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Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

Atlanta
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Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

We're going to be in France for 4 nights in June and would like to spend time in a charming village environment, preferably a B&B or decent hotel, no more than 2 hours from Paris.

Would like to have our 12 year old son test his fluency in French from the year long immersion class he has gone through, so opportunity to be in village and fraternize with friendly (ok, so it's France) locals is a must. Quaint scenery would be a nice plus!

Welcome recommendations from those in the know.

Tampa, Florida
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1. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

First of all, the locals are friendly. Really, truly. Even in Paris. I can only hope you haven't taught this drivel to your son.

Second, I'm not sure why you think that he'd have no opportunity to speak French in Paris. They speak French there, too.

I'd strongly suggest staying in Paris with a day trip to Reims, Chartres, or Giverny...or for something a little further afield, try Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte, or Provins.

All are wonderful day trips from Paris, with more than enough opportunity to have lovely villages, historic sites, and yes, people who speak French.

johannesburg,southaf...
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2. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

Bonjour gudulmaster,

We visit different parts of France every year and find the French most intelligent and reasonably friendly - I do speak French relatively fluently whereas my wife doesn't. I must admit that this helps quite a bit in breaking the barrier betwen our two countries. Sometimes I feel it is their intelligence that is somewhat off putting - they are the most amazing dinner guests and always have a point of view to discuss - beyond the weather and sport scores. Possibly we find this depth of thinking a bit too much to deal with. Other than that this "urban myth" as Sunshine notes of the French not being friendly is just that.

The Spanish and Italians seem more friendly as they possibly (and I am generalising) don't approach life with the same point of view as many of the French do. So they appear in their more insubstantial way friendlier. Now don't get me wrong, we spend a great deal of time in Spain as well as France and we love the difference and thrive on it. That's why we don't just stay in one or the other country. (There are also very deep thinking people in Spain - we have found many of them in Catalunya - a region of great culture and political awareness). I think your son, and the fact he speaks French, will be the key to you changing your opinion about the French.

Regarding where to stay - please stay in Paris as you only have four days - this is truly THE great city in the world. Find a place on the Ile St Louis or the les Marais area - both are in the Fourth District and really do have somewhat of a village feel about them. Rouen is our favourite small city reasonably near to Paris with Giverny one of the most memorable of our places quite close - if you really do want to get out of Paris. Rouen is a half timbered town with good restaurants.

Our favourite region of France is the Dordogne/Lot countryside but unfortunealy much too far from Paris for this trip of yours. I do recommend that you plan another trip sometime in the future to this region and spend at least a week here.

Please enjoy your holday. Best regards.

the big blue marble
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3. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

The French kids will still be in school, which makes "testing" your son's French a challenge no matter where you go.

For two hours from Paris, Epernay is a nice village and if you aren't completely thrilled with the town, you can drown your sorrows in champagne!

I took my kids to St Valéry in the Somme. You get off the train and there is an Inn where you can rent bikes, then cycle on protected paths along the coast. It was great holiday.

Atlanta
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4. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

Thank you for your guidance. I was being farcical about the stereotypical perception of the French (it was late)! We have been to Paris numerous times and love the city. However, I've never been out of it (save for a short visit to Senlis, which was delightful).

So this yearning to see more beyond Paris, coupeld with the need to give my son exposure and opportunity to speak in French is what drives us on this visit.

Many have suggested the Loire valley...any good towns to make home base, even if for a brief visit?

Thank you.

the big blue marble
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5. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

Amboise... they have the chateau and Leonardo's last home with models of his inventions. There is a lovely market and it is close to other great chateaux.

Atlanta
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6. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

Thank you. We picked Tours (Domaine de la Tortiniere). Looks good online and tripadvisor reviews are favorable.

San Diego
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7. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

I prefer Blois to Amboise (Amboise is about the most touristy place in the Loire Valley). The evening spectacle at Amboise doesn’t begin until the end of June while the one in Blois begins earlier.

Blois is a bit closer to Paris and is well placed for exploring. The chateau in Blois is pretty good also and the museum of magic would be great for a 12 year old.

Atlanta
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8. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

Thank you...what do you mean by "evening spectacle"?!

johannesburg,southaf...
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9. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

Hi there gudulmaster,

Tours is a great choice. Its central location between the chateaux to the east and west is most convenient. Funnily enough, as a student I spent a summer studying at the Institut de Touraine. My favourite chateaux were Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau and the medieval Loche as well as Villandry with its great gardens. I found Blois and Chambord to be too large and impersonal. As far as Amboise is concerned, Leonardo da Vinci's home, as mentioned above, was truly worth the journey to see his wooden models - one cannot imagine his genius without seeing them. We even took a day trip from Tours to the amazing Mont St Michel which I have to say was the highlight of our summer. Enjoy your holiday. Best regards.

johannesburg,southaf...
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10. Re: Guidance on French village vacation ~2 hours from Paris

Hi again gudulmaster,

I forgot to respond to your question regarding the "spectacle" - many of the chateaux have evening "sound and light" shows which tourists attend to get some indication of the history of the place. I believe your son would enjoy one of them. Best regards.