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Solo trip to France in October

Kolkata (Calcutta...
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Solo trip to France in October
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Hello

I need some trip planning suggestions.

I plan to visit France in the first week of October for 11 days. Its my first trip to France. My Itinerary looks like this - Paris (3N) -> Normandy (3N)->Provence(3N)->Paris(2N). I will be covering Loire Valley and St Michel during my stays in Paris and Normandy. I dont really know what scenic places to see in Provence except the Lavender fields in Luberon. I mostly like to visit beautiful scenic villages, small towns and castles, lakes. etc.

Can anyone please suggest noteworthy places in Provence district and is 3 days enough to explore the area? Im also going to travel by public transport so please advice me where can I base myself in Provence or Normandy? I guess Paris is well connected by metro rail/buses. Is it possible to explore Provence using local buses? I do not have any car driving experience in Europe so dont want to self drive, but can try bikes.

Last question - where can I get covid test done in Provence?

Appreciate your kind help.

10 replies to this topic
New Brunswick, New...
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1. Re: Solo trip to France in October
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You might be spreading your destinations in too many places with too many destinations deserving more time. Three days here and there do not add up to time well spent if you are moving in two directions of the compass and plan your departure soon after your arrival, Do not hop skip and jump your way fron place to place hurriedly. The range of options for designing a workable itinerary is limitless and without boundaries if you allow your imagination and knowledge about France to direct you. How solid is your knowledge of France? Peripheral and superficial knowledge of France does not fill in the holes or gaps of information that you should bring with you and acquire before undertaking this endeavor. Itemize or identify your preferences and when they become priorities group them according to location and proximity with reference to geography. What knowledge about France will you bring with you and how will you want to utilize it there? Are you now more acclimated to viewing antiquities and larger cities and art museums and archeological museums and famous churches. Between larger cities travel by train. Do not try to cover the entire country. Segment the terrain into parts that are manageable perhaps two or three cities and their vicinities. Explore those places. Provence has Vaucluse and places removed from the crowded larger cities. Stay away from places like Marseilles for fear getting lost there. It. is too large to handle and manage comfortably. Area from Apt and Manosque and Roussillon are worth your time but can be crowded at certain times of the year. Do not get bedazzled and mesmerized with options for following crowds where they go. Do not follow crowds. Many crowds do much the same thing to follow whoever is in front of them without allowing out siders to join in. Do not join an organized tour. Nice has much to bring you there like art galleries and museums. Provence has much more to bring you there than lavender fields. Three days are not enough to explore the specific areas enumerated. Do not get landlocked with a visit to Paris that keeps you from exploring other places. Instead of deciding where to set up a camp in Normandy and Provence decide what it is that you want to do and see there? Other wise you are letting the cart go before the horse. .Our idea for making a first visit is to read widely but do not extend your range of visits in every direction of the French vacation compass. Provence can be explored with buses,but to not put t e cart before the horse. Decide where you want to spend time. Our ideas are to stay away from roaming to three separate places and stop short from getting locked into Paris is you find that Paris is too large to manage. Stay away from automatically getting pushed to seeing Paris if you want to go elsewhere.first. No need to worship Paris just because it is on the map. No need to set up camp in Normandy either if you do not want to go there. Choose your destinations and figure out the best or least expensive way to get there. Do not sell our soul for finding paradise in Normandy or Provence just because others go there. Indicate what interests you about contemporary France. Read widely and research the places before making any reservations. Refunds should be available to you with cancellations. Do not sell your soul to France now because it might need time and more resources to deal with the pandemic and related infections to avoid.

Kolkata (Calcutta...
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2. Re: Solo trip to France in October
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@chunky charlene

Thanks for your reply, but sorry I couldn’t really understand all points you were making as it was confusing what were you actually suggesting?

Well my plan is fixed - paris, normandy & provence. I just need to decide how many days per area and way to travel within these places.

Ofcourse there is lots to see everywhere even a week per city is not enough. But Im bound by time and its not easy for me coming from a third world country to visit Europe frequently. It requires a lot of planning, visa work, etc

Chateaurenard...
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Pjoncena, Chunkie is famous on these forums for writing verbose nonsense. You have just seen the perfect example and should take it with a pinch of salt. Many people think he/she/it is a bot. Others think he or she is a person but has some kind of mental illness. I do not know, but some suggestions such as Manosque, have next to nothing of interest. In fact, the area between Apt and Manosque is pretty, but there is nothing exceptional there.

There is one truth though. You are trying to do far too much. In 11 days, Paris and one other region are more than enough. If you do more you will see less because you will be wasting time and money on travel. Each move is at least half a day lost. You need 2 nights in a place to have one day there.

Kolkata (Calcutta...
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4. Re: Solo trip to France in October
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Thanks tradeforum! Yes I was thinking something like that. XX

There are actually lots of info in the forum itself.

I agree 3 places 11 days is like rushing too much. But I really wish to visit the scenic Mont St Michel and see the pretty villages in Provence.

After doing some research, Im planning to book hotels in -> Paris (3N) (1 full day for Loire Valley) - 3N in Rennes (1 full day for St Michel)-4N in Avignon ( day trips to Luberon and Verdon gorge) - final 1 N in Paris.

I was checking the connecting routes

I will need 3 TGV - Paris to Rennes, Rennes to Avignon, Avignon back to Paris, I saw they were 3-4 hrs each.

I live in India so Im used to long tiring train journeys;) My only worry is travelling within Provence and Rennes. since it seems the bus routes are not very well defined? Can it explored on a bike (electric , etc)?

I will have 1 day of rest each in Rennes and in Avignon.

Does it still look impractical?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

New Brunswick, New...
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5. Re: Solo trip to France in October
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Going here and there for a determined set time period before departure to another place is not good. You are hurriedly moving around in a hasty manner. MSM deserves more than just a brief inspection. Loire Valley deserves more time. You are short changing too many destinations. You are moving in too many directions to try to show up at places without visiting them with adequate time allocation decisions. Your proposal reads like you are spending too much time traveling to these distant destinations without visiting them. You need to do more than merely show up and then leave. Far too many destinations in so many directions and places gives your proposal a superficial or peripheral approach to coming to terms with this part of France. Post card like approach to visiting and traveling is not a good way to see France so quickly. Reduce the scope of your travel plans and either add additional time or redraw the trajectory of your travel ambitions. It is as if yo are trying to be first at the finish line in too many relay races. France has much more of value to demonstrate why you should slow down your travel speed and let France speak to you. Places like Rennes and your destinations found in Provence can not be treated as stops in the duty free shop. France should not be given the treatment that comes with information available from the cultural vending machines Give yourself a geography lesson and check travel time and distances needed to rest.

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Solo trip to France in October
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France is a large country. Granted, not as large as India but you are still trying to do too much in just your 11 days. And will you really have 11 days? The last day is departure day so not really time to do anything else. And day one may be rather jetlagged. So really, you might only have 9 full days on the ground. And by October the lavender in Provence is long gone I'm afraid.

I think you need to make some choices.... Paris and Normandy plus the Loire or Paris and Provence. You will be short changing yourself if you try to do all you've laid out. Avignon to the Gorges du Verdon is not really a practical day trip... you'd be looking at about 6 hours driving time there and back. Without adding on the drive around the Gorge. Or stops for fuel or meals. Public transit isn't going to be much use to you in Provence... you'd be better off renting a car.

Consider leaving Paris as soon as you arrive. Go to where you decide, then return to Paris for the final part of your stay so you are not rushing back the day before your flight home.

One piece of good news is your train journeys will not be nearly as time consuming as what you are used to in India!

Dusseldorf, Germany
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You have probably seen a series of pictures like "10 most beautiful places in France" or so on the internet. And among these pictures were photos of Mont Saint Michel surrounded by water and a violet lavender field in Provence and the Canyon du Verdon. And now, you want to see all these places within 11 days and without having a car!

Reality is a bit more complicated, I fear.

Firstly, the pictures do not tell you that Mont Saint Michel is mostly dry and surrounded by mud. It happens only at certains times and dates that the tide is high enough to enclose the abbey. And if you have a time window of, say three or four hours to visit Mont Saint Michel on a certain day, then it is extremely unlikely that you will see water. The pictures also do not tell that the lavender season ends in August. In October, you will see nothing but greyish stubbles.

Secondly, travelling is a bit more troublesome and time-consuming than you assume, especially if you rely on public transport. The fastest train ride from Paris-Montparnasse to Mont Saint Michel takes almost 5 hours (https://www.bienvenueaumontsaintmichel.com/en/preparing-your-visit/arriving-by-train), so, you will be spending about 10 hours on different trains in order to spend two hours in an abbey which is located on a rock in mudflats. It is your first trip to France, this fantastic country, and you are going to spend 90 per cent of your precious time on trains (which is not the msot exciting experience)!

Now, Provence. This is among France's most attractive regions, and the TGV train to Avignon takes just 2:41. In Provence, there are fantastic things to see:

- Avignon is a wonderful historic town with an impressive medieval palace where the popes resided for a certain time when they had to leave Rome.

- Nîmes is city with fabulous buildings from Roman time, including an almost intact Roman temple and a full-size arena.

- Arles is a medium-sized town also with a Roman arena and a Roman theatre.

- Orange has more Roman ruins, including the best-conserved theatre at all.

- Pont du Gard is a Roman bridge spanning across a dramatic river.

- Les Baux is a partly ruined, very picturesque medieval hilltop village.

- There are Les Antiques, two Roman monuments, just roadside south of Saint Remy.

- In Saint Remy, you find the asylum where the painter van Gogh lived. With a lavender field in the courtyard.

- Uzès is among the most beautiful historical towns in France.

- South of Provence, you find Camargue, extended wetlands with herds of black steers,horses and wild flamingos.

- Aigues-Mortes is a completely walled medieval city.

There is much more. The towns and cities are connected by train, and there are buses. You can also ride a bicycle, albeit you must count with strong winds on certain days. For a base, you can choose Avignon, Arles, St. Remy.

The upper Provence is a story which is more difficult. You find there a few more hilltop villages, but it would require a car to explore this region, including Gorge du Verdon.

Instead, what about a train ride to the Côte d'Azur - a region with an excellent networt of trains and buses. And with very nice climate and all flowers in full bloom in October.

France
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8. Re: Solo trip to France in October
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I lived in beautiful Nîmes one summer and use cheap&easy local buses to visit Avignon/Arles/Pont du Gard/Uzes as day-trip. Nîmes is the regional bus hub, all under 1 hr scenic ride, bus station is behind the train station. Nîmes is a beautiful/festive/friendly town with good Roman ruins. Paris-Nîmes direct TGV is under 3 hr.

Loire Valley chateaux is easy DIY day-trip from Paris by train. Please note some chateaux reduce opening time (days/hours) after summer tourist season, and the shuttle linking the train station to chateaux may be running only on weekends. FYI, trees are getting bare/brown in October in Paris/Versailles.

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I agree that you should make things easier and simpler by focusing on fewer areas with the time that you have. Paris and Normandy is a good combination, or maybe Paris and Brittany.

As Paris has so much to offer I think that's a must and with 11 nights, I'd be tempted to do a 7-4 split between the capital and somewhere not too far away by train.

Kolkata (Calcutta...
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10. Re: Solo trip to France in October
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Many Thanks dear travellers. You guys are awesome. This was really very helpful. So after reading all your messages I have finally booked my stay in Paris 6N & Rennes 5N. Will visit Loire Valley & Burgundy on day trips from Paris. And St Michel from Rennes.

Will visit Provence and Dordogne another time.

RE #7 "You have probably seen a series of pictures like "10 most......"

@traveller1959 Did you also not search in the internet for "10 most beautiful places in places to visit in France" or to whichever destination you go to?

Yes its my first time in France and I dont have the privileges' hailing from a first world country like yours but I've also done some travelling Europe before. I guess every traveller today does some research in internet about the destination they plan to go to. Not sure how else you would gather information about a destination.

Last time I had travelled to 3 countries- Germany, Austria and Slovenia in 12 days covered much more distances. But the public transport was fantastic and smooth, I felt no need to hire a car. I was under the same impression maybe I could cover 3 distant locations in France in 11 days. Okay my calculations was not realisitic , thats why I use this forum.

I do drive car and bike here in India (which is 7 times more bigger than France areawise with diverse topography and climate). But Im afraid the Euro traffic rules are more strict and complicated. I just dont want to add extra stress, its already its covid times and god knows what to expect in October!

I hope I can find some bikes for rental in Paris or Rennes for local excursion.

Stay safe everyone and happy travellin!

Regards

Pujan

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