Planning Your Trip to France
For a holiday in France that covers multiple areas and highlights, most travelers should plan on spending around 10 days. This gives you enough time to explore a few different regions by train, plane, or road trip at a relaxed pace.
In 10 days, you can take a few days to explore Paris highlights, while also visiting Provençal villages and the Mediterranean coast with stops in Marseille and Calanques National Park—or (further east) the sunny French Riviera. You could also choose to focus on Bordeaux and Lyon, the wine and gastronomy capitals, respectively, of France. With two weeks or more, you might add Corsica or perhaps high-altitude towns in the French Alps, like Annecy and Chamonix.
If you have less than a week, you'll have just enough time for quick stops in Paris and either Normandy or the Loire Valley—both a short train ride from Paris—while a full week can get you to the hilltop villages around Provence and beaches of the French Riviera.
France in 5 to 6 Days
For durations less than four days, you'll likely want to stick to exploring the 20 arrondissements in Paris with perhaps an excursion to Giverny, Versailles, or Champagne to break up the trip. Adding a few extra days, though, gives you a bit more breathing room for exploring smaller cities and their outskirts.
This scenic Provençal road trip starts in Marseille and finishes in Avignon—two great dining cities loaded with historical monuments—and passes through hilltop medieval towns and vineyards along the way. For something a bit more niche in Provence, you can choose a self-guided electric bike (e-bike) tour through the region's beautiful landscapes. There's a number of culinary-themed itineraries, too, like this gourmet food tour offering two separate cooking classes with local chefs.
Meanwhile, this French Riviera getaway travels through some of the best coastal and countryside villages in southeast France. Starting and ending in Nice, you can experience Mediterranean beaches, museums, farmers markets, and hiking trails in the nearby mountains.
France in 7 to 8 Days
One week is a common length of time for visitors coming to France allowing you to explore one or two different regions for a better understanding of the country.
This Normandy tour in northern France covers a mix of historic and scenic areas with overnights in three distinct locations allowing you to explore charming small cities like Caen and Rouen. Part of the itinerary is also dedicated to coastal towns, like Vieux Bassin (old harbor) and Honfleur, which evokes maritime Normandy of centuries past. There's also the small and delightful village of Étretat framed by twin cliffs; this is where fashionable Parisians came to build extravagant villas in the 19th century.
Further south, this Corsican adventure encircles this large island in the Mediterranean. Not only will you bounce between some of the oldest vineyards in Europe by way of car, bicycle, and horse-drawn carriage, but you'll meet actual wine-growers who show you their estates and explain the different traditional processes involved in winemaking on the island. There will also be time to enjoy stunning beaches, landscapes, and charming towns in between such as Ajaccio, Porto-Vecchio, and Bonifacio.
You can also experience Provence like the Obama family who chose a village near Avignon as their base for exploring the region on a recent vacation. Full of historic architecture and shops, it also offers great restaurants including the Michelin-starred La Mirande, where the Obama family celebrated Father's Day during their visit. You can even spend some time in the same off-the-beaten-path hamlet called L'Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue where you can stroll the open-air market in the morning to taste some fresh produce. This little town is nicknamed the 'Provençal Venice', with different canals creating tiny islands and little spots for relaxing.
Having a week also allows you to cleanly divide the trip into two overnight destinations like this Paris & South of France itinerary. Starting in Nice, you'll explore on your own before a local guide shows you around Monaco, Cannes, and Antibes (to name a few). Then, fly to Paris where you'll cruise along the Seine, skip the line at Versailles, and summit the Eiffel Tower to complete the adventure.
France in 9 to 12 Days
Have a little more than a week? There are several good options in this timeframe for different types of travelers.
This family-friendly itinerary features heart-pumping fun and adventure centered around southern France's Gorges du Verdon, the largest canyon in Europe. Over the course of nine days, you'll go whitewater rafting in the Verdon River, hike the edge of the canyon, paddle nearby Lac de Sainte-Croix, and climb Via Cordata while staying at an eco-lodge in Moustiers Sainte Marie. The trip also includes more relaxing activities like biking through the Provençal landscape and shopping for local delicacies at the Aix en Provence market.
This train adventure combines three of France's easternmost gems. Start by joining a culinary-themed walking tour in France's gastronomy capital of Lyon and then head into the countryside of Savoy, where you'll learn how to make a famous dish called tartiflette. Then train to Annecy, a beautiful medieval town nicknamed the 'Venice of France' where you can choose between medieval art and culture and beaches in the nearby Lac d'Annecy. Finish in the alpine town of Chamonix, next to the tallest peak in France—Mont Blanc—where you'll hike to a famous glacier in the French Alps.
There's also this Basque country itinerary that travels along the Atlantic coastline from Bordeaux to Bilbao. After experiencing the famous wine region, you'll make your way to Biarritz and explore the seaside glamour of what was once the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic Coast and stomping ground of celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, and Ernest Hemingway. From here you'll cycle along 9 miles (14 km) of the Basque coast on an e-bike, taking in the views between Biarritz and Saint Jean de Luz, before finishing the trip across the border in Spain.
France in 2 Weeks
Having this much time to spend in France is a treat. Here are some itinerary ideas to help you make the most of your two weeks.
This epic trip to Normandy, Brittany & the Loire Valley loops around three beloved regions in France with a nice mix of free time and guided tours. You'll start in Normandy to visit a number of D-Day sites between Bayeux and Omaha Beach with the help of a local guide. Next is Brittany where you'll have free time (and a car) to explore the hilly peninsula and rugged coastline dotted with beach resorts at your own pace. Then continue towards the UNESCO-listed villages and castles in the Loire Valley before finishing with two days in Paris.
Another great road trip option is this itinerary through Western France. Over the course of two weeks, you'll spend quality time in Paris, Normandy, and Bordeaux, as well as the Dordogne region, specifically the small town of Sarlat la Canéda. This picturesque tangle of honey-colored buildings, alleyways, and secret squares boasts some of the region's best-preserved medieval architecture and is a popular base for exploring the Vézère Valley—a favorite location for film directors. One recommended activity is to rent canoes and paddle along the Dordogne River from Carsac to Beynac passing six castles on both sides of the river.
You can also choose a north to south itinerary between Paris and Nice with stops in Lyon and Provence for cooking classes and winery visits before arriving at the French Riviera where you'll have time to hit the beach in Nice. On the last day of the trip, you'll day-trip to the perfume capital of the world, Grasse—a great place to pick up souvenirs like Provencal stew, aioli, anchoïade, herbes de Provence, olive oil, truffle, figs, and honey. You'll also partake in a session at a perfume gallery and create your own unique fragrance, which will be preserved in a confidential database for future orders.
Check out more 14-day itineraries.
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