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1st time in Europe! France/Switzerland ADVICE??

1st time in Europe! France/Switzerland ADVICE??

Jan 19th, 2015, 06:32 PM
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1st time in Europe! France/Switzerland ADVICE??

So, my husband and I have most of our itinerary planned, but we have a few Burgundy/Alsace questions: Thank you ahead of time!

*flight to Genoa
-Cinque Terre-4 nights
*flight to Paris
-Paris--3 nights
(pick up rental car)
-Bayeaux--2 nights
-Dinan--2 nights
-Crozon peninsula--3 nights
long day of driving toward Burgundy

Now onto Burgundy/Alsace regions:
We have 4 nights for Burgundy and 3 nights for Alsace. Our ideas were:
2 nights in Flavigny (from that base, visiting Semur en Auxois, Fontenay Abbey, etc)
2 nights in Beaune (biking wine route, enjoying the town)

We are still debating on where to stay in Alsace. We want at least one night in a small village (aka, Eguisheim) and 1 or 2 in either Colmar or a northern town in Alsace.

Here are the questions
After Burgundy and Alsace, we are headed to Gimmelwald for 4 nights and then flying out of Geneva. But on our way to the Alps, we thought we'd hit up a Swiss city, preferably Luzerne. Our first rough draft had us staying in Luzerne for 2 nights and then onto Gimmelwald. But now we are considering replacing it for one more night in Burgundy and one more night in Alsace. What do you think? The reason we chose Luzerne is b/c we thought maybe it'd be neat to check out a Swiss city, but our main reason for visiting Switzerland is for the Alps.

With adding a night in Burgundy (total of 5 nights) we thought we could take a day trip to some of the southern towns in Burgundy for a little different feel or daytrip to Dijon. With an extra day in Alsace, (Maybe see Strasbourg). Any advise on that? So basically, skipping Luzerne for 2 more nights in France (Burgundy/Alsace) or not? Thank you so much!!
grey_wulff1 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 07:28 PM
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I'm not really answering your questions, but offer the following observations:

4 nights seems high for the Cinque Terre, even if you are expecting jet lag.

By contrast, 3 nights isn't much at all for Paris.

Gimmelwald seems an unusual choice of destinations for the Bernese Oberland. I wonder if you have considered Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Murren, or Grindelwald instead?

Lucerne is lovely and well worth a night or two IMO.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 03:35 AM
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Strongly agree that 4 nights in the CT is a LOT - unless you are strong hikers and all trails are open what will you do. And that 3 nights (2 days) in Paris is really skimping unless you have been there before and seen most of the major sights.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 07:23 AM
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Thank you for your responses and your help so far! But where CT and Paris are concerned, as silly as it may seem to some people, we are quite excited about CT and want some days relaxing in the sun with some seafood, along with hiking (which we love to do, and are excited about Gimmelwald hiking too!) We feel CT is one of the highlights of this trip

Our Paris stop is just mainly to SEE a bit of Paris, maybe sit in some cafe's and watch people walk by. We are probably not even going to a museum. But we did worry a bit that it was too short. What if we would cut the 2 night Lucerne part and add it to Paris (making it 5 nights in Paris? We aren't interested in cutting anything else to add time to Paris.

As for the Burgundy and Alsace part, would anyone have any opinions there? Having never been, we are just unsure how much time each place would require to FEEL like we didn't just run through the areas to say we saw them, but actually got to experience them! Would it be worth not seeing Lucerne in exchange for more days in those 2 regions? I know these issue we're having trying to decide on this ONE thing may seem like a drop in the bucket in comparison to this month long trip itinerary, but every day is priceless on this once-in -a-lifetime trip for us!! So excited! Thank you again for everyone's responses, we appreciate it...everything helps!
grey_wulff1 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 07:30 AM
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I enjoyed staying in Strasbourg, which has a drop-dead gorgeous cathedral and a cute old town section. I did Colmar as a day trip and didn't regret not staying there.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 07:36 AM
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Having seen your rush through Normandy and Brittany it is hard to imagine how to focus your Burgundy trip.

My advice is slow down, having spent a fair bit of my childhood in Northern France I suggest just cut Crozon and slip a day each to Bayeux and Dinan.

I look at Alsace and Burgundy as all one area so I'd do 2 days in Strasbourg (cut Colmar compleatly and chose a small town for three days (you can chill one day and one day up into the Vosges mountains and one day cycling in the vinyards) Equisheim might be nice, close to Colmar if you have to and get a bike rental out of your accommodation if you can.

Then look at Northern Burgundy (Chablis and Auxerre plus all the national palrk and monestry stuff) for 2 days and finally 2 days to Beaunne

Generally I'd plan on 3 days per base but you seem to be in a hurry, slow down have a long lunch, bike ride in the country take out canoes etc

Lost count of the days, do min three
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 20th, 2015, 08:42 AM
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First, thank you for this info!

Thursdaysd: that Colmar tip was helpful!

bilboburgler: That is some great advice! Since the beginning of this planning we were concerned about how rushed we are, and it is SO hard to add more time at each stop and cut back on total destinations. But I know this is so recommended! I need to think about that a bit. We are definitely active people, we're in our 30's and we enjoy road trips and seeing new places, but I don't want to sacrifice FEELING the places too.

It is funny how we got so set on Crozon. My first research I was so drawn to it, it reminded me of pictures of wind-swept Ireland and the seafood, the little paths to hike beside the coast, etc.(we live in landlocked CO) But its odd, I cannot find much info on Crozon at all. Brittany, in general, seems to not have a load of information versus other places in France. I appreciate your advise on skipping it, but before I'd consider that, since for some reason my hearts been set on it, would you have any particular reasons for NOT going to Crozon? Our stops in Dinan were really just to cut back on driving time to our main destination, Crozon Normandy is mainly for seeing DDay beaches and maybe Etretat. We were going to take 8 days to explore from Emerald Coast down to Finistere and small towns and then head off for Burgundy/Alsace. Hopefully getting to eat lots of seafood (we're seafood nuts) So is Crozon just really not worth it, in your opinion? Over other parts in Brittany? Or is Brittany even really not worth it over other parts in France? Maybe Provence, Avignon? Wow, ok so this is kinda heavy with questions. Sorry, just so hard deciding, and I know this all takes in to account we all have different likes, interests, etc! THANK YOU!!
grey_wulff1 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 09:35 AM
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I'd wander along the north coast of Brittany but base in Dinan, so one day trip to Paimpol, Tregier or Morlaix is easy to do (but a bit of driving. All three towns offer AC mussels.

Another day you can go to the castle of Fougeres, one of the Duchess's castles and maybe St Malo (park under the town or to the right as you drive up)

Another day you can go south to the canal and the dolmens and maybe to Carnac or Quiberon (where Mrs Bilbo spent her holidays)

Brittany is worth it, just driving to the tip is a bit much.

Sea food, the English channel side has the world's largest tides, so the shell fish is especially fresh.
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 20th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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Oh, you know that Dinan is pretty wonderful?
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 20th, 2015, 10:02 AM
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The reason we chose Luzerne is b/c we thought maybe it'd be neat to check out a Swiss city, but our main reason for visiting Switzerland is for the Alps.>

then Lucerne ain't the best place for that - the Jungfrau Region around Interlaken is - to me and many the absolute highlight of Switzerland - a panoply of glacier-girdled high Alps soaring thousands of feet above lush cow-dotted valleys - base in a place like Wengen or Grindelwald and you'll have your Alpine dream in view from just about any hotel balcony.

Lucerne is a neat city and though you can ascend Mt Pilatus and Mt Titlis at Engleberg all in all the Switzerland of your dreams lies in some days in the fabled Berner Oberland -= so so many varied things to see and do - not just Alps like say Engelberg offers - sweet boat rides on the lakes bookeding Interlaken, hikes for all degress of hitness/footwear - a maze-lie array of aerial cable cars and thrilling mountain railways take you all over - walk to a glacier!

But cars are not allowed past Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen so maybe put this at the end of your trip - turn the car in and hop the train or other conveyances - for lots of good stuff on trains and gondolas in this area check out www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com (check the Swiss chapter of their free online European Planning & Rail Guide) and www.ricksteves.com.

For the Switzerland of your dreams - the Berner Oberland - a k a Jungfrau Region is it IMO!
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 12:49 PM
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Bilbo: You are a great help for Brittany since you have spent a lot of time there. I cannot find much on it, so everything you are giving us is great input! I am not too savvy on all the different towns in Brittany. But our main reason for visiting this region is mainly for the nature of it all, the coastline. One last question: if we base in Crozon peninsula and explore 3 days north and south a bit from there, would that be some of the most rugged coast or is that even further up Brittany? I'm sorry if it seems I am asking the same base question over! I am just not sure what to excpect, but yet I know what we are after
Also, we are quite excited to see Dinan even if its only for 2 nights Looks awesome. Oh and very much looking forward to those delicious mussels! Thank you again!
grey_wulff1 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 01:00 PM
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PalenQ: Thank you for your reply! I actually think you may have just settled our Luzern/Burgundy problem! The way you speak of the Swiss Alps reminds me of why we wanted to go there so badly in the first place! Our hearts our definitely more there in the majestic quiet hillsides than in any city, really. So we might take away the 2 nights in Luzern and add one more night in the Swiss Alps (to equal 5 nights in the Alps) And one more night in either Burgundy or Alsace to equal 5 in Burgundy OR 4 in Alsace. hmmmmmm...will STILL take any other inputs! Thanks again
grey_wulff1 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 01:05 PM
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The roads are pretty slow at the end, actually roads in Britanny are pretty slow all over, I know where I would go (as described). If you want rugged coastline you will find it where I described, you might even like to go over to http://www.brehat-infos.fr/ ile de Brehat for a day.

As an alternative go north up Cotentin to Barfleur or St Vaast and visit the granite coast.

Honestly Crozon is not a great solution.

Remember cidre (the alcholic type) and Burgundy pancakes
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 20th, 2015, 01:28 PM
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Bilbo: Thanks for those differnt town tips! I've already looked all of them up Having a hard time thinking about skipping the peninsula for some odd reason, but my husband and I are definitely looking into a bit of a different set up for Brittany. Thank you very much for all the information you have given me so far. If anything else about this area comes to mind, I would gladly take it!
grey_wulff1 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2015, 01:29 PM
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Oh and as far as the cider is concerned, we most definitely won't be forgetting that OUR the pancakes
grey_wulff1 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2015, 08:55 AM
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Are you sure about staying in Gimmelwald? There really isn't much there. We stayed in the car free town of Murren just above. Absolutely breathtaking. We did wonderful hikes from there, took the cablecar to Schilthorn, took the cablecar to Lauterbrunnen where we hopped on the train to Wengen and did hikes from there. We took the cable car down to Gimmelwald one afternoon. We saw it in 10 minutes. In that time, we saw one person (and a goat The kids liked the play structure near the cable car. I cannot imagine spending a day there, let alone five days! It is very isolated and, I may be wrong, but I think you need to go to Murren or other locations to actually hook into the hiking that you're looking forward to.
casperjj is offline  
Jan 24th, 2015, 10:25 AM
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I spend a week in Gimmelwald one day and night - takes a special person to be so so isolated - nice feeling for a night but a week? Not even a good base for hiking - well good butnot nearly as good as say Wengen or Murren or Grindelwald. Make sure you know what Gimmelwald is and what it's like - no stores one hotel with restaurant and a dingy youth hostel - may be some rooms in locals houses though there are not many of those.

a special place some folks may really love - most would be itching to get out the next morning. I'm glad I spent a night there for the experience - the sky was clear and there are so oh so many stars shining bright!
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 24th, 2015, 10:28 AM
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I predict that after your days in Paris you will regret the extra days in CT and the Alps.
Gretchen is online now  
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