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Europe for 10 weeks with 8 and 10 year olds

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Jun 15th, 2012, 08:15 AM
  #1
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Europe for 10 weeks with 8 and 10 year olds

I'm planning a 10 week trip to Europe with my kids, 8 and 10. We will be arriving in London on Oct 3 and departing from Rome on Dec 10. I've been researching/planning for about 6 months and have a lot of the itinerary decided; but a large open section in the middle. I'd like to maintain some unreserved time to allow flexibility during travel but am getting a little nervous that so much is not yet reserved. My itinerary is listed below - I'd love to hear feedback about cool places that I might have missed, or places that aren't worth the stop.
10/3 - 10/10 - London
10/10 - 10/12 - rent a car outside London, drive to York and North Moors Natl Park
10/12 - 10/19 - drive down through Peak District, stay in Cotswolds, explore Warwick, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, Stonehenge
10/19 - 10/27 - take Eurostar to Paris (stay in the city with 1-day excursion to Versailles)
10/27 - 11/3 - rent a car outside Paris, drive to Belgium, stay in Maldegem, explore Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, day trip to Amsterdam
11/3 - 11/5 - drive to Normandy, see Mont St Michel, Bayeux (anything else - Giverny? where to stay for 2 nights?)
11/5 - 11/7 - drive to Carnac (worth it?) then to Archachon (where to stay?)
Here's where I'm undecided. I was planning to drive over to Dordogne (base in Sarlat for a week) but am wondering if I should make time to go down to San Sebastian and/or Pamplona first. Also, after Sarlat I was planning to drive through Lyon into Geneva and spend 2 days seeing a bit of Switzerland (Zermatt?). Then I was planning to drive down to Nice, return the car and take trains through Italy. Now I'm trying to decide how to make a stop in Orange and Provence, or whether it would be worth it to go out of our way for that. Once it Italy, I was planning to pass through Cinque Terre (worth it?), stay a week in Florence and 3 nights in Venice. I have reservations in Abruzzo from Nov 29 - Dec 6 then the last 4 nights in Rome. So, basically I am uncommitted from Nov 8 - Nov 29 (3 weeks) and am trying to decide whether (and for how long) to fit in San Sebastian, Pamplona, Sarlat, Orange, Provence, Geneva, Zermatt, and Nice, and still leave time for Florence and Venice before Abruzzo. I realize I can't do all of these, hence the appeal for advice about what would be most memorable/enjoyable with kids. We don't need to squeeze in more cathedrals or museums, just looking for fun and interesting things, or a place to chill. During the 3 weeks, I'd like at least 2 stretches of 5+ days in the same accommodation so we are not feeling like complete nomads!

Sorry for the long post, and appreciate any feedback!!
jenninwv is offline  
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Jun 15th, 2012, 11:44 AM
  #2
 
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I'd consider leaving London and heading to Belgium, THEN head to Paris, Normandy and parts south. Eliminates some backtracking.
apersuader65 is offline  
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Jun 15th, 2012, 12:59 PM
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avoid those backtracks. I guess you know it is the start of winter and days will be short so I would try and do the n
northern bits first and the southern bits last.

I'd try to book an appartment for those longer stays, get evrything sorted out and clothes clean etc.

I'd also drop the obvious, Nice, Geneve, Zermatt and make the Florence trip more of a Tuscany tour (it is so pretty you will not believe it)
bilboburgler is offline  
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Jun 15th, 2012, 02:01 PM
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Skip Cinque Terra, in winter it will be mostly closed down, and trails can be wet and not safe to walk.
I loved Zermatt,,its expensive but so darn cute it makes your face hurt from smiling,, totally like "Heidi land" lol, but prices may be up if you go during ski season.
Florence is not that exciting for kids,, and er, and some of us adults.
justineparis is offline  
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Jun 15th, 2012, 03:12 PM
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The beginning of your trip (except for the backtracking) looks good, and you're spending a good amount of time in each location. After that, you're talking about LONG drives. Bayeux to Dordogne - long, long drive. Then San Sebastian? Then Lyon, all the way across France? Doesn't really work.

I would drop Geneva and Zermatt due to the time of year.

Dordogne is a great area for kids - lots of castles to visit, all the prehistoric stuff, it's gorgeous, and great food. You could easily spend a week there.

In planning the Dordogne trip, with our 11yo DS, we had to decide between the Dordogne and Provence (both of which us parents had been to), and decided on the Dordogne because he and we felt there was more of interest for kids. Also, while the Roman stuff in Provence is interesting (and the Pont du Gard is amazing), if you're going to be in Rome, it rather pales in comparison.

As I recall from trying to figure it out about 10 years ago, getting from Nice into Italy by train isn't real straightforward, changing trains and the timing's not so smooth. I don't know for sure, but check out the schedule before committing. Also consider using a low-cost European carrier for portions of your trip, EasyJet or RyanAir.

We took our 10yo DD to Venice, Florence and Rome several years ago. She loved everywhere we went, but her top two locations were Venice and Rome. I would also say more time in Venice, less in Florence.

Enjoy your planning - it sounds like it will be a great trip!
Lexma90 is offline  
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Jun 18th, 2012, 08:28 AM
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Thanks for your responses! About the backtracking...I had originally planned to go from London to Belgium, then Paris, Normandy, etc. It does seem most intuitive. But, when I started looking into train tickets & rental cars, it looked like it will be more costly and more of a hassle that way. If I take the train into Paris (where I don't want/need a car) I can rent a car on my way out of the city and then keep that same car for Belgium and the rest of France. If I go to Belgium first, I will need to rent/return a car there, then take another train to Paris, then rent another car after Paris. I was second guessing this after reading your responses but I took another detailed look and I'm thinking it will be worth the little bit of backtracking. ???

So, I will definitely skip Cinque Terre - thanks for the tip about the time of year. I'll also skip Spain - which was my original intention but I was starting to have doubts after hearing people respond to my trip by saying "no spain??". We just can't do it all!

I'll also stick to my plan to spend a week in Dordogne but maybe cut a few days out of Florence so 4 or 5 nights there. I'm having a hard time dropping Zermatt (esp after reading justineparis) so maybe I will keep a few flexible days and depending on the weather - go to Geneva and Zermatt, or go to Provence and Orange.

Thanks again!!
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