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Where do you love in France?


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#1 carls888

Posted 18 January 2013 - 07:56 AM

Hi
as part of our large trip this year we are planning on staying in France for 6 weeks +. A two week stint in Paris and then???

I have been looking at St Remy, Roussillon, areas of Provence/Luberon and maybe cote d'azur.

I would love to know where you love as we would like to base ourselves somewhere in France the following year for 6-12 months and are checking it all out this year.

DH and I have been before, but 15 years ago and pre-children, so a completely different style of trip.

Thanks

C  biggrin.gif

#2 baddmammajamma

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:03 AM

I was a foreign exchange student when I was 16 (in Holland). We spent the entire summer in France -- the Loire River Valley and Provence. Both are gorgeous, but Provence holds a special place in my heart. It is so stunningly gorgeous, great weather (well, depending on when you go), with so much history. I love that there's also easy access to the Meditteranean and mountains. So breathtaking and "chillaxed."

Do you need a babysitter? original.gif

#3 IsolaBella

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:04 AM

I like St Emillion and the area bordering Spain and Andora.

Have a Soft Spot for La Rochelle (& Ile de Re)

It really depends on what you are looking for.



#4 The Old Feral

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:04 AM

Last trip we spent some time around the Uzes area near the Pont du Gard, it was magnificent and I often dream of living there!

We did day trips further south to the Camargue region which is also wonderful and quite different from anything else I've seen in France, it has been very laid back and rural feel and the Basque influence is obvious.



#5 FluffyOscar

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:07 AM

I still remember the smell of late summer fig trees as I walked up the hill to Cezanne's studio in Aix.

Sometimes, if the night is hot and the breeze is right, the smell of my neighbour's fig trees reminds me of that time.

#6 carls888

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:22 AM

Thankyou lovely travellers!
We will be there this year for the month of September.
IsolaBella, I auppose we are looking for beauty, food, unique Frenchness, not masses of tourists so much, relaxed charming fun.
We will be slow travelling and immersing ourselves in the culture as much as we can rathe rthan rushing around cramming sightseeing in. We will do that, of course, but at our pace and honestly just want to sink into the feel of the place.

I need some suggestions as I honestly do not know where to start. I think I have bookmarked about 10000000007899 gites all over France that look amazing and I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the choices...

C

#7 vswannie

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:30 AM

I have spent several years working this out over ten or so trips - some short, some very long. St Remy would be a fabulous base - outstanding scenery, great market, good for touring some of the lovely villages around Provence and the Luberon. I would also highly recommend Sarlat in SW France in the heart of the Dordogne. If you were able to split your time between those two places, I can guarantee you'd have a ball!

#8 The Old Feral

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:33 AM

If I was looking specifically for a place to live there, I'd stick with Provence.

A town with a village feel but big enough for a market and decent shops, close to a river and other sources of nature activities. Possibly the eastern parts for an easier drive to the Alps.  Good connections to the TGV for Paris and Nice. That way you get the best of everything..... city, village, country, mountains, sea.

*swoons at the thought*

#9 IsolaBella

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:33 AM

Carcossonne, St Emillion, Cahors, Rocamadour.

Along the Dordogne River in SW France is lovely.

You can also do the sea and Pyrenees mountains on that side. I feel it is often overlooked for the more 'known' Provence.

Era PP suggestion of Sarlat is also beautiful.

Edited by lsolaBella, 18 January 2013 - 08:42 AM.


#10 sakura73

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:38 AM

I loved Rouen and Bayeux in Normandy. The tapestry is a must-see, and Rouen is a lovely mediaeval town only an hour by train from Paris.

Also Angers, Tours and Saumur in the Loire Valley.

#11 antigone_

Posted 18 January 2013 - 08:54 AM

I have nothing to add but this thread is torture! original.gif

#12 tres-chic

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:01 AM

St-Paul-De-Vence is my favourite spot, not far from Grasse.

Also love the Cap Ferrat area and Villefranche. Heaven.

#13 Chelara

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:10 AM

QUOTE (antigone_ @ 18/01/2013, 09:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have nothing to add but this thread is torture! original.gif

I agree! I've been to Paris and a couple of other little towns... I was so close to all of this I could taste it and yet we never took the time to extend our trip and see a bit more. Still regret it.

#14 IsolaBella

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:15 AM

St. Paul de Vence is another favourite of mine.

Perouges near Lyon also gets a vote.



#15 MissKatieA

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:16 AM

Whilst driving through France, we stumbled upon a little coastal village called Etretat. It's located in Upper Normandy, about 180kms from Paris.

It has the most amazing 70 metre high white cliffs and natural arches. The cliffs are accessible by stairs, with an incredibly spectacular view across the English Channel from the top.

We only stopped here for three days but something about this place has always stayed with me. A definate must do on any return trips we make to France.

Of course, if wine & champagne are your thing, the Loire Valley and Champagne regions are pretty nice places to pass the time!

#16 Anemonefish

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:18 AM

We were in France for 6 weeks last year, with our 9yo DD and 4yo son, based near Perpignan (in Languedoc-Rousillon) for 5 weeks. There are so many wonderful places to go to that are within an easy 2-3 hour drive from Perpignan. DH & I were taking turns to work while the other hung out with the kids, and we did a few day trips and long weekends away. We went to Carcassonne one weekend, which is an absolute must do (DD said to us, "Thank you for bringing me to this fairytale place"), and we had a couple of weekends up in the Pyrenees, to Andorra and Foix (on the French side). One weekend we drove down the coast to Spain and visited Dali's house museum at Cadaques (you can go inland from there to Figueras and see his other museum, which we'd already been to on a previous trip), then on to Barcelona. We also went to Villefranche-de-Conflent, which is a gorgeous, old, walled town from where you can catch the 'Petit Train Jaune' (little yellow train), which goes up into the mountains - definitely worth doing (my kids absolutely loved this!). Being a border region (it's been part of Spain several times in the past), it's full of castles and forts. Every other hill has a beautiful village or castle perched on it. The coastline is spectacular and you can drive up into the vineyards and get spectacular views of the coast (not to mention a free wine-tasting stop or two - which you might need to calm the nerves on those narrow, hairpin roads).

When we left Perpignan, we drove to Paris, taking 5 days and stopping at different places each night. We went to the Pont-du-Gard (another must see) and spend a night at Uzes (which is amazing and I had 2 of my best meals in France there). Then we drove west to the Viaduc-du-Millau and drove through the Gorges-du-Tarn, stopping at St Enimie for lunch. You can hire canoes there, which we didn't have time for, but would definitely do next time. Next was the Massif Central region, where we stayed at 'Le Mont Dore' in an old castle, then the Loire Valley where we stayed at Amboise and visited one of the castles (Chateau-de-Chenonceau, which has a great maze in the gardens which my kids loved playing in). The 'Clos Luce' at Amboise is a must-do with kids - it's where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last few years of his life, and there's an exhibition of his inventions, including some interactive models of his inventions in the gardens.

I loved our trip and it was so sad to leave France. It was great being based in one spot, having somewhere to leave our stuff, do laundry etc and not constantly packing up and moving around. Also, we went to lots of places that are off the beaten track and lots of places where people were shocked when we said we're from Australia ("What are you doing here"), and places where lots of people didn't speak a word of English, but were friendly and welcoming and tried very hard to understand my very basic French.

Edited by Anemonefish, 18 January 2013 - 09:30 AM.


#17 baddmammajamma

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:23 AM

QUOTE (antigone_ @ 18/01/2013, 09:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have nothing to add but this thread is torture! original.gif



QUOTE (Anemonefish @ 18/01/2013, 10:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We were in France for 6 weeks last year, with our 9yo DD and 4yo son, based near Perpignan (in Languedoc-Rousillon) for 5 weeks. We were working with a colleague/friend at the Uni there, and he organised for us to rent his mother's beach apartment at Argeles-sur-Mer, which was beautiful, but not somewhere we'd choose to be based if we ever go back. We loved the area so much and would love to do the same sort of trip again in the near future, but next time we'd try to stay at Collioure (beautiful, old, historic village on the coast, just north of Spain) or Castellnou (tiny village perched on a hill).

There are so many wonderful places to go to that are within an easy 2-3 hour drive from Perpignan. DH & I were taking turns to work while the other hung out with the kids, and we did a few day trips and long weekends away. We went to Carcassonne one weekend, which is an absolute must do (DD said to us, "Thank you for bringing me to this fairytale place"), and we had a couple of weekends up in the Pyrenees, to Andorra and Foix (on the French side). One weekend we drove down the coast to Spain and visited Dali's house museum at Cadaques (you can go inland from there to Figueras and see his other museum, which we'd already been to on a previous trip), then on to Barcelona. We also went to Villefranche-de-Conflent, which is a gorgeous, old, walled town from where you can catch the 'Petit Train Jaune' (little yellow train), which goes up into the mountains - definitely worth doing (my kids absolutely loved this!).

When we left Perpignan, we drove to Paris, taking 5 days and stopping at different places each night. We went to the Pont-du-Gard (another must see) and spend a night at Uzes (which is amazing and I had 2 of my best meals in France there). Then we drove west to the Viaduc-du-Millau and drove through the Gorges-du-Tarn, stopping at St Enimie for lunch. You can hire canoes there, which we didn't have time for, but would definitely do next time. Next was the Massif Central region, where we stayed at 'Le Mont Dore' in an old castle, then the Loire Valley where we stayed at Amboise and visited one of the castles (Chateau-de-Chenonceau, which has a great maze in the gardens which my kids loved playing in). The 'Clos Luce' at Amboise is a must-do with kids - it's where Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last few years of his life, and there's an exhibition of his inventions, including some interactive models of his inventions in the gardens.

I loved our trip and it was so sad to leave France. It was great being based in one spot, having somewhere to leave our stuff, do laundry etc and not constantly packing up and moving around. Also, we went to lots of places that are off the beaten track and lots of places where people were shocked when we said we're from Australia ("What are you doing here"), and places where lots of people didn't speak a word of English, but were friendly and welcoming and tried very hard to understand my very basic French.



Ahh.....this thread is killing me!



#18 Lokum

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:23 AM

QUOTE (vswannie @ 18/01/2013, 09:30 AM)
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I have spent several years working this out over ten or so trips - some short, some very long. St Remy would be a fabulous base - outstanding scenery, great market, good for touring some of the lovely villages around Provence and the Luberon. I would also highly recommend Sarlat in SW France in the heart of the Dordogne. If you were able to split your time between those two places, I can guarantee you'd have a ball!


Agree. The area around Sarlat is incredible, and although Sarlat and Carcassone are touristy, there are penty of genuine exquisite villages with cottage and chatuea rentals which are non touristy. Food is amazing.
In Provence, i love the areas around Avignon and a village called  vaucluse- something something... The scenery is wonderful in summer, when its all lavendar and sunflowers. You can take day or overnight trips to the coast, but apart from a day or two driving from say, Antibes to Monaco, taking photos and stopping for lunch, I'm not thrilled with the Cote D'Azur.

#19 Academic

Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:38 AM

I love the Pyrenees area. I spent three weeks working on a gite restoration near Saint Girons. That gite is now open for business as a food-oriented b&b - you get a four-course gourmet meal for a very reasonable price (and I do mean gourmet, one of the owners is a chef, uses all local produce, most of it grown on the property etc.). Let me know if you want a link!

#20 kandj

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:24 PM

For September I would be looking around the provence area - it will be stunning and will be much warmer then the northern areas.

we stayed in a little village near to Uzes on our last trip and it was a great base. day trips to Nimes, Avignon, Arles are easily done. Nimes was probably pur favourute, massive coloseum. marble lined streets and suprisingly few tourists....

Carcassone is a bit further (from uzes area) but worth the trip - very touristy but it is that quintessential castle you conjure up when thinking of fairy tales.

Uzes has a great market on saturdays - though so many places do really. We really loved our time there (in october) and on a sunday night in low season you have the main square pretty much to yourself - Our daughter loved chasing the pigeons etc while we had an amazing meal by candle light original.gif

This is the place we stayed, it was a lovely old house (very rustic) but it had a beautiful yard and it was in the quietest little village....There is a restaurant in the closest town that was amazing. Beautiful fresh food done simply and not expensive. They would do take away containers for us so we could still eat well but at home with the kids in bed after a long day out original.gif

http://www.vrbo.com/287769

If you do look at going more northern, Mont St Michel is simply stunning as well....The other fairy tale castle not to be missed. I loved Normandy and its history. But for September/October I would be far more inclined to go south original.gif

I am Seriously so jealous of your trip!!! Have you decided on your Italy area yet?

So many magical areas to explore...Pretty much anywhere will be the perfect choice really!!!



#21 peckingbird

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:31 PM

Chamonix-Mont Blanc!!

We just came back from a six week jaunt around Europe and Chamonix was my favourite place.

I'm not much of a skiier (definitely stick to the green runs), but just the Alpine vibe of the place was pretty magical.  Only 20 mins through the Mont Blanc tunnel into Courmayer in Italy, so lots of options for other excursions.

All the best for your trip, it sounds wonderful.

#22 Contrebasse

Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:15 PM

One thing to consider is what you plan to do for work when basing yourself in France the following year. Would you be happy living in a tiny village for 6-12 months? If not, you should check out some larger cities such as Lyon, or otherwise a town or village within commuting distance of Paris (we lived in Moret sur Loing (near Fontainebleau) for 6 months, very pretty and only 40 mins from Paris by train).

#23 carls888

Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:32 PM

You guys are just so totally wonderful. Thanks for all those places, I have got so many windows open googling that I think I will have to live until at least 559 to see everywhere I want to see.


QUOTE (kandj @ 18/01/2013, 01:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
http://www.vrbo.com/287769

If you do look at going more northern, Mont St Michel is simply stunning as well....The other fairy tale castle not to be missed. I loved Normandy and its history. But for September/October I would be far more inclined to go south original.gif

I am Seriously so jealous of your trip!!! Have you decided on your Italy area yet?

So many magical areas to explore...Pretty much anywhere will be the perfect choice really!!!



Thanks for the link, looks lovely!
As far as Italy is concerned I would like to spend a fair amount of time in Lucca then as it becomes colder move down to Puglia and Sicily.




C  biggrin.gif

Edited by carls888, 19 January 2013 - 09:56 PM.


#24 claptrap

Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:36 PM

I lived and worked in Lyon for 2 1/2 years and would go back like a shot.

It has many of the benefits of Paris but without the congestion and crowds.   There are many lovely villages in the surrounds, and it's easy to reach Paris, coast and Alps.

And it's no accident that Paul Bocuse's restaurant was in the outskirts of Lyon and not Paris...




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