France and Italy Itinerary Help

Old Nov 10th, 2023, 03:35 PM
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France and Italy Itinerary Help

I'm planning a 16-day trip to France and Italy for mid-June. We'll be a group of 7, including my wife, daughters (ages 12 and 14), brother, and parents who are spry for being in their mid-70s. Here's the basic plan: 4 nights in Paris, 4 nights in either Annecy or Chamonix (or 2 nights in each town), fly from Geneva to Naples, 4 nights on the Amalfi Coast - maybe have Praiano as a home base, and 4 nights in Tuscany - maybe have Montepulciano as a home base. We'd then fly home from Rome.

Any advice on the best cities to stay in while on the Amalfi Coast or in Tuscany? How manageable are our travel days (particularly our idea to fly from Geneva to Naples rather than travel by train)? Any other suggestions? Thanks for any help you can provide!
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Old Nov 10th, 2023, 04:19 PM
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Travel basics:
For every long distance "change of location", subtract at least 1 day from your total "nights" schedule. So you have 16 nights, but only 12 days "being there". For such a large group - I would also subtract time from a "standard" 8-9 hour "sightseeing" day, to 5-7 hours per day.

You'll be spending too much time "getting there", and not enough time "being there".

My advice - France or Italy. Not both.

See attachments.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 10th, 2023, 05:21 PM
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Question -- have any of you been to France/Italy before?

Stu's point is important -- with a group that large everything (pretty much e v e r y t h i n g) will take longer.

4 nights in a place = 3 days. Will you be happy with just 3 full days in Paris - and some of you will be jet lagged for at least a day or two of that??

If you are flying home from Rome you will want to be IN Rome the night before the flight.
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Old Nov 10th, 2023, 05:23 PM
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I agree with Stu. Your transfers are somewhat long and time-consuming. Traveling in a group of 7... young v. old, spry v. slow, doesn't matter... you can only move as fast as the slowest person. If there is jet-lag, half of your time in Paris could be impacted.

IMO, the time in Tuscany is too short to justify the logistics. I assume you'd rent cars for the Tuscany days, so where and when to rent? You don't want or need cars on the AC, and renting after the AC means you first have to get the group to another town with rental offices and then drive... The journey to Montepulciano could be a long, convoluted day. Even if you already had the car in Praiano, the drive could take up to 6 hours.... If the departing flight from FCO is noon or earlier, you might want to spend the last night closer to the airport. If you then only have 3 nights in Tuscany, the effort to get there really looks like too much.
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Old Nov 10th, 2023, 05:43 PM
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I also agree with others that you have too many long-ish journeys, each of which will soak up lots of time. You are skipping past so many beautiful places enroute. Four nights in each place would be fine but I would choose destinations which are closer together and travel by train rather than flying within Europe. I recommend being in your departure city prior to any flight (especially with 7 tickets at stake) so that means staying in Geneva and Rome, with your current plan.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 01:56 AM
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I'll chime in
firstly, how fantastic that all the family is fit and spry, what a great opportunity and again June is a good month.

I've managed larger groups and they kill so much time, but 7 is still a handful, especially assuming that they don't all speak the local languages and may well have the tendency to wander off, look at things, need a sit down. June will possibly also be warm so some people will want to swim, while others will want to explore. Finally 16 days is such a short holiday.

My advice is don't travel too much, each country has lots to offer and you are poping around all over the place. Can I suggest you go back to the books and look at some of the following groupings

Paris
Strasbourg/Colmar
Chablis/Auxerre
A fashionable ski resort (bring hiking boots and safe walking gear?)
Avignon/Arles/Camargue (really a very special day trip)

if you want to add Italy ( I wouldn't but you know what you want) then I might add the Cinque Terre and Genoa (the 5T drops you into Tuscany)
I guess you know about Airbnb and hotels, but you might like to see https://www.gites-de-france.com/fr who are good safe agency with lots to offer including "gites with pool". Now the benefit of a Gite is that you get a washing line and washing machine in many of them which means you don't have to bring 16 changes of clothes but can travel much lighter. If you want to access similar properties that may less well organised but a bit cheaper, you can also search on google maps for Gite and that gives you access to a whole bunch more. The term Gite is sometimes used in Italy too ( an internet thing) but they also use https://www.agriturismo.it type words thought strictly these should be farm stays, but portals are portals.

When I go on these short holidays I will often just use a carry-on for the whole holiday and wash clothes. With so many people this techinique is to be recommended. If your family struggle to do this. Get them to lay out everything they need on their bed, then get them to take off half, then half again until it fits in one bag.


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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 05:48 AM
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I don't understand why you would travel from Annecy or Chamonix to the Amalfi Coast by flying from Genova. How were you planning to get to Genova? It's a very long and complicated trip to Genova from either town, and another long and complicated trip from Genova to the Amalfi Coast. For that matter, the trip from Paris to Annecy or Chamonix is no picnic either.

Could you tell us why you chose these particular destinations? Maybe we could suggest alternatives that would make your travel easier.

Are you planning to do most of your travel by train?




Last edited by bvlenci; Nov 11th, 2023 at 06:00 AM.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 08:24 AM
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All the coming and going in your proposal suggests that you are trying to meet disparate desires within your group. What are these desires? What are the interests of the members of your group? Language abilities? Are any of you experienced travelers able to guide the group through the various transportation modes? Basically, what do you want to see (specifics, not regions) and what do you want to do when you are in a place?

I suggest only two bases, Paris and Italy (Naples or Sorrento). You will only need public transport, no car rentals, no complex multimodal days.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 09:20 AM
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Independently of the itinerary and the means of transport, the Chamonix - Tuscani or Naples journey will take a wholel day:
Possibilities:
Train Chamonix or Annecy GVA, Plane GVA - FCO or NAP
Train Annecy - Chambery - Turin - Florence - Rome - Naples:
Bus Chamonix - Aosta - Turin, train Turin - Florence - Rome - Naples.

You may also check to fly from Paris to Naples and to backtrack up to Geneva by train.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 10:45 AM
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Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate your feedback. I'll bring your suggestions back to the fam and we'll chew on it. I'll probably reply again with a revised itinerary and maybe you can give that a look too. Thanks!
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 11:57 AM
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Adding that 7 people and 7 people's luggage = more than one regular automobile.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 01:39 PM
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Some other points about driving in Italy... If you're from outside the EU, drivers will need to get International Driver's Permits. Not a big deal and you may never need to present them, but they are required. Also, almost every town in Italy has something called a ZTL (zona traffico limitato). These are areas you can't drive into (with very limited exceptions) during most hours of the day, most days of the week. If you drive into the zone (sometimes well signed, sometimes not), even by accident, you'll likely receive a citation in the mail after you get home. Multiple violations of the zone will mean multiple citations, so make sure you know what to look for.

https://mominitaly.com/ztl-in-italy/

Also, there have been driving restrictions on the Amalfi Coast road over the past two years. Basically, non-residents could drive the road only on alternate days based on the car's license number. Hotel guests could drive the road only to arrive and depart and not for general sightseeing. I don't know what might be in place in 2024, but if past restrictions are continued it really tips the balance against having a car while visiting the coastal towns... not to mention the ridiculous summer traffic.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 01:56 PM
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A bit more re driving in the ZTL's . . . Not only will there be a fine in the mail once you get home, the rental car agency will charge an administration fee for providing your details to the Italian authorities.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 01:56 PM
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More "travel basics" to consider when re-doing your plan:

- Never be in a city in either France or Italy on a Sunday or Monday morning. Almost all the shops your crew might want to browse through will be closed. And most "nice" restaurants will be closed also (exceptions are Sunday lunch). When shops close, the lights are off and often shutters will be pulled down over the shop windows. So you can't "window shop". The city might look quite depressing then. Cities mentioned here that will be mostly closed on Sun & Mon include Annecy (farmer's market in Old Annecy is Sunday), Strasbourg, Colmar, Montepulciano, Chablis, Auxerre, Avignon, & Arles. Exceptions are touristy/resort cities like the Amalfi coast villages, and perhaps Chamonix. There are ALWAYS things to do in Paris on Sundays. But except for the Marais and some super touristy regions like the Latin Quarter & Isle St Louis, most shops will still be closed. Bon Marche might be open also.

- Car rental offices are often closed during lunch, and partially or totally closed on Sat & Sun.

- Don't assume you can have a dinner at a "nice" restaurant at a time of your choosing. Most restaurants don't start serving until 7:30 or 8:00. Same for lunch (11:30-2:00). You can usually find a fast food place or a simple cafe open. We often grab sandwiches at a boulangerie for lunch.

- Use this site for estimating driving times https://www.viamichelin.com/
Add 10% to the time for distances that are longer than 3 hours. We've visited the Amalfi Coast 4 times - staying in Positano, Capri, and Ravello. It is a nightmare driving. Don't even consider a large car. Once, we got "pinned" to a cliff by one of the buses that travel along the coast, and it took us 30-45 mins to get free.

- Use this site to determine train schedules
https://int.bahn.de/en
Schedules are often not available for more than 3-6 months in the future. So use a more current date, but make sure you use the day of the week you might travel. Weekend schedules are sometimes different than weekday schedules.

- Many museums in France are closed either Monday or Tuesday. Some are closed for lunches too. Castles are often closed 1-2 days a week and sometimes at lunch also.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj
A bit more re driving in the ZTL's . . . Not only will there be a fine in the mail once you get home, the rental car agency will charge an administration fee for providing your details to the Italian authorities.
Within the past 2 weeks, we've received 2 notifications from Hertz that 2 traffic citations are on the way.

The International Driver's Permits is also required for France.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 02:17 PM
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To get something of similar feel to your original plan, you could perhaps consider some combination of Paris - Annecy or Chamonix - inland Provence - Cote d'Azur or Ligurian coast (not Cinque Terre, which is reportedly insanely busy nowadays). You could maybe fly in/out Paris and Nice or Genoa (or vice versa). But Europe is so full of wonderful places to visit that there are a million possibilities, all without travelling as far as even this. I'd only get car/s if you prefer to visit places which are not accessible by public transport.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 03:48 PM
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We spent a week near Chamonix a few years ago. We were there the second week in July, and departed a few days before the Tour de France went through the village we stayed in. We could see Mont Blanc from our gite - kinda. Attached is a weather write-up of what we experienced. It is very "iffy" to plan a trip to Mt Blanc for just a few days. It could be "whited out" for the entire time you are there.

In the attachment, I provided a link to the fantastic gite where we stayed. We have rented 80 Gites in France, for a total of about 130 weeks. This was one of the best.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 04:36 PM
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I agree with everyone else here. You need to simplify and also cut down your destinations. Iím younger than your parents by a fair amount, swim 1000 yards 4/week, weights an hour twice a week and walk over 10,000 steps a day and your itinerary would exhaust me after a few days. Also if you pack like most Americans you are going to need to rent 3 cars for 7 people not two.
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Old Nov 11th, 2023, 06:36 PM
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You are getting lots of advice and information, all of which, I agree with.

General advice from my experience.

Unless it is very near a place of major interest, it is nearly always a bad plan to arrive or depart from a city in which you have no interest visiting. It is often a big waste of time getting there or getting to other places, as well as you spend money just staying in a hotel.

You have allotted equal time to most places. All places are not equal in time needed. Some places have only one or two things of major interest. Others are so filled, you could spend a year. Allocate time based on what things you want to do in each place and how much time each thing will take. Consider if there is enough of interest in a place to justify the amount of time and effort required (for the group) to travel there?

A couple traveling on their own can go at a fast pace for a week or so. After that, things become a blur, even for them. It is not possible for a group to travel fast and enjoy it unless everything is super organized as on a tour where details (like how to get places) are taken care by someone else.

Rather than attempting to see places so far apart that require time consuming, expensive, carefully planned, travel, you may have a better experience by choosing two (at the very most, three) major areas and concentrate on other, worthwhile sights that are nearby.
An example: You mention Tuscany for three days. Do you want to see Florence, Siena, Pisa, Luca, countryside? Consider how best to get to those places with the group. You need a place that will be interesting and convenient for everyone in case everyone does not want to go sightseeing every single day. It will be hot. Consider in at least one of your locations (Tuscany or Amalfi Coast) to have a place with a pool for late afternoons. I would try to begin in Italy and end in Paris. Can you fly into Naples?

*********
There is information from you that would be really helpful with assessing your itinerary and making suggestions that would work to give you and your family the best possible options for a memorable experience. There is no point in giving you advice you do not need.

Have you or members of your group traveled to Europe before? If so, where? Have you traveled by train in Europe?

What is the major focus of the trip for the group and individuals? History? Food? Art? Archeological sites? Culture? Family time? Expose the teens to Europe? Etc?

What is the number one place you all want to visit?
Why did you choose the places you did? Are they places one or more of you has always dreamed of seeing? Are they places you have read about or seen in a movie or other people said you must see?
Are there things you specifically want to see in each place?
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Old Nov 12th, 2023, 10:04 AM
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IMO, itineraries by committee usually turn out awful. Most newbies select places anywhere in Europe with no consideration for how long or how difficult it is to get there.

My wife & I retired early in 1999 so we could travel more. We are your parent's age. Since then, we've spent 2 months in Europe every year (except COVID years). About 85% of our time has been spent in France, 10% in Italy, & the remainder "elsewhere". We rent gites while in France (houses with kitchens, multi bedrooms, living room, garden, often pools) and usually stay 2 weeks in a single spot before moving on to another gite (within a 3 hr drive), for 2 more weeks. We've spent countless months in Paris (Christmas there 4 times).

If someone asked me for a 16 night itinerary for 3 generations of a family, I would recommend:

- Fly to Nice, France & stay 5 nights there. No car. Visit Nice, and (by bus) Menton, Villefrance, & villa Ephrussi de Rothschild Home & Garden. Skip Monte Carlo. Each person could do their own thing in Nice. Teens could spend a day at the beach while adults could visit the Matisse & Chagal Museums. PLENTY to do in Nice. We rent apartments in Nice, but before we rented apts, we stayed at the the Hotel Windsor. Great location - and as the name implies, they speak English. We have vacationed for 21 weeks along the Cote d'Azur. Going back for 3 1/2 more next June.

- Taxi to the Nice airport and rent 3 cars. Drive 2 1/2 hrs to St Remy de Provence and stay 6 nights there. See my attached itinerary for things to do & see in Provence. We've spent 27 weeks in Provence. We were there for 4 weeks this past June.

- Drive to the Avignon TGV station, return the car, and take the TGV to Paris. Spend 5 nights there & fly home from Paris..

Comments:

Normally I would advise time in Aix & Provence on the way to St Remy. But with a gang of 7 and having just departed Nice (a city) and you'll be in Paris soon (another city) - I would just visit the countryside, canyons, lavender fields, & hill villages in Provence.

I would also have suggested 3 nights in St Remy & 3 nights in the Luberon countryside for your Provence stay. But St Remy alone is a better fit for a large & diverse group.

See attached.

Stu Dudley
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Last edited by StuDudley; Nov 12th, 2023 at 10:20 AM.
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