France travel

Johnb007

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I will ski Zermatt in Feb for 2 weeks. I then plan to drive around France for 3 weeks. Basically the south and west of France. Starting in Geneva - Grenoble - Avignon - Carcassonne - San Sebastian - Bordeaux - La Rochelle - Brest - St Malo - Le Mans and back to Geneva. Now there are a gazillion nice places in France but any suggestions on "must see" places along/near that route? Maybe a fabulous chateaux, old castle, scenic spot, museum etc. This is the route http://goo.gl/maps/3Btxy
I know this is not ski related but I see there are lots of people on here with heaps of travel experience, especially doing things on the cheap. I will be doing things as cheaply as possible, especially being broke after 2 weeks skiing in Zermatt.
Thanks
John
 
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Apresski

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Where to start!

I notice that you are missing most of Normandy.The lovely town of Caen

FrCaen-Street2.jpg


Honfleur
Mont St Michel
Bayeux
Deauville

When in Avignon, be sure to visit Arles

arles_survol.jpg
 
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CarveMan

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Yep Arles is great.

Grenoble - Avignon - Carcassonne - San Sebastian - Bordeaux

I've done this in reverse - fantastic part of the world.

Also I'd suggest checking out the Loire Vallee and the fabulous Castles, stay in Tours. You route takes you straight through there.

Regarding doing it on the cheap - France is a fantastic country to travel through cheaply. We did a similar road trip quite a few years ago now and we found the tourist offices very helpful regarding accomm - just lob in the town, visit the tourist office, get them to recommend 2-3 hotels in your price range and you will be fine.
 
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Johnb007

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Thanks for the tips. Arles and Tours will be added to the list. I assume the tourist offices are easy to find in the towns with signs to them. Orange, Pont du Gard and Nimes will also get a visit. The problem will be to jam them all into 3 weeks.

I did look at Caen, D-Day beaches etc but they were a bridge too far. I might consider them if I can fit them in. I might drop San Sebastian off the list as it is a big detour, but it is a lovely place.
 
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driz

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Relatively close to Arles, I would also recommend Roussillon and the Pont Du Gard.

A bit out of your way I thought Sisteron and Moustiers-Ste-Marie were lovely.

Also Millau Viaduct - not seen it, but I like bridges.
 

driz

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Source: I spent a week driving around mostly western Provence. I can't remember the exact route, something like, fly into Marseille -> Aix-en-Provence -> Arles -> Orange -> Roussillon -> Sisteron -> Moustiers-Sainte-Marie then back out of Marseilles. Lots of roman ruins and dramatic landscapes.

Many saucisson sec and bottles of wine were consumed.
 

scalymanfish

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Your route is pretty massive for 3 weeks. I've been to France 4 times and have hardly scratched the surface. France is a big place with so many good places you may be better off not covering so much ground. As the others have said Arles is a cool town, Avignon is great as well. Other places in Provence I'd recommend are St Remy and Les Baux. St Remy is a nice little place with some pretty cool Roman ruins on the way to Les Baux. Les Baux is one of my favourite places. Don't miss Fontaine de Vaucluse and Gordes, they are pretty awesome places but there are just so many good spots all over France I reckon you'll run out of time. There are some lovely places on the coast from Cannes to the Spanish border and once you're close to Spain slipping over the border is very tempting. If you haven't been to Barcelona before I'd try and fit that in.
 

Snorkler

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You're going to need a break when you get back from your holiday, that's a pretty massive trip for 3 weeks.

You'll be spending a lot of time on the road, so it's going to restrict what you can see. If you're not sticking to the Toll Roads(Autoroutes) then you need to consider that in most cases you'll travel no more than 80kph on average at maximum (unless you put your foot down). Most routes will take you through towns and slow you down to 50kph. When driving around off autoroutes, I use the rule of 1h20m for every 100km.

If you want to eat on a budget, you'll be looking at eating 'formules' at lunchtime. The french are highly geared to eating good lunches and as a result I always found dinner to be more expensive. You can get a good feed for lunch at a very reasonable price, then you only need a lighter dinner.

My opinion is that you're biting off too much.

Since you'll be doing this in winter, most of Biarritz and San Sebastian is likely to be closed up because it's the off-season. Carcassone will probably take you the better part of a day. Around Toulouse, you should go sampling Foie Gras and Cognac. You're totally skipping the Dordogne area despite being so close. Tours area requires 2 days at least to explore the castles/palaces of the area (Chenonceau and Chambord). You won't have much time to eat in Lyon. Then there is exploring Basque country and Pyrenees like Lourdes. So much more as well.
 

LaNeige

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Snorler's reminded me those Toll Road are expensive, make sure you factor them in. Friends of mind didn't and they spent a lot of time with no money in Sardinia (but there are worse places to be broke).

I have to agree with the other comments here you're trying to cram in too much. Having said that Annecy is worth a look.
 

markopolo

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need to thin it down a bit, soooooo much to see, you can spend a week around Avignon and still not be satisfied. You can go off the highway between Avignon and Carcassonne and spend a month !
Cathar castles are cool !

 
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cold wombat

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Hmmm. This is giving me ideas.

Tempted to take a week to get from London (via Paris?) to the (as yet undecided) French ski fields. Only problem the kids will be itching to get to the snow and will be in too much of a rush to stop and take in the scenes!
 
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