Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   30 days in France, Italy and Switzerland with 3 kids - advice please (

3greatkids Jan 15th, 2015 04:40 PM

30 days in France, Italy and Switzerland with 3 kids - advice please
We are planning a trip to France this summer arriving at the end of June. We have 3 kids who will be 7, 7, and 9 when we go. It will be our first visit to France so we want to see a variety of things. We are flying in to Paris and were thinking of staying there 5 days to see the sights (Eiffel tower, Louvre, Notre dame, catacombs, Versailles, boat ride on the Seine) and then were thinking of heading down to the Loire valley to see some of the castles like Chambord, Chennonceau ans Clos Luce. Planning to rent a car and spend maybe 3 days in that region. We wanted to visit the Puy du Fou park to the west after that (maybe 2 days there) and Mont St. Michel for a day. So I've basically thought about the first 9-10 days of our trip and the route we want to take for that.

After that I'm trying to figure out the best places to go. I'd love some help with the rest of our itinerary. We would love to visit some cute villages and do some some family hikes maybe do some bike rides. My husband would love to spend a week on the south coast of France and maybe visit Cinque terre as well. We would love to see some of Switzerland and maybe pop over to Venice for a few days. We would prefer to stay in the same place for a couple of days since we don't like to move around too much. We like a relaxing trip, not too crazily rushed, where we can still see a lot of sites but not overwhelm the kids or ourselves too much.

Some of the other things that interest me, sorry if I jump around a lot:

-I've read about a train ride from Chamonix to Montenvers and a cable car ride to the Mer de glace glacier

-a glass tops train that takes you through the mountains near Switzerland (or in Switzerland, not sure)

-I remember visiting le Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland when I was a kid and I loved it, wouldn't mind taking the kids there

- visiting some of the caves with prehistoric art

- Seeing some of the roman-style ruins in Nimes

- Walking through some cute villages

- enjoying the beaches along the south coast

- visiting old castles

Can you please let me know where you suggest going.

bobthenavigator Jan 15th, 2015 05:38 PM

Wherever you go, be sure to take advantage of the French car buy back lease plan--just be sure to keep it for at least 17 days and drop it in France as well. I would get a van with that gang plus luggage.

I would be sure to include Luzern in your options but Venice will be hot and crowded in July. Have fun !

sandralist Jan 15th, 2015 09:38 PM

I suggest you fly into Paris and out of Venice. I would not suggest leasing a car, since you probably don't need one for 17 days in France and can take trains the rest of the way, through Switzlerland and Italy.

I would drop the idea of visiting le Cinque Terre and instead consider a route that heads up to the French Alps after the Cote d'Azur, drop off the car in Chamonix, and then take trains through Switzlerland, and down to Venice.

swandav2000 Jan 15th, 2015 10:24 PM

Hi 3greatkids,

sandralist's advice is exactly right, imo. You certainly don't need a car in Switzerland (it can actually be a handicap), and flying open jaw will save you time & money.

I believe the glass-topped train you are referring to is the first class/VIP seating on the Golden Pass:

It runs between the Jungfrau region and Montreux, where of course the Chillon castle is. Montreux is a great place to end your Swiss visit because the train connection onward to Venice are great; there are direct trains that take 6h for the trip.

So, for your Swiss portion, you could spend time in the Jungfrau region, then take the Golden Pass to Montreux for a night or two, then continue to Venice.

Have fun as you plan!


Gretchen Jan 16th, 2015 02:45 AM

You'll have a great trip. I might mention that as breathtakingly beautiful that adults find the Swiss Alps, kids your age may get "caught up" quickly on "isn't that just a gorgeous mountain view".
They might be able to ski one day--our kids did in Zermatt in June.
Have you considered Normandy for a portion of your trip since you are including MSM?
You could leave for a tour of Normandy, the Loire, see Versailles and even Chartres, to Paris. Then head south or to Switzerland.
You have a nice length of time to see a lot, but not move "too" much.

neckervd Jan 17th, 2015 12:25 PM


As public transport is rather expensive in Switzerland, study carefully the sites about Swiss Pass, Swiss Flexipass and Swiss half fare card:

Check the Swiss Travel System Family Card
The Swiss Travel System Family Card is issued at no cost to parents who wish to take along their children under the age of 16 at no cost. Please note that at least one parent has to travel with the child/ren.

Some ideas:

historic steamboats on Lake Geneva:

Swiss Vapeur Park Le Bouveret:

Signal de Bougy:

Menhirs at Yverdon

Blonay-Chamby historic railway:

Chillon castle:

Gruyeres castle, cheese diary and chocolate factory:

Chatelard-Emosson (Mont Blanc area):


Entirely walled city of Murten:
Medieval city of Bern:

Swiss Village Park Ballenberg:

Lugano and Swissminiatur:

Seewen in the Jura close to Basel:


Rhine Falls Adventure Park

Furka steam train

You may have a look at

Francewithfive Jan 17th, 2015 02:21 PM

We spent six weeks in France and Italy with out three kids (ages 3,8,10). Our goal for the trip was to experience life in these two countries rather than trying to "see it all". Kids want to visit the markets and buy food, eat ice cream, swim, ride bikes, and explore little towns. My advice is slow down. Enjoy the small things. Don't over plan or over schedule. Just BE. You will be happy you didn't drag them from historical site to museum day after day.
Our itinerary was:
Two weeks in a house in the Luberon (S. France) in a town called Goult. Off the tourist path and very small. Great base to explore towns like Gordes, Bonnieux, Rousillon, etc. we went biking, walking, shopping, cooked local food.
Drive to Tuscany - one night stop along the way
Two weeks in Montepulciano, Tuscany. Stayed at the most amazing child friendly place. Sant''Antonio Country Resort. Had our own two bedroom self contained apartment on a beautiful property five minutes from town. Lots of fabulous day trips to towns, hot springs, hikes, markets. We even had a family cooking lesson in our apartment!
Dropped the car in Venice, Rented an apartment for four days. Having an apartment where we could escape the insanity of the crowds made Venice soooo enjoyable, it was nice to be able to have breakfast at home before heading out for the morning. Kids need down time. We often came home for a break midday as well.
Flew to Paris, Rented an apartment in St Germain for a week. Paris is an adventure with kids. You have to balance your expectations as adults with what kids can actually handle. We had a lot of picnics at the fabulous parks around Paris, did an amazing private family bike tour which was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

If you want any specific ideas for any place just let me know. We loved everything about the pace of the trip and the places we saw.

nukesafe Jan 17th, 2015 03:23 PM

Just a word of caution regarding the Swiss portion of your planned trip; Switzerland has suddenly become quite a bit more expensive than it already was! The Swiss stopped propping up the Euro a few days ago and the Swiss Franc suddenly jumped up to as much as 30% against the Euro. It seems to have stabilized at around (only) 15% - 20% up, but if money has anything to do with your planning you should at least factor the rate change into your decision process.

sandralist Jan 18th, 2015 05:10 AM

By all means pay attention to currency rates, but how the Swiss Franc is doing relative to the euro is also a feature of how cheap the euro is right now relative to almost all other currencies, including the dollar, and is likely to fall even further -- or even pass out of existence by the time you go!

People have often been fixated on the "high cost" of visiting Switzlerand, but if you plan with a budget in mind, a trip to Switzerland can cost less than a trip to London, Amsterdam, Scandanavia and many parts of Italy.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:26 AM.