France

Table of Contents

France has always terrified me so it’s one of the few countries in western Europe that I haven’t been to. It’s time. And Steve studied French in school so maybe at least we both won’t be completely lost! We’re planning a mix of historical sights, culture, and the outdoors, much like we did with Italy. We’re saving Paris for last so we’re  warmed up. If it were a different time of year we’d stop in the Alps too but April sounds like dead season. 

Days 1-3: Honfleur

The Plan: We’ll land in Paris in the morning and make our way from the airport to Honfleur by whichever way seems easiest. We’ll have a couple of days to explore the area, including a day trip to Etretat. 

  • Day 1
    • Travel from Paris to Honfleur
  • Day 2
    • Explore Honfleur
  • Day 3
    • Day trip to Etretat

Days 4-6: Bayeux

The Plan: It should take a few hours to get from Honfleur to Bayeux. We’ll spend one of our two days touring the D Day beaches. The other day we’ll devote to sights in Bayeux, like the tapestry and the cathedral. 

  • Day 1
    • Travel from Honfleur to Bayeux
  • Day 2
    • D Day beaches
  • Day 3
    • Bayeux tapestry and cathedral

Day 7: Mont St-Michel

The Plan: We could visit Mont St-Michel on a day trip from Bayeux, but we’d like to see it illuminated at night and avoid day trip crowds, so we’re spending one night in the area. 

  • Walk around the abbey and the walls

Days 8-12: Loire Valley

The Plan: The Loire will be all about chateaux and gardens. We may go overboard on chateaux but two of them (Villandry and Chaumont) will be more about the gardens. We plan to rent a car here just for ease of getting around. There are tours but a rental car would be less expensive and give us more flexibility.  We plan to base ourselves in Amboise.

  • Day 1
    • Travel from Mont St-Michel to the Loire Valley
  • Day 2
    • Chenonceau, Cheverny, and Chambord chateaux
  • Day 3
    • Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau chateaux
    • Chaumont?
  • Day 4
    • Explore Amboise and Tours
  • Day 5
    • Amboise market

Days 13-16: Dordogne

The Plan: We’ll base ourselves in Sarlat-le-Caneda since we won’t have a car. It should take most of the day to get there. With three full days to explore we’ll devote one to Sarlat itself, one to seeing the river, hopefully by canoe (that will be different!), and another for a day trip or just relaxing. Cave paintings are a big draw here but we aren’t that interested in them.

  • Day 1
    • Travel from the Loire Valley to Sarlat-le-Caneda
  • Day 2
    • River scenery and villages by canoe
  • Day 3
    • Explore Sarlat-le-Caneda
  • Day 4
    • Day trip to Rocamadour?

Days 17: Carcassonne

The Plan: Like Mont St-Michel, Carcassonne is apparently overrun with day trippers so we’ll spend a night there so we can see it without the crowds.

  • Explore the medieval city

Days 18-24: Cote d-Azur

The Plan: Nice sounds very nice (obvious pun intended) and should make a good base for day trips in the surrounding area. We’d like to do a lot of walking while we’re here, perhaps on the coast. We aren’t really casino people but it is Monte Carlo so we should probably stop. 

  • Day 1
    • Travel from Carcassonne to Nice
  • Day 2
    • Explore Nice
  • Day 3
    • Matisse and Chagall museums
  • Day 4
    • Day trip to Antibes
  • Day 5
    • Day trip to Monaco
  • Day 6
    • Day trip to Gorges du Verdon?
  • Day 7
    • Train into the Alps?

Days 25-29: Provence

The Plan: We’ll base ourselves in Arles or Avignon. Regardless of where we stay we’ll probably spend a day in each town. We’ll take a day to visit Les Baux and maybe more of the countryside. This might be another place where we rent a car for a day or two.

  • Day 1
    • Travel from Nice to Provence
  • Day 2
    • Explore Arles
  • Day 3
    • Explore Avignon
  • Day 4
    • Explore villages
  • Day 5
    • Arles market

Days 30-37: Paris

The Plan: We’ll be in Paris for longer than we typically spend in a single city (other than London, my favorite) but there’s so much to see and do. I tried to spread the art museums around and include outdoor time. It also sounds like there are interesting things to do after dark so our days might be longer.  We’ll probably be glad to relax when we get home!

  • Day 1
    • Travel from Provence
    • Hop on hop off bus?
  • Day 2
    • Orangerie Museum
    • Champs-Elysées and Galeries Lafayette
    • Arc de Triomphe
  • Day 3
    • Rue Cler
    • Marmottan Museum
    • Eiffel Tower
  • Day 4
    • Louvre
    • Jardin des Tuileries
  • Day 5
    • Day trip to Versailles
  • Day 6
    • Orsay and Rodin Museums
    • Luxembourg Garden
  • Day 7
    • Pompidou Center
    • Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle
  • Day 8
    • Day trip to Giverny, maybe Rouen too?