Suggested itineraries and daily travel plans for France
Vacation blueprints for your trip to France so so you can get the most out of your trip, no matter where you want to go and how much time you have to see the best of France
You only have a week or two and want to see everything, right? Impossible—but we can certainly help you try, with suggested itineraries for all tastes and time constraints so you can follow your interests and passions and get the most out of your precious time in France.
Whom these itineraries are for
Some people want an easy-to-follow blueprint for their trip. Others just want a sense of how much they can squeeze into limited vacation time.
Even if you don't want to follow an full itinerary, at least take a glance at one or two to get a sense of the practical matters to take into account when planning your own French vacation (and check out the "Itinerary Basics" summary of tips).
Frankly, if you only have a 1–2 days for visiting France, you should spend them all in Paris.
Even if you have three or four days, I'd still suggest sticking to Paris—though you could, if you want, light out from the city for one day to visit Versailles, or Giverny, or Normandy, or whatever other place you are just dying to visit.
Even better, if you're just taking a day trip from a big city, I'd look into signing up for a tour—worth the slight extra expense as it saves time and the energy of the working out the logistics, plus you can usually squeeze in a whole lot more (not just Versailles, but combos like Versailles and Giverny). See the Paris Sidetrips page for a list of day trip excursions and one-day whirlwind tours of top French destinations.
OK, on to the France itineraries designed for slightly longer trips in which you will be visiting more than just Paris.
You do not have to book everything before you travel—leaving some wiggle-room in any itinerary for delays, unexpected festivals, and spur-of-the-moment changes is key to a successful trip. However, there are a few things—oh, say, passports, plane tickets, etc.—that are pretty crucial.
I like to reserve at least my first and and last night's lodging (one less thing to worry about in the scramble and stress of the start and end of trips), as well as any special B&Bs along the way, tickets for marquee events or day tours, and a few other items.
In addition to the below, check out the Countdown Calendar for an idea of when to book what.
I'm all for planning your own trip‚ and this website is set up to help you do just that—but some people might just as well prefer to leave all the planning, logistics, transportation, lodging, and gathering of information to the professionals and simply sign up with a guided tour.
Nothing wrong with that. Just take my advice and choose a tour that emphasizes small groups over large crowds, local transport over big tour buses, and fun cultural experiences over sightseeing checklists. You'll have a better time, and probably spend less for it. Under the "links" above are some of our favorite companies that can help you do just that. » more
I will freely admit to being as guilty as anyone of this, but: Please try not to over plan your trip. That's a two-fold plea:
Plan everything, but don't feel compelled to stick to the plan. I think it's a fine idea to work out all the details of what you plan to do—if nor no other reason than it will help you get a handle of what you are able to get done, and start making the hard choices of what you have time for and what you should leave for the next trip. (Always assume you will return!)
But then do not book absolutely every second in advance (that leaves no room to adjust things as you go to accommodate changing interests, sudden festivals, or unexpected invitations), and please do not attempt to stick to the schedule if it turns out to be overly ambitious and starts making you miserable.
Remember Clark W. Griswold, the Chevy Chase dad in the Vacation movies, always bound and determined to get to WallyWorld or see every sight in Europe come hell or dead aunties? Yeah, don't be that guy. No one in that family was having any fun
Don't try to pack too much in. A vacation is not meant to be all about checking sights off a list or dashing from place to place to fit in as much as humanly possible. It's about enjoying yourself.
So do that. Enjoy yourself. Take a break from the sightseeing every once in a while. Leave some time to stop and smell the croissant au chocolat.