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VeeBee Feb 21st, 2007 03:14 AM

Critique itin - 1 month France/Switz/Italy family "adventure"!
Our family is going to Europe for month of June and I've got the following itin set w/ all ff tickets done and accom boooked - however, I'm wavering on a few things...would love to hear advice/input from all! I"ve got a MILLION pieces of great advice from reading this board over the past few months...and thought I'd just lay it all out for more input! BTW - Our family is husband, self, 5 yr old daughter and 7 & 9 year old sons. Additionally,my mom is travelling with us for first 3 weeks (great shape and can handle all the outdoorsy/hiking stuff better than us!)And budget is definitely important and a driver of decisions! Here goes:

ATL-Paris (thru prague!! long flight)
PARIS - apt in 7th arr - 3 NIGHTS
Paris-Murren,Switz - train
Murren - Montreux - train
(1 day choc train to Gruyeres/Broc)
Montreux-Geneva-Lyon - train
(husband wants to see Phillipe Patek museum in Geneva for afternoon - anybody done this?)
LYON hotel- 1 NIGHT
(pu rental car next day)
Lyon - Provence/Lourmarin - Drive
Lourmarin - Monaco - Drive
Monaco - Cinque Terre/Vernazza - Train
(hiking, 1 or 2 daytrips)
Vernazza - Venice: Train
Venice - Milan: Train

What's not changeable are our weekly rentals in Provence and Cinque Terre.. what I'm second guessing is cutting switz shorter and staying in Paris an extra day or so. the montreux portion is primarily to take the choc train to Gruyeres - thought that sounded fun for kids.. ?? We are going through Lyon to basically pick up rental car in France for drive to provence. One night / 2 days Venice realize is too short - but kids really wanted to see the place with the canoes in Italy before going home! Still trying to decide on type of railpass - Eurail flex select only or Eurail flex plus swiss card or flex..difficult!

Any thoughts/suggestions greatly appreciated! Planning this adventure for family of 5/6 has been great fun but unbelievable work!

KathyWood Feb 21st, 2007 03:58 AM

Hi VeeBee, I can tell how excited you are about this family adventure and fabulous that you were able to get the FF tickets.

We have traveled extensively in Europe with our daughter (now 13) beginning when she was 14 months old. We love Europe and totally understand the temptation to want to see it all.

I think you are trying to do too much, especially with relatively young children. One night in Venice really doesn't make sense to me at all. You will chew up so much time just getting there and getting back and just to see the gondolas. I would tell the children that it is too far and that you'll see it on another trip. You also say that budget it important, and that's a lot of train expense for almost no time in Venice. I would recommend adding those two days onto one of your other destinations.

I'd suggest taking the train to Avignon (or Aix) and renting your car there for Provence. No need to drive from Lyon.

Be sure to minimize your luggage. We love train travel in Europe, but it can be very stressful if you have too much luggage-- getting the luggage on and off the train, finding places to store it. Take small bags that the children can help with.

My notes on traveling in Europe with small children may be helpful to you:

Seriously-- please rethink Venice!


VeeBee Feb 21st, 2007 04:08 AM

thanks Kathy.. few additional insights.. husband has travelled only twice to Europe for 2 week trips and children have not been overseas. I've travelled extensively for both fun and work (lived/travelled for almost 2 yrs in Europe after college).

Re luggage - Planning for one rolling suitcase for each (that they can handle themselves) with day packs.

Re venice - we ck out of apt Sat am and flight from Milan is Mon am. Can't change our Sat-Sat apt rental - so if didn't go to Venice - would probably go to Lake region- looked into this - but still seemed like lots of transport/time. Planning to use days on Eurail flexipass (6 or 7 day pass) for inter-Italy trips.

Thanks much for the link to your notes on Slowtravel.. insights from those who've done it with kids is great! My one temptation is to overpack for the "in-cases" with the kids..(ie sick, etc..)

gfeibleman Feb 24th, 2007 01:22 PM

One day in Venice is not worth it. You do not say what time your flight is but if you are flying out of Milano I suggest you bag venice and spend your last 2 nights at Lake Orta

I also agree about the luggage. the trick to train travel is having someone to get on and get the seats while someone else tosses on the bags. with 3 kids you will have your hands full so the less the better.

As to Lake Orta, It is really beautiful, lots of interesting things for kides to see like a castle in the middle of the lask and then it is an easy drive i the morning to the airport to drop your car and fly out.

get a car, drive there and drive yourself to the airport. Not aure how you get there by public transport

That is what we did in 2001 and it was a great way to end the trip

Here is a link to some photos. Lago d'Orta are near the end of the trip

cut and past this link:

gfeibleman Feb 24th, 2007 01:23 PM

One more thing, I am going to Montreux this coming friday so will be posting some pictures later this month.

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