rural areas surrounding the cities?

2. Strasbourg?? Is it worth including?? Wanted to keep one Winery tour and got stuck by the beauty of Colmar, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé. Or shall I include 2 more days in Provence and do winery tour there.

3. Want to visit both Avignon and Carcassonne. What should be the base?? Not interested in Montpellier as such but chose it because it is middle of Avignon and Carcassonne.

4. Day 9: Overnight at Strasbourg or move back to Paris and take TGV to Montpellier next day??

Thanks in advance

Caveau du Gigondas
Gift & Speciality Shops
Le Moulin de l'Esquirol
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Jale
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8 replies to this topic
Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Paris, Loire Valley
Level Contributor
24,763 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

This is checklist tourism with little thought of what each area actually has to see. Far too much traveling and a lot of time wasted in a car. This looks like an itinerary planned out of a picture book - ¨Highlights of France¨, with an aerial photo of Mont St Michel, Carcassonne, a Loire Valley château, Pont du Gard, all of the clichés. You´ll need a month to see all of this, you have two weeks.

Ideally, in two weeks, choose 3 to 4 full days in Paris forgetting Versailles. Versailles is a madhouse of thousands of tourists. Instead, why not Fontainebleau, Vaux le Vicomte, or Chantilly? Better yet, just spend 4 full days in Paris and visit châteaux in the Loire Valley?

Next choose one or two regions and spend your time there: Normandy, possibly Brittany and the Loire Valley or western Provence/Langeudoc, or Provence from the Rhône to the Italian border. Get a Michelin Green guide for these areas. You indicate you are interested in history and culture, subjects included in the guides. There is a lot more to Normany/Brittany than just MSM. I could write pages on visiting just upper Normandy: the Invasion beaches, Honfleur, Auvers-sur-Oise, Giverny and one of the most emotionally moving places on earth, the American Cemetery.

Get everyone involved in reading and planning, including the children. Rethink your itinerary, cut down on the constant moving and focus on what each location has to offer. You ´ll be much happier on your vacation.

Grenoble, France
Level Contributor
2,031 posts
93 reviews
2. Re: France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

3 castles in a day, insane day trips, trying to visit the 4 corners of France. It's too much way too much. Just pick one or two areas besides Paris and stick to it. And not areas that are far appart. You do Loire Valley + Normandy, you can do Alsace + Burgundy, Provence+ the Alps, Périgord+Bordelais, that kind of thing. But not the Loire, Alsace, Provence and Carcassonne it's insane.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
99,119 posts
17 reviews
3. Re: France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

We have actually done a journey around France a bit like this, by car. But there were only two of us and we had 10 weeks.

Toowoomba, Australia
Level Contributor
1,862 posts
9 reviews
4. Re: France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

This is good advice. You are making the usual mistake that a lot of people make and trying to do far too much. You are not taking into account time travelling from one region to the next. You say two families so I am assuming there are some children. That makes it even more important to slow down.

Spend your time in Paris and then choose two other areas. NicolasB has given some good combinations. We have been travelling to France since 2006 and still have not been to Versailles. But we have been to Fontainebleau and Vauxhall Le Vicomte. We enjoyed them immensely and did not have the crowds of Versailles.

I like the combination of Western Provence and Languedoc. They are close together and could be combined easily. Look at car / van options to hire and have for the whole time. Divide your time between the two regions. You could stay in a smaller place and visit places such as the Pont de Gard as well as lovely villages and even lavender if you are there at the right time. Around Carcassonne you could also visit Cathar castles such as Lastours or down to Peyrepertuse or Queribus.

But I would also enjoy Alsace / Burgundy (this is one of our favourite regions), or Normandy/Brittany or Normandy /Loire Valley.

You are interested in culture but not a French market? We love our picnics in France with a fresh baguette, some lovely cheese, some charcuterie, some little radishes.

You are spending a lot of money to get to France. Make it about more than ticking boxes. We did not visit Paris until our third trip and we did not visit Mont Saint Michel or Carcassonne until our fourth trip to France. We decided on our first trip that even if it was going to be our only trip to France, we were going to take time to enjoy places. And our first trip was for five weeks. We did five regions. You are thinking about four or five in two weeks.

Think about what you want from this trip. Make it something to look back on with pleasure. For us it is often the small experiences that mean the most.

Edited: 11 May 2018, 19:02
Paris, France
Level Contributor
18,258 posts
20 reviews
5. Re: France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

Agree with the others that you are trying to do way to much in too little time. Since you are flying into and out of Paris, I would end your trip there and head to your further destination at the beginning of your trip - this will make better use of your limited time.

I would plan to stay in 3 places at most. You're forgetting about the logistical issues of moving (6 people) around.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
71 posts
9 reviews
6. Re: France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

Thanks everyone for all the great ideas. I get the point. Going to remove Alsace and Loire Valley. If time and energy permit then will add a day trip to Loire Valley from Paris.

But cannot remove Mt St Michelle. It really caught my imagination for very long time. So even if it will be little bit wastage of time and energy in terms of commute/logistics, I am going there. I also read about other highlights/towns of Normandy but will leave it for this time.

For rest of the trip I will base either Montpellier or some smaller town at South and explore Western Provence and Languedoc.

Our travel style used to be extremely intense, sampler/ hightlights/checklist tourism whatever you call them. We used to have very early start and very late end of a day with some slower days tucked in between here and there. We enjoyed it that way. But obviously with a kid with us now, we will not be able to do that. Hence, slowing it down is a good idea. I did research/read about all the regions quite thoroughly and those 4 regions were the top 4 as per my choice of activities/interests other than Dordogne (I know it’s far out of the way). The only problem is even the top 4 are not doable in 15 days…. Looking at the train timings I was being hopeful. Like for example the total commute time from Paris to Strasburg is less than 2 hours but I think 2 hours in train will end up 3-4 hours door to door and make the whole trip pointless.

Also, to save time I am considering getting out of Marseille or whatever is the largest airport of that region but not sure at this point if the airfare will work out that way.

London, United...
Level Contributor
7 posts
65 reviews
7. Re: France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

Hello

I would only comment about Strasbourg as I just came back from there last week

You need to go in Alsace - do not miss it!

1 full day in Strasbourg and 1 full day Colmar-Eguisheim are still not enough for such a lovely region but given the fact that you have limited time...

8. Re: France in 15 Days. Please review my itinerary

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