First Timer in Europe ?

Apr 7th, 2017, 03:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2017
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First Timer in Europe ?

So happy to have found this forum! Started doing a ton of reading. BOY....I had no idea what I was getting into. Our daughter has taken 5 years of French (me...none) so we said a few years ago...finish all 5 years and we will take you to France. Hmmm, the time has come. She graduates this June. I am realizing that I should have planned this a LONG time ago.

SOooooo.....I will continue to research and look at everyone's fabulous question and answers about all kinds of things.

Our daughter starts college August 21st. I was hoping to go in Sept./Oct. but now a wondering if that is out of the question because of school. My hope was to fit in London, France and Italy. I think 10ish days is all I can manage because of work. Is that a possibility? Or should I drop one place? If I had to, it would be London (sorry).....the husband is telling me just go to France....but I can't imagine finally getting to Europe and NOT making it to Italy (both grandparents are from Italy and it's on my dream/wish list to go).

Ok seasoned travelers....any thoughts/suggestions? I know I have to figure out when we will go. I'm wondering if we should wait until next spring or just somehow make this happen before school starts?? Shoot away....please be gentle. Hawaii and Mexico don't quite count in terms of this kind of travel. Right??
I_wanna_travel is offline  
Apr 7th, 2017, 03:45 PM
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Three cities in 10 days means only getting about two actual days for seeing things after travel time, so it's not very good use of your time, and you will be dissatisfied with how much you can see at every stop. With your time frame, I suggest limiting yourself to two cities - probably Rome and Paris. Should you feel that you've seen enough in a city before your days there are up, both cities offer numerous choices for day-trips - you may want to plan one for Paris (Giverny, Versailles, Chartres) and one for Rome (Orvieto would be my choice for a very different experience from Rome). But I think that will keep you quite, quite busy.

It is not too late to go this year as soon as she's out of school. If you'll be able to go earlier in the year next year, it might be worth the wait, but if I were her, I'd be champing at the bit to get my reward. See what you can get in terms of flights (Kayak and Momondo are a couple sites to try, but there are many), open-jaw - into Rome and home from Paris or vice versa - use the multi-city function, not two one-way fares. You can take a superbudget airline in between the two cities. is a good site for hotels.
artsnletters is offline  
Apr 7th, 2017, 04:00 PM
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With 10 days and a daughter who has taken 5 years of French, I would go to Paris and 1 or 2 other places in France. By keeping your plan simple, you will make things much easier on yourself.
november_moon is online now  
Apr 7th, 2017, 04:15 PM
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With a mere 10 days - (is that 11 nights on the ground in Europe? which is what it takes to get 10 full days). I'd choose to spend all of the time in France. People often think they need to visit more places to see/do/experience more, but more places actually means less time to see/do/experience as you lose at least half a day each time you change locations.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 7th, 2017, 04:25 PM
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I would go to Paris for five days and then somewhere else in France for five days--just easier and gives your daughter more time on the ground to practice what she's been studying all this time.

But if you must add Italy, I like artsnletters' plan. About three years ago I went to Italy (Bologna, Ravenna then Rome) by myself for 12 days, then flew to Paris to meet friends for another five days. The trip was in July and I planned the whole thing right about this time, March/April. In fact, I didn't book my hotel in Paris until I was in Rome. Granted, I had been to both places several times before, so I wasn't stressed about "must see" sights or the perfect hotel in the perfect location, yadda yadda. But it was all perfectly doable, and I think you and your daughter can go this summer to if that is what you prefer.
Leely2 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2017, 04:28 PM
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>>My hope was to fit in London, France and Italy. I think 10ish days is all I can manage because of work. Is that a possibility?<<

It sounds like you have 10 days total -- right?

Sad truth - but a 10 day trip only nets you 7.5 days free on the ground and one of those will most likely be jet lagged.

So I'd do Paris for most of your time and perhaps ONE other place in France. Or Paris for 5 or 6 days and a couple of days either in London or ONE city in Italy.

Fly open jaw (multi city) into one city and home from the other

You really don't have time for more
janisj is online now  
Apr 7th, 2017, 04:39 PM
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So far, excellent responses. Not what I want to hear but I know you all are right. (Big Sigh)....Ok, keep them coming and it gives me food for thought.
I_wanna_travel is offline  
Apr 7th, 2017, 04:39 PM
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London and Paris would be the most sensible destinations with 10 days. Italy will have to wait.
tailsock is offline  
Apr 7th, 2017, 04:51 PM
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I agree -- fly into London - train to Paris - fly home from Paris
janisj is online now  
Apr 7th, 2017, 05:26 PM
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Day 1, depart home
Day 2, arrive Paris, allow time to get from airport to hotel, then jet lag, a walk, dinner
Day 3, 4, 5, Paris
Day 6, Paris to city or area B, train or fly
Day 7, 8, 9, city/area B
Day 10, depart for home

Do multi-city or multi-destination flights, into one city and out of another if you do two cities. Do not waste time and money backtracking with RT ticket.

You need to be in your departure city the night before, and it is better not to break up time and stay twice in the same city, so if you stick with France, arrive and go directly to whatever area you choose for the extra time, end in Paris.

Day 1, depart home
Day 2, arrive Paris, go directly to (Avignon in Provence, or other area) by train
Day 3, 4, 5, Provence (or other area)
Day 6, train to Paris
Day 7, 8, 9, Paris
Day 10, return home

Europe is huge. Ten days is very little. It is understandable that you want to see a lot, but you won't be seeing or experiencing much while you are trooping from airport to airport or train station to station. Keep travel to a minimum once you are in Europe. Make sight seeing and experiences the priority.

If you can do multi-city (arrive in Paris and depart from Rome) and get decent, cheap flights from Paris to Rome, OK, Paris and Rome could be your two cities with no smaller cities or country areas.

If you can't get good multi-city flights and must do round trip, Paris, then save Italy for another trip when you can see more of Italy (Venice, Florence, etc.) not just a photo op stop in Rome.

If you did Paris and a bit of Provence, you could also see some magnificent things from the Roman Empire? The Ancient Roman Arena in Arles is still in use and Pont du Gard is a great example of Roman aqueducts. Palace of the Popes in Avignon is a religious connection. There are many things quite close together.
Sassafrass is online now  
Apr 7th, 2017, 05:39 PM
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A note -- IF you decide on Paris/London . . . fly into London and home from Paris. That would be cheaper than the reverse because departure fees/taxes are higher out of the UK.
janisj is online now  
Apr 7th, 2017, 06:39 PM
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Another vote for just visiting France but if you decide that you prefer one place in France and one in Italy, then it doesn't have to be Paris and Rome. Plenty of other choices if you prefer something different. There are international flights into many other cities. Sometimes people's mind image of a place is not a city but rural landscapes and villages. Perhaps you want to visit the place where your family comes from?

I agree that it's best to stay in the city from where you return home at least the night before. Often you don't do much the first day you arrive in Europe so it can be a good choice to take a train from the airport to your other destination (e.g. train from airport to Provence, train to Paris, then fly home from Paris).

In France in particular, there are substantial discounts for booking trains in advance. Same in Italy but less so. Cheaper tickets though come with some loss of flexibility.

Lastly and most importantly, what does your daughter want? With regard language, we took our kids to France after years of French study and found that although they were very shy to speak, they understood much of the language spoken around them. We had to actively encourage them to open their mouths!
dreamon is online now  
Apr 8th, 2017, 01:38 AM
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If you're of Italian heritage, you really owe Italy more than a few days. Italy is an entire country. Most people at least want to see Rome, Florence, and Venice, and ten days isn't enough for even that. Plus, you'd probably want to see where your grandparents are from, and, chances are, they're from a little town in a rural area, where it would take almost an entire day to get there. Go to Italy when you have the time to really see the country.

I agree that you should visit just France this time so that your daughter gets a chance to practice her French. And go as soon as she gets out of school. It's not too late to plan that, but get busy right now!

I would say Paris for at least four full days (five nights), and let your daughter pick the next spot. In her five years of French study, she's probably learned about other parts of France, and may have one particular spot that she'd love to see.
bvlenci is offline  
Apr 8th, 2017, 01:57 AM
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excellent answers.
I would suggest :
Paris and loire région - some fabulous castles.
And close to each other's
Paris and Strasbourg. Alsace us French but you feel somewhere else. By TGV only 2 hours.
Paris and Venise. Fly easyJet - cheap - pay attention to luggage.
Romantic and beautiful.
Paris and Amsterdam. 2,5 hours by train - Thalys.
Another country. Amsterdam is beautiful, i am not allowed to comment on the Dutch.

As for speaking French do push your daughter and tell her to carry on in French when locals will answer in English.
WoinParis is offline  
Apr 8th, 2017, 02:09 AM
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I would go to Paris for your daughter, a deal is a deal, but check with her, she prefer to go to Lyon or Brittany, I'd say it was her call on what she liked about France from her lessons.

I think you all deserve to go to Italy, where your parents from? Go there. At least go to the same region. Really visiting Puglia if your parents were from Turin is crazy. Like going to FL if your parents came from CA.

You only have time for two bases.

One of my friends discovered that her grandparents came from Padua, looked the name up on t'internet and re-connected with the whole family. They now visit every year.
bilboburgler is offline  
Apr 8th, 2017, 04:20 AM
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Another vote for staying in France...most days in Paris with side trips or a couple of nights in another town. After all, this trip is based on your daughter's five years of French. She will love being able to communicate in the native language.

However, if you are really set on a second country, the Eurostar to London (~2:30 each way) is fast as is the Thalys to Amsterdam (3:17 each way)...two good options for a quick 2 night visit.

ssander is offline  
Apr 8th, 2017, 07:11 AM
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Or: Fly into Marseille (which will involve changing planes in a continental gateway) work your way by train through Avignon-Lyon to Paris, fly home. Whatever you choose, shop for flights with a multi-destination search function.
She will always be your little girl, of course, but this trip opens the doors of adulthood. However busy with her studies, she can find time to do some of the research now and make some of the activity decisions when abroad. Bon voyage to both of you.
Southam is offline  
Apr 8th, 2017, 08:21 AM
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I took my then high school senior to Europe a few years ago. It was a wonderful experience and opened his eyes to some new things. What a great reward for your daughter making it through the five years of French! Here's something you may want to consider: might she pursue a language major or minor at college? Might she want to study abroad during her college years? If so, you may want to limit the stay to France, then visit her again while she is studying abroad. You could even pick her up during her break at study abroad and travel to Italy. We visited our children when they were studying abroad--once to Germany and once to Florence. We were able to spend time with them as well as travel without them. It was a great excuse to return to Europe! Try not to bite off more than you can chew. Leave time for just wandering and sitting at cafes. Have fun!
StacyB is offline  
Apr 8th, 2017, 09:36 AM
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Such great advice! Thank you all so much for your input. Yes, 5 years of French deserves France at a slow speed. She's going to be 18 in May. She speaks French beautifully and I'm looking forward to seeing her shine. I do think she won't have a problem speaking to others (I better hurry up and get onboard-at least for the basics-I took Spanish and find that the pronunciation seems more difficult for me with French). I'm going to talk with her and try to be more France focused. She, like me, wants to go everywhere and we obviously don't have the time. Maybe she will love it and want to study abroad? I'd love that for her. At the very least give her another view and a fabulous experience.
I_wanna_travel is offline  
Apr 8th, 2017, 10:30 AM
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In that case, "ordinary life" will be so rewarding, apart from visiting museums and "sights". I learned Norwegian, then had the chance to try it out on a Hurtigruten journey, the highlight of which was chatting with some students traveling and having a drink after closing time of the bar with the one remaining bar staff. Learning languages, and then actually applying them, is magical.
menachem is offline  
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