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Accommodations availability in August

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I understand that August is a poor time to vacation in Europe because all of Europe is on vacation, too, and many places will be either crowded or closed. In that case is it essential to book accommodations ahead of time, or is it still possible to build in some spontaneity to our trip, allowing us to follow our hearts, at least at some points, rather that be constrained to a set schedule? We will be in Paris, Provence, Lk. Como, Venice, Bagno di Romanga, Florence, 5 Terre and Parma.

August travelers, what is your experience? Thanks for your help with this.

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