Paris and what else?
April 24, 2014 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Kitty and I got into the Paris Marathon for 2015 (yay!) We decided to make it a long vacation. We plan on spending 3 weeks in France - the first week will be mostly adjusting to time difference, marathon running, and recovery. The second week actually exploring Paris, and the third a giant question mark

I lived in Paris for a little while for work, so am familiar with the tourist trap awful stuff, and the neat - must do's while in Paris. However, I didn't really explore outside the city much. Where should we spend the third week of our French trip?

Some rules:

1.) Has to have a Marriott (I travel extensively for work and will be using my points for our hotel stays)
2.) Has to be in France (we decided against country hopping for this trip)
3.) The Marathon is in April - if that impacts any recommendations

Thanks for any input!
posted by Suffocating Kitty to Travel & Transportation around France (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you have wanted to check out a different city you might want to try Montpéllier, it is a college town and it's not far from the Mediterranean. Some of France's best beaches / beach walks - it's a little chilly for swimming in April - are within a half hour's drive from the city center.

Here is a Marriott in Montpéllier. It is not far from the emotional center of the city, Place Comédie, which is fun for hours - it's a shopping place, a people-watching place, there are museums along the radiating boulevards and you can catch the really useful tramway all over the town. If you go by train you won't be able to get to the beaches, though, and if you go by car you'll have to get ready for some memorable driving. Take a navi, don't rent one from the rent-a-car place.
posted by jet_silver at 7:07 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Provence
posted by Dashy at 7:16 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

.... is such a great change of pace from Paris. (Sorry, posting from phone, could not add past link)
posted by Dashy at 7:19 PM on April 24, 2014

2nd Montpellier and the surrounding area, which is gorgeous, very pastoral. I think early-mid April might be a bit soon for organized outdoor activities, but by late April there should be things to do outside the city as well - canoeing (lots of rivers nearby), horse riding, caving - and you can always hike, or rent bikes and cycle down the coast.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:47 PM on April 24, 2014

Side note, but depending on your schedule, you might want to sight-see on the front end of your trip, and close with the marathon, then give your legs a rest.
posted by bullitt 5 at 10:06 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know, but consider this, there's a Marriott Vacation Club property outside of France near Disneyland Paris.

What I like about it is that they're townhouses, so you have a kitchen, different rooms, etc. You could do your exploring from there. The RER has a station right there, and it's near some huge French Mall if you're into that sort of thing.

There's also a villiage close by.

Rather than schlepping all over creation, hauling bags, etc, just make this your base for 3 weeks, and do all the things you want to do, and have the room to rest and relax and do nothing if you so desire.

Or, Nice or Dijon.

Either way.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:22 AM on April 25, 2014

Best answer: First: about reaching the beaches from Montpellier: You can get to the beaches from Montpellier by using the city's transit system. You can take bus 131 and bus 106, depending on which beach you want to reach. (Palavas and La Grande Motte are nice). If you choose to go Montpellier, I recommend going to the travel info office, situated on the Place de la Comédie.

Provence is indeed really nice. Depending on how you travel, you can even do both a part of Provence and Montpellier. Avignon is on the train line between Paris and Montpellier and definitely worth a stop. The Chateau des Papes is impressive. If you're travelling by car and like roman architecture as well as hiking, I really loved the Pont du Gard. A series of nice trails surround the aqueduct. The best part about the trails was that they smelled like herbe de provence, as the surrounding shrubbery is all thyme and rosemary.

Finally, if you hit Provence, make sure you make it to one of the farmer's markets. The one at L'isle sur Sorgue was my favorite. It's open Thursdays and Sundays and offered some of the best fruit, cheese and bread I ever ate. (And let's face it, after that marathon, you'll deserve some great cheese!) Also, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, Montpellier offers an amazing organic market called Le Marché des Arceaux.
posted by Milau at 5:35 AM on April 25, 2014

Best answer: Provence +1. It's easily accessible from Paris and is really one of the most beautiful places in France (and delicious food! and rent road bikes and bike aruond if that's your thing after the marathon!)

source: I'm french
posted by Riton at 9:50 AM on April 25, 2014

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