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Help Needed Three weeks in France - Burgundy, South West, and ..?

poppy_bee

New Member
Hello all,

I'm very glad to have found this forum! I am 34 and I'm afraid I like to travel a bit like a retiree (except I don't have much time to linger on my holidays, which is a shame) so it's great to read your stories...

I apologise in advance for the long post - skip to the questions part below if you like!

We haven't been overseas now for about five years (far too long!) but are intending to get to France every year (or two) at most from now. I love France especially - probably because of the language apart from anything else. I have been loosely trying to perfect my French language skills since high school - but the big gaps between visits isn't helping!

Anyway, we've finally booked another trip - flying in and out of Paris from Sydney this September.

When we travel we like to drive so that we can see all of the little towns and not miss any unusual sites. We choose traditional/authentic accommodation that might not be fancy but that feels like it is of its place. I'm an architect/interior design so love to absorb the buildings. I also love antiques. But mostly we like to take it easy, eat delicious local food, and taste all of the nice wines (and abbey beers!).

On our last trip overseas we spent a week in Istanbul (fantastic), two weeks in Greece in the Peleponnese and around Athens (we really, really loved the Peleponnese and Greek culture - ah the scenery and the food!) and ten days in France (I can't visit Europe without stopping in). In France we spent five days in Uzes and a couple of days based in Aix, before finishing off in Paris. Uzes we loved for it's quieter, big town atmosphere and our days there were made up of exploration of the town as well as some pretty lazy day trips. I lived in Aix for six months in 2010 but when I went back this time I found it too busy - having said that the day trips through Provencal villages were my favourite part of the whole trip - Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Menerbes, Gordes, Roussillon - so beautiful.

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QUESTIONS...
This time we'd like to see some parts of the country that we haven't visited before - I've done a lot of Provence and Paris, but not much else.

We'll mostly eat out at dinner and have a baguette with local cheese for lunch (coffee and perhaps a croissant or fruit for breakfast).
We'll stay in Paris for a few days at the beginning and a night at the end of the trip, so we have around 16 days. We don't really want to move accommodation except when moving regions - I like to unpack and settle in.

BURGUNDY - 5-7 days
Given that we love wine and don't yet have children I thought that it would be a good time to do Burgundy, but I'm not sure where to base ourselves. My partner would ideally like to stay in a big old place, perhaps with a pool, and a serene outlook so that we can make a proper holiday of it. I am happy to drive to wineries as well as do day trips to little villages (half an hour drive or so ideally). In reading some guides (Frommers, mostly) I love the sound of Vezelay but I think it will be too far from the Cote D'Or to be workable as a base.

Although Beaune and Dijon sound lovely we aren't that keen on big cities and will likely stop in for a day instead of staying in the cities.

I also wondered about staying in champagne for a night or two on our way from Paris - too much? If not, any suggestions on a base - perhaps just Reims?

Any advice that you might have on a good little town to base ourselves in Burgundy would be really appreciated.

SOUTH WEST - 5-7 days
I have found a lovely accommodation that seems to be our sort of thing and am considering staying here as a base to visit the area. https://www.cuqenterrasses.com/en
I have never been to this region but have read about it over the years and it sounds lovely - Albi especially. I love the arid landscape of the south and don't mind the heat.

Any suggestions on how long we should stay in this region, what would be nice little towns/villages to visit, and whether this would be a reasonable base would be great.

AND THEN..?
This might be quite enough for what ends up being about 16 days (outside of Paris) - but it crossed my mind that a drive through the Pyrenees for a couple of nights could be a nice addition..?

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Thanks so much in advance.

Poppy
 

Amy

100+ Posts
This may be too far west for your plans, but about 12 years ago we had a lovely week in Burgundy, staying in a cute attached farmhouse apartment in a hamlet outside Epoisses. Not quite in the main wine area, but an easy drive, (under an hour) and lots to do in the immediate area. Nearby Semur-en-Auxois is a charming town after the few tour buses leave. Very comfortable place, nice local owners right next door. Bill's House
 

Parigi

100+ Posts
What a nice holiday concept.

Burgundy
The region around Vézelay is lovely (and so is the rest of Burgundy).
If you love wines, consider a vineyard b&b.

Southwest
I find 5-7 days too short for the southwest. It's a very large area, with many beautiful villages and points of interest. I would give the southwest 10 days.

I looked up the Cuq en Terrasses b&b. It is outside Toulouse. Is the Toulouse area your focus?
If I may make a parallel example, imagine I say I am interested in California because I find a b&b in California which I find lovely.
The "southwest" , like California, is big: there is Dordogne, there is the Lot, there is Lot et Garonne. Just the Dordogne and the Lot together should take 3 weeks for the kind of leisurely visit that you like.
I suggest that you choose one area and make that your base and enjoy it for 10 days.

Your 3rd region
As for your 3 region/week, I recommend the Ardèche.
- It will offer you a landscape that is different from all the other regions you will have visited.
- It is like Provence, with many unspoiled hilltop medieval villages, but without the crowds.
- It wil make transport sense for you considering the other places you want to visit. This will enable you to make a loop, from Paris to (one corner of) Burgunday, then to southwest, then to Ardèche, then to (another corner of) Burgundy, then Paris, with no insanely long days of cross-country driving.

A sample itinerary:
1. Burgundy. Vineyard b&b or country inn near Vézelay. 3 days.
2. Southwest. 10 days.
3. Ardèche. 7 days. I recommend Largentière, because itself is beautiful and it is near many beautiful villages.
4. Burgundy. Cluny, in southern Burgundy. An architectural and cultural gem not yet discovered by mass tourism. 2 nights.

By the way, I would not call Beaune a big city, or a city. You can walk from one end of Beaune to the other in 20 minutes.
But since you are driving, then by all means stay in the beautiful countryside.
 

phirhon

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Parigi has given some good advice. We have spent time in several parts of Burgundy and especially enjoy the area in from Macon. There is also lots to see in the south west. These are my reports on our stays in 2014, 2016 and 2018 where we have stayed in a variety of regions in the south west as well as Burgundy ( Yonne and Saone et Loire ) Just scroll through to the relevant regions. We tend to stay in small villages which will not suit you as we cook most nights. But there are plenty of other places to stay. We book all our gites through
https://www.gites-de-france.com/fr
These are my reports
2014 - https://www.sloweurope.com/community/threads/spring-in-country-france-2014.1804/
2016 - https://www.sloweurope.com/communit...s-in-autumn-ten-weeks-in-country-france.1683/
2018 - https://www.sloweurope.com/communit...ance-ten-weeks-wandering-the-back-roads.4049/
These may give you some ideas of areas you could look at visiting.
Good luck.
 

Fletch

100+ Posts
We stayed in Beaune in 2009 ( was it that long ago!), and liked it a lot.
The owners also had some cottages in small wine villages nearby.
We like to walk to restaurants at night so I’m not sure if they are what you want. The website say they are not too far from Beaune (7-10 mins drive).
I would recommend them highly. http://www.graperentals.com/home.html
They were very responsive to any questions I had.
I still follow Laura ( owner) on Facebook so know they are still passionate about the area.
 

poppy_bee

New Member
This may be too far west for your plans, but about 12 years ago we had a lovely week in Burgundy, staying in a cute attached farmhouse apartment in a hamlet outside Epoisses. Not quite in the main wine area, but an easy drive, (under an hour) and lots to do in the immediate area. Nearby Semur-en-Auxois is a charming town after the few tour buses leave. Very comfortable place, nice local owners right next door. Bill's House
Hello Amy, thank you for your quick reply (sorry for my slow one!)
I immediately checked Bill's House as soon as I saw your post as it does look really lovely (but unfortunately it's all booked). It makes me realise that the actual accommodation somewhat takes preference over location - especially as it's a driving holiday and the areas make for nice exploring in any case.
I happened to have already ready your trip report just a few days before posting as well and interestingly I wasn't overly sure how highly you'd recommend Semur en Auxois having read it - but it's good to hear that you enjoyed your time there :)
 

poppy_bee

New Member
@Parigi and @phirhon Thank you both for the notes!

Having read your advice @Parigi and then having read your trip reports @phirhon I think we now have a much more refined plan :) Your reports are so detailed Phirhon and one covered all of the areas I am considering so thank you for directing me to them!

You're right that the 'south west' is a huge area Parisit and I was initially thinking of focusing on the area east of Toulouse including Carcassonne, Abli, and the little towns in and around this area but having read your reports Phirhon I actually think that the area north of Toulouse around the Lot and Aveyron sound like a better idea for this trip (and a bit different to what I've done in France before) - I love the idea of driving and walking the the Gorges du Tarn too.

Your experiences of the Ardeche also sounds wonderful and I think that Parisi's idea of driving through here sounds great (and logical!). I think as you suggest Parisi this should make sense in terms of the drive so that we don't have too long a drive between accommodation.

I wonder if due to the time frame we would be best to drive all in one direction starting in Burgundy and ending in the South and then getting the TGV back to Paris rather than doing the loop (not sure if the car hire companies will crucify us for this so I'll look into it).

In this way we could do:
Burgundy (west)
Cluny
The Ardeche
Somewhere in the area around Cahors or Rodez
Paris

Thanks again.
 

poppy_bee

New Member
We stayed in Beaune in 2009 ( was it that long ago!), and liked it a lot.
The owners also had some cottages in small wine villages nearby.
We like to walk to restaurants at night so I’m not sure if they are what you want. The website say they are not too far from Beaune (7-10 mins drive).
I would recommend them highly. http://www.graperentals.com/home.html
They were very responsive to any questions I had.
I still follow Laura ( owner) on Facebook so know they are still passionate about the area.
Thank you @Fletch - I will look into the accommodation. I think Beaune sounds like a lovely place to visit - and initially I was thinking of doing as you say and walking to restaurants most nights but given how many beautiful places there are to stay in the countryside I am considering staying in something a bit further out and cooking in for some of the time.

I hope that I will be back to France many times over and perhaps one day the appeal of the bigger towns over little villages will be enough to sway me to stay right near all of the action :)
 

elizbuth

10+ Posts
We spent two weeks in the Aveyron and the Tarn in the fall of 2017 and loved the area - beautiful, unspoiled plateaus and forests with enough cultural sites for balance. I will say, however, that we came home from that trip feeling a bit unrested. The many Pus Beaux Villages and other sites aren’t that far apart in km, but the roads are small and winding, and day trips took longer than we anticipated. Favorite places on our trip:
Millau - vast collection of Roman pottery in their museum, the viaduct tour, the Roquefort caves, the Gorges du Tarn
Aveyron in general - loved the wildness of the Aubrac plain, seeing the Laguiole knives being made, the Soulages Museum in Rodez with his dark paintings there and then seeing his light windows in the abbey in Conques, eating aligot, which is the very definition of stick-to-your ribs comfort food, the many pilgrims we saw walking the St. Jacques trail in the misty cold, all the Plus Beaux Villages
Albi - a nice small city, the cathedral, the restaurants. I don’t particularly love Toulouse-Lautrec’s art, but seeing so many of his iconic posters together in the T-L museum was a good experience.

Overall, the area felt very genuinely French and less homogenized. I loved the remoteness, but that very remoteness is what made the trip less relaxed because of the time necessary for travel.
 

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