Author Topic: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .  (Read 1935 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1890
Despite all of our other European travels, my wife and I have never been in France, but I think this is the year to go. Living on the west coast of the U.S. makes a trip to Europe a big undertaking due to expense, time, etc, but at this point in our lives, we want to try every other year. We are trying to keep expense down and will likely stay in AirBNBs, as the prices are often dramatically less than hotels (esp in Paris). Our friend who just returned did this and was extremely pleased with the value for the money as compared to hotels. We also love food and wine, and will likely try a few of the more expensive/renowned places, but we generally want to keep this cost down as well--easy to do I'm told as all the food, including cheap bread, cheese, crepes, are excellent. I am trying to avoid renting a car. We drove around Ireland for three weeks in 2017, and it was great, but not driving also appeals to me (partly because I live in the HELL A area, and am completely sick of the driving and every other facet of life here)

We plan to spend a bit over a week in Paris--maybe 9 or 10 nights to give us a little time to settle in and soak up the local culture before hitting the obvious tourist sites. We are adventurous and generally prefer to see things ourselves as opposed to going on tours--however, a tour here and there can certainly be helpful in avoiding driving and obtaining some good knowledge. We would likely take a tour to Versailles, Giverny (Monet's garden), and Champagne. In Paris itself, we of course want to see the Louvre, Musée D'Orsay, Pompidou Centre, Nortre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Saint-Sulpice, and any other church with an interesting organ recital on offer. I also want to trace some of Atget's footsteps and look at some of the other gardens and locales he photographed: St. Cloud, Sceaux, Luxembourg Gardens, etc. As in other European cities, I realize that a museum pass can save countless hours standing in line.

We could go on to Lyon or any other cities, but after a week or more in Paris (or any other big city), I get tired of crowds, bus fumes, cigarette smoke, etc. I am a nature lover at heart in any case. We think it would be great to visit Alsace, the Alps, Rhone, etc., but I am most attracted to Brittany. This is due to the scenery, coastline, seafood, and Celtic culture. We will likely stay in Cancale for 4-5 days, and go over to Mont Saint Michel. We also want to see some of Normandy, but will steer clear of the dates of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day (would like to see the cemetery and memorial however).

Aside from that, I am interested in any advice. In Brittany, we would like to see as much of the coastline as possible and soak up as much of the local color and food as possible. Where else would be good towns (prefer to avoid big cities) in Brittany to stay for a few nights?

How is driving in France? Driving in Ireland was not too bad despite driving on the left side, the extreme narrowness of some roads, and the very expensive rental rates. I am guessing nothing can beat renting a car for independence and being able to see as much as possible. (but then again, I hate and detest rental car agencies, but the ones in the U.S are far worse from my experience!)

The other issue is WHEN to go--We basically have from mid-May to mid-August, and I suppose there will not be a huge difference in tourist density within this time span. We have read plenty of articles that advise that everything is closed in August (due to vacations); but then again, we have known people who went in August who said that is complete and total BS--confused about this! 

Any other advice on Paris, Brittany, and Normandy would be appreciated.
(and yes, I do plan to learn some French--just as I learned Russian, Italian, German, and even Norwegian for other trips)
« Last Edit: February 22, 2019, 05:28:29 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline JBS

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2947
  • If music be the food of love, play on!
  • Location: USA
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2019, 05:18:52 PM »
I have spent a total of three hours in France, all of it in Charles DeGaulle Airport, so I have no real info to give.  But everytime I considered a trip there, I was always attracted by the river cruises between Paris and Normandy. At least some of them stopped at Giverny, so that would help tick off one item on your list.

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1890
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2019, 05:21:43 PM »
I have spent a total of three hours in France, all of it in Charles DeGaulle Airport, so I have no real info to give.  But everytime I considered a trip there, I was always attracted by the river cruises between Paris and Normandy. At least some of them stopped at Giverny, so that would help tick off one item on your list.

Thanks. I have heard from many travelers that CDG is the absolute worst--but compared to what? Try coming to LAX sometime and making a connection to another airline in another terminal--an absolute zoo of the very worst kind.

River cruises do look tempting, but we are very independent and probably would not want to do more than a few days. One of my friends who did one informed that all of the rates you see in the brochures are the sucker sticker; they reel you in and then charge you triple--suckers!!!
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8060
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2019, 05:57:22 PM »
From what you write, you will be traveling in the northern half of the country. Champagne and Alsace are truly unique areas with very distinct cachet, but they are in the opposite direction from Normandy and Brittany. Champagne is easily doable in 3-4 days max. Alsace: you won’t regret spending a whole week there.

Although my ancestors came from Brittany 3 generations ago (my last name is pure breton), I have not traveled the region - yet  :D. The only real tourist spots every visitor go to are the Mont Saint Michel and the Carnac menhirs (France’s Stonehenge). They are at opposite ends of Brittany (north and south respectively). Traveling to Brittany will take a week if you go from one end (Mont Saint Michel)  to the other (the Guérande salt pans) and don’t stint on touring local attractions.

I hope you realize how much time this all entails. Despite much shorter distances, traveling Europe takes a lot more time than North America. Make sure you do your homework 📚 before taking the road  :D. The best the country offers is often found in small villages. There are books about the french villages. Worth making some detours !

« Last Edit: February 22, 2019, 05:59:05 PM by André »

Offline mc ukrneal

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 9016
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2019, 05:58:16 PM »
Oh Boy. I'll tell you what I think, but you (and others) may have different ideas.

Time of year: May/June would be my choice. It's always crowded, but I prefer the weather at this time. Still cool (ish) at night and nice during the day. Hotels/rooms do not always have A/C so check on that (if it's important to you). Though it can be cooler in the northern regions.  August can be nice, but some places (particularly family run places and such) can be closed. It's not as bad as it used to be and still way more activity compared to winter months (for example). It will be more noticeable outside of Paris.

Driving: I've done it several times with no problem (having lived and driven in big cities all my life). Once you get used to it, it shouldn't be a problem. Directions are not always clear (to be nice about it), so good to have studied the roads a bit before you go. You'll get lost, but you probably already know that. And sometimes, those are the most memorable bits. But you don't need a car in Paris at all.

Paris - I never loved Versailles. Don't get me wrong it's amazing, but it's a lot of walking and sometimes waiting on lines (buy in advance here for sure). The problem is that half the world wants to see it and everything is filled with people despite its enormous size.  I much preferred Chantilly or Fountainebleu for example. There are many day trip possibilities here. Pretty much all of them are good. I think 4-5 days in the city itself is enough to hit most of the key spots. Keep in mind that lines for security checks can be huge! We skipped Notre Dame last time, because the line wrapped around the whole square. Yet, there will be small miracles as well, as St. Chapelle was virtually enpty just an hour before. You get lucky sometimes. Just don't be surprised and be ready with alternatives (for weather changes too). Make sure to book a ticket to Eiffel Tower in advance. That line can be hours. I kid you not. I actually thought the Notre Dame visit to the roof was tons of fun. And going to the top of the Arc de Triomphe was surprisingly fun too. Don't miss the Rodin museum if you like sculpture. Very manageable in size too. There is so much to see, so just depends on your interest. The Opera (the old one) is just a brilliant visit, either for a concert or on a tour.

Alsace is awesome. Lots of beautiful little towns, wineries, castles, etc. It's a brilliant place, but then so is pretty much anywhere you listed. Loire Valley is fun too - one of my favorite places with some amazing castles and gardens if you like that. Outside Paris, Alsace and Loire are our favorites.

I'll leave others to talk about Brittany/Normandy as I was last there quite a while ago. You'll have fun no matter what you do.
Be kind to your fellow posters!!

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1890
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2019, 06:16:35 PM »
From what you write, you will be traveling in the northern half of the country. Champagne and Alsace are truly unique areas with very distinct cachet, but they are in the opposite direction from Normandy and Brittany. Champagne is easily doable in 3-4 days max. Alsace: you won’t regret spending a whole week there.

Although my ancestors came from Brittany 3 generations ago (my last name is pure breton), I have not traveled the region - yet  :D. The only real tourist spots every visitor go to are the Mont Saint Michel and the Carnac menhirs (France’s Stonehenge). They are at opposite ends of Brittany (north and south respectively). Traveling to Brittany will take a week if you go from one end (Mont Saint Michel)  to the other (the Guérande salt pans) and don’t stint on touring local attractions.

I hope you realize how much time this all entails. Despite much shorter distances, traveling Europe takes a lot more time than North America. Make sure you do your homework 📚 before taking the road  :D. The best the country offers is often found in small villages. There are books about the french villages. Worth making some detours !



Thanks very much, sounds great, especially the Carnac menhirs. I am fascinated with stone circles and the earlier portal and passage tombs. In Ireland we saw Newgrange, the Kenmare Stone Circle, and the Poulnabrone Dolmen--all of which were fascinating and have a very special aura (I'm not into mysticism or religion, but there is a certain feeling there). As for detours, we always leave extra time. I'd rather soak up the culture than run around like crazy trying to check off boxes.
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1890
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2019, 06:30:51 PM »
Oh Boy. I'll tell you what I think, but you (and others) may have different ideas.

Time of year: May/June would be my choice. It's always crowded, but I prefer the weather at this time. Still cool (ish) at night and nice during the day. Hotels/rooms do not always have A/C so check on that (if it's important to you). Though it can be cooler in the northern regions.  August can be nice, but some places (particularly family run places and such) can be closed. It's not as bad as it used to be and still way more activity compared to winter months (for example). It will be more noticeable outside of Paris.

Driving: I've done it several times with no problem (having lived and driven in big cities all my life). Once you get used to it, it shouldn't be a problem. Directions are not always clear (to be nice about it), so good to have studied the roads a bit before you go. You'll get lost, but you probably already know that. And sometimes, those are the most memorable bits. But you don't need a car in Paris at all.

Paris - I never loved Versailles. Don't get me wrong it's amazing, but it's a lot of walking and sometimes waiting on lines (buy in advance here for sure). The problem is that half the world wants to see it and everything is filled with people despite its enormous size.  I much preferred Chantilly or Fountainebleu for example. There are many day trip possibilities here. Pretty much all of them are good. I think 4-5 days in the city itself is enough to hit most of the key spots. Keep in mind that lines for security checks can be huge! We skipped Notre Dame last time, because the line wrapped around the whole square. Yet, there will be small miracles as well, as St. Chapelle was virtually enpty just an hour before. You get lucky sometimes. Just don't be surprised and be ready with alternatives (for weather changes too). Make sure to book a ticket to Eiffel Tower in advance. That line can be hours. I kid you not. I actually thought the Notre Dame visit to the roof was tons of fun. And going to the top of the Arc de Triomphe was surprisingly fun too. Don't miss the Rodin museum if you like sculpture. Very manageable in size too. There is so much to see, so just depends on your interest. The Opera (the old one) is just a brilliant visit, either for a concert or on a tour.

Alsace is awesome. Lots of beautiful little towns, wineries, castles, etc. It's a brilliant place, but then so is pretty much anywhere you listed. Loire Valley is fun too - one of my favorite places with some amazing castles and gardens if you like that. Outside Paris, Alsace and Loire are our favorites.

I'll leave others to talk about Brittany/Normandy as I was last there quite a while ago. You'll have fun no matter what you do.

Thanks! Loire was on our list too, maybe journey through there between Brittany and Paris--but we only have so much time and money for this trip. As for Versailles, I would not mind skipping it--I am kind of ambivalent. It would be great to see, but as you said, the lines and crowds get really old really fast for me. I don't have a really big appetite for royal residences either. We saw Peterhof in St. Petersburg and it was very interesting (not overly crowded), but, really the highlight of that trip was the Hermitage and the trip to Novgorod to see the old churches and the Museum of Wooden Architecture.

As for driving, I would never do it in any large European city! We did not have a car in Dublin but did fine as pedestrians. I got lost briefly in Kilkenny, but we arrived early and only planned on maybe 200 km per day at most between towns. I read about people who get off the plane after a transatlantic flight, then hop into a rental car-crazy!! I need to get to my hotel, take a brief nap (not too long to adjust to local time zone), a shower and relax. We got horribly lost in Ennis at night, but fortunately, we met a couple nice young people who drove ahead of us to show us the way back to our B&B. I think it would be much more relaxing to just do trains, cabs, and walking--very tempted to skip the car. We will never see everything in any case. Not to pick on Europe, I dread and avoid driving in downtown HELL A, and only go down there for jury duty! Would never think of driving in Chicago, NY, although I was fine in Toronto and living in Vancouver for four years.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2019, 06:45:15 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Jo498

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4625
  • Location: Germany
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2019, 12:53:24 AM »
Driving in Paris must be a nightmare and it is also unnecessary because of the Metro. But driving in the "country" in France is rather unproblematic in my limited experience.

I also recall Versailles as impressive but somewhat boring (although it's been a long time, I was in Paris in 1992 and 2000 and the second time not to Versailles, I think). With the big museums one needs a little luck to avoid long queues and it is often helpful to go "unusual" hours. Unfortunately, they are usually worth the wait. But make sure to walk around in Paris, the smalle parks and the two famous cemeteries (Montparnasse and Pere Lachaise) and generally the atmosphere of the city.
The only other French region I am somewhat familiar with is Alsace which is nice (and the Unterlinden Museum with the famous Altar great) but it is somewhat of a mix between France and Germany culturally (and could at another occasion be visited from South/West Germany or Switzerland), so I'd rather go to Brittany or the Loire castles or whatever that is more quintessentially France.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Papy Oli

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4954
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2019, 01:14:21 AM »
If you are planning to stay in Cancale, you are near the heart of the touristic area of the northern Brittany coast with many key sites to visit nearby :

* Saint Malo (rebuilt town with superb remparts walk, big harbour)
* Dinard - posh residential seaside town (point of note : balade du Clair de Lune, along the beach/coast)
* Usine Marémotrice de la Rance (Electricity-generating dam), linking Dinard and Saint Malo
* Dinan - old beam houses, very quaint, nice creperies, small lovery harbour, the steep Jerzoual street towards the harbour needs to be descended and re-climbed. The bakery had the bottom will offer strength building local patisseries before the return ascent  >:D
* Cap Frehel - rugged coastal view point with lighthouses

Brittany have been heavily advertising in the medias in recent years and the touristic levels have surged in the last few years (even more popular than it was before). My parents retired to this area 6-7 years ago and they avoid Saint Malo in the summer at all cost  ;D...but it does need to be done if you are there. Grin and bear it  :laugh:

Slightly further west from Dinard, I can recommend some much smaller and calmer coastal towns and villages with lots of cachet and more relaxing beach/coastal walks. From east to west : Saint Lunaire, Saint Briac, Lancieux, Saint Jacut de la Mer, Saint Cast, Sables d'Or, Erquy, Pleneuf Val Andre.

There is a trekking path called GR34 that goes all around the britttany coast, and therefore along the coastal towns listed above. Wherever you pick that GR34 from, you will enjoy that stunning bit of France.

if you stretch your trip to Alsace, you can get a real feel for the place and its character in a very small perimeter : Colmar - Riquewihr - Hunawhir - Ribeauville - Castle of the Haut Koenigsbourg...and all the small villages around that area.
Olivier

Online Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 13453
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2019, 01:48:26 AM »


Any other advice on Paris,


Paris in August may be stifling. If it were me planning this trip, I would try to avoid July and August.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Biffo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1615
  • Location: United Kingdom
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2019, 02:00:38 AM »
I have a lot of experience of Brittany and Normandy and could recommend either though you seem drawn to Brittany.

Starting with Mont St Michel - I don't want to seem negative as I have been several times but it is busy all year round and from May onwards it is heaving with tourists. It is a spectacular building with amazing views from the top but beware - according to the official guide only 30% of visitors make it to the top. It a fairly steep climb up a winding path that is largely steps.

There is so much to see in Brittany it is difficult to know where to start, perhaps you should get a guide book and choose a few places in advance. On my first visits to Brittany I stayed fairly near to Cancale and visited it several times. Within reasonable driving distance there is St Malo, Dinan, Dinard (already mentioned), Dol with its ancient cathedral and Fougeres with a magnificent castle but more or a drive. Scenically, western and southern Brittany are more beautiful than the area around the Bay of St Michel which is rather flat.

If you get chance, on your way out of Paris to Normandy/Brittany you should visit Chartres Cathedral.

Offline ritter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6089
  • Raoul Dufy, "Tragédie, Comédie"
  • Location: "La Villa y Corte"
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2019, 02:18:21 AM »
I concur with the opinions above: do try May or June, and avoid July and August.

If in Brittany, a night or two on Belle-Île-en-Mer is well worth it. It’s on the West coast, just off the Quiberon peninsula, not far from Nantes. The little port town of Vannes is also close by, and is delightful.

Belle-Île:



Vannes:


My prime recommendation for provincial France is quite the opposite from Brittany, though: the Provence. Town after town of sheer beauty (Avignon, Nîmes, Arles, Orange, Uzès, Saint-Rémy, Les Baux, Aix-en-Provence, Cassis—next to Marseille, the Pont du Gard, the Camargue marshlands...), with all the Roman heritage, and breathtaking landscapes... :).

Have fun!
« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 02:40:09 AM by ritter »
ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« Et tandis que nous roulerons, à pleins poumons nous chanterons: 'Muguet! Muguet! Joli muguet, par toi l'on reprend confiance' »

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 18669
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2019, 03:01:11 AM »
My prime recommendation for provincial France is quite the opposite from Brittany, though: the Provence. Town after town of sheer beauty (Avignon, Nîmes, Arles, Orange, Uzès, Saint-Rémy, Les Baux, Aix-en-Provence, Cassis—next to Marseille, the Pont du Gard, the Camargue marshlands...), with all the Roman heritage, and breathtaking landscapes... :).

Seconded wholeheartedly. Nice (the city, that is) as well, and from there you can take the train to Monaco / Monte-Carlo, or even fjurther West to San Remo in Italy. Worth a day.

Also the mountainous areas around Grenoble (Isere Department) and Chambery (Savoie Department) are superb. They shoud greatly appeal to a nature lover. Plus you get Annecy (Haute-Savoie Department), one of the loveliest towns I've ever seen.



In Northern France the Loire Valley and its castles, centered around Balzac's native city of Tours, are marvelous.

I have seen Saint-Malo and Mont Saint-Michel and second the options.

Paris is very nice but overcrowded. Very good public transportation makes a car useless.

In Southern France there also the beautiful region around Toulouse, including the splendid Carcassone, one of the two Europe's medieval fortressses still inhabited  (the other one being Sighișoara, Romania).



 Further south you get to the Occitan region (Perpignan, Montpellier, Beziers, Cap d'Agde) which is also very nice.

Actually, the whole France is wonderful and you can't go wrong with any region, but if you like natural scenery the Alps and the South are first options in my opinion (which is based on almost two years of uninterruptedly living in, and visting, France --- my headquarter was in Grenoble).

« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 03:14:19 AM by Florestan »
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  --- Victor Hugo

Online Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 13453
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2019, 03:49:28 AM »

Any other advice on Paris, Brittany, and Normandy would be appreciated.


Think about Arcachon and Île de Ré. And inland the Camargue -- hole up somewhere like Arles or Carcassone. 
« Last Edit: February 23, 2019, 03:52:19 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1890
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2019, 06:37:04 PM »
Thanks to all for the great information! It's tough to choose between all the wonderful towns, regions, and attractions. I will look through this more carefully when I have time and follow up!  8)
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline André

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8060
  • Location: Laval, QC
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2019, 07:00:09 PM »
To prove you’ve actually made the trip, you’ll have to show us some of your pictures   :D

Offline JBS

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2947
  • If music be the food of love, play on!
  • Location: USA
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2019, 07:20:03 PM »
To prove you’ve actually made the trip, you’ll have to show us some of your pictures   :D

There's a thread for that
http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,1307.20.html

Or alternately
http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,23022.0.html

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Ghost of Baron Scarpia

  • Guest
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2019, 10:07:20 AM »
I can't say I'm an experienced traveler in France. Once for a scientific meeting I went to Montpellier, which I found beautiful. It has the oldest medical school in Europe (we got to have meetings in the historic lecture room of the medical school). It is a medieval town with different layers of history whose economy was originally based on trade with the Levant. I don't know if it is a significant tourist destination, but when you walk out of the the hotel one blink of the eyes and you are unmistakably in France. Everything from ornate public buildings to squalid looking old apartment buildings such as you would see in the now demolished neighborhood used as the backdrop for the old film Le ballon rouge (The Red Balloon).

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 18669
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2019, 10:31:02 AM »
I can't say I'm an experienced traveler in France. Once for a scientific meeting I went to Montpellier, which I found beautiful. It has the oldest medical school in Europe (we got to have meetings in the historic lecture room of the medical school). It is a medieval town with different layers of history whose economy was originally based on trade with the Levant. I don't know if it is a significant tourist destination, but when you walk out of the the hotel one blink of the eyes and you are unmistakably in France. Everything from ornate public buildings to squalid looking old apartment buildings such as you would see in the now demolished neighborhood used as the backdrop for the old film Le ballon rouge (The Red Balloon).

Montpellier is indeed a lovely and fascinating city. I visited it in a single day only but it's certainly worth more.
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  --- Victor Hugo

Offline listener

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 6228
  • Location: 604
Re: First trip to France (Paris, Brittany)-any advice appreciated. . .
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2019, 06:11:16 PM »
I found Michelin Green Guides invaluable.  The Red Guide with hotel and eating places is also useful as it has small maps of little towns too.

"Keep your hand on the throttle and your eye on the rail as you walk through life's pathway."