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Andrews

1st timers in France

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Hi all, we are thinking of going to France for the first time next year.

could anyone suggest particularly nice areas to visit as first timers.

we also have two small dogs to consider, who don’t particularly like the heat!

any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

andrew @ sally

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France is a massive country, each department has it's own style/folklore,and weather it may be good if you could give us more info on your likes and dislikes apart from the weather as there are numerous friends on this forum who have a wealth of experience in France, we have been touring all over France for over 40 years and love everywhere we have been 

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Fairly safe bet to head for the Loire Valley.  

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3 hours ago, Andrews said:

Hi all, we are thinking of going to France for the first time next year.

could anyone suggest particularly nice areas to visit as first timers.

we also have two small dogs to consider, who don’t particularly like the heat!

any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

andrew @ sally

 

We cut our teeth in Normandy 30 years ago then ventured to Brittany but since have been the Loire valley,  Dordogne and the lot. Last year we ventured to Provence This year it's the Charente.

 

Out of all the areas Brittany is a favourite, not too hot and some lovely coastline towns.

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Les Medes is right, France is a big old place, it has a few weird idiosyncrasies such as standing up to poo, no seats if they have proper toilets or having to wear budgie smugglers in the pool. Apart from that the food and wine is bob on and the weather (South of Lyon) is better than UK.

France is more dog friendly than the UK (most of Europe is), municipal campsites are generally good and value for money. Commercial site are also half decent (I’ve been on a few poor ones) but generally camping in France is a good experience.

The French don’t like speaking English, I speak fluent German but that doesn’t get me far in France, I speak zero French, fortunately the Mrs does.

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Auvergne and Alps pretty cool.  

 

Have we covered everywhere now? 

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5 minutes ago, Borussia 1900 said:

Les Medes is right, France is a big old place, it has a few weird idiosyncrasies such as standing up to poo, no seats if they have proper toilets or having to wear budgie smugglers in the pool. Apart from that the food and wine is bob on and the weather (South of Lyon) is better than UK.

France is more dog friendly than the UK (most of Europe is), municipal campsites are generally good and value for money. Commercial site are also half decent (I’ve been on a few poor ones) but generally camping in France is a good experience.

The French don’t like speaking English, I speak fluent German but that doesn’t get me far in France, I speak zero French, fortunately the Mrs does.

Be like me Borussia, I speak three languages,   English, Yiddish and Gibberish 

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Brittany is probably your best bet as it is not as hot as regions further South. We took our dogs last year and I was surprised at how many places banned dogs. Seems ok to take them to restaurants but not beaches ( not all beaches ) also banned from some parks and lake areas. It was very hot some days much like here and I had to put dogs inside van with air conditioning on as I was worried they would get over heated. A lady in next van said when she used to bring her dogs she got them special coats which you soaked in water to keep them cool.

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Same as above. we have had loads of holidays in France as tent and caravaners.

If you are taking the dogs, have a thought about this summer in the UK. France is like this, mostly, maybe hotter! Further south you go the hotter it gets. As said, we tend to stay Loire or about (Going this September)

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Alsace is very picturesque and not too far to go to get there.  

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For our first trip across la Manche as adults we went with another couple and did the grand tour. We travelled from Calais is a large anticlockwise circle down the west coast of France, along the Med and back up the east boarder, thence via Reims to Calais. This took us just over three weeks but we spent a week in Arcachon, a few days near to the Pyrenees and another week on the Riverera at Agay. We travelled with a small trailer that contained our Mushroom tent and most of the camping paraphernalia behind our Maxi and soon became "experts" in quickly setting up camp, and packing to leave.

On one site near to Carcassonne we pulled onto a deserted site mid afternoon where the only sign of life was an older British couple "taking afternoon tea". We enquired of them where the owners were and where could we book in and were told just to pitch the tent and book in later. During the conversation we discussed our tent and, like a fool I said how easy it was to put up. This brought the response, "off you go then Sonny, I'm timing you". Well, always up for a challenge we set about pitching the tent. The lads delt with the main tent while the girls set up the two inner tents and erected the beanstalk kitchen. The trailer was then pushed inside the tent (as it formed our main storage). A table and four folding chairs erected just outside under the awning, and a cup of tea each was on the table. Ten minutes dead from start to finish, and a smug grin from each of us towards our new neighbours as we too "took afternoon tea" (how very British). 

We'd only been married a couple of years and this first holiday to France independent of parents was to be the foretaste of many later holidays where we tended to base ourselves in one place, initially with the tent, later a succession of caravans and finally with the motorhomes and then tour that area. We've had different kinds of holidays in France from beach holidays, to canoeing trips and cycle tours, but all equally enjoyable. Just look out for the dog poo on the pavements.

My advice to anyone going to France is to eat the local food, learn a bit of the language and make a point of mixing in with the locals whenever possible because most are really friendly if you make the effort.

Gordon.

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Can I suggest you take a look at my blog as it covers with pictures several areas of France with information about what there is there to gether with information about the sites we stayed on and how we got there. For mountains there is information about two trips to the Alps, for water there is information about the Jura, the Dordogne, the Lot and Lake Annecy, for coast a blog on Brittany and for history one on the Somme. Later this year there will be one on the Loire.

I have to say I usually have the opposite problem to Borussia in that I am not allowed to practice my schoolgirl French from sixty years ago as everyone replies in English as they say they want to practice their English,

Edited by LongTimeCaravaner

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2 hours ago, Gordon said:

My advice to anyone going to France is to eat the local food, learn a bit of the language and make a point of mixing in with the locals whenever possible because most are really friendly if you make the effort.

Gordon.

 

Absolutely!

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We have been going to France for many years and love it, some areas like the Auvergne,Jura and Vercors do not get many british visitors. We spent a couple of weeks in the Auvergne and saw one uk reg car!

We only go low season now we are retired,just had a month in France.

The "brit free" areas  do not bother us. I speak reasonable french and always speak it,often getting answers in English!

Some of our countryfolk speak no foreign languages and get by, but its polite to try.

I have helped fellow brits at times,also a young german couple who spoke a little english. Between my german(limited)  their english and my french, managed to get them booked into a municipal whose manager only spoke french!

I have found most french to be friendly, most say bonjour when you walk around the site, as we do !

Totally agree with Gordon.

Worth learning some language,local  colleges do evening classes.

 

 

 

 

Edited by DavS

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Some good answers above, like most of these we too have been to most areas,starting with Brittany in a tent and then Loire,Brittany again,and again, Normandy Picardy, Auvergne, Swiss Borders (Haute-Savoie) , South of France, Alsace,Dordogne. Burgundy, one of the best holidays was in the wooded area known as The Morvan in the centre very English looking scenery much of the time but not too full!....

 

Always found French pleasant the odd Bonjour or head nod is much appreciated, as is the offer,to them, of a glass of vino.  

 

geoff

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Thank you so much for all the help and ideas, will definitely take a look at your blog long time caravanner!

thanks again one and all

 

andrew & sally

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Hi Andrew and Sally

We were "first timers" to France in June.   We had been to France many years ago on holidays but this was the first time with our caravan. 

We decided to revisit an area we had visited many years ago on a Headwater cycling holiday the Pays de Loir which is just north of the Loire valley.   It was delightful.   We stayed at the Municipal site of La Fleche for two weeks with our two small dogs.   It was a lovely site I think it worked out at 11 euros a night with the camping card.   Within walking distance of the town on the River Loir and a quiet peacful site with lots of nationalities.   We took our bikes and did a few very nice trips out on the the "green road" to Le Lude and other destinations.   Plenty of walks and canoeing on The Loir.   I made an effort to speak French and even though it was poor received nothing but friendliness and welcome.  

Also, the French are very dog friendly and loved the dogs. 

We loved it so much immediately booked another 2 weeks in September in La Royan, further down on the coast.   

We never went before I think it was because of the long journey but we did not find it so bad.   Went via Poole to Cherbourg and parked up at ferry port overnight in Poole en route and way back which was less tiring. 

Bonne Vacance!

H

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