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Advice needed for 3 week trip Germany, France, Spain

Advice needed for 3 week trip Germany, France, Spain

Oct 6th, 2002, 11:07 PM
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Advice needed for 3 week trip Germany, France, Spain

I'm just beginning to plan a three week summer trip (one week in each country) to these three countries w/ kids aged 12 and 15. Coming from Los Angeles.

Without getting into too many specifics at this early stage, could use expert advice on the best way to lay out an itinerary to get from one major area to the next when each week is up. Willing to rent a car in each country but don't see it as the way to relocate.

We do need to keep the cost under control. Don't mind overnight train or flying but I don't really know the European train system that well nor what routes are flown by the low cost carriers within Europe. Do know about the TGV Paris to Avignon and the AVE Madrid to Sevilla. Here's the general idea:

Germany - want to see some of Bavaria and the Romantic Road, Salzburg too if not too ambitious. Have alaready been to the Rhineland. Could fly into Frankfurt or Munich.

France - want to go to Paris for 2 - 3 days (been there before) and pick either the Normandy or Provence areas for 4-5 days.

Spain - Would like to either see Andalucia, starting out/ending in Madrid or Barcelona and (?) perhaps Segovia/Toledo/Avila/Madrid. Could home from Madrid or Barcelona perhaps?

Here's one thought..Is there a better way to lay this out?

Fly into Frankfurt, drive Romantic Road to Fussen and Garmisch areas, ending in Munich for a couple days.

Fly(overnight train?) to Paris for a few days. Then take TGV to Avignon, see a little of Provence, ending in (where? Nice?)

Fly Nice to Madrid, tour Andalucia, fly home from Madrid.

If we did the Normandy area instead of Provence (maybe more interesting to the kids?) how best to get to Spain from there? Return to Paris and fly? Should we look to use Orly or CDG?

Thanks so much.
Oct 7th, 2002, 12:01 AM
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Lots of questions !

Cheap intra Europe routes and prices here :

French Rail info here :

I've no direct experience, but leasing a car for the 3 weeks, and using it for all your travel could be worth a thought. Search on car leasing on this forum.

Oct 7th, 2002, 04:09 AM
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I agree that a car lease might have merit. Typically 17 days minimum. Drawback is that you will lose 12-24 hours of vacation time in the car getting from Germany to Spain.

The website www.europebyair.com would/should normally be a good place to start, but I can't get it to come up right now. Maybe later today? If that fails you, you might be surprised that flying by way of London, Brussels or Geneva will give you a lot of intra-Europe travel bang for the buck.

Basel might also be a worthy gateway for you since you can rent a French or German car there with free return into either country (same is true at Strasbourg) - - more relevant for an "ordinary" car rental than a lease. For example, fly in Basel, make your one week loop through southern Germany, then return to France. Finish up your car rental in Paris and turn in the car. Fly/train to Spain. Home from there.

The itinerary ought to be planned "in toto" before you lock in your trans-atlantic travel. Probably worth your while to look into "Discover europe"-type discounted fares available for travel withIN Europe from various Europenan carriers (typically you have to use that carrier across the ocean) - - so obviously AF, LH or IB - - but consider British Midland maybe also.

Best wishes,

Oct 7th, 2002, 06:25 AM
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Nov 7th, 2002, 11:45 PM
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Leasing a car is a good idea. With 4 travelers, it makes it worthwhile. The trick is to understand that the travel to and from should be part of your tourism rather than just getting to one place or another. You might find that the cheapest leases (they actually are purchase-resell agreements paid in advance) are available in France, and if you really want to see three countries, a diesel is worth the extra cost. We rented a Peugeot 307 HDI (diesel) which was fine for four adults, but traveling light. Check the Web sites for Peugeot and Renault, they might even offer a 5% to 10% for early booking. But I believe that the cost rises considerably if you pick up at one country and drop off in another. Since you are interested in Spain, you might want to consider the Loire valley, the Dordogne and the Atlantic coast as better possibilities than the Provence and Normandy. My gut reaction is that you should drop Germany this time. I went to Spain for two weeks driving from the Pyrenees to Segovia (Avila was a day trip), Salamanca, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, and back up to France. We purposefully avoided Madrid and Barcelona. It would have been too much, and having been to Barcelona twice since, I know I was right. So I think that you will have to trim the Spanish part of the trip or just zip through France.
Nov 8th, 2002, 12:25 PM
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Further thoughts. Rex is right about finding a gateway city for rental. Strasbourg might be ideal in terms of leasing. But if you are not stuck on Spain, an alternative would be a trip around the Alpine countries, including cities such as Munich, Vienna and Venice. Basel has two interesting museums: the Beyerler Foundation (modern art) and the nearby Vitra Museum of Chairs in a building designed by Frank Gehry. And if you get tired of cities and museums, take a few hikes in the Alps for a change of scenery.
Nov 8th, 2002, 03:13 PM
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About the car:

When you're talking about 4 adults, a car probably makes sense. When you're talking about a family with kids who are 12 and 15, I vote for the train, hands down. It gives everyone a bit of respite, and encourages a sense of freedom for the kids. What kid wants to be stuck in the backseat of a car for hours, when they could be exploring on the train and meeting other travelers?
You could still rent a car for a few days along the way if the itinerary dictates.
Nov 8th, 2002, 05:38 PM
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I dunno, LA kids are usually pretty used to being in a car I tend to find the hassle of getting to/from the station/airport and then dealing with rental agencies makes it about a wash vs driving where you are going. If you are planning on being in the city, of course, the car is mostly in the way. I suspect drop-off fees for rental cars might be high if you leave it in a different country, though.

We (and the kids) enjoy wandering the backroads and staying in B&B type places a couple of days at a time(phrasebooks to the rescue).

I would be inclined to spend time in Salzburg rather than Munich (sort of like Santa Barbara vs LA, depends what you like). Actually, we stayed in a little village above Hallein when we were in the area and spent a couple of extra unplanned days there.

We enjoyed Normandy, think about staying in one of the smaller beach towns like Arromanches. Mont St Michel was too crowded for my taste in June. Chartres was a worthwhile detour. Making a loop from Paris should work fairly well.

One minor headache we noticed in the "wandering" style of travel, though. When you get toward the end of each stage that has a definite reservation endpoint, you start feeling kind of confined by needing to not get too far away from the airport. More planning prevents this, but then you can't stay a couple extra days somewhere that you really like.

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