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Four Months in France


Schneier
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My wife and I are thinking about going to France for four months in the Fall. The idea would be to rent an apartment/house somewhere and stay there.

I'm looking for suggestions on where to go.

Paris is the obvious choice. Lyon is an interesting second choice. The Loire? Alcase? Languodoc?

Anyone have any opinions?

(The next question is: how do I go about getting a long-term rental?)

Bruce

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There are many others at eGullet who have much more experience with France than I, but I have had the good fortune to spend a reasonable amount of time there this year, and would suggest that you consider not making Paris your home base? Why? To me, Paris feels less "French" than the provinces -- large, sophisticated, international, it feels more like part of some global megalopolis than a distinctly different place. It's as though Paris, New York and London are all different neighborhoods in the same big city.

Don't get me wrong, I love the place. But getting out to the countryside gets me much farther away from the U.S. than going to Paris seems to.

For what it's worth (and no surprises here) I found Provence extraordinary, and if I were to spend four months in France would try to get a place close enough to Nice to spend occasional night in the city or weekend on the Cote d'Azure, but far enough inland to avoid the tourists (and the prices).

I also hear that the Laguadoc offers many of the delights of Provence, with less cost and hassle.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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*lol* but it's a fabulous swimming pool.

seriously tho - if it were me (never having been to France in my life, mind) but having a close friend who goes to Aix-en-Provence quite regularly on business, I would choose Provence, or the Languedoc. (be wary of strikes in Marseilles, tho)

Edited by tryska (log)
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Of course, Provence is beautiful, but its problem is people just like Peter Mayle-- overdevelopment and high prices.

My hands down choice for an extended stay would be the Dordogne/Lot region, in the Southwest. Over 1000 ancient castles, beautiful rolling hills and river valleys, and fabulous regional food. As a bonus there are caves with drawings painted 20,000 years ago. A very rewarding area all in all. For your base, Sarlat is one of the larger towns, or also Cahors. You can also branch out and do day trips to Bordeaux, Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Albi.

You can really get a feel for the area in the book, "From Here, You Can't See Paris" by Michael Saunders.

Here is one of several long term rental websites: Long Term Rentals

Incidentally, how did you get in the enviable position of being able to spend 4 months in France? :smile:

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Of course, Provence is beautiful, but its problem is people just like Peter Mayle-- overdevelopment and high prices. 

he ruined a good thing, huh?

I was never in Provence pre-Peter Mayle, but I found the area I visited this summer -- north of Avignon -- to be pretty rustic and reasonably priced. We also looked at the Dordogne for our vacation, though, and I think Menton1's suggestions ounds pretty good.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I'd go along with Menton1's suggestion of the Dordogne/Lot region as well. The area is simply gorgeous with great farmers markets. And the people are very friendly.

But you didn't say what you were looking for: city-life or country-life. Cahors is a lovely town with all the usual city amenities, but I think most people go to the SouthWest for the hiking, cave-paintings, villages, wine and people. Also, what time of year were you thinking of? During that summer heatwave, I believe that the Dordogne got the worst of it.

Emily
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Don't get me wrong, I love the place. But getting out to the countryside gets me much farther away from the U.S. than going to Paris seems to.

For what it's worth (and no surprises here) I found Provence extraordinary, and if I were to spend four months in France would try to get a place close enough to Nice to spend occasional night in the city or weekend on the Cote d'Azure, but far enough inland to avoid the tourists (and the prices).

I also hear that the Laguadoc offers many of the delights of Provence, with less cost and hassle.

Your advice about Paris rings true.

Where in Provence? Near which city? In which city? In the countryside?

Bruce

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My hands down choice for an extended stay would be the Dordogne/Lot region, in the Southwest. Over 1000 ancient castles, beautiful rolling hills and river valleys, and fabulous regional food. As a bonus there are caves with drawings painted 20,000 years ago. A very rewarding area all in all. For your base, Sarlat is one of the larger towns, or also Cahors. You can also branch out and do day trips to Bordeaux, Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Albi.

The Southwest is an interesting idea. I visited that area earlier this year.

Any ideas as to particular cities to be near?

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I'd go along with Menton1's suggestion of the Dordogne/Lot region as well. The area is simply gorgeous with great farmers markets. And the people are very friendly.

But you didn't say what you were looking for: city-life or country-life. Cahors is a lovely town with all the usual city amenities, but I think most people go to the SouthWest for the hiking, cave-paintings, villages, wine and people. Also, what time of year were you thinking of? During that summer heatwave, I believe that the Dordogne got the worst of it.

Right now the plans are from August through November, or something like that.

And I'm not sure what I'm looking for. I'm sure I want city life more than coutry life. I want interesting makets. I want pretty scenery. I want a good Internet connection.

Everything else is negotiable.

Bruce

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Any ideas as to particular cities to be near?

The town of Sarlat-le-Canéda is a mid-sized gorgeous village with a breathtaking medieval center. Cahors is a little more modern, but has a great historic bridge over the Lot River. Either would suit you well. Both towns have fabulous Saturday Markets. Some very good restaurants, as well as a countryside phenomenon called Ferme Auberge, where all the food is grown and/or raised on the premises.

Enjoy!!

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I think if I had a chance to live in France for 4 months, and had no other considerations (such as a girlfriend in a particular place or a job), I'd want to stay in Paris and take several-day trips from that base. It's precisely Paris's big-city feel and the amenities and interest that go with that which make it comfortable for me. But that's natural, because I'm a New Yorker.

I've spent more time in Nice and Paris than any other places in France. I've travelled around Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and Provence somewhat, and all three of those areas have charm and are well worth visiting.

One other idea that comes to my mind is for you to consider staying in Orleans and taking trips to the fabulous Medieval churches and chateaux all around.

I doubt you'll go wrong wherever you end up staying.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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For a long term rental go to www.gites-de-france.fr

They rent WONDERFUL farmhouses wherever you want to go in France.

Lived there seven years back in the 80's and always rent a Gite when I go back. They are in rural areas, so choose where you want to go. In the fall, I would choose Bourgogne, as the new wine will be coming out and there is some of the best food in France in this area.

They have all the conveniences......full kitchen, several bedrooms, bathrooms, fireplace, yard, picnic area, on and on........you won't be disappointed staying at a Gite. I never was.

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Have to support a number of posters here. The Lot /Dordogne[we stayed for a couple of weeks near Figeac which is about an hour upstream on the Lot from cahors- superb sat market, nice sized town etc.], languedoc, provence.

What about a month in each of these regions plus a month in Paris? We also stayed in gites and would thoroughly recommend it. All organised from australia online :smile:

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I'll throw this into the mix, having spent three unforgettable summers in the area. Even though I am a homeowner in Nice, you may want to consider the Savoie-Haut-Savoie region. You could be an hour or less away from Lyon and the Rhone Valley; near the extraordinary Lac d'Annecy; not far from the Alps, which is great if you ski; and fairly close to southern Burgundy. It's not really rich on culture outside of Lyon and Grenoble, however. If you like landscape, really good food and wine; and peace and quiet, it's a wonderful place. Four months worth in the face of the rest of France, however, I don't know.

What level of comfort are you looking for in terms of a rental property?

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The one day I spent in Brittany this September convinced me that its a place I'd like to spend an extended period of time in. Beautiful coastline and countryside with lots of interesting local food products, castles and interesting historic towns.

If being in a wine-producing region is a priority, then obviously it wouldn't fit the bill.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Any ideas as to particular cities to be near?

The town of Sarlat-le-Canéda is a mid-sized gorgeous village with a breathtaking medieval center. Cahors is a little more modern, but has a great historic bridge over the Lot River. Either would suit you well. Both towns have fabulous Saturday Markets. Some very good restaurants, as well as a countryside phenomenon called Ferme Auberge, where all the food is grown and/or raised on the premises.

Enjoy!!

This is the kind of thing we're looking for. We want to be in town--walking distance from stores and markets. We want an Internet cafe in town. We want restaurants nearby. We'd like not to have to use a car everyday.

Bruce

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For a long term rental go to www.gites-de-france.fr

They rent WONDERFUL farmhouses wherever you want to go in France.

(...)

They have all the conveniences......full kitchen, several bedrooms, bathrooms, fireplace, yard, picnic area, on and on........you won't be disappointed staying at a Gite. I never was.

Are they all out in the countryside, or are some of them in towns?

And all the gites I've looked at rent by the week. I'm looking for a four-month rental, and don't want to pay 16 times the weekly price.

Bruce

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What about a month in each of these regions plus a month in Paris? We also stayed in gites and would thoroughly recommend it. All organised from australia online :smile:

Spending a month in each of four places is enticing, but I think we're looking to settle somewhere for the duration.

I need to think about that, though. It's an idea I hadn't really considered.

Bruce

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What level of comfort are you looking for in terms of a rental property?

We're pretty flexible. We need a good working kitchen. We want a bedroom and a sitting room. Outside areas would be great.

Other than that, I don't think we have any real requirements.

High-speed Internet would be great, but I doubt it would be possible.

Bruce

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I want a good Internet connection. 

That's not always possible - even in Paris! Bonne chance et bon voyage.

We'll live with a dial-up a day and an Internet cafe every few days. If one were within walking distance, that would be perfect.

Bruce

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