FRANCE TRAVEL ITINERARIES
A friend recently asked if I could suggest an itinerary for their 2023 trip, leaving from Paris and if I had any tips. It was difficult to suggest one or two so the following were my offerings, all based on our experiences and places we loved, heading out of Paris. There’s so much to see and do. I just can’t give you the "Reader’s Digest" version, sorry.
In Paris we’d done a lot of the tourist spots from previous visits. This time we loved:
Carnavalet Museum (in the Marais area). This had recently re-opened when we went and was just wonderful. Allow several hours and do have coffee in the garden. Fabulous. Stay in the Marais and explore the Place de Vosges,
the old Jewish quarter, look up at the old townhouses lining the streets and if it's your thing, the shopping is incredible.
Plan visits to the Petit Palace Museum not only architecturally beautiful, but hosts wonderful exhibitions and an exquisite collection of fine art. Have lunch in the garden.
Hotel de la Marine is another fabulous tourist spot. Beautiful refurbished and elegant apartments that latterly housed the French Navy Ministry for 200 years. Situated on Place de la Concorde.
Head to the Montparnasse Tower just before dusk, have a glass of champagne and take in the stunning view of Paris.
We stayed in Montparnasse, at Hotel Leopold. Small rooms but perfectly lovely and the breakfast was incredibly generous and delicious. The Metro stops of Vavin or Raspail are the closest.
Train to a destination close to Paris to collect your hire car to avoid driving in Paris!
If you want to go sort of down the middle go from Paris to:
Le Chartres sur Le Loir – stay at the Hotel de France (in a room on the side of the hotel)
Chauvigny We were lucky to stay with a friend. Jo runs brocante and French village tours from her place in Chauvigny so do look her up if interested. She offers a fabulous breakfast! Her business is Bespoke French Village Experience
Amboise (treat yourself to an eye-wateringly expensive) night at Manoir les Minimes It’s fabulous and sits under the chateau. Have dinner in the town.
If you do one chateau do Chenonceau
Salat de Caneda
Go sort of south west (right hand side of France) to where we lived. Paris, through the others above but from Limoges drive to:
Castelnau de Montmiral (base yourself for three nights at my friend’s B&B, 3 min walk into the village. It has a pool and amazing views plus from here easy drive to Gaillac, Puycelsi, Cordes, St Antonin Noble Val for the Sunday market, and Albi. Conques is further but interesting. Google for other market days.
Drive to Castres, treat yourself to lunch at Simon Scott’s restaurant but book a couple of months in advance!
On to Carcassone (make sure you find a place off the beaten track to have cassoulet)
Pezenas (stay here). It's a fabulous town.
South of France proper: (all very popular and touristy but beautiful none the less)
Old town, Nice (stay, then day trip to places below)
St Paul de Vence
And of course there’s: (very popular/very touristy)
Aix en Provence
Whatever you decide, can I just emphasise you go EARLY morning to anything you want to see.
Book all sightseeing places online, avoid queuing. Check opening times so you can be there at that time. You can have coffee and people watch afterwards!
Check opening days – some don’t open Monday & Tuesday. Same with restaurants/cafes.
Check out market days.
Obtain appropriate travel insurance that might include buying out the “Excess” you might incur with car rental.
Eat out at lunch time – much cheaper than dinner. You can get the set menu (Plat du Jour) for around 15-18 Euros. Order a pichet of house red or rose wine. If you find self-catering accommodation it’s very easy to pick up something delicious for dinner from the supermarkets – Le Clerc, Intermarche, Casino, Carre Four. Then you can just go wandering after dinner and have a last glass of wine somewhere lovely.
Remember to book a car park with any accommodation you book.
If you decide to travel by train, I loved using thetrainline.com The earlier you book, the more you will save. You can also enter your dates and if fares are not yet available, they will email you as soon as they are with the cheapest rate. If you are over 60 get the French Senior Railcard. It saved us so much money.
Any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll try to answer them.