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France/Narbonne to CDG in 5 night with 2 teens

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QUESTION: Hi there - I have enjoyed your posts and answers to others, so thought I would ask a question too!
We are a family of 4 from Vancouver , Canada.  We have a 12 and 13 year old.  We are coming to France in July !
Our plan is 4 night in Paris (it will take a good day just to get over the flights) then 2 nights in toulouse on our way to a 7 day canal du midi boat trip which ends in argens.
Here's where my question comes:  now we are torn with so many choices !   My daughter wants to see lavender fields of Provence, my son wants to swim in the Mediterranean, I want to go to the Pont du gard.  Yet we all also want to go to the loire valley .    So, we are thinkig of renting a car in narbonne, then maybe staying a night or two in Montpellier, then drive up the A75 (?) to the loire valley to stay at a chateau for 2 nights.  Our last night we were thinking of staying next to the airport since we have to be there early- ish and it would help me not stress about driving near Paris.
Anyhow, does this sound feasible or crazy?!?  
Thanks so much !
Ann

ANSWER: Hi . . . Ann from Canada!

Appreciate your kind comments and good questions.  Yes, ALL that you seek to do is possible. BUT, should you press your schedule so much??  That's a personal choice and decision.  With four people, you are seeking to pack in lots and lots.  

It all sounds good on "paper", maybe, if.  Not sure how it will work in real life.  I do not know your full travel history/experience from travel in Europe and/or how well your two children will adjust and respond to a fairly rushed and packed schedule.  

I am not totally clear for how many days you have after your canal boat trip.  Provence is a wonderful area with many great options.  Clearly, the Loire is wonderful, too.  BUT, how many net days do you have to do BOTH?  That is the key question/challenge with your plan.  

Another factor is that it takes time, by car, to get from Provence up to the Loire Valley.  Clearly, it would be smart and wise to stay near the airport for your early morning flight out.  

Do you need my notes/options for Provence, the Loire, etc.?

Reactions to these various ideas and options????  Look forward to hearing back from you with more details and specifics.

Does this start to help a little? What are your needs for added information?  Be happy to provide additional info and answer other questions after learning more from you.  Be sure to complete the evaluation section so that our "bosses" on this volunteer service know we are working hard to make inquiring minds as happy as possible. ENJOY!  Merci Beaucoup!

Thanks.  Terry Casey in Columbus, Ohio



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your reply - sorry, yes, I forgot to say how much time we have after our canal trip - not long, only 5 days!  i guess it is the driving distances and times that are not clear - for example, how long is the drive from the south to the Loire valley?   It's a bit over whelming to try to figure out.  So we were thinking 1 night near Montpellier , one night somewhere in the middle , then two night in Loire valley before heading to CDG .  We are not opposed to driving distances, but don't want it to become a chore.  My husband and I been to Europe but not france and the kids have never been.
Thanks , ann

Answer
Hi, again, Ann!

Sorry for my delay in following up.  

YES, that total of ONLY five days is what worries me.  Lots to do and see in and around Provence, including  lavender fields, Mediterranean swimming and Pont du gard.  Lots that is unique and special in and around the Loire Valley, too!!  

Can you do BOTH, plus cover the logistics getting from one part of France to the other?  That's the key question and challenge.

You can get between Provence and the Loire Valley in a day's drive.  That assumes you take the faster super highways that do not connect in a straight line between these location.  If you want to travel by the more scenic and interesting two-lane roads that are more direct, that is going be lots slower.  It is more scenic by this latter method.  It's just those trade-offs on timing/speed . . . versus . . . seeing things more scenic.  

And for getting around in Provence to do lavender fields, Mediterranean swimming and  Pont du gard, etc., etc., that takes some time and logistics.  An hour or two here and hour or two there all adds up, Taking more patience, etc.

Each overnight stop, finding your location, unpacking, packing back up the next morning, checking out, etc., etc., all adds up for your logistical timings needed.  

Ideally, it would be nice and better to have six or seven days to do what you want.  Five days total is possible, but a little rushed, somewhat quick.  That tight of a schedule makes it harder to stop for added "extras" enroute that you run across and/or are nearby to.

Driving in and around Provence, the Loire, etc., is not that bad or challenging.  It is just a little slower with the time required than what it might seem or look on paper.  

Need more info?

ENJOY!  Merci Beaucoup!

Thanks.  Terry Casey in Columbus, Ohio  

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Terry Casey

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Most experienced for Paris, Loire Valley, Provence, Dordogne, Alsace, Burgundy, Normandy and Reims/Champagne Country. Terry likes helping travelers get trip "flow and pacing" right so your adventure is neither . . . a bore, NOR a blur! Make sure your timing works, fitting your interests, tastes, personal experiences and needs. Terry has planned and done great trips to the Baltics, Russia, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Ireland, England, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Norway, Turkey and Switzerland, plus South America and Cuba. Did wonderful April, 2007, week in Paris, summer 2008 southern England trip, summer 2010 fjords/North Cape, Norway coast, etc. Has visited twenty=two different countries in Europe. You can check out our Norway coast/fjords adventure with lots of great pictures from last summer at: www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923 This live/blog has gotten nearly 52,000 views. For Villefranche, ports in Italy and along the the Croatian coast, you can check this live/blog. We are now at 42,762 views here. www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1426474 France is great, but these other parts of the Europe are wonderful, too!!!

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There is much post 9-11-2001 worry about travel to Europe, but all reports and experiences say things are fine, with proper care and planning. From wide travels in many parts of Europe in 2005- 2008, my personal experiences are that things are good there and reasonably behaving Americans are treated well. See, enjoy the world and experience its great diversity! I have visited 20 countries in Europe and know that there's lots there to see and do. PROVIDE KEY BACKGROUND INFORMATION with QUESTION: To help me answer your questions better, please provide some info on your past France/Europe travel experiences, ages, general budget range, personal travel style/interests, number in your party, what you most want to enjoy and see, etc.

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Ohio State University grad

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