Everyone wants to go to Paris. But what do you do outside of Paris? This week we chat with Barbara Weindling, a travel advisor with Ciao Bambino to learn tip for France travel beyond Paris.
ON THE PODCAST
00:30 – Talking with Tamara and Kim about NYC
07:42 – Getting into and out the city
13:15 – Talking with Barbara
16:15 – Regions outside of Paris
18:45 – How many days to spend
20:16 – Classic trip
21:26 – Best times to travel to France
23:52 – What different regions are like
24:55 – Loire Valley castles
26:12 – Provence, France
29:14 – Kayaking adventure under Pont du Gard
31:34 – Relaxing in Carcassonne, France
33:30 – Driving in France
36:18 – Beaches
38:40 – Cassis, France
39:47 – Other family friendly regions
42:10 – Beauty and the Beast concept town
43:35 – Budgeting for your trip
46:50 – Tips for going to france
51:37 – Where to take a family photo
52:16 – Favorite travel gear
54:47 – Tip of the week
ABOUT BARBARA WEINDLING
Since she was a child, Barbara traveled extensively all over the world. She attended Lycee Francais, is fluent in French, and has lived in Paris. Although born and raised in NYC, today she lives in Providence, RI with her husband and 14 year old son. Barbara is a travel advisor for Ciao Bambino, a website and travel agency specializing in family travel. Follow Barbara on Instagram and Facebook. You can contact Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIPS FOR VISITING FRANCE BEYOND PARIS
- The best times to visit France would be May, June, September and October.
- Keep in mind, if you are traveling with young kids traveling to more than three locations in a twelve day trip is not recommended. Beyond that it gets to be a little challenging with kids unless you really want to move every two days.
- The train is a hub and spoke system radiating out of Paris
- You can get to Versailles or Giverny from local RER trains outside of Paris as day trips
- After Paris you can go west to Normandy (best for teens), south to Brittany to see Mont St. Michelle, and continue on to the Loire Valley (see map below)
- Top three Castles in the Loire Valley are Château de Chambord, Château de Chenonceau, Château de Blois. You canLoire Valley also go cycling in this area and see some beautiful countryside.
- A typical trip would be to start in Paris for four to five days and then go west to Normandy, east to Alsace, or south to Dordogne (prehistoric cave paintings), Provence, or Languedoc-Roussillon (a more affordable alternative to Provence with castles.)
- A classic trip would be to start in Paris, then take the TGV to Avignon, which is in Provence. Spend four days in Provence then drive (because trains are not as convenient) toFrench Riviera and stay in the hills behind the beaches because the beach gets very crowded.
- If you can it would be best to fly into Paris and fly out of Nice, which is an easier airport to fly in and out of.
- Driving around in the south of France is very easy. It is recommended to get an international license. Two main things to know is that people coming in on the right have priority. You will also not find many street lights, instead there are roundabouts. With highways, if you go through where there is a credit card they do not take American credit cards. So make sure you have cash and go through the cash lanes.
- Alsace has a big German influence. There is a monkey sanctuary, birds of prey show, lots of wine and cute towns.
- Normandy is known for the D-Day beaches and it is the region of butter and alcoholic cider.
- Lavender season is mid-June through mid-July in the Luberon.
- In Provence, you can visit Saint-Remy-de-Provence and visit the market, modern art museum, Roman ruins, and Château des Baux where they do catapults and performances. Near there you can visit the Les Carrières de Lumières, where they project famous works of art on the walls.
- Aix-en-Provence is where Cezanne was born and raised. It is a university town that is fun to explore.
- Rent a kayak and put together a picnic and kayak on the river and under the Route du Pont du Gard and the famous aqueduct and then you can visit this three-level aqueduct and the museum.
- In the Languedoc-Roussillon, which is economical and family-friendly and you can visit Nimes and see the ancient Roman colosseum, visit beaches, go kayaking, see the castles and the walled medieval town of Carcassonne. You can rent independent villas or apartments that are part of a resort or farm. It is a relaxed atmosphere. Some of the beaches are topless.
- The French Riviera is from Saint-Tropez to Monaco. The beaches are pebble beaches and you have to rent a chair, which are side-by-side to others. They get very crowded, especially in August.
- From Provence you can drive down to Cassis to the beach and to see the cliffs.
- Bordeaux is a great wine region and UNESCO town
- Further south to Toulouse, you can visit the Dordogne. You can’t visit the original caves with pre-historic cave drawings but they have done wonderful recreations. This is great for outdoorsy families that also like history and culture.
- Plan to budget $10-12,000 for a two week trip. You can do it for less with vacation rentals/Airbnbs and using take out or prepared meals. Cafes are less expensive than fine dining restaurants.
BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO
In front of any castle is a great way to get a family photo. Though, Barbara’s favorite place to take a family photo would be in front of the Pont du Gard.
FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR
Barbara loves to wear her leather Aco sandals, which are great for both walking around during the day and the still work with nicer outfits and going to dinner. Sundresses are great and comfortable to wear all around. In the winter Barbara has Paul Green loafers that work well for both indoor and outdoor.
TIP OF THE WEEK
If you plan on taking the TGV train in France, the earliest you can buy tickets will be 90 days in advance. You also should reserve tickets to the Eiffel Tower in Paris for a timed entry ticket in advance. These also open up for sale 90 days in advance. Ticket Site
MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST
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Photo credits: Kyra Gonzalez