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Help needed...14 nights in Switzerland, France and Italy

Help needed...14 nights in Switzerland, France and Italy

Mar 27th, 2014, 10:29 AM
  #1  
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Help needed...14 nights in Switzerland, France and Italy

Hi experienced travellers.

I need advice please. My wife and I will be visiting Europe for the first time in our lives in December 2014, and, through financial constraints, possibly the last time . We have fourteen nights available, and will be landing in Geneva.

My "dream" is to spend a day or two in this Swiss city, then go on to France to see a bit of the French countryside, and then on to Italy to work our way down to Rome before returning to Geneva.

A couple of questions:
1. Is it viable to rent a car and drive through these countries, or would it be better to rely on public transport.
2. Any suggestions as to a possible itinerary will be welcomed.

Budget? Low to medium.

Thank you!
WEB_RSA is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 10:42 AM
  #2  
 
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Switzerland is very expensive.
Do you want to see Paris? For a one and only Europe tour, it would be hard to miss.
You don't really say what you like to do or see. More info.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 10:46 AM
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The first question is how entrenched are you with the arrangement you have stated so far?

1. Does it have to be round-trip to Geneve perhaps because you are using award points? If not, you have probably foregone the most powerful way to reduce cost and increase the days available for visit by having to back-track to the starting city=Geneve.

2. You know you are in winter snow season? Do you like driving in snow in foreign countries? Mountain scenic locations often recommended for warm season visits would also come with ski season peak accommodation prices further challenging your financial constraints. Outdoor destinations are either closed or too cold for visit. Research open days very carefully.

Things that can only be done at this time are winter sports and Christmas markets. Big city attractions are open throughout the year.
greg is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 10:47 AM
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Hi WEB_RSA,

You'll save yourself some time and money backtracking from Rome to Geneva if you fly open-jaw, that is, into Geneva and out of Rome. An open-jaw is not two one-ways tickets; it's a variation on a round-trip. You can find them under "multiple destination" tabs on your airline's website.

Be careful of trying to do too much in too little time, too. Remember that you lose about half a day every time you switch bases because of the chores of packing up and checking out, then checking in and unpacking again. For that reason, having about three, or, max, four, destinations in 14 days would be best.

Basically, yes, trains are the way to go. For comprehensive schedules all over Europe, see the German rail site

www.bahn.com

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 11:07 AM
  #5  
 
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1. Is it viable to rent a car and drive through these countries, or would it be better to rely on public transport.>

cars - great for countryside but terrible for cities and Alpine areas in Switzerland which often ban cars and force you to park them outside of town. If you rent in one country and return in another often a huge drop-off fee.

so if going to Venice, Florence, Rome, Nice, Paris etc taking the train is much better getting between cities and with 14 days you will probably be gravitating more to cities.

Cars would be great if your French trip say included several days in Provence or Burguny, etc where better to have a car.

For lots of great info on European trains I always highlight these IMO superb sites - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com.

If you want the cheapest way with trains book weeks or months early to nab the limited in number discounted tickets but beware they are usually non-changeable non-refundable so booked in stone - for flexibility and if you want first class travel on trains - in many ways a much more relaxed ride though 2nd class is perfectly comfy usually too - first class bigger seats, usually IME more empty seats - easier to stow luggage - IMO on the trip of a lifetime go first class - then take a good look at the 15-consecutive-day Eurailpass if you are traveling every few days - if not buy tickets as you go along - always or usually always available on any train in those countries even if you wait to you get to a city.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 27th, 2014, 11:12 AM
  #6  
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Thank you for all the prompt replies.

My wife and I are more attracted to the countryside than the big cities, therefore we're prepared to skip Paris.

If necessary, we're also prepared to skip Rome and spend more time in the French countryside and in North Italy.
WEB_RSA is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 11:24 AM
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sounds like car for you - rent in Geneva, take a loop around Lake Geneva - maybe staying in romantic Montreux or Vevey head up to Chamonix, France an Alpine resort on par with anything in Switzerland - glaciers tumbling near down to town - thrilling mountain trains and gondolas

head down into Italy and over to Nice area - bop around Riviera and drive to Provence and Burgundy back to Geneva for one possible driving loop.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 27th, 2014, 01:33 PM
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>>My wife and I are more attracted to the countryside than the big cities<<

But you are going in December. What are your ideas of what the 'countryside' will be in the dead of winter? You aren't going to see the beauty of Provence or Tuscany - you will be driving in rain/snow and have short days. December really isn't optimal for touring the countryside.
janisj is online now  
Mar 27th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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We spent a week in Tuscany over New Years this past year...our pics may give you an idea of what to expect. Apparently we hit a mild year where it was drizzly and +12 degrees most days but you could hit snow if it is a cold year.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...7639164500734/
jamikins is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 01:37 PM
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I am not certain if this is a real inquiry or not but in my opinion you could save the money and stay home as the French and Italian countryside in Dec. will offer little more. Cities at that time of year are fine and actually fun but you want to go to Europe and not see cities... A ski trip to Swiss alps maybe but thats about it.
Lois2 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 01:50 PM
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Actually we enjoyed the Tuscan countryside over New Years so much that we decided to go to burgundy this year for New Years.

Admittedly we live in London and are lucky enough to travel frequently throughout the year.

What we really enjoyed was that the area was touristy enough to have great restaurants and wine bars open during the holidays. Parking was free and plentiful and the roads generally empty. The tourists we ran into were mostly Italians from Rome. Nothing was overly busy and we easily got seats in our chosen restaurants. We stayed just outside of Montepulciano.

Is it for everyone? Probably not - especially if you are imaging a beautiful countryside in full bloom and green. It was beautiful, in a brown and earthy sort of way as you can see by our pics. It wasn't really warm enough to eat outside and it was drizzly quite a bit.

Just make sure your expectations are realistic.
jamikins is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 03:45 PM
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One of the big risks in December in this part of the world is fog, which can last for days. If you hit long-lasting fog, you won't see much of anything.

If I were planning my one and only lifetime trip to Europe, I wouldn't plan to visit the countryside in December, especially not in the mountains. The areas you're planning to travel in are very different from Tuscany, and even Tuscany is often miserable in December.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 04:03 PM
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>>If I were planning my one and only lifetime trip to Europe, I wouldn't plan to visit the countryside in December . . . that was my thought too.

I love Europe in the winter -- but mostly in big cities w/ lots to do no matter the weather. The countryside . . . that is in Spring or Fall for me.
janisj is online now  
Mar 27th, 2014, 05:31 PM
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Totally agree with Bvlenci and Janisj.

If you were interested mostly in art museums and architecture and the culture of bigger cities, winter is OK.

For mostly winter sports like skiing, winter is is fine.

For seeing lovely countryside areas, it would be much better to save your money and go at a different time.
Sassafrass is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 05:34 PM
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Not sure where you from but you don't seem to have allowed for winter weather.

IMHO in Dec you should either do winter sports (in Switz) or major cities, where the weather won;t matter. The countryside will be brown and crunchy - chilly and rainy to very cold and snowy. Also days are short (8 am to 4 pm if you are lucky. I would not even consider driving unless you have experience driving in ice and snow.

And for me - I would do Paris, Geneva if you must (what specifically do you want to see?) and Rome - with an open jaws (multidestination) flights to avoid wasting a time returning to your starting point.

If you are looking for pretty countryside you are off by about 4 months.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 27th, 2014, 08:05 PM
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My wife and I are more attracted to the countryside than the big cities, therefore we're prepared to skip Paris.

I find this so interesting to be able to say for never having seen Europe. I LOVE the "countryside" of Europe--no doubt--but not to see the beauty of the cities would be such a loss.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 28th, 2014, 04:42 AM
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Yup janis and others have it right about December - dark dank December and the countryside - at least in most of Europe - still to the cities like the City of Light or Eternal City or the City of Broken Dreams, etc.
PalenQ is online now  
Mar 28th, 2014, 09:46 AM
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You are attracted to the countryside when the grass is brown - and possibly covered with snow - the trees have no leaves, there are no flowers and it is grey and rainy?

What is there to be attracted to?

Winter sports are fine - but very expensive - in Dec - but the rest of the countryside is simply very dreary.

I don't understand what you would be looking at.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 28th, 2014, 09:50 AM
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You are attracted to the countryside when the grass is brown - and possibly covered with snow - the trees have no leaves, there are no flowers and it is grey and rainy?

What is there to be attracted to?

Winter sports are fine - but very expensive - in Dec - but the rest of the countryside is simply very dreary.

I don't understand what you would be looking at.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 28th, 2014, 02:52 PM
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No December I missed before - dark days, dank days - often rainy days - cities in December like the City of Light, Paris but not in the bleak countryside.
PalenQ is online now  

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