3 weeks May 2016 prob Italy and France


Jan 7th, 2016, 10:39 AM
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3 weeks May 2016 prob Italy and France

I am completely new to Fodor's, and have already read many forum posts from more seasoned European travellers. This has helped shape my query already.

To celebrate 25 year anniversary, hubby and I - pretty fit 58 and 52 years - hope to travel from Calgary, Canada, to 2 or 3 European countries, preferably by train. Arrival and departure cities - we are open minded about flying in and out of the same or different cities but we get the value of not having to backtrack. My reading here has nudged me towards probably reducing our travel to 2 countries. Likely France and Italy.
Hubby backpacked all over Europe as a young man, saw practically every country. I have only been to Germany and Austria in 1996 over an 11 day trip with hubby. We loved train travel at that time.
We like to see the famous sights, but also don't linger a lot. After we see what we should see, we like to grab a taxi driver and ask him for a spontaneous tour of where he would go - this has taken us to some wonderful, serendipitous restaurants, shops and sights in our travels.

I'd love to see Paris. I'd like to see Rome and do a decent Vatican tour as I am pretty Catholic. Hubby will care less about this, so I am open to a reasonably lightweight tour for this trip with the idea in mind I can do more of a pilgrimage another time.

I look forward to any and all advice, thanks!!
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Jan 7th, 2016, 10:50 AM
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How many days do you have for this trip, and what time of year are you going?
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Jan 7th, 2016, 10:53 AM
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3 weeks, but flexible, could add a day or 2, leaving approximately mid-May 2016.
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Jan 7th, 2016, 10:57 AM
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Sorry, I just realized that information was in your title.

Do you just want to see cities? Do you want to limit this to train travel as you did on your last trip?

There are any number of things you could do in both France and Italy with a week and a half in each, but it depends on whether you want to settle in or move around, stay in cities or venture into the countryside, etc. If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to get a comprehensive guidebook for each country and start narrowing down your interests.

As an aside, I wouldn't be keen on "tours" given by taxi drivers. For one thing, that would be expensive. For another, I wouldn't trust a taxi driver to know anything at all about my interests. And finally, I like to know exactly where I am at all times.
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Jan 7th, 2016, 12:42 PM
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I'd recommend starting in Rome, and then eventually working your way north to Paris as the season warms. Although it is only three weeks difference, mid-May vs. early June could be as much as 10 degrees difference on average. Then fly out of Paris.

St. Cirq gives good advice. Take a look at guidebooks, or even the destinations portion of this and other sites. They can give you ideas of what you may want to do or see. Then get on something like Captaintrain.com and check out the train routes. If you are anticipating several train trips, you'll certainly want to compare getting a two country pass with enough days that will meet your needs.

Good luck. I find the planning of the trips I take nearly as much fun as the actual trips.
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Jan 7th, 2016, 02:02 PM
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OK, more reading, more thinking, how does this sound? If we start in Rome and work our way to Paris (I like your input regarding the weather, apersuader65, duly noted) So Rome, Florence, Venice, Nice, Paris. Would this be good use of 3 weeks? We would travel almost completely by train, but open to possibly renting a car here or there if there was a good side trip to be made.

I can't say we are one kind of traveller - we would take in art and culture, museums, history, dining, local flavor, meeting other travellers. We'd like bit of exercise, but I live an hour from the Canadian Rockies, and I have a lot of fine nature for cycling, hiking or running, right in my own backyard. Not to disrespect any natural wonders or sights if they are a "must see".

Will definitely go get a guidebook or two now that I'm starting to narrow down my travel plan. When we did Germany and Austria, our guidebook was an amazing lifeline (of course this was before smart phones and internet everywhere)

Re the taxi comment, StCirc, I said that more to give you an idea of the way we travel rather than a plan for this trip (worked out great for us in Jamaica - with cab driver recommended by hotel concierge - in Montreal, in Sydney, Australia,etc.) I would definitely be cautious about just jumping in a cab and asking for a tour. When we were in Peru, we took a local guide from one of our tours out for dinner and picked his brain about things we needed to do while there. It's amazing how a local opens up and shows their national pride when you give them a chance! My husband is big on asking these kinds of questions of locals we meet - what is YOUR favourite meal? Where do YOU like to dine?

I am getting a little excited, not feeling quite so lost in my search for a good plan. Thanks for the input so far!
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Jan 7th, 2016, 04:33 PM
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I think Rome, Florence, Venice, Nice and Paris would be a wonderful trip. With 22 days you will have time for more than a quick dash through the cities and also some days for day trips - esp into Tuscany from Florence and several parts of the Riviera from Nice. For each of these I wold reserve a car for 3 days or so - so you're not limited to train routes and can see what you want:

Rome: 4 nights
Florence: 3 nights
Tuscany: 3 nights
Venice: 3 nights
Nice: 4 nights including 2 in the countryside/hills above the coast
Paris 5 nights (including a day in Versailles or perhaps Chartres)

But as you read some guide books you may find others things you want to substitute or add.
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