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Itinerary for 6 Weeks in France and Italy

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Hi there,

I know there are many discussions on this similar topic. I hope mine query is a bit different. Here is some background info. We got tickets to Paris at the end of May 2012 and will be there for 6 weeks. It is sort of our first trip to Europe. We would like to spend time exploring France and Italy mainly. My partner's ancestor came from Tirano in Italy so we would like to go there.

The problem is we cannot really commit into booking anything due to my partner's illness which was diagnosed soon after we got the tickets. We hope that we can go to Paris as intended even if we have to travel with his medication during this trip providing that his oncologist gives us a go. Anyway, due to this illness thing, I haven't done any planning and no research has been done. I hope someone could give me some idea on how to go about in planning / booking this trip. We were thinking of driving ourselves but I doubt we could. We probably have to travel by trains or planes? We love food & wine, small country towns. My partner loves watching Tour de France just for the scenary of France :) We aren't into religious arts. We go to museum and art gallery if something is really interesting but it's not our main interest. We want to experience and see something different from Australia.

Look forward to hearing some ideas. Thank you.

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    Considering that your partner will not be very well, my first suggestion would be to avoid moving around a lot, and stay in apartments because they would be more comfortable and convenient for you.

    You don't say why you could not drive yourselves around, so I want to suggest you could do so for half of this trip. Just stay out of big cities when you drive.

    So I would start with a week in Paris, then take a train to Provence, rent a car in Provence and tour around from a base like Aix-en-Provence. Then drive to Nice for a week and tour around the Cote-d'Azur. Turn in the car and take a train to Italy, and pick up a car in Milan. (Drop-off fees from France to Italy are quite high) You could have a delightful week in and around Tirano, driving to small towns in nearby Switzerland as well as Italy. Turn in the car again. Then go to by train to someplace like Bologna, which has great food, and use the train to see towns like Parma and Modena, the homes of Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. You could also train into Florence (about an hour) for a day trip, or Verona which is a nice medium sized town, or even Venice if your partner can do a long day. For your last week, take the train to Rome

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    So sorry about your partners illness. Having dealt with more than a few illnesses (not mine) in my time, I'd say having a six week holiday in Europe to look forward to is a great thing for you both!!!

    The tour is great fun to go watch. Check on the schedule here - http://www.letour.fr/2012/TDF/COURSE/us/le_parcours.html. There's a grand procession of floats and music and gear vehicles that proceeds the cyclists. We went last year and just went to a small town that was easy to get to. The atmosphere was AMAZING!!!

    If your partner loves the Tour for the scenery, maybe pick a year that he particularly loved and follow that route. It would allow you to see some amazing scenery, but also a trail not generally traveled and experience a great variety of food, wine and small country towns. I'm not sure why you think you couldn't drive yourselves. I've found the driving in France to be not only easy, but often very enjoyable (btw, I grew up driving in the US and then lived in Australia for 10 years so know what it's like to drive on the other side of the road!). Car rentals generally allow you to cancel prior so no worries there. For six weeks you should also look into one of the European new car lease programs. I think Renault, Peugot and BMW all offer them.

    I often use hotels.com because you can easily change/cancel bookings and can easily see which allow those and which don't. You might not end up every night in the quiantest/most amazing place but mostly you have 24 hours prior to change so when the time gets closer and you know you're able to follow your plan you can see if anything better is available then (although last July I got some amazing waterfront hotels in Brittany super cheap that way). Also, you get one night free after 10 nights which I've actually uses several times which is a nice bonus.

    If you end up in Aple d'Huez (the tour goes there reasonably often) and you're at all inclined I would highly recommend para-sailing there - it was the single most amazing thing I've ever done.

    Hope you have a wonderful, life affirming time!!!

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