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A local's advice on How to Plan Your France Itinerary 

Planning your France itinerary can be as easy as copying one I've already designed for you. That's right. This section will contain itineraries of every length, using a variety of transport and catering to a multitude of tastes.

Let's get right down to it: where do you want to go? This site is new and links will be added as they become available.

So far, I've developed three extraordinary itineraries for you:

This is just a start, and there will be many more. But meantime...

how to plan your own france itinerary

If you'd like to do it on your own, that's great – but there are a number of steps you'll have to take to get organized. Here's a basic checklist.

Get your paperwork out of the way

This is basic but I'll remind you anyway: you'll need travel papers, health insurance, and visas, if any.

Decide where you're going

Our tendency is often to want to see it all – but France is the size of Texas, with twice the population, so seeing everything in one go is clearly not a good idea. Use whatever resources are at your disposal to decide what you must see this time around, whether by buying a guidebook, surfing the web or talking to people.

I find that a destination usually chooses me... I know where I want to go even though I might not acknowledge it at first, and the more research I do, the more I end up going around in circles and ending up where I really want to go. That said, I know people who simply flip a coin. Your choice!

Start building your itinerary

Open a document on your computer because you're going to need to organize things. Since you will already have chosen the general area you plan to visit, now is the time to break it down into smaller bits.

Try to have a column or a page for every place you plan to stop and visit. And then begin adding information to each section – as you read and research, you'll find things out you didn't know. If something tempts you, take note.

Make a map. You can just do it on Google if you'd like – put a pin in every place you want to visit and get a sense of whether your dreams can be turned into reality. If you have ten days with 20 stops, perhaps not.

Establish your budget

It's always helpful to have an idea of what you plan to spend, and how. There's transportation, accommodation, entertainment, sights, shopping... 

Choose your transportation

If you're focusing on Paris, that's easy, public transportation will take you everywhere. Once you decide to head out to the regions, you'll have to make a choice. Trains will get you to the main cities and to many villages, especially on well-trodden tourist routes. But if you want to head off the beaten path, driving may be your only alternative (here's more about driving in France).

Book your accommodation

Places to stay in France can get booked out at certain dates. For example, there are school holidays at mid-term but each region has a different date for its breaks so depending on when you go, you may find your favourite resort is full of holidaying French families. Knowing at least some of your hotels are reserved, especially in the more popular areas, will definitely put you in a more serene state of mind.

Organize your information

Once you have everything, make sure you have everything where it should be, from your travel documents to your itinerary. Make sure you print everything out, photograph it with you cellphone, and keep that photograph, just inc ase.

Decide what to do about language

How do you plan to communicate? You could get a French phrasebook, or download a translation app, or take some French lessons. Whatever you decide, know that, especially if you go off the beaten path, many people will not speak English. That won't be a problem as long as you're prepared.

Do you plan to document your trip?

Perhaps all you want to do is take a few snapshots with your smartphone but if you want to document every bit of your trip, organize yourself beforehand. You don't want to be hunting for a stationery shop to buy a journal at the last minute, or scrambling to get your recording app to work.

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