France...major itinerary mistakes ?

Travel Forums Europe France...major itinerary mistakes ?

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1. Posted by tostakyre (Budding Member 6 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Hi !
we (2 adults and 2 kids of 11 and 15 years old) will make a road trip in France in July-August. We have 37 nights for that trip. We know July-august is the worst time to travel but having kids in school and being a Teacher (me) and a school psychologist (my wife) kinds of dictate our travel time ! It will be our fifth trip in Europe with the kids so we have some travel experience.

So our trip is july 4 to august 11. We will rent a car (so expensive for now !)

Paris: 6 nights get rental car at the end
Honfleur: 2 nights and day trip to Etretat ans stop to Rouen on road
Bayeux: 3 nights ddays beaches, tapestry, museum, enjoy 14th july ! Head to Brittanny with a stop in Mont St-Michel (we will get up early to try to avoid daytrippers)
Britanny : 8 nights ( 3 Dinan, 4 Quimper and 1 Vannes)
Puy du Fou : 2 nights in a airbnb in a village near (our tickets are bought so we cant leave that one out !)
Dordogne (2 km from Sarlat): 5 nights
Murat (Auverge): 1 night with a stop on Puy Mary
Puy-en-Velay: 2 nights
Thônes (French Alps): 5 nights. Daytrips to Annecy, Chamonix and other mountains around.
Lyon: 3 nights . Leave our car in our Arrival in Lyon. Fly back to Montreal on the last day ( at 1 pm)

We made reservations (refundable) only in Airbnb (beside Lyon)

What about that ?

2. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 366 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

If in Brittany, I think Hulegoat is worth a visit. Intervesting valley full of massive rounded boulders (presumably from ice age?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Huelgoat_rocks_2.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Huelgoat_43.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Huelgoat_48.jpg

Ian

[ Edit: Edited on 9 Dec 2022, 16:31 GMT by Psamathe ]

3. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 366 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Ado a fascinating archaeological site at Carnac.

Ian

4. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1890 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

I'll get back to you later, but first, consider leasing a car. It's not only cheaper, you have everything paid for before you leave and you get a brand new car with 24-hour roadside assistance. We've been doing that for nearly 30 years and love it. We've used both Peugeot and Renault although we've used Peugeot much more often. I wrote a blog article about leasing with links to check for prices and pickup locations. Click here for Beausoleil on Car Leasing in France

We have to go out now, but when we get back, I'll look at your itinerary and see if I have any suggestions. We are retired teachers so understand the need to take vacations in July and August. We used to do that and it will be fine. In a way, it's fun because although it's very busy, there are a lot of really nice tourist things to do that are not available in the off season.

5. Posted by tostakyre (Budding Member 6 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Psamathe: Thanks for the ideas !

Beausoleil: Thanks in advance ! We have read about car leasing. Is not a deal because for now it would cost around 2200$ (Canadian) while a rental would cost around 2000$. My credit card include insurance.

I also have to take a lease in airpport so Taxi to CDD($$$) and from Lyon to town ($$$ again). Also, from what a advisor from europeuto (who make lease for Renault, Peugeot and Dacia in Canada) the car isnt guaranteed, in our time I could learn 3 days before getting the car that the wont be avaible.

6. Posted by zzlangerhans (Travel Guru 472 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

You're mostly hitting the area of France we haven't covered but we have stopped in the Dordogne and Lyon on road trips. Keep a list of all the morning markets and especially the evening markets (communal dinners) in the Dordogne. Our favorite evening markets were the ones no one talks about online, such as the Monday in Montignac. Sarlat is the perfect base, breathtaking town.

It seems you've traveled in Europe during the high summer before so I imagine you have anticipated heat waves where the temperature will be over 100. AC is a rarity in France but I would strongly consider screening for accommodations with AC in your Airbnb search. If not make sure they have fans and that you know where they are.

France has a lot of small lakes and swimming holes so you might want to research the ones on your route for the sake of the kids. We drove with all our swimming gear in a separate bag within easy reach.

Grenoble is a pretty awesome city if you have a spare day between Savoie and Lyon. Truthfully you can get by with two nights in Lyon. The old town is very compact and we didn't find a tremendous amount to do in the city.

[ Edit: Edited on 9 Dec 2022, 21:14 GMT by zzlangerhans ]

7. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1890 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Looking at both your questions, you seem to be planning July 4 to August 11 in France and then August 11 to August 20 in Germany.

You started with 6 nights in Paris. That's fine. I'd do the same but I'm very fond of Paris. You might want to cut at least one of those days unless you have it planned. For instance with kids, a day at Parc Asterix might be lot of fun just to see the French idea of a theme park.

You said you preferred renting a car and that’s fine. However, there is no way you are going to end up without a car when you arrive. You pay for the entire thing before you leave home so the only thing they can do is upgrade you to another vehicle. In over 25 years of leasing cars, this has happened to us exactly once and we were upgraded to a hybrid SUV. We preferred the much smaller car we originally requested (and actually paid for), but we had a car and could do everything we needed to do. If you rent, you may have insurance covered by your credit card but if you lease, you have 24-hour roadside assistance and we have used that a few times when someone backed into our car and again when a truck snapped a rock through our windshield. It is also a brand new car. Further, you don’t have to take a taxi to the airport to get the car; we never have. Take the Metro, a bus or a shuttle. We take whichever is most convenient to where we are staying. Stay in the center of Paris so you don’t have to waste time going back and forth to your hotel or Air BnB or whatever you choose.

Next you have 2 nights in Honfleur with a day trip to Etretat and stop at Rouen on the road. That's going backwards. If you want to stop in Rouen (and I highly encourage that), do it going from Paris to Honfleur because it's about halfway and would be a fun lunch stop. If you want to see Etretat, go up from Rouen (about 2 hour trip) and spend the night there. I would skip Etretat on this trip. It's far enough out of the way to be a problem and it will still be there the next time you go to France. If you do go to Etretat and can find accommodation during major tourist season, drive from there to Honfleur. It is about an hour drive from Etretat to Honfleur. It is about an hour and a quarter from Rouen to Etretat. There is a little chapel above the beach area and behind the chapel is a memorial. There is a walkway from the end of the boardwalk along the beach up to the chapel and memorial. Views from the top are spectacular. Other than that, there isn’t a lot to do in Etretat except take pictures of the famous Falais d’Aval and it’s needle. Very good food at Le Homard Bleu with a great view. Again, if you must visit Etretat, go from Paris to Rouen to Etretat and spend the night there or nearby. I’d rather spend the afternoon in Rouen and go directly to Honfleur.

You will have a full day in Honfleur and that’s plenty of time to wander through the Old Town, visit the fascinating and very different church and the museums there. Enjoy the harbor area. You have about 1.25 hr drive to Bayeux. You should be able to visit the Cathedral easily and perhaps also the tapestry museum that same day. The next day is La Fête Nationale (Bastille Day to many of us) and there will be a lot going on at the D-Day beaches. There will also be commemorations in many towns and villages and you can count on fireworks at night. Ask the folks where you are staying and get involved. It is always great fun. It will also be crazy busy with lots of traffic. If you don’t want to face the traffic, enjoy the festivities in Bayeux and do the D-Day Beaches Saturday the 15th. You can visit quite a few D-Day sites in a day.

Sunday you are getting up early to visit Mont Saint-Michel before the day trippers. Good luck! It is about 1.5 hour drive from Bayeux to Mont Saint-Michel. You park in the very well marked lots and take a free shuttle to the Mont. You will have lots of company. You can also walk which might actually be faster. It will be crowded; it always is. I complained the first time and my husband told me that MSM has always been a pilgrimage place so it has always been full of pilgrims (medieval tourists) so I was having an authentic experience. It didn’t help, but honestly, it really is worth fighting your way to the top. There are a million tourist shops on the way and in the middle ages, they sold fake relics; today they sell fake swords and sweets, but it hasn’t changed much in a thousand years. When you walk inside the church, it is an entirely different experience. You go back a thousand years and when you walk out, the view is incredible.

Then, continue on to Brittany. It’s less than an hour on to Dinan from Mont Saint-Michel and there are no tolls on the AutoRoute in Brittany so enjoy. You can easily spend a day in Dinan. If you are an oyster fan, visit Cancale. If you like nature and great views, visit La Pointe du Grouin. On a clear day, you can see across the bay to Mont Saint-Michel. You are also in a good place to visit St. Malo and walk the ramparts and enjoy the Old Town area. Ask your hosts what is happening because there are many markets and all kinds of festivities going on in July and August. Much of it is free or very inexpensive so take advantage. Keep in mind beaches will be very crowded but if you are a beach fan, it is worth it.

Wednesday you have a 2.5 hr drive to Quimper. Don’t miss the Cathedral. It is one of very few with a curved nave. You walk in and look the length of the church and there is a definite curve. To this day they are still arguing about the reasons for it, but when you first see it, it is really striking. You are going to be in Quimper for the Festival Le Cornouaille from the 19th to the 23rd. Look it up online and see what all you have waiting for you. Have fun! If you can pull yourself away for a day, visit Pointe du Raz, the western most point in France with a lighthouse and often huge crashing waves.

Next you visit Vannes about an hour and a half from Quimper. You only planned one night there so leave Quimper early because there will be traffic. Spend the rest of your day in Vannes and you leave for your Air BnB near Puy du Fou the next day. I’m going to be crazy and suggest you stop at Nantes and ride the Huge mechanical elephant on the way. It’s about 1.5 hr drive to Nantes, ride the elephant and head on to Puy du Fou, another hour south. The kids will love it and I bet you will too.

I’ve always wanted to see the spectacle at Puy du Fou and our last Brittany trip they closed two days before we arrived. I hope you enjoy it. It looks like great fun. It certainly will be a memory.

Then you drive to Sarlat-la-Canéda and it’s a long drive, about 5 to 5.25 hours. You will probably want to stop for lunch along the way. Not knowing your route, I can’t suggest a lunch stop. You will be tired at the end of that trip so just settle into your accommodation. We usually stay at Cénac-et-Saint-Julien not too far from Sarlat and you will love the area. There is so much to do. One thing I love is the Gabare in La-Roque-Gageac. There are two boats, Gabare Norbert and Gabarre Caminade. We’ve done both and enjoyed both although liked Norbert a tiny bit better. You will see lots of wildlife along the way and the scenery is spectacular on the river. Don’t miss it. La Roque Gageac and Beynac-et-Cazenac are both Plus Beaux Villages of France, both just gorgeous. There are three castles, at Beynac, Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and Millandes that are all fun to visit. Beynac was used in several movies but is not particularly well furnished. The views from the top are spectacular. Chastelnaud-la-Chapelle has a great museum with medieval war machines that they demonstrate in the summer. Millandes is the home of Josephine Baker and the Château is interesting but the raptor show outside is fabulous. We go every time we’re in the area. The falconer who does the shows obviously loves his birds and they reciprocate. The kids may even get to hold one of the birds. My favorite is the Ural owl. Check the web site for the Plus Beaux Villages of France because there are more in the Dordogne than any other single region. We always take a full day to visit Most Beautiful Villages. Another Dordogne thing to do is prehistoric sites. My favorite might be a bit of a drive, it’s Pech Merle and a good hour from Sarlat but it is a very authentic cave. We visited Lascaux IV and it is amazing but it is a reconstruction, albeit a very good one. Pech Merle is a real cave and gives more a feeling of what it must have been like. Lascaux IV is about an hour north of Sarlat so visit if you can. You do need reservations. Check the Dordogne web site for things to visit. There is so much to do. We keep going back and always find something new.

You are leaving Sarlat for Murat and Puy-en-Velay and I don’t know that area.

Then you got to Thônes and will have a wonderful time. Plan at least a full day in Annecy. It will be crowded but if you can get on a boat and tour the lake, that will be nice. The town is fun to visit and there is a bike path along the lake if you wanted to rent bicycles. Or you could rest on the beach or in the park and let the kids take the bikes out.

Sounds like a great trip. I hope you enjoy it. We always eat our main meal at lunch (cheaper) and have a baguette, fruit, cheese and wine for dinner. We get cereal for breakfast. Saves a lot and we enjoy the midday meal as a break in sightseeing.

Rather than Air BnB you might look at Gites de France. That's what we use and we love them.

Have a great time.

8. Posted by tostakyre (Budding Member 6 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Wow Beausoleil many thanks for that long and helpfull answer ! Just some clarifications:

1) We wont go to Germany that other post is 6 years old, when we have travel in...Germany !

2) About Rouen. Our idea was to go to Rouen from Paris, have a lunch there and in late afternoon go to our AIrbnb in Honfleur. We woull go to Etratat from Honfleur the next morning.

3) ABout Quimper: yes we have notice that we would be there for the Festival de Cornouailles, It wasn't un purpose but I think it coul be fun. We have found an Airbnb that is not in the middle of the town so we wont have probleme going in and out with the car.

4) From Puy du Fou to Sarlat we want to stop in Oradour sur Glane. i'm an history teacher so I really want to go there.

5) We have take a look at the Gites de France and we are pleased of what we have found on Airbnb, but still a good recommandation.

6) About the car. we are still ebating about Rental vs Leasing. Of course we wont have to take a taxi to go to and from aiprport but since we are 4 the Taxi often cost more or less the same than pûblic transport. ANd the problem with not havin the car is something new with covid.

Thanks once again !

9. Posted by tostakyre (Budding Member 6 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Quoting zzlangerhans

It seems you've traveled in Europe during the high summer before so I imagine you have anticipated heat waves where the temperature will be over 100. AC is a rarity in France but I would strongly consider screening for accommodations with AC in your Airbnb search. If not make sure they have fans and that you know where they are. ] is a pretty awesome city if you have a spare day between Savoie and Lyon. Truthfully you can get by with two nights in The old town is very compact and we didn't find a tremendous amount to do in the city.


Hi ! Thanks for the answer !
Finding airbnb that have AC is not an easy task. The only place we will have one is Paris. I guess it wont be as much a need in Normandy and Brittan. For the Dordogne the guy told us the house keep cool (they always said that and it's not always truth !!). Maybe Lyon doesnt offer that much but with 2 full days I guess we will manage. It will the end of a long trip so we will take it easy...very easy !

[ Edit: Edited on 10 Dec 2022, 14:52 GMT by tostakyre ]

10. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 1890 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

Quoting tostakyre


2) About Rouen. Our idea was to go to Rouen from Paris, have a lunch there and in late afternoon go to our AIrbnb in Honfleur. We woull go to Etratat from Honfleur the next morning.

REPLY:
Lunch in Rouen is great. However Étretat is northeast of Rouen and nowhere near Honfleur so if you want to visit Étretat, you should go from Rouen, not from Honfleur. If you already booked accommodation in Honfleur, I'd skip Étretat and visit on a future trip.

5) We have take a look at the Gites de France and we are pleased of what we have found on Airbnb, but still a good recommandation.

REPLY:
With Airbnb, check reviews very carefully. We've discovered the postings are not always accurate. We've found very old photos of places that looked idyllic but when we arrived paint was peeling, there was mold in the shower, tv didn't work and most of the lovely art on the walls was gone. I suppose that's not common, but we prefer the Gites de France. All that we've stayed in have been exactly what we saw online. If the reviews are nearly all good, you are probably fine.