France trip recommendations

We’re headed to France early June for 15 days and Paris will be the easiest direct flights from Canada. We’re looking for amazing food & wine paired with some outdoors & hiking.

So far considering a couple days in Paris then possibly a train to Bordeaux and rent a car? (I fear the arc de triumph traffic circle). Would love to get to the mountains and see Burgundy as well.

Wine tours are definitely a must and would appreciate advise on the best way to do these areas. My wife and I both love wine but I’m not entirely sure how long we should devote to these areas and tours. Open to any suggestions on itinerary, wine, food and outdoors! Thanks!

Scott

If you end up with a car heading out of Bordeaux, a few days in the Dordogne to the east of there would be great. It’s a strikingly beautiful region with great food and lots of outdoor opportunities, plus some great towns like Rocamadour and Sarlat La Caneda. Not really a wine region but of course you can drink well anywhere in France.

My recommendation for restaurants is to get the Michelin Guide and find the Bib Gourmand places. We did that while going around France with a kid and it worked out great - unpretentious places with excellent food. I would absolutely redo that with just the two of us.

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Doing Paris, Bordeaux, Burgundy and the mountains (Alps), seems like a stretch in 15 days as you are crossing the entire country

How about Paris, Bordeaux by train, and take a car from Bordeaux to make your way across the southern part of France to the Mediterranean Sea?

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Pré Catelan is incredible.

L’Auberge Nicolas Flamel is a serious value dinner as well.

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Depending on how much time you want to spend in Paris, you can take the TGV to Bordeaux and pick up the car there. You have a couple of options if you want to see some mountains - but Burgundy should be saved for another trip. Dordogne and also Aquitaine, for example a city like Pau will give you some mountain time. Also recommend the Michelin guides as well as thefork.com for booking restaurants.

We did a trip pre-covid where we did something similar:
3 nights in Dordogne at Par la Riviere, a B&B right on the river in Cenac - good location for the Sarlat/Beynac/Roque-Gageac portion of the Dordogne
3 nights in Gascony at Michel Guerard’s daughters place for some Cahors and armagnac tastings
3 nights in San Sebastian with a stop in Pau and a tasting at Chateau Montus
2 nights in Pessac/St Emilion staying overnight at Pape Clement and Troplong-Mondot before taking the train back to Paris

It’s a beautiful area and we were able to spend time on seaside and in the mountains. Happy to pass along more specifics!

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I’d choose either to land in Paris and do the Dordogne and Bordeaux, or Frankfurt and do Alsace, Burgundy, and possibly the Northern Rhone after a bit of sightseeing on the German side of the Rhine.

You could also land in London from Canada and catch a smaller plane from there to Bordeaux if you wanted to start there.

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Over the years, my wife and I have driven across much of France, three/four weeks at a time. If I could pick only one trip to do again, it would be to the Lot and Dordogne valleys for the reasons you mention. The prehistoric and natural sites (caves, old towns, surface and subterranean rivers) are stunning. The food is among the best in France.

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Sounds like we have our first stop from bordeaux, thanks!

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Yeah, I was wondering whether logistics would allow us to hit both bordeaux and burgandy in one trip. Sounds like we’ll be skipping a lot in between if we do.

We enjoy both styles, would you recommend one region over another for a first visit? Keeping in mind we’ll spend maybe a few days with wineries and the rest spent exploring what the region has to offer.

With 15 days, it’s not unreasonable to do both Bordeaux and Burgundy with some time in Paris. You’ll burn one full day (maybe 7 hours without stops) driving between. You would still have plenty of days to spend in each place and hit some others as well, for example the Dordogne is more or less on your way from Bordeaux to Beaune.

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I agree with the Sarlat, Roque Gageac suggestions, but would add Cahors where there are loads of wine options, and Brantome, which is a delight on market day, I think Tuesday and Friday. If you like food and drink generally, then it is always good to know when market day is in France.

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Or you could take 2 bullet trains, Bordeaux-Paris & Paris-Dijon in less time, enjoy BYO charcuterie & wines/bubbles on the train (book seats with a table), or even time it to have a great lunch or dinner at Le Train Bleu at Gare de Lyon before you board the Burgundy train… The trains will approach 200 miles an hour & are smooth as can be.

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Burgundy is pretty special in the way that it is so small and you can actually do it without a car. If you’re able to bike, I highly recommend just taking a train to Beaune, and biking around the cote d’or. Also tons of food and wine in the city of Beaune. I don’t know many other places in the world like it

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On the hiking front, there are a lot of GR routes in France, which seem almost unused by the French. We particularly enjoyed some in the Loubressac/Rocamador area.

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Thanks for all the advice! So sample iternary is starting to get pulled together, as others mentioned I think doing both bordeaux and burgundy would be a stretch. I’d rather do both regions properly with more time.

3 Days - Paris (train to bordeaux)
4 Days - Bordeaux (rent a car)
3-4 Days - Dordogne
6 Days - Recommendations?

We’ve spent a week or so in Nice so we’re good to skip the riviera.

I don’t see that one would want lots of time in Bordeaux city if you are coming from Paris.

If you want to see wine regions you need to be aware it’s 2 hours drive from Cos to Ausone.