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Where should I spend my vacation this summer?


Christopher Haatuft
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I haven't been to Nice since 1993, but it wouldn't surprise me if Nice can still be relatively affordable. It's a big city and not simply a resort town for rich people. I enjoyed the food very much when I spent two summers there, but be warned that the beach, though pretty, is made of pebbles that will hurt your feet. Cannes is smaller and was much less interesting to me than Nice, but it has a lovely beach with fine white sand. I liked my day trip to Monaco a lot, but if money is an object, look out!

I haven't yet travelled to many of the regions of France but have enjoyed every region I've been to (Paris and Ile de France, Provence, the Cote d'Azur, Burgundy, the Loire Valley). Every region is different and all have their charm.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I am also planning a trip to France and am happy you asked your question. My first destination is Paris as I've never been, but am being swayed by the advice given here. Thanks for al the help.

"One chocolate truffle is more satisfying than a dozen artificially flavored dessert cakes." Darra Goldstein, Gastronomica Journal, Spring 2005 Edition

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I am also planning a trip to France and am happy you asked your question. My first destination is Paris as I've never been, but am being swayed by the advice given here. Thanks for al the help.

I would highly recommend a side trip to the gardens at Giverny.

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Ok, so far Ive booked tickets in (17th July) and out (31st July) of Beauvais. Other than that, Im working on a reservation at Arzak the 25th. So I guess we'll stay a couple of days in Paris on arrival, head south, stop for a couple of days and go to Spain. Stay 4 nights in San Sebastian and head back north. Anywhere you think I should stop and visit on that route? Im thinking mayby Loire on my way back...

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Ok, so far Ive booked tickets in (17th July) and out (31st July) of Beauvais. Other than that, Im working on a reservation at Arzak the 25th. So I guess we'll stay a couple of days in Paris on arrival, head south, stop for a couple of days and go to Spain. Stay 4 nights in San Sebastian and head back north. Anywhere you think I should stop and visit on that route? Im thinking mayby Loire on my way back...

George Clinton and P-funk are playing at the Nice Jazz Festival Saturday the 22. I can't think of too many things that would be more glorious than working up an appetite/thirst by funking out in a Roman arena, and then catching the bus back to the Old City for cheap wine and great street food.

(Sadly, we're leaving town the 21st)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Ok, at the risk of letting everyone into a secret try this area. Go to the SouthWest, north & East of Toulouse where you will find Frence as it used to be. Beautiful countryside, great wines and superb food. Best of all its uncrowded and inexpensive relative to most of the rest of France.

Try Cahors, Albi, Montauban, Figeac, Agen & the areas inbetween.

Eat lunch as your main meal, not dinner. (we regularly get a 4 course incl wine lunch for less than 15 Euros)

Superb markets abound. Fois gras, confit, great lamb & pork, veggies, fruit, you name it. Cheeses most of us have never heard of.

This is truely deepest France. Try it. We've lived here for nearly 4 years & it just gets better all the time.

Did I mention that the weather's wonderful in the summer.

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Ok, so far Ive booked tickets in (17th July) and out (31st July) of Beauvais. Other than that, Im working on a reservation at Arzak the 25th. So I guess we'll stay a couple of days in Paris on arrival, head south, stop for a couple of days and go to Spain. Stay 4 nights in San Sebastian and head back north. Anywhere you think I should stop and visit on that route? Im thinking mayby Loire on my way back...

The Loire Valley is beautiful. We spent the second week of our honeymoon staying in a chateau there, which contrasted nicely with the wonderful time we had spent in a farmhouse in Normandy (I’ve posted some Normandy recommendations on this thread). The Loire is all about chateaux and wine, so a car is essential. It makes for a great driving holiday and there are some very nice wines, although they’re nothing like the big guns of Burgundy and Bordeaux. The Rhone Valley is a better wine route, but in my experience, with places like Beaune, very expensive. Anyway, the Bordeaus area (St Emillion etc) makes more sense for your trip.

I do think you’ll find the southwest area very interesting and it would work well if you are factoring San Sebastian into your plans. In terms of the French Basque, it’s a long time since I’ve been in Biarritz, but I’m sure it’s still quite expensive, and even though there is a good stretch of beach (further down from the coves in the town), this is surfers’ paradise, and the waves are very strong with some tricky undercurrents. There are, of course, plenty of other towns and villages, but I’m not too familiar with them.

Further up, as suggested by Dave Hatfield, the Limousin and Dordogne area has a lot to offer. We stayed in Buzet-sur-Baise in the Tarn-et-Garonne and it worked well as a base (but I’m sure that Dave could give you some better recommendations). You can hire out a barge to spend a slow, easy-going day on the canal; visit the broad range of local vineyards; or pop into Bordeaux. If you like truffles and foie gras, you should definitely visit the hilltop town of Gourdon in the Perigord area. I would highly recommend lunch at Valette a local producer of foie gras and truffles. Order the plate of assorted foie gras (seared, mi-cuit, pate etc) and follow with the truffle omelette… but order only one plate of each between the two of you. The helpings are enormous (and I’m not exaggerating). This is also a great place to buy good quality foie gras, as the quality does vary remarkably. Years ago, a Frenchman remarked to us that it was going the way of smoked salmon ie increasingly available at a lower price, but with some pretty low quality stuff hitting the shelves as a result. This is also a great area for confit and cured duck breast, served like ham. And of course, there should be an abundance of fruit and vegetables in July, so all in all, some great eating.

Moving out to the coast, you could possibly work La Rochelle into your itinerary which is a lovely town and has a great beach (one of your requirements!). As it is on the Atlantic, you are not guaranteed the weather that you’d get in the Med, but it’s certainly warmer than the northern coasts, and is generally quite good in July.

If you’re intent on getting good seafood, I agree with the posters upthread that there is much better value to be had in Brittany or Normandy. The Cote d’Azur is lovely - and yes, between Cannes and St Tropez it is not quite as expensive - but on the whole, it is far pricier than the rest of France. The beaches in Brittany and Normandy have much to offer, but unfortunately not always sunshine. Brittany also has some lovely harbour ports like Dinard and Dinan (well worth a visit if you take in this area), and of course, there’s St Malo and Mont St Michel.

In terms of planning, I think you are better off sticking with a smaller area, so if Paris and San Sebastian over two weeks are the givens, I would focus on the area in between and drop the idea of Normandy or Brittany. You will get some very good seafood in Paris and if you are really intent, you could use one of your Paris days to get a train out to the coast (I think there’s one to Honfleur). You won’t need a car in Paris, but it would serve you well for the rest of your holiday.

From an accommodation point of view, I've used Gites de France, but also found Alastair Sawday to be invaluable for hotels in Paris, and recommendations across a broad range of places (farmhouses to chateaux).

Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)
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  • 1 month later...

Ok, I got my intenerary sorted out. Please feel free to comment and add recomandations. :smile:

17-20/7 Paris

Were staying at HOTEL LES JARDINS D'ALÉSIA, in 34 rue d'alésia. I screwed up on this as the map I chose it from indicated it was nere Gare de Lyon. Its in the 14th though, but I doont know how much that will affect our stay. I guess its easy to get around by taxi and subway?

Anyway, we're picking up a rentalcar from easycar.co.uk at Gare de Lyon on the 20th. It was pretty cheap at about 230€ for nine days. Last time I used that agency, they gave me a nice little Citroen C3.

While we're in Paris, we'd like to see all the usual Paris stuff, butI need a good recomandation for at least one good bistro...?

Also, is there a two or three star who serves good value dinner or lunch?

20/7 - 22/7 Tours

We drive down to Tours to spend two nights at Hotel Ariane. Any good restaurants in Tours would be appreciated. We are looking foreward to this alot.

22/7 - 24/7 Bourdaux

The we got two nights at Chateau de Roques. Dont really know alot about this area exept for foie gras and truffles. But should I expect to get truffle oil infused food if dining at notsogood restaurants? Anything in this area I should check out?

24/7 - 27/7 San Sebastian

Staying at Monte Ulia. Got a reservation at Arzak for the 25th!!! My first Michelin starred experience. Other than that its pintxos all day and night. Btw, are the pintxos places open on mondays?

27/7 - 29/7 On the road

Keeping these days up to faith. Anywhere you recomend on the way to Paris?

29/7 - 31/7 Paris

Staying at Crown Etoile Hotel. Our last days in France.

I CANT WAIT!!! :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Edited by Christopher Haatuft (log)
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27/7 - 29/7 On the road

Since you've been down the Western route why not come back a bit further East.

Take the A64 past Biarritz to Toulouse. Good place to stay, beautiful city, good eating.

Next day take the A62 & turn off at Montauban to pick up the A20 to Paris. Plenty to see & do en route. Around Limoges might be a good place to stay overnight. Again lots to see & do.

One note of caution. The freeways in France can get pretty expensive. Best bet is to go to: Michelin for route planning, timings, costs and where the speed cameras are.

Enjoy & we'll look forward to your report.

Bon appitite & Bon courage!

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27/7 - 29/7 On the road

Since you've been down the Western route why not come back a bit further East.

Take the A64 past Biarritz to Toulouse. Good place to stay, beautiful city, good eating.

Next day take the A62 & turn off at Montauban to pick up the A20 to Paris. Plenty to see & do en route. Around Limoges might be a good place to stay overnight. Again lots to see & do.

One note of caution. The freeways in France can get pretty expensive. Best bet is to go to: Michelin for route planning, timings, costs and where the speed cameras are.

Enjoy & we'll look forward to your report.

Bon appitite & Bon courage!

Thank you for your reply. Ive been thinking about taking a route thats more to the east. Last summer, in Spain, I tried keeping of the highway and take the smaller roads. Not so much about the cost as there was just more to see along the small roads. Would this be a possibility in France, or is the distances to far for my planned intenrary? Also, am I taking a big risk innot booking hotels for my two day trip back to Paris? I like the idea of leaving something up to chance, as I guess some of the smaller places dont have an internet address. I had good experiences withthis in Spain, but the downside is that I spent quite a lot of time getting a room sometimes.

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27/7 - 29/7 On the road

Since you've been down the Western route why not come back a bit further East.

Take the A64 past Biarritz to Toulouse. Good place to stay, beautiful city, good eating.

Next day take the A62 & turn off at Montauban to pick up the A20 to Paris. Plenty to see & do en route. Around Limoges might be a good place to stay overnight. Again lots to see & do.

One note of caution. The freeways in France can get pretty expensive. Best bet is to go to: Michelin for route planning, timings, costs and where the speed cameras are.

Enjoy & we'll look forward to your report.

Bon appitite & Bon courage!

Thank you for your reply. Ive been thinking about taking a route thats more to the east. Last summer, in Spain, I tried keeping of the highway and take the smaller roads. Not so much about the cost as there was just more to see along the small roads. Would this be a possibility in France, or is the distances to far for my planned intenrary? Also, am I taking a big risk innot booking hotels for my two day trip back to Paris? I like the idea of leaving something up to chance, as I guess some of the smaller places dont have an internet address. I had good experiences withthis in Spain, but the downside is that I spent quite a lot of time getting a room sometimes.

Chris

Your approach is absolutely the right one. You will see a lot more going on the RN's and good D roads in France, but it will take longer due to truck & farm traffic. With 2 days to get to Paris I would suggest that you sort of 'cut the corner' getting North. In other words skip Toulouse, great though it is, & come up more via Agen & Villneuve sur Lot. This will get you further North the first day. Second day I would advise secondary roads to roughly Chateauroux, then freeway as the countryside flattens out & is not as interesting unless you really have time to explore.

If, earlier in your trip. you pick up (free) a copy of the Logis de France book and book one night ahead you shouldn't have a room problem. An alternate is to go to the local tourist office (they're normally open until 18:30) & ask about B&B and local hotels. Normally they'll call for you. They'll also clue you in on the best local restaurants.

Have fun.

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27/7 - 29/7 On the road

Since you've been down the Western route why not come back a bit further East.

Take the A64 past Biarritz to Toulouse. Good place to stay, beautiful city, good eating.

Next day take the A62 & turn off at Montauban to pick up the A20 to Paris. Plenty to see & do en route. Around Limoges might be a good place to stay overnight. Again lots to see & do.

One note of caution. The freeways in France can get pretty expensive. Best bet is to go to: Michelin for route planning, timings, costs and where the speed cameras are.

Enjoy & we'll look forward to your report.

Bon appitite & Bon courage!

Thank you for your reply. Ive been thinking about taking a route thats more to the east. Last summer, in Spain, I tried keeping of the highway and take the smaller roads. Not so much about the cost as there was just more to see along the small roads. Would this be a possibility in France, or is the distances to far for my planned intenrary? Also, am I taking a big risk innot booking hotels for my two day trip back to Paris? I like the idea of leaving something up to chance, as I guess some of the smaller places dont have an internet address. I had good experiences withthis in Spain, but the downside is that I spent quite a lot of time getting a room sometimes.

Chris

Your approach is absolutely the right one. You will see a lot more going on the RN's and good D roads in France, but it will take longer due to truck & farm traffic. With 2 days to get to Paris I would suggest that you sort of 'cut the corner' getting North. In other words skip Toulouse, great though it is, & come up more via Agen & Villneuve sur Lot. This will get you further North the first day. Second day I would advise secondary roads to roughly Chateauroux, then freeway as the countryside flattens out & is not as interesting unless you really have time to explore.

If, earlier in your trip. you pick up (free) a copy of the Logis de France book and book one night ahead you shouldn't have a room problem. An alternate is to go to the local tourist office (they're normally open until 18:30) & ask about B&B and local hotels. Normally they'll call for you. They'll also clue you in on the best local restaurants.

Have fun.

Thank you, Dave! I got my Logis de France a while back,but as theres no pictures, Im using their website. :biggrin: Makes me want to be a rich bum just jumping from auberge to auberge for the rest of my days:laugh: Thank you for your advice.

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  • 7 months later...
Ok, I got my intenerary sorted out. Please feel free to comment and add

22/7 - 24/7 Bourdaux

The we got two nights at Chateau de Roques. Dont really know alot about this area exept for foie gras and truffles. But should I expect to get truffle oil infused food if dining at notsogood restaurants? Anything in this area I should check out?

I CANT WAIT!!! :biggrin:  :biggrin:  :biggrin:

In Bordeaux, you've got to check out LaTupina. The chef/owner is fanatical about local ingredients with traditional preparations. A portion of the cooking is even done over a fireplace. I tried lamprey and had some of the most memorable dishes in my life.

It's not cheap, but you could always do it as a lunch.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...aded&show=&st=&

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