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Help! Family holiday- France Spain Greece Italy

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Nov 8th, 2013, 03:18 PM
  #1
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Help! Family holiday- France Spain Greece Italy

Hi! We are flying in to Paris on the 3rd of June ( from Australia) and I'd really appreciate some opinions on our (loose) itinerary. The only thing that is fixed so far is that we are flying out of Milan on the 28th of July. We are a family of five- our three kids will be 14, 9 and 2. We are primarily keen on having a relaxing time whilst obviously experiencing what we can of this amazing part of the world!

So, this is what I have in mind so far:

3rd June: fly in to Paris

4-11 June London and surrounds

11-16 June: Paris and surrounds

16-20 June somewhere in the south of France (Avignon?)

21- 25 Barcelona

26 June- 2 July santorini ( or recommend Greek island that is the easiest to get to from Barcelona- wanting laid back island, beautiful water, cheap as possible accommodation food etc)

4- 28 July: Italy (this bit I haven't worked out yet but keen for advice on where to fly to from said Greek island that will be easiest/cheapest- somewhere in southern Italy so we can head north...?)

28 July: Fly out of Milan!

At the moment I just want to pin down the itinerary- but I'm really open to suggestions for good family friendly places to visit/stay/things to do. I think we'd all appreciate being near the ocean/pool/river/lake wherever possible and generally being 'off the beaten track'.

Thanks in advance!
ally_drinkwater is offline  
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Nov 8th, 2013, 08:32 PM
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Seems a pity to fly into Paris if you're heading straight to London.

I'm sure you've good reason for picking the places you have - and they are all fabulous. But looking on a map Barcelona and Greece are the outliers, geographically - and to some degree London. Given that you've almost 2 months, I think your plan is fine. Good to see that you're spending at least 4-5 days in each place. We did the same when travelling with our kids and it worked out fine. It also allowed us to book apartments in many places. I'm guessing your 'off the beaten track' stops will be in Italy?

However, just as an alternative idea, another possibility would be to travel from south of France through Switzerland to Italy by train. You said you want a relaxing time and flying is a long way from relaxing. If you want an island stay, you could consider a ferry to Corsica, Sardinia or one of the smaller islands off the coast. I don't want to re-arrange all your plans though!

A second alternative would be to skip Barcelona and spend those 5 days in Greece, perhaps flying from Lyon or Nice. Try skyscanner or flycheapo for budget airlines. Also Aegean Air.

No matter what adjustments you make, it sounds wonderful and I'm sure you'll have a great time.

For Italy, there are so many places to visit that I'd grab a book from your local library (one with heaps of photos) and take inspiration from that.
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Nov 8th, 2013, 09:18 PM
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With the counties/cities you have aleady discussed I would suggest the following.
Fly into Paris
London -You obviously want to visit and I see no alternative
Paris
South of France
Nice- around to Italy
Italy
Fly from Italy -eg Milan-Athens-Santorini
Santorini
Naxos and/or Paros depending on length of stay in Greece.
Athens- fly to Milan for flight home
If you really wanted to include Barcelona alternative could include from Paris head to Barcelona ,catch train around to Nice etc.
Your pacing sounds good especially with family to consider
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Nov 9th, 2013, 12:18 AM
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Thank you dreamon and travelnut265! We are really open to suggestions! I am keen to go to Barcelona but I also found, from a bit of a look on sky scanner, that there were direct flights to santorini that I couldn't seem to find cheaply from anywhere in Italy. We had considered Corsica- I know it's hard to compare but is it comparable to going to Greece for an island holiday? And which 'smaller islands would you recommend? We already have our flights which is why we are doing the Paris-London-Paris thing- I just feel it is important to take my kids there since we'll be so close!
I like the idea of the train through Switzerland- I'd much prefer that to flying! Thanks travelnut for the Greece suggestions- I'll look into them!
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Nov 9th, 2013, 12:43 AM
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I don't know if there are direct flights from Barcelona to Santorini, but it would be easy enough to fly from Barcelona to Athens and take a connecting flight there. Santorini is one of the most expensive islands, but accommodation is cheaper in the beach resorts, e.g. Perissa and Kamari, than on the caldera side where people stay for the views. Beaches on Santorini are mostly black sand (volcanic grit), but water is crystal clear.

Paros or Naxos would closer fit your desire for a laid back island with inexpensive accommodation and food. Both have small airports with flights from Athens, and both can be reached easily from Athens by ferry.

I have to say, though, your beaches in Australia are better than those in Greece, and I've been on quite a few in both countries. Unless you have no interest in history and ancient sites, it seems a shame to go all the way to Greece and skip Athens, Delphi, Nafplio, and a number of other mainland places that your two older children will remember forever. Some of the best beaches in Greece are on the mainland. Here are a few photos of the southern Peloponnese: http://www.flickr.com/photos/heimdal...7627739427148/
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Nov 9th, 2013, 12:52 AM
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We cross-posted. You could take the direct flight you have found from Barcelona to Santorini, then the two hour ferry from there to Naxos, an island that is cheaper and more suitable for famiies.
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Nov 9th, 2013, 01:09 AM
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I can't comment about Corsica as I haven't been there yet.
Smaller islands I recommended to you are Naxos and Paros and Santorini is just fanatastic.These three islands are on the same ferry route making for easy travel. I tend to want to plan a route that doesn't zigzag across Europe .I have planned a holiday for next year for 2 months starting in Paris and flying out of Milan (which also includes Greece) so I know how you feel trying to choose what to see.
What flights have you found to Santorini? All I believe will have to go via Athens.
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Nov 9th, 2013, 09:00 AM
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You have a decent amount of time and yet somehow are still managing to try and cover too much in too little time. That's because your chosen locations are too far apart geographically and you are doing most of your moving in the first half of your trip.

Only two points are fixed. Your Paris arrival and Milan departure. You have chosen the places you have for whatever reasons and I will not attempt to change any other than in Greece. Instead, I will try to make some sense of them travelwise.

First, I would not backtrack to Paris from London. Instead I would suggest visiting Paris first, then London. Now for the twist in your plan.

I would suggest booking a self-catering one week package holiday from London to an island in Greece. For example, you will find you can do that for around 300 GBP per person to Corfu. I doubt there is any other way you can find that will beat a package holiday from the UK to Greece.

Return flight to London and then take a cheap Easyjet flight from London to Nice. With luck you may be able to schedule a flight change (arriving from Greece in the Am and departing for Nice in the Pm) without having to spend a night in London.

Where you decide to stay in the south of France is a separate question. I would suggest Antibes but others will no doubt suggest otherwise. That's up to you.

From the south of France it is then pretty easy to move to Spain either by train or plane.

That leaves only backtracking to Italy from Barcelona by train or plane. What you do during your 24 days in Italy is again a separate question.
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Nov 9th, 2013, 01:31 PM
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How are you getting from Paris to London? If you are flying, don't underestimate the effort of getting from CDG to Paris central and back again the next day. If you are taking the Eurostar, then perhaps stay near Bloomsbury for easy access to St Pancras (try studios2let). It is a hideous journey from here to Europe and sometimes it's worth just powering on and going through to London without stopping in Paris. Or you could do as suggested and visit Paris before London, which would be more relaxing.

Corsica and the Greek islands are both lovely but very different. On reflection, I would choose a Greek island in your shoes, even though it is further to travel. They are just so different to Australia. The above poster is correct in saying that there are usually lots of flights to Greece from London so you could take advantage of that.

I think that travelling from Paris through Switzerland to northern Italy would be beautiful. I'd do that in preference to visiting Cote d'Azur. You could travel either from Provence or from the north e.g. Alsace. It would eat into your time in Italy but so what.

Barcelona is really out of the way in your itinerary so think that through carefully. If you really want to include it, perhaps you could consider Paris - London - Greek island - Barcelona - south France - Italy. If not, then perhaps Paris - London - Greek Island - Geneve/Zurich - Italy.

Good thing you're open to suggestions as you'll get plenty! - but that's what this forum's about. It's all grist for the mill. But once you make up your mind, don't do what I usually do - worry about the places we're not visiting!

I think the best holidays have lots of variety in them - country, beaches, cities, rural towns - art, museums, cycling, hiking, swimming - so mix it up (which is what you seem to be doing anyway). And do try to keep to at least 4 nights in each place, even if that means longer journeys between. It does make a difference, especially with kids.

Good luck.

ps. There may be flights be flights from Santorini to Venice if that helps.
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Nov 9th, 2013, 03:50 PM
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You don't say whether you've done this sort of trip before so at the risk of telling you stuff you already know - large, heavy bags are death to having a good time!

I recommend packing enough (pretty much) for a week and rinsing, washing and airing as you go. We always do this in our hotel/apartment, rarely a laundrette. For the two older kids, I would get them each a backpack of about 40litres and everything they want to take (barring toiletries) they have to carry themselves. The first time my children went to Europe they were 9 and 12 and this worked really well for us. My son also took a soccer ball with him and that was great as it allowed him to get out and kick a ball and meet some local kids. We had to deflate it before flying.

My husband and I usually take either a backpack each or small rolling suitcase and a large daypack. Two small bags each works pretty well for us. We try to keep our luggage weight down as much as possible (to allow for some shopping!).
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Nov 10th, 2013, 08:54 AM
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LOL, dreamon, obviously you consider what you take as being 'travelling light'. To me it's travelling heavy! My bag is 30L for a trip of 1 week or 1 year. It weighs no more than 15 lbs. total depending on what items I am wearing and what weather I expect I might encounter on a trip.

No offense intended, I'm just saying that 'travelling light' covers a wide range of weight. ;-)

The two commonest mistakes that travellers make are trying to see/do too much in too little time and packing too much. You have indeed identified a very important point.
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Nov 10th, 2013, 06:01 PM
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Yep, Dulci, I would love to do it lighter but can never seem to keep it under 10kg. I wish I could. Mind you, mine looks like nothing compared with the people I see around me who look as though they are emigrating with all their wordly goods. As you say, it's all relative.
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