A whirlwind trip can be done.
Struggling to plan a week in France? With it's network of high speed TGV trains and cheap domestic flights, it's possible to squeeze a lot into your trip. We managed to hit the riviera, countryside and capital all inside 7 days.
Nougat. Macarons. Tartes. Profiteroles. Goats cheese. France for me will always be remembered through my food memories. Oui, how the french do it well. Prepare yourself for a feast on both the eyes and the taste buds.
Planning a week in France? Here's our top picks!
1.) Nice- To relax along the Riviera
We took the scenic coastal train from Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre) to Nice, crossing the border somewhere near Ventimiglia on the Italian Coast. French customs officers strolled casually through the train just before Monaco.
Heading straight to the heart of the old town in Nice, we found our home at "Hotel Rosetti" right above a delicious gelateria. Bags dumped, gelato in tow we hit the streets and spent our first evening exploring the city and settling down on the beach with some tins (beers).
Hailing from Australia and NZ, we have been spoilt with sandy beaches our whole lives. So much so that I was inadequate at finding any comfortable position amongst the pebbles in Nice. We opted to spend the follwing day in the neighbouring town of Antibes sunning ourselves upon the sandy beaches, much more suited to our delicate bodies. Antibes is an easy train ride away and home to wonderful markets with a bounty of fresh produce.
The old town in Nice is such a plethora of great restaurants, cafes and bakeries that we barely strayed outside its walls for food.
2.) Beaune- To sip on vino in the countryside
An early morning flight to Lyon and a fast speed train led us onwards to the countryside. Set in the lush vineyards of the Burgundy region, Beaune is a gorgeous colonial town right on the train route to Paris. We stayed in a gorgeous B&B run by our lovely host Yves. (The former mayor's house was steeped in heritage, with many of the original fixtures and a rumoured visit by Napolean Bonaparte.)
Borrowing bikes from our host, we set off on the wine trail to Pommard and Volnay to sample the local grape varieties. The gorgeous country scenery was set off further by Dan's wheelies.
When planning your trip to Beaune make sure that it coincides with the Saturday markets- there is great food and shopping to be had before you board the train to your next stop.
3.) Paris- To explore the historic streets
Oh Pari. Because what would a trip to France be without visiting the famed capital? Staying near the Louvre, we went on a sunset stroll and got so caught up in the architecture and history of the city that we found ourselves walking all the way to the Eiffel Tower. We made it in time for the evening hour to strike and caught the glittering light show.
After a late brunch on day two, we found some bikes and made our way (via the Moulin Rouge) to the artist quarter of Montemarte. Taking the advice from a fellow traveller we scaled the winding tower to the top of the dome of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Once we'd been rewarded with grand views over the city, we wandered amongst the works of the local artists. I topped off the day ogling the gargoyles of Notre Dame (as featured in the "Hunchback of Notredame") to fulfill my childhood curiosity.
Before I set off to Europe, I was issued strict instructions by my sister to pose in a red beret under the eiffel tower. During our days in Paris I feared a beret shortage must be in place as there were none to be seen. Until lo and behold, I stumbled upon entire cities' beret allocation down a single street in the Latin Quarter. So it was with red beret in hand that we sought out Tour Le Eiffel a second time. For my sister's viewing pleasure I have included this photo. Allow yourself a few extra days if you intend to explore the Louvre in depth. Make sure to enter via the gift shop to avoid the long ticket line.
Plan future indulgences.
With stomachs full of cheese, wine and pastries it was time to say Aurevoir to France... until we have time to resume eating and drinking our way through the country.
- Words by Kelly. Pictures by Daniel.