Here comes Summer and as you have read in the media, this year summer holiday as turned somewhat into a bit of a chaos with flight cancellations, suitcases went missing and horrendous long queue in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Germany. Top it up with 2 heatwave in early June and mid July and Covid-19 Omicron variant BA5 is on the rise.
We managed to survive the travel revenge chaos as we only travel by train. But we did have Covid incident in the middle of the trip but all turned out well. I shall dwell more on separate posting.
For this year school summer holiday we have planned to stay in France for the entire holiday, visiting my sister and her new-born baby whom we haven’t met for years due to pandemic. So with covid cases slowing down in April, I bought tickets for 3. Hubby couldn’t come with us as he needed to work but promised he would come visit us and spend few days with us toward the end of our stay.
Here is our 2 weeks train travel itinerary. We spent first week doing cultural trip in North of France: Strasbourg and Paris and on second week, a beach holiday in South of France: Cote d’Azur (French Riviera).
D1: Arriving Strasbourg (train from Aix en Provence TGV station (5h55min direct). Strasbourg for 3 nights. Staying in Ibis Strasbourg Gare, just few meters from the train station. Very convenient and spacious triple room.
D3: Train to Colmar (30 minutes with TER)
D4: Train from Strasbourg to Paris Gare de L’est. (2.5 hours direct) Paris for 4 nights. Staying in Latin’s Quarter, Mercure Paris Notre Dame Saint Germain de Pres hotel. Small room (Paris’ standard), great amenities and best location.
D5: Disneyland Paris
D8: Train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Menton (6hrs57min with 1 connection in Nice). Stay in studio apartment near Plage du Sabblettes
D10: day trip to Monaco
D11: Train from Menton to Nice (39 mins direct with TER). Stay in apartment near Gare de Nice
D12: day trip to Eze Village
D13: day trip to Villefranche-sur-mer
D14: Train back Nice to Aix en Provence TGV station
Come to think of it, if I can re-do my plan I will spend 1 more day in Paris. I only allocated 4 nights because this was not my first trip to Paris but it was the first for both kids and they voted for 1 full day in Disneyland. So that left us with only 2.5 days in Paris which is not enough.
We were taking it easy on the second week, only few day trips and spent more time in Menton and Nice. The original plan was to continue to the Italian sea side town from Menton as it was already in the border. But when we were in Menton we found out that my no.1 one got covid, so I cancelled the Italy part and moved to Nice so he could continue his isolation in his room. While me and no.2 visited quaint villages along Cote d’Azur.
What missing from this itinerary is Provence area and I did not put it here because we are based in Provence (a quiet town, 30 minutes drive from Marseille, called La Fare les Oliviers where my sister lives) on our first and last week. So we were doing scattered day trips around Provence on those weeks. There are many to see in Provence area and I will write in separate posts the places we went to as a day trips.
The ideal itinerary for a 3 weeks summer holiday in France is starting the first week in North, second week in Provence and third week in Cote d’Azur. If you only have 2 weeks and you have been to Paris, then focus on 2 weeks South of France itinerary to explore Provence and Cote d’Azur. Paris and North of France could be done as a two weeks itinerary combined with Swiss or Germany.
But if you haven’t been in Paris or don’t want to skip Paris, and only have 2 weeks you can do 8 days in Paris and Aix-en-Provence and 6 days in Cote d’Azur. North of France can be skipped for later because summer is the best season to visit Provence and Cote d’Azur. You can only see lavender field in Provence from mid Jun to mid July and Cote d’Azur seaside towns are at its best and alive during summer and you get to swim in the beach too.
The northern part of France, Strasbourg and Colmar is beautiful on any season but they are exceptionally famous for their Christmas Market and they have snow in winter.