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We want ~8 days in Rome, ~10 in Paris...this May. Help?

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We're hoping to go back to Europe this May. We went to London/Paris in April/May 2014, now we want Rome/Paris. So now I need help on some things. I'm 52, husband is 56. We don't really drink alcohol (I know! No beer in London, or wine in Paris or Rome--our meds seriously don't like it). We like to walk and wander through museums, shopping areas, and just the streets.

I realize that "better" and "pros/cons" are subjective, so I'm not going to have a hissy fit with anecdotal evidence nor with answers that disagree.

We're hoping to fly open-jaw from California into Rome, take the train/fly to Paris, and fly back from there. Extra days in Paris to allow time for Normandy and Mont St-Michel (both requests from Husband, so they are definitely on the list). I know we want to go to Rome first, and be in Paris on May 9--we have to set some kind of start, so we opted for that day since it's the start of the Bread Festival (best traditional baguette in Paris).

For Rome, we can figure out WHAT we want to see (the typical tourist stuff in Rome/Vatican plus general wandering around the city), but would like advice on the best WAY to see it. Passes? Guides? Tours? Tips to do or avoid doing? Suggestions about places to stay IN town, with a budget of up to US$150/night.

If we opted for a day trip elsewhere, suggestions? I'd be interested in Pompeii. Is that something better off with a group day tour or on our own?

We were told by friends that, for getting to Paris, we could just go the airport and take RyanAir (or something similar) for the 3-hour flight. Is that better--or cheaper--than an overnight train? What are the pros/cons, aside from the obvious: time?

In Paris, we have ideas of what we want to see more of and what we missed out on the first time. But Normandy.... We're interested in the battle sites and, as I posted, Mont St-Michel. Husband is NOT interested in driving there (neither am I). Are we better off going on our own by train? A day trip? A multi-day trip? I have no idea what the options are and what the pros/cons are of each.

Why Paris again? We really liked Paris and this allows Normandy/Mont St-Michel. Getting familiar with Rome will help on a future trip to Rome/Florence/Venice. We'll likely stop in London again on a future trip to areas outside London and/or Ireland. We want to spend time in one city, not rushrushrush, doing too much.

So, thanks in advance to any help.

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