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France in Jan/Feb?

Lexington, South...
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France in Jan/Feb?

We are 4 women (age 50+) traveling to Paris at the end of January, but would like to spend a few days away from Paris. For some of us it is our first trip to Paris. What would you suggest? North (Normandy) or south (Loire Valley, is Provence too far)? We want to stay away from ski towns, and we need to be able to travel easily by train. We don't need to be occupied every minute but would like a combination of something to do and just experiencing the countryside. Any suggestions?

Merci.

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4 replies to this topic
Marlow, United...
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1. Re: France in Jan/Feb?

Hmm, the countryside tends to be very quiet and sometimes quite bleak in January - mist, mud, no leaves on deciduous trees - a palette of green and brown. Daylight hours are also short - dark by 5:30pm or thereabouts. Also very rural stations are not that common, as railways can only survive where there are sufficient passengers to keep the service going.

So I think what you should aim for is a reasonable sized town (sufficient to support a number of restaurants and museums etc) but with rail access elsewhere.

You could consider St.Malo (and visit Mont Saint-Michel from there), or Bayeux, or pick somewhere larger such as Strasbourg, and take the short train ride for a day-trip to nearby Haguenau and its surrounding forests.

If you were going later in the year I might suggest Bordeaux (and it's still an option if you are not too set on "countryside") but the surrounding countryside is either vineyards (rather scruffy-looking in January) or flat pine forest or deserted beaches (and deserted beachside villages).

Lexington, South...
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2. Re: France in Jan/Feb?

thank you! Very helpful info!

Grenoble, France
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3. Re: France in Jan/Feb?

Brittany and Normandy have very bad weather in winter. It's either gray and bleak or windy and stormy. Crisp winter sunny days are rare. Provence is a good choice, but only if you have a car. The best way is train to Avignon then car rental to Luberon, Alpilles, Camargue... A week to see all 3. I also like Périgord/Quercy in winter, which you can visit by renting a car from Bordeaux. But in winter the region is quite foggy and rainy as well. No wild weather (that's on the coast) but quite a bit of drizzle.

Since you say "we need to travel easily by train" I suspect it's public transport only for you ? In that case it's difficult. You could consider Bordeaux, with a trip to Dune De Pyla, the bird reserve at Le Teich. Dune De Pyla requires a bus from Arcachon. Arcachon is easily reached by train from Bordeaux, and Le Teich is a stop on the Bordeaux-Arcachon line. The bird reserve is 15 min on foot from the train station.

Lyon must be another option, but I don't know what there is to do by public transport from Lyon.

Lexington, South...
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4. Re: France in Jan/Feb?

thank you

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