France and Greece in Two weeks

Jan 23rd, 2013, 03:59 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2013
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France and Greece in Two weeks

I would like to explain my current conundrum, in hopes for some input from those who are well travelled and experienced in the regions of France (namely Paris, though I look to explore more) and the Grecian islands.
My boyfriend and I (we are 25&32 years old) are going to Europe for 2 weeks in Feb/March or March/April. One of the main reasons for the trip is to visit some friends that moved to Paris (actually live in Villejuif), but we would also like to venture off and explore a bit on our own as well. Our tentative plan is to fly into Paris and stay in the area for the first week. I would love to see some other sights in France as well- some things that top my list are
.Cancale/Dinan/St. Malo (we LOVE oysters and seafood, and have heard that Bretons are the nicest people and I am a big fan of anything medieval),
.Chartres ( I have done a lot of labyrinth work and have oohed and awed at the pilgrimages there),
and also growing up in the Wine Country in California we would love to see(/taste!) theirs so of course Burgundy and Champagne sound lovely but are largely unresearched & ambiguous to us. I realize I have just about mentioned the entire country so I am trying to narrow down to some place that would be a good trip for a day or two from Paris by train during the time of the year we will be going that won't be too expensive. I'm sure we could also spend the entire time in the Paris area and find plenty to do...

As for Greece, I have a psychology degree and the roots of which are deep in Greek mythology. I want to spend a day or so in Athens visiting ruins and being historians, but have the bulk of the remaining time be spent on the islands which seem to ooze beauty and romance. The Cyclades (namely Santorini with the picturesque white cube houses on the hillside) and Crete (Minoan histology) are what have caught my eye. Mykonos' night life sounds amazing but it doesn't seem like it would be alive during the time we have available. In fact, I worry that going the earlier timeslot would mean Greece would have ghost towns since the tourist season doesn't start until April (right?).... except that Tsiknopempti is March 6/7 and Carnival is the following weekend. I have read that this shouldn't be missed and takes place largely in Crete.

To conclude my windy explanation, my main questions are
When would you recommend us going for the most pleasurable experience? The options for two week time periods are Feb. 20 to March 15 or March 24 to April 9
Where in France would be most suitable for the time period and our interests?
And which of the Grecian Islands are recommended (for culture, beauty, history/mythology, and nightlife... we are also wildly into House music and enjoy a good party!)?
--> also, would you recommend traveling by boat or flying between the islands given the distance and short time period?

This is our first big trip together and we want it to be magical... exciting as well as relaxing and romantic! We are laid back kinda slow moving people who don't like strict schedules or a lot of stress. We want to be able to enjoy and experience a bit of Europe as well as eachother...
Thank you soo much for taking the time to read and respond!
Dswisher is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 04:28 PM
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Your dates are reaaly too early for the islands and much will be closed. You could go to Crete with it's large residential population. Why don't you spend all of your time in France and save Greece for a better time of year?
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 05:53 PM
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I agree, your dates are way too early in the year for the islands. They will be practically deserted and most shops, restaurants, clubs, cafes and galleries will be closed. Wait until mid-May or go in mid-September after the summer crush.
brotherleelove2004 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2013, 05:58 PM
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Most of these Greek islands with the white cube houses, will be closed for winter.... and they will be absolutely boring...

There is one exception : Syros, with it's capital of the Cyclades, Ermoupoli ( Hermoupolis).
This is a vibrant city, with life also during the wintertime...

Other than that, Crete is totally different, due to it's size ( it has a population of 600.000)
The cities of Crete are very vibrant all year round, i would strongly recommend Chania and Rethymno in the west, especially Rethymno, which is known for it's Carnival..
There will be many celebrations throughout Carnival and a parade on the last Sunday.

Speaking of Carnival, one of the biggest carnival parades of Europe take place in the city of Patras, that mobilizes 250.000 locals ... If you have a chance to be there ( it is 200 km away from Athens) you will have a great experience
clausar is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 02:36 AM
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And which of the Grecian Islands are recommended (for culture, beauty, history/mythology, and nightlife...

More of all those things on the mainland, particularly the time of year you are travelling. For history/Mythology: Crete, Rhodes & Delos have more than most islands. The uninhabited Delos can be reached only from Mykonos that time of year. For beauty: all the islands are beautiful in their own way, but Santorini is the picture postcard island. For nightlife: none to speak of on any island that time of year — try Athens.

also, would you recommend traveling by boat or flying between the islands given the distance and short time period?

With only a few exceptions there are no inter island flights. One exception: Olympic Air has flights between Rhodes and Crete.

Heimdall is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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Thank you so much for your advice. I will investigate Patras and Syros further.
is Carnival big there for the full week and a half, or just the last weekend?
A full two weeks of France doesn't sound terrible either

I was also offered a place to stay in Italy, Tuscany area.. somewhere between Florence and Siena.. would it be more lovely and worthwhile there during this time of year?
Dswisher is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 02:15 PM
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With two weeks, if your want to visit both France and Greece or Tuscany, you are going to have to limit your stops in France to the Paris area and another perhaps either Brittany or Bordeaux. Can you go in late April? If so, you may find Tuscany beginning to be spring-like.

For Greece, I would wait until you can travel in May/June.
mamcalice is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 02:52 PM
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In Patras there are events during the whole period of Carnival, and it is very very amusing
Patras is a good point to visit Delphi, Nafpaktos, Galaxidi but also Olympia.

@ mamcalice April and May are better for visits of certain islands ( there are others like Lesbos, Samos, Evia or Crete that are worth visiting all year round)

Mainland Greece is amazing, and also worth a visit also during the winter !!
clausar is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 05:01 PM
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Paris has plenty of resources to explore for someone of a psychological/historical/archaeological bent. One example: You could easily spend half a day in the new Musee du quai Branly not too far from the Eiffel Tower. The Branly is devoted to artifacts from the ancient civilizations of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. In less grandiose and more cynical terms, it has been called a display of Imperialist loot. None from Greece, though. One special exhibit during your visit is an examination of hair-dos over the ages. The displays are gorgeous, housed in bold architecture. To my eyes, the building's exterior is Rust Belt Redux. Well worth a look and a visit.
Paris overflows with such attractions and by April it should be spring.
Southam is offline  
Jan 24th, 2013, 05:13 PM
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Yes, I definitely plan on being pretty stationary in France.. one or two destinations is enough... i am not one of those travelers who tries to squeeze in an obscene amount of destinations into a short period of time.

Will Brittany be too cold so far north and on the water?

I'm glad to hear mainland Greece is worth a visit. Everyone I talked to about it was very ho-hum.
Thank you for all of the suggestions clausar! Delphi is definitely high on my bucketlist

I wish i could travel in the warmer months, but for now off season travelling will have to suffice!
Dswisher is offline  
Jan 25th, 2013, 02:23 AM
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I'm glad to hear mainland Greece is worth a visit. Everyone I talked to about it was very ho-hum.

Well, let's put in this way: Blue Guide, the "bible" for museums and historic sites, didn't even bother with the islands until 2010. Until then they had editions only for the mainland and for Crete. In 2010 they finally got around to publishing an edition for the Aegean Islands. That says a lot.

The islands are great for sun and sea, but most have no important archaeological sites, exceptions being Crete, Rhodes, Santorini and Delos. I don't see how you can plan a well-rounded trip of Greece without including the mainland, and by that I don't mean just Athens.
Heimdall is offline  

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