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Travelling in France

 
 
Mame
 
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 12:30 pm
So I just booked our tickets to the south of France for next April. We are flying into Lyon, and our first stop will be Arles. There are quite a few places I'd like to see, mainly art areas where the Impressionists painted, and we'd both like to see cathedrals, etc. We plan on going to Montpellier and Marseille to the east, and Toulouse, Lourdes, down into San Sebastian (I hear they have more 5 Star Michelin restaurants there than the rest of Europe!), and up to Bordeaux, and back across to Lyon.

We will be driving, and can meander where we like, so what I am wondering is anyone has done a trip like this, how are the roads, how to avoid the toll roads, any great places to stay, stop, and dine at. I've been doing some research the last two days, and plan to do more, of course, but am hoping to find someone (CI, maybe?) who has done this kind of touring in southern France.

Thanks.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 928 • Replies: 7
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 03:55 pm
@Mame,
I'm interested in Lyon - will you spend any time there at either end of the trip?

I've only flown over France so I'm atilt with envy - but I've driven small roads in Italy for much pleasure and only made reservations on my last trip, which I tightly planned re photoing piazzas.. but the others, we just knew where we would stay when we landed and that was it, although we stayed at the same places pre flights back to the US. (Do research and then let go and see where you end up when you feel like stopping. Don't plan out every minute.) CI doesn't do that kind of touring. Will think on who has done it in France.

We had an earlier poster here, LoisLane, now there was a traveller. Will cogitate.

Adds, for some of the primo restaurants, reservations no doubt matter. The best restaurants of my life were on road trips and spontaneous, but the well known places probably take booking effort.
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Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 05:32 pm
@Mame,
BBB and I drove around France as part of an organized bus tour of European gardens and castles back in the 80's.

I recently rediscovered several boxes full of all the maps, postcards, brochures and other papers from that trip. I'll look through them and see if there is anything that would be helpful to you.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Oct, 2011 11:55 pm
@Mame,
The roads are generally good but autoroutes cannot be avoided if you have a time-table.
Orange and Avignon are worth a visit , also St. Jean Pied de Port in the Basque area. To a non-Catholic, Lourdes may seem a somewhat bizarre tourist trap. I also found San Sebastian a bit bleak although it does have a reputation for good food.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Oct, 2011 12:48 am
@fresco,
I just can underline what Fresco said - even for Catholics, Lourdes is ... peculiar.

I perhaps would add some 'pics'/passes in the Pyrenees, have a look around Bayonne (and my favourite little place at the border to Spain: Saint-Jean-de-Luz).

As for accommodations, I definitely would go to B&Bs ("chambre d'hote").

Roads are pretty smalll sometimes, especially along the coastlines and in the mountains.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Oct, 2011 01:01 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:

As for accommodations, I definitely would go to B&Bs ("chambre d'hote").


Book your accommodation as early as possible: I've momentarily some difficulties to book mine for May! Wink (Already booked due to public holidays.)

Easter holidays are in France between 9th of April and the end of the month!(depending on region)
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Mame
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Oct, 2011 08:17 am
wow, thanks for all the help. We're driving right out of Lyon down to Arles where I am booking a place for 5 or 6 days... we can pop over to lots of towns from there... not interested in Lourdes unless it's conveniently on the way somewhere. There are so many villages I'm not too worried about getting a place to stay. I'm not planning on staying in a big city. Thanks, Buttrflynet Smile It's all in the planning stages, but each afternoon, I'll do a little more research.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Oct, 2011 12:29 am
@Mame,
Arles is indeed an excellent place to stay - lotsof other places within easy driving distanc as well. (And some really very nice b&b's Wink
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