During longer stays in France (7 days or more), it's a good idea to arrive in Paris, stay for 2 or 3 days, take a day trip or a 3-4 day road trip, and end up departing from Paris. Generally, hotels and B&B’s outside of Paris are inexpensive. A resource for places to stay is Relais & Chateaux guide (website).

Loire Valley – the châteaux here are nothing short of fabulous. Take the TGV (high speed train) to Tours, rent a car and spend a few days visiting the wonderful châteaux and sampling the wines.

Normandy - Drive from Paris to Chartres, Rouen, Mont St. Michel, Dinan, Honfleur and other sites in Normandy. Visit the Normandy Beaches and the American, British and German War Cemeteries. If in Bayeux, visit the cathedral and the famous Tapestry (housed close by the cathedral) which tells the story of the invasion of Britain by William the Conqueror in 1066. Visit Chateau de Sassy and Chateau de Carrouges just north of Alençon in Southern Normandy, close to the border with the Sarthe and the Pays de la Loire.

Le Mans - Home of the famous 24Hr motor race (usually the second weekend of June). Get there by rail (TGV 1hr) or autoroute (2hrs).

Sancerre/Orleans (Loire Valley) – 1 ½ hour drive out of Paris to visit Orleans, home of Joan of Arc, and the Sancerre Vineyards. A very nice 2 day trip.

Champagne Region – a day trip to Reims where you can visit the “caves” of famous champagne makers like Mumm, Piper-Heidseck, Taittinger, etc. Usually open March-Sept.

Picardy – This region is north of Paris and not widely visited. However, it is beautiful country. Beauvais and the city of Amiens which was frequented by Jules Verne has a very impressive cathedral. Quiet and sleepy.

Giverney – The gardens and home of Monet. It can be visited in a day. Advice – get there early before the tourist buses. If you take the train, it arrives in Vernon, then take the short cab ride to Giverney. It's like being in a Monet painting as opposed to looking at one. Bring your camera to take photos of the gardens. Photography not permitted in the house. Closed Monday. Web site:

The Cathedral at Chartres – this is a day trip or can be visited on your way to Normandy or as a day trip via train. A beautiful cathedral. If you go, make sure you take the tour (in English) given by Malcolm Miller.