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10 Day South of France and Florence Trip?

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Mar 24th, 2013, 05:07 PM
  #1
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10 Day South of France and Florence Trip?

My friend and I are 22 year old females from NYC planning a trip to the South of France and Italy this summer. My friend is a nervous traveler with allergies, so we would like to stay in safe, clean places with easily accessible pharmacies and hospitals to make her feel more comfortable - but we are on a budget. We would love some suggestions for places that are rich with art and culture and can provide us with a balance of sight-seeing and relaxation.
We're thinking:

NYC-->Aeroport International Nice-Cote d'Azur
Nights 1-4: Probably Nice, Marseilles, Arles or Avignon
Day 5: Train to Florence with stop in Cinqe Terre or Genoa
Nights 5-9: Florence, maybe with day trip to Pisa or nearby towns
Florence-->NYC

Where should we stay and where is worth visiting in the South of France?? Will we be able to travel from place to place via train easily? How long is needed in each place?

Thanks!
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Mar 24th, 2013, 06:02 PM
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The fastest train ride without detours (the CT would be a detour) from Nice to Florence takes 7 hours. The earliest departure from Nice is likely 7:55 a.m. with arrival in Florence at 3:00 p.m.

If you headed to, say, Vernazza first and spent, say, 2 hours there, you wouldn't arrive in Florence until 7:30 p.m. at the earliest. It will have taken you 12 hours to get from Nice to Florence, and AFAIK you'd have to carry your luggage around Vernazza.

If you want lodging recommendations, you need to tell us your budget in number terms.
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Mar 24th, 2013, 06:19 PM
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And you need to tell us about her allergies.

Traveling from France into Italy by train is always a hassle. Can be done, but given the geography, not so easy. I trust you have maps and guidebooks.
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Mar 24th, 2013, 06:36 PM
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I had no idea that getting from France to Italy by train would be a problem - we've just been looking at google maps and it looked like a sensible route around the coast! Is there a better itinerary that would include the South of France and make more sense? She knows people who live in Florence and Marseilles who could show us around for a day which is why we picked those places, but that doesn't have to be a factor if it doesn't make sense to go to both of those places!

Her allergies are dust, mold, and tree nuts - but she is fluent in French and conversational in Italian so I'm not nearly as worried about this as she is in avoiding nuts in particular. We would just need to stay in a newer hotel or hostel where the dust/mold won't be a problem. Our budget is around $80 USD per night for the two of us combined.
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Mar 24th, 2013, 06:46 PM
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We don't know what your "budget" is. But I can highly recommend a very clean, very affordable, hotel in the heart of Florence. Great place next to an old Medici palace.

Hotel Casci is family-owned and operated; excellent service; all staff speak English; free wifi (and free use of computer in lobby); terrific breakfast included. http://www.hotelcasci.com/ Check out their reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

Hope you have a great trip!
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Mar 24th, 2013, 09:03 PM
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I have no recent experience in southern France, but I know lodging for two for less than 60 euros a night total may be difficult in Florence. You might look for an apartment or spend some time searching on booking.com. If you can confirm accommodations at the Hotel Casci within your budget, I would grab it.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 07:53 AM
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Thanks for the Florence hotel recommendation!! Yes I figured we might be able to spend closer to 60-80 euros per night in the South of France, and then will have to spend a little more in Florence.
I'm really looking for recommendations of which place we should make our "base" in the South of France from which there is plenty to see, beautiful beaches, and also easy train access to continue the second half of our trip in Florence.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 10:01 AM
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stacey- You could look at staying in a convent in Florence. Might meet your budget goals. You get a clean room, clean bed, clean bathroom. No phone. No tv. Most come with small breakfast (sometimes just toast, jam, coffee).

Here is a link to a website that lists many of them: http://www.monasterystays.com/

There are quite a number in Florence.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 10:09 AM
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I would consider Nice as a good base, assuming it's the Côte d'Azur that's your destination in the south of France (which encompasses a huge area). There's a lot of easy, cheap transportation options from there, along the coast and even into Italy (though you'd probably need to make some connections once in Italy to get to Florence).
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Mar 25th, 2013, 10:49 AM
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I think we are more interested in Provence than the Côte d'Azur overall, but Nice does seem like a better place to stay transportation wise. Since we only want to stay in one hotel in France for the least stressful experience, would Nice also be a good hub for the cities in Provence? Especially given that we will have only 4 nights in France, do you have any suggestions on how best to experience the charm and arts of this region? Which cities in Provence are must-sees for a day trip from Nice, if that still makes sense as the best place to reside? Or should we stay in Provence, even though we will have to fly into Nice and transfer trains there to Italy?
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Mar 25th, 2013, 10:50 AM
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Staying in a convent is a really interesting idea as well! I will look into it. Thanks for all of your imput!!
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Mar 25th, 2013, 10:51 AM
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Do you already have your flights? So Nice and Florence are definite? If so I'd suggest 3-4 nights Nice, 2 Cinque Terre, 3-4 Florence. You can't really do the CT 'en route' from Nice to Florence as pointed out above. By spending two nights there you a) get to see it, and b) break up the long train trip. Even one night would be OK.

With only three or four nights in Nice you really don't have time for any of the places you mention. From Nice there are plenty of day trips by train and/or bus (Eze, Antibes, Vence, etc.) that are much closer.

With four nights in Florence you could do day trips to Siena, Pisa, etc.

Your budget is another problem. If you only have 60 euro for a double you are looking at older properties which you said you would like to avoid. Any way you could save up enough to increase that to closer to 100 euro a night? I think it would make a huge difference in your trip. What's your food budget? Maybe you could take some from there (have more picnics) and afford better hotels.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 10:58 AM
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I think you are a bit confused. First of all, the Côte d'Azur is part of Provence. Second, you said earlier you wanted beautiful beaches. There are no beaches in inland Provence, where "the cities" are. It's a 2- to 3-hour trip from Nice to Aix, Avignon, Arles, etc., which are the main provençal cities. So they aren't really daytrips. I think you need to get a good map and figure these things out.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 11:16 AM
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Haha sorry for the confusion. I've been looking at the listings under Provence and the French Riviera on Fodors.com, and my Google map and so I separated them in my mind in that way. As for beaches - the idea of beaches sounds lovely and I think we'd like to "see" beaches, but more than an afternoon or so would be enough for us...thanks for helping me to realize that 2-3 hours isn't SO close after all! That's my hesitation about staying in Nice even though it seems most convenient. CT seems like a really good idea too since it looks like we would have to transfer trains there to get to Florence anyway.

We have not booked our flights yet, do you have a better recommendation? We'd like to go in early June so we need to book ASAP.

In terms of budget we could go up to 100 euros a night to stay in a newer hotel. We're not looking to spend a fortune but we are a little flexible.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 11:36 AM
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There are plenty of things to see and places to visit near Nice, and it is easier to travel on to Italy from there.
Only you can decide wether you want to spend your time near Nice or rather inland near Aix or Avignon. Nice is a good transport hub, you can get to other towns along the coast easily by train.

Don't worry about hospitals and health care in France - excellent and plenty of hospitals. And they won't charge you an arm and a leg. There seems to be a pharmacy on every street corner, and pharmacists are quite knowledgable. Don't know about Italy.

Good luck with the hotels; not easy in the south of France, but early June is not high season, so you may find something good.
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Mar 25th, 2013, 11:41 AM
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And if you're planning train travel in France (other than local commuter trains), you're already past the window for getting really cheap fares, so you'd best get on that now.
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Mar 27th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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Tulips - thanks! that will be a huge comfort to her! I do think we are leaning towards staying in Nice now.

StCirq - As for trains, I've researched and trains between Nice and Italian cities are all really affordable, run very often, and do not need to be booked that far in advance or even in advance at all in some cases. Not sure what you're referring to.
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Mar 27th, 2013, 08:40 AM
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Well, your other post has me completely confused about where you're planning to go (and I agree you need to look at a map), but it's common knowledge that trains booked 90-120 days in advance can, e.g., mean the difference between a 9E fare and an 80E fare, so I don't know what "affordable" means to you, but there are significant savings to be had for savvy travelers who know how to work the train systems in both countries.
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Mar 27th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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I really appreciate the train advice but I did look it up - some of the answers on this thread have some helpful information echoing what I found on the train ticket websites http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...l.cfm?xyzallow

As to looking at a map- I've planned this whole trip based on a map, but it's really hard to tell what makes sense in reality. I'd love suggestions of a more sensible route if you have them!!
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