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3 months in europe with a kid, don't like crowds...

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Jun 30th, 2012, 08:41 PM
  #1
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3 months in europe with a kid, don't like crowds...

Travelling to Europe to spend 3 months early 2013 but want to sit in pretty villages for approx 2 weeks at a time and live like a local. Still want to take day trips to major tourist attractions occasionally.

What are 6-8 villages that you'd like to live in, while still being relatively easily accessible with public transport?
janz
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Jun 30th, 2012, 08:50 PM
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Have you done any research at all?

You might narrow it down from a continent, so do speak.

Try google, I hear it's the latest thing.
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Jun 30th, 2012, 09:08 PM
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ok, how about we start with croatia and france. And yes Rastaguy, we have google in australia too, but I was trying to get someone's opinion that has experience over there, otherwise I can google until 2013 and still not know definitely. But thanks for your helpful response.
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Jun 30th, 2012, 10:23 PM
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OK, Rasta's response was dismissive, but if you expect us to help we really need more to work with. How old is the kid? What languages do you speak? Do you plan on renting a car, or rely on public transportation for your day trips? What are your interests, other than avoiding crowds. When you say "early" do you mean January or April?

With that sort of information we can perhaps start giving you some relevant feedback.
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Jun 30th, 2012, 10:52 PM
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Janz51: "What are 6-8 villages that you'd like to live in, while still being relatively easily accessible with public transport?"

There are hundreds (probably thousands) of villages that would fit that description. You have given us next to nothing to work with. (Not totally sure if the France & Croatia response was sincere or being a smart a$$.)

rastaguy may have ticked you off, but . . . what research have you done?
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Jul 1st, 2012, 12:42 AM
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rastaguy likes to be a smart alec, he's posted a few posts like this recently. However it is helpful to know where you will be based.

We stayed in Albas in The Lot region of France and loved it. It's hilly and green and there are other little villages nearby to explore. You will need a car though. Public transport will really restrict what you can do.

We also stayed for a few days in a B&B in a little village not far from Vaison-la-Romaine and we loved it. There were lots of little villages to explore, the B&B had a pool. We walked to the village square for dinner one night and sat outside and enjoyed a lovely meal. We were sorry we couldn't stay there longer.

Keep asking your questions, we'll help all we can.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 02:09 AM
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From one Aussie to another. We love holidaying in Europe, especially renting houses in villages or countryside. Gites de France have thousands of places. We've stayed in gites in Ile de France (near Paris), Loire valley, Dordogne, French alps & Pyrenees. In Austria we've rented places near Salzburg & Reutte (near Neuschwanstein). Stayed for a week in an old Medici villa outside Florence. Also stayed in a cabin in Norway near Aurland. All allowed comfortable accommodation with lots of activities for a week. Venice is unique. Lots of crowds but we stay near Accademia which is much quieter. Happy to give more information if any of that interests you
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Jul 1st, 2012, 02:24 AM
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Start by working out which "major tourist attractions" you would like to see.

Also just because part of a town is busy it doesn't mean the whole town is busy - often a very short bus or train ride to another part of town will eliminate the crowds

And remember it's winter in Europe so many out of town attractions will be closed as will many types of accommodation
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Jul 1st, 2012, 05:27 AM
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Pretty villages in the early winter of 2013
I'm going to assume you don't want to be burried in snow (there are so many fine ones) and you want to get outside pushes you towards the warmer parts of Europe. For me that means

Southern Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greek Islands.

So Sagres, Tavira, Malaga are basically pleasant towns. Or in France maybe Bezier or Nimes. Are these the sort of places you are thinking about or do you want one horse towns?
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Jul 1st, 2012, 05:41 AM
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The problem with staying in villages is that public transportation is not the best, if it exists at all. The only time I went to villages in Europe was when I had a car and could easily get to them. You need to be aware that villages may not have any shops so you'll need to plan grocery purchases in advance and bring your food on a bus from the nearest town/city.

I don't consider the places bilboburgler has listed to be villages - they're large towns/small cities IMHO.

I've read a lot of posts here from people who think they want to be in a village and not one of them has ended with that decision. I would re-think your criteria and at least stay in small towns where there is a cafe or bakery or some sort of convenience store.

When you're thinking about where to base yourself you should think about the weather early in the year; most of Europe will be cold/cool.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 06:39 AM
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We spent the month of November 2010 in a small town in SW France, specifically looking for a town to live in for 3 months. While we found several towns we LOVED, we realized we would need a car, because there was so much to see and do in the region, and while many towns did have buses that would allow you to get to nearby cities, (with trains so you could get to farther away places), we simply could not crack the nut of having a car and being covered by car insurance -- the cost for which was more than the little flats we were finding.

We fell in love with Uzes, Pezenas, and Olonzac. I would also consider Ceret, and possibly Foix. We chose the region because it has the best weather in country...most days of sunshine...and the reason we chose November to go looking, was precisely because it would not be one of the months that would be most "glorious" weather-wise. We found it to be busy and productive -- lots of families with children, and people of all ages were out and about all the time, indicating that it isn't just tourism that is thriving in the area. The wine industry is fairly substantial, and there is also a good agricultural base. There is high tech around Toulouse and Montpelier. The larger cities, Perpignon and Montpelier, are terrific.

Take a week or so to study Languedoc-Roussillon and you may see what drew us to the area. I still think we will head back for a month sometime or two in the next couple of years.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 06:59 AM
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Southern Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greek Islands.

Many of the smaller Greek islands are effectively closed during the winter as are many villages on the larger islands.

Also don't assume that "southern Europe" = "warm". Snow isn't unusual in the south of Spain and cold snaps are reasonably common.

If you want small place and winter then countries like Austria would be a better choice as they know how to deal with winter
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Jul 1st, 2012, 07:27 AM
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Ok, I'll take a crack at it with a few suggestions, even though I don't know what your budget is, what you'd like to do, or how old your child is (IOW, is yours a school-age kid on holiday or a very young child).

France:
near Paris: Rambouillet
near Dijon: Beaune
in the Alps: Megeve (if you can afford it)

Belgium:
Near Brussels: La Hulpe
In Brussels, but very residential: Uccle/Fort Jaco or Woluwe St. Pierre
Brugge (not a village, but if you pick someplace on the outskirts, you get a village-y feel; it's a completely different vibe on the other side of t'Zand)

Switzerland (where I live):
Saanen or Schonried near Gstaad
Rapperswil
The Riehen section of Basel
Bad Ragaz (Zurich is about an hour away)

Germany:
Striesen neighborhood of Dresden -- a village feel yet you're still part of the city and on the city's tram system

UK:
edge of London: Richmond (if budget allows)
farther out but still ok for daytrips to London and Oxford: Marlow, Buckinghamshire
near Bath: Bradford on Avon
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Jul 1st, 2012, 08:15 AM
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1) I agree none of the places I have identified are villages which was why I wanted to put them up as a proposal, since there are basically millions of villages most of which have no reason to stay in for any period of time
2) I think the like of Rhodes, Corfu, Cyprus etc would consider that they are a good place to stay in the winter
3) Snow in southern spain, yes oh so occasionally on the coast it is not worth mentioning (though the Sierra has its own ski resort).

I think we are concluding that the weather is one of the most crucial factors to be taken into account. If you want to go with snow then Slovenia north (about half of Europe) would be on interest.
Most countries that get yonks of snow manage it very well and I might look at Finland as probably the most organised of countries.

Countries I would avoid are the cold, damp, miserable ones. This includes the UK (goodness knows why I spend winter here), Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Denmark and a fair bit of Northern, Coastal France.

I would also avoid those countries where the locals think the weather is terrible even though those of northern europe see the weather as quiet nice. This cuts out a fair bit of the country side of France where the locals close the shutters and gather around the fireplaces to see winter out.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 09:45 AM
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But people DO live in these climates, with children, year round, which is why you will want to focus on towns with good transportation options, so you can minimize the need for renting a car (which you still may want to do for short spurts) You pretty clearly said you don't want a big tourist scene, rather the experience of living somewhere. Maps should become your best research friend. You may want to pick somewhere in SW France, somewhere in Switzerland, and somewhere in Southern Italy or Spain.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 07:18 PM
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Thank you to all those that replied with comments and suggestions. Some of you seemed to get what I was asking. I wasn't trying to be smart by asking a broad question, the fact is I don't know what I'm really looking at on the net despite a few weeks searching. Local advice is always better. In answer to some of the questions people asked, my daughter is 11 and our budget is limited. Probably only about 1300 AUD per week. I prefer to stay outside of big cities and travel into them to sightsee on a daily or overnight basis. Otherwise, we'd like to live in small towns that have a little bit going on that we could be involved in. We have 3 months all up and while I'd like to visit some 'snowy' places, I think we'd be better off in warmer climes.
Off to research your suggestions now....
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Jul 1st, 2012, 07:31 PM
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Janz, one thing that you need to bear in mind is the time limit on the stay in the Schengen group of countries. You mention three months, and you can only stay in the Schengen countries for 90 days in a 180 day period. If you search Fodors for “Schengen” you will find lots of info, and it is accurate – there are many posters on here better informed than me about Schengen.

We (Aussies) have stayed in Venice for an extended period – two months – and enjoyed it. It may seem crowded – people do talk about the crowds - but we had no problem finding quiet places. And Venice is fun for kids. And a three month stretch sounds great. Your child may well return with a hunger to learn a language other than English – how good is that!

You mention AUD 1300 per week, which is about 1000 euro. It helps to start thinking in euro rather than dollars, if for no other reason than many posters on here won’t know what an Aussie dollar is worth. (One AUD is about one USD.)

If you click on my user name, you would find a couple of trip reports that I wrote about Venice, which might give you a bit of a feel for the place.
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Jul 2nd, 2012, 03:37 AM
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" I prefer to stay outside of big cities and travel into them to sightsee on a daily or overnight basis. "

I live in one of the very, very rare rural-feeling villages in Europe with frequent, fast connections to a major city and a range of major tourist attractions within minutes.

They're very rare because as a general rule, if from a village it's possible to get quickly to places lots of people want to go to, that village will turn into a suburban sprawl faster than you can say "property bubble".

A visitor cannot, unless he's using the local university or writing his novel, "live like a local" where I live. We stay village-y because we don't let anyone build houses, which then become impossible for most people to afford, so we're not remotely typical of anyone except people who live here. We've no interest in wasting our limited spare time (we typically work more or less full time till our late 80s) gossiping with tourists, so the odd visitor lives - well, like a tourist. Cooped up in one of the few hotel rooms we've allowed to be created, eating mediocre food in one of the pubs that does food. And, should they avoid having a car, stuck here at night or and forced to leave the world's greatest theatrical complexes an hour away before the plays finish - because the last train back leaves before the curtains come down.

Hotel rooms in our earthly paradise cost about the same as in London: commuting in for sightseeing can mean it's both pricier and less time efficient (fast trains still have to be waited for, and go to city-edge stations) than staying in town. Even fewer villages have flats or houses for short term let within walking distance of stations or bus stops, or decent food shopping in walking distance of those flats - though in Britain (but rarely elsewhere) major supermarkets will deliver web-placed orders, free or for a nominal charge, within 12 hours to almost any rural address.

If you don't like crowds, being a tourist in Europe is a dozy idea, and depending on public transport is dozy to the point of total derangement: Europe's crowded, and its buses and tubes even more so. The things most people like looking at are full of people year round, and most of those things are in towns and cities that are both major capital cities and substantial economic engines in their own right - almost oblivious to the trivial extra impetus tourism gives them. They're even more crowded when foreign tourists aren't there than when their inhabitants bomb off to Oz for a few weeks.

If you're frightened of driving on the wrong side: either stop being a woose or accept that you're going to see next to nothing unless you stay where buses and trains actually go to. No-one in Britain goes into conniptions at the thought of driving on the right: did we send you our wimps at the same time as we got rid of the whingers?

And if you stay anywhere in Europe in midwinter, you'll find we have winters of a sort unheard of in Australia. Though warm in winter by the standards of uninhabitable dumps like most of America, most of Western Europe is so close to big masses of water that winters are unpredictable, and often so wet, dark and windy as to make some outdoor activity very uncomfortable. True, most things worth doing are just as worthwhile when it gets dark at 1600 and it's close to freezing as on one of those boring "perfect" days Sydney's more fatheaded boosters think we envy. But most wintertime "sitting in pretty villages for approx 2 weeks at a time" here means playing Scrabble in someone's front room, rather than sitting on a sunbaked terrace watching scantily dressed local maidens disport themselves before gnarled, photogenic peasants.

I'm honestly not decrying your idea. But you need to think very hard indeed about seasonality (I'd argue strongly for spring or autumn), countries (if your dream is La France Profonde, Croatia's an absurd alternative), the real feasibility of depending on public transport, your budget and the argument for, and practicality of, mostly using self-catering (except in horrible purpose-built concrete tourist villages, or in the middle of very, very, major cities, I've never rented a house or flat where self-catering was possible without a car - though in some places the web might have recently changed that).

You also need to be clear, both with yourself and seeking advice, what your really mean by "village" The London Borough of Richmond would be Australia's eighth largest city if it got relocated, and it's utterly unlike any village I know.

But it IS a jolly pretty, park-infested and obsessively conserved suburb of London, and meets many people's requirements for somewhere handy to the centre and almost as full of green space. It might or might not be what you're looking for. You'll get better advice if you're precise about what you really want - and "village" is much more precisely used in Europe than in the English-speaking New World.

But lots of luck.
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Jul 2nd, 2012, 04:24 AM
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FLUK: "Though warm in winter by the standards of uninhabitable dumps like most of America"

FLUK never disappoints in his abilty to be an utter jerk (to put it kindly) even when pretending to offer travel advice. England will win the World Cup long before FLUK manages to post on Fodors without some petty, childish, spiteful (or perhaps it should be spittleful) swipe at the U.S. no matter how irrelevant his uncontrollable rantings are to the topic of discussion.
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Jul 2nd, 2012, 05:06 AM
  #20
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Geez, sounds like it'll be easier to just stay at home!
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