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Help!! Southern France and Italy, 14 days

Help!! Southern France and Italy, 14 days

Nov 9th, 2019, 09:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 2
Help!! Southern France and Italy, 14 days

We are flying into Nice and I'm trying to wrap my head around our itinerary. Lots of questions...A little background: I've been a couple of times to S France, my partner has never been to Europe. It's my 50th. I want to show her around as much as possible but also discover new areas/ adventures that I haven't seen. Here's a rough idea of what I have so far:
March 12: arrive in Nice
I have must do's in this area:
-2 days: Nice exploration/ jet lag adjustment
-1 day: Kayak on the river of the verdon gorge/St Paul de Vance/valbonne
-1 day: Rosé vineyard in Var region
-1 day: Antibes/villefranche/eze (one day it's fine, I've been but my partner has not)
I figured the above would be 5-6 whole days A couple of questions:
Does that seem reasonable?
We will be renting a car but want to hold off as long as possible, it sounds like there are beautiful train rides daily out of nice to explore other towns(I would love for my partner to experience a beautiful train ride), any suggestions that I'm not listing here, or that can be included?

March 17/18: Head to Italy and this is where I need major advice. Where do we go? Lyon? Florence(I've been and loved it but it was in the early 90s)? Venice? Piedmont region? We love getting lost and discovering new adventures (so a long drive isn't an issue), we don't really need an agenda but do need to make some plans for lodging, e.t.c. so we can't be entirely spontaneous
Must do: eat amazing food, explore, at least one Italian vineyard.
How is parking in these places/ cities?
Would rather not have to drive in a bustling city for too long.
Would love to go to lake como but not necessary if something else is more intriguing.
We fly out of Nice so we need our last night to be there on the 24th.
Thank you thank you thank you!!
JanelOlson01 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,751
Your France part looks OK except that if you are basing in Nice then Antibes and Villeranche/Eze are in opposite directions. I think 2 days for those, might still have part of those days for time in Nice itself. Also, are you sure you can kayak in March?

Italy - Well, Lyon is in France not Italy. Second, how do you plan to get there from France. If by train then all the way to Venice is quite a journey. If going there might want to break it up. As to whether Florence, Venice or Piedmont region is better that's totally personal preference. If Florence or Venice then you don't want a car, Piedmont you would. Also, are you saying you have to be back in Nice at the end of the trip? So from Nice to somewhere in Italy and from there back to Nice is going to eat up most of two days. Piedmont region would be the closest. If you want to drive and are returning the car back to Nice then that might work. Could stop off somewhere along the coast on the way there.
isabel is online now  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 47,625
I'd second everything Isabel says and add that this is a perfect trip for open-jaw flights. No sense in spending the time and money to circle back to Nice.

Also, a vineyard in March is nothing to get excited about. Neither is Lake Como. Neither is kayaking, if it's even possible, and it's probably not (you can't kayak here in the Dordogne until at least May). Not sure about that rose garden, either (mine don't bloom until early summer, and that's if it hasn't been a harsh winter).

And if planning to drive in Italy, learn all about ZTLs. Kind of puts a damper on a nice vacation when you get home and face a pile of expensive traffic tickets.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:28 AM
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I agree in general with what isabel and StCirq have said, except that I'm more pessimistic about your plans for southern France -- I, personally, would have found the pace you suggest frustratingly rapid. YMMV.

I agree that if open jaw is an option, it would be to your advantage, but then you would need to check into the fees for renting a car in France and dropping off in Italy (which can be very high) or find ways to travel without a car or rent a car twice, once in each country. If you do fly into and out of Nice, consider putting all your time there at the end of your trip to avoid an unnecessary change of hotels.
kja is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:35 AM
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 135
You instincts are good for settling down first. You can pick up your car later from the train station or the center of town. The Gorges du Verdon is a bit far away from Nice, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours by car. If you intend to switch bases, then it can work, as you intend to go to the Var as well. It's a bit early in the season and so the weather can be unpredictable. I've never been to the Gorge in that season (I imagine some businesses are not even open for water sport). Since it is the offseason, make sure you plan your wine adventure carefully, it is not like the US or other regions. The vines will still be dormant, as noted above. You might consider the area outside St. Tropez/Ramatuelle or even further towards.

Train-wise, there is the Train des Merveilles (in season) that goes to Tende and Saorge, along the Italian border. Outside of season, the train still runs, sans commentary. Likewise, the Chemin de Fer de Provence, aka train des pignes, goes to Entrevaux and Dignes les Bains (from the Nice Gare Sud, not the main station, but near the Liberation market). I'd also say that Antibes is reachable from train quite easily, as can Villefrance-sur-mer, but that Eze is easier by car. I'd also recommend St. Paul de Vence/Vence/Tourettes-sur-Loup/Gourdon by car, as an alternative to the train for a countryside feel. (As a way of explanation, we have a place in Nice and I used to live/work in Switzerland with frequent travels by car through Northern Italy).

Regarding your next destination, did you want to stay in France (Lyon and perhaps western Provence) or head into Italy by car? Clearly you really don't have the time to do everything on your list in the remaining 7 days, I think you realize (Lake Como is lovely, but I'd recommend it for another trip). You could travel down the Italian Riviera, perhaps down to the Cinque Terre or staying in any number of lovely places. You can then cut over to Tuscany, through Lucca. Or you can go from Nice through Piemonte and the Barolo wine region in about 3 hours (Alba, Bar, etc), visit the often-overlooked Torino, and then over to Venice (passing Verona and Lake Garda along the way). The Emilio-Romagna region and Bologna is a great culinary destination as well. For an introduction to your partner, I'd do the first route to Tuscany/Florence.

If you choose an open jaw option you can train over the border and pickup the car there, however I think the one way flights are well reduced now in the offseason.

Last edited by gooster; Nov 9th, 2019 at 10:42 AM.
gooster is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,104
You realize, I hope, that all the destinations you have mentioned are north of Milwaukee, WI (if you are from the US). What is the weather like In Milwqukee in March? We spent about 3 weeks in Tuscany in late March & early April a few years ago - and nothing was blooming - except the wild tulips. It was quite cold, and even showed one day. We returned a few years later in April, and it snowed in Verona. Doubt very much if you can even rent Kayaks then, and the Rose (wine?) won't be too exciting. However, that is our favorite time of year in Tuscany. In the Val d'Orcia, the rolling hills are covered in green winter rye and it looks like a blanket of velvet was thrown out over the hills with a row of cypress trees dancing up a hill and/or umbrella pines dotting a hilltop. Beautiful.

My wife's Shutterfly book of our April visit. to Italy/Tuscany
Klick "full screen"
Because of Shutterfly enhancements, captions are often missing or truncated

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 488
"it sounds like there are beautiful train rides daily out of nice to explore other towns(I would love for my partner to experience a beautiful train ride)"

1) The main line along the Riviera is quite nice, especially between Cannes and Fréjus.

2) The narrow-gauge private railway Chemins de Fer de Provence(CP) between Nice(the CP has its own station separate from the SNCF station) and Digne. The spectacular small town of Entrevaux could be a nice destination.



3) The amazing Tenda line from Nice to Cuneo(Coni in French) in Piemont. You could use this train to move from Nice to Italy.

BDKR is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 11:16 AM
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Sorry, I meant Turin, not Lyon
JanelOlson01 is offline  
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