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Honeymoon to France & Italy late April/early May 2008: French Alps & Riviera, Cinque Terre & Venice

Honeymoon to France & Italy late April/early May 2008: French Alps & Riviera, Cinque Terre & Venice

Nov 13th, 2007, 07:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 18
Honeymoon to France & Italy late April/early May 2008: French Alps & Riviera, Cinque Terre & Venice

My fiancée and I are getting married on April 19th and Im in charge of planning the honeymoon. Were both 29 and have always wanted to go to Europe together, and our priorities for the trip are beautiful scenery, a relaxing pace and great food.

With that in mind Ive narrowed it down to the following places.
Wed like to leave around April 23rd and spend two weeks (maybe a couple of days more) divided among these spots. Possible itinerary assuming we have 14 nights:

Fly from NYC to Geneva
Annecy 2 nights
Nice 5 nights (or stay in Villefranche-sur-Mer)
Vernazza 4 nights (or stay elsewhere in Cinque Terre area)
Venice 3 nights
Fly from Venice to NYC

Ive done a lot of research over the past two months and Id like to start booking soon, but I have a few questions first:

1) Might this be one too many places, i.e. a bit too much moving around, packing & unpacking for a 2 week honeymoon? If I cut one spot out, Id still want to split the time equally between the two countries.

2) Is a $6K-$7K budget realistic if we generally avoid $300+/night hotel rooms and extremely expensive restaurants?

3) Considering that I only need to book 2 flights, 4 hotels and a few train trips, would it be worthwhile to try to find a good travel agent? If so, can anyone recommend one you've used or one in the NYC/Westchester/Fairfield County area? I live near Danbury, CT.

I know I have other questions but cant think of them at the moment. Thanks!
csp18 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 08:46 PM
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I recommend you look up the transit times between your destinations on a rail site like the German rail site, www.bahn.de .

From Annecy to Nice will take close to 7 hours by train; from Nice to Vernazza will take about 5 1/2 - 6; from Vernazza to Venice is 6 1/2 to 7 hours. My personal limit is about 4 hours on a train unless I can't avoid it.

Given the above, I would scratch Annecy, and fly into Nice instead. From there I would go to the Riviera di Levante and stay in Santa Maria Ligure or Camogli(3/12 hours from Nice) From the Riviera I would go to an Italian Lake (Como or Maggiore) and from there to Venice. If you really want to relax, I would cut out Venice, and just fly from Milan after a stay at an Italian lake.
lovisa is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 11:36 PM
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Does the $6-7K include plane fare and train travel? If so, I see your budget like this (based on $6000 USD):

$2600 USD for total international and local travel expenses (just a wild guesstimate, but somewhere in the ballpark, I think)

That leaves $3400 USD, or at today's rates, about 2300 Euros.

You also want to stay for 14 days.

Most people on this site seem to spend from 100-200 Euros per night on hotel rooms, in the areas you are visiting. Assuming you could manage for 100 Euros per night (which you likely could, but not in luxury), that leaves 1400 Euros for the rest of your expenses.

So each of you would have 50 Euros per day to spend on food, attractions, shopping, and miscellaneous items. This is doable, but will mean you will have to be quite careful and generally avoid splurging.

So I think your trip is possible, but I have a suspicion you are not thinking humbly enough.
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 11:38 PM
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Oops - made an error above. The hotel rooms at 100 Euros per night would take 1400 Euros out of your budget, leaving you and your spouse with 900 Euros for the entire stay for food, accommodation, shopping, tourist sights, and miscellaneous items.

That would be about 32 Euros per day per person, which is just not enough for the countries you have chosen, in my opinion.

If you bring your budget up to that $7K USD figure, then you are in a low-moderate budget range of 50-60 Euros per person per day.
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 13th, 2007, 11:41 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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I agree with lovisa. I would fly to Nice and then return back from Milan or Venice. Don't skip Venice! I think it's a must for honeymoon couples (I visited Venice in my hooneymoon, and also a year later in my 1st anniversary). Have you ever thought to rent a car? It will be less tiring than scheduling train trips and also you'll see more places. Also note this: It's your hooneymoon, take romantic time for yourselfs and don't pack and unpack several times. I would suggest the following itinerary (having a car):Fly to Nice, stay 5 days, see Riviera and Monaco, then travel by coast to Ligurian sea and stay a couple of nights at Porto Fino. Then take the motorway to Milan - Como lakes and stay 3-4 days there. From there to Venice (2 1/2 hours from Milan) for your last days (with a stop in Verona, when passing by)....
vayio is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 05:53 AM
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I feel the length of stays in those places are out of proportion to what there is to see/do. Annecy ? Too far from everywhere else on the list. Nice maybe 4 nights; Vernazza (3 nights) Italian Lakes (Como perhaps) 2 nights; 5 nights in Venice.
bellini is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 05:55 AM
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Hi C,

You are losing at least 3 days of your trip taking trains.

I also suggest skipping Annecy.

Why Nice?

Could you not limit your honeymoon to Italy? It would be much easier.

ira is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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I would consider the weather. If it's rainy on the Cinque Terre, I think you would find little to do there - especially for 4 nights. Remember, the Cinque Terre is north of Milwaukee Wis (but the Med is more temperate)

The interesting part of Annecy is smaller than you might think. We usually find ourselves circling around the same streets after about 45 mins. Also, the weather could play a factor there.

If this were my trip, I would fly to Paris. Have you been to Paris before?? I'm surprised that you didn't mention it. Anyhow, I would then take the 3 hr TGV to Avignon (from either Paris if you stay there, or CDG), rent a car, & spend about 3-4 nights exploring Provence. I would then drive 2 1/2 hrs to Nice, spend 3 nights there, and explore Nice, coastal villages, and the Nice Hinterland a little by car. Then figure out where you want to go next - Cinque Terre if the weather is nice, or Tuscany if not. You probably don't need to reserve ahead unless you hit a holiday - like May 1. I enjoy the French Riveria a lot more than the Italian one, so I would set my sights on Tuscany - around Pienza and drive there. It's stunning in early May. Spend about 4 nights in Tuscany. Then dump the car at the train station in Chiusi, and take the train to Venice for the remainder of your trip. You will have a car drop-off charge, but you will also save on CDW if you rent in France & drop-off in Italy. Basic rates are lower in France also.

If you choose Provence or Nice I have a 20+ page itinerary for this region, which describes my favorite villages, drives, markets, etc. I also have one for Italy with a heavy dose of Tuscany. e-Mail me at [email protected] if you want a copy.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 08:07 AM
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I totally think you can skip France. Go to Italy; by visiting one country, you can do more on your budget, and maybe keep it to two weeks, thus saving more money.

If you want a relaxing time, go to fewer places. Also better on the budget. Choose an apartment in one of your locations if you would like to save even more money.

I could do two weeks for 7k. But I would probably include an apartment stay for a week in one place.

Think maybe of flying to Milan, going to the lakes, or a lake (incredible scenery) and then a week in Venice, maybe with day trips. See if you can fly out of Venice.

Maybe fly into Nice, spend some days near there, then move into Italy, and fly out of Venice.

A week with a car (maybe) and a week without a car could fit in your budget.

tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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Thanks to all of you for some excellent advice so far - the biggest thing I had overlooked (or at least discounted) is the amount of time all of the train travel could take. Budget was on the low side too.

Annecy is the only place on the list that I've been before (for half a day, as part of a 2-week high school trip) and it was so gorgeous that I've always wanted to go back - but I agree that it's the most obvious place to skip. I've never been to Paris but I'd rather save it for another trip, even if that's many years away. I think we'd have more fun and better weather on the Riviera.

I can't skip France - it's a must because I love the language (I'm very rusty but it always came naturally to me) and my fiancee loves wine, cheese and the movie French Kiss (ok I do too). Italy would be new for both of us and the Cinque Terre and Venice seem incredibly romantic and atmospheric.

At one point or another I have considered the other suggestions made here (Lakes Region, Tuscany, Provence, etc - all beautiful places) and maybe I will revisit them again before making a decision.

To simplify things, what about a week in Nice, with plenty of time for a couple of day trips along the Riviera, followed by a week in Venice, with a few day trips in the Veneto? Alternatively, we could just stick to the coast in both countries for a nice warm Mediterranean honeymoon - and save Venice to combine with Paris for a great anniversary trip one day.

csp18 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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We did a similar honeymoon trip to this last year in late May but basically the reverse of what you are doing. You should be able to click on my name and see the report.

While I loved the CT, I think you could "do" the area in 2 days, not five. I think i would have been pressed for things to do with five days. We stayed at the Hotel Continental in Santa Margherita Ligure which was very nice and conveinent.

Also just keep in mind, not sure how far into May you will go but the Cannes Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix are in May - usually toward the end of the month. These two events DRAMATICALLy increase hotel rates in the area. We stayed in Eze while we were there which was beautiful but not entirely conveinent.

Maybe French Riveria for 5 nights, Train to CT for 2 nights, stop in Tuscany (Sienna?) for three nights and on to Venice for the remainder?
jodeenyc is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 04:29 PM
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First - you have to stop thinking in dollars and learn to think in euros - about all the european costs of your trip. Total them all up - then translate to dollars (assuming the dollar will NOT get better and might get worse). Then add airfare.

For such a trip - without air - for 2 people I would assume a cost of about $10,000 to be somewhat comfortable. That doesn't include deluxe hotels and 3* restaurants - but it does assume a pleasant 3* hotel with private bath and sit down meals (basic cafe lunch, modest restaurant dinner) rather than picnics and sandwich shops.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 07:46 PM
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I think you may be underestimating how cool it will be at "beachy" destinations. As Stu pointed out, the Cinque Terre is the latitude of Milwaukee, and Nice is further north. Weather.com shows that the average high in Nice is 61 in April and 67 in May. It's really not lying on the beach weather.

You posit going straight from Nice to Venice - that's an 8 hour train ride - pretty long for one day.

Also, I think you should discard the idea of renting a car - it just doesn't fit in your budget. Not only do you pay for rental, gas, and tolls, you may also may have to pay to park at your accommodations, or alternatively stay on the outskirts of places.

I agree with Tuscanlifeedit - fewer destinations closer together. How about 1 week in Paris and 1 week in rural France, or one week in Rome and a week on the Amalfi Coast or in Sorrento? If you fly to Paris or Rome you can get nonstops from NYC. If you go to Venice or Nice there are no nonstops - you'll need to make one switch of planes which effectively adds 4 or 5 hours to the transit time each way. Figure out the logistics, figure out transit times between destinations - two weeks will go by incredibly fast and you don't want too much of your daylight hours taken up sitting in trains or planes.
lovisa is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 08:17 PM
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ny traveler - good advice about thinking in euros, but $10K not including airfare seems a bit much. To get that high we'd have to spend an average of 510 euros/day for 14 days. I think I'll be able to book comfortable, well-recommended places to stay for half of that amount or less (175-250 euros/night).

I might have to rent a car for a day or two and we'll probably have one or two significant train trips depending on what itinerary I decide on.

Eating out will add up, of course, but what other costs do you think could bring it up to a $700/day trip?
csp18 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 09:08 PM
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Good points lovisa. I thought I read somewhere - maybe in the Fodor's book - that there's one nonstop a day from JFK to Venice. The train from Nice to Venice or vice versa in 1 day doesn't sound like fun.

We wouldn't spend much time lying on the beach in any of these places even if we could, so 60's springtime weather is fine. When I say relaxing what I have in mind is strolling around old streets and narrow alleys, getting lost, sipping coffee or wine while overlooking the sea, or lake, or canal - just doing those kinds of things together.
csp18 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 09:55 PM
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I don't see any nonstops to Venice except Philadelphia - Venice on U.S. Air. It might be a good idea to get a handle on what the airfare will cost you. A lot of people on this board use www.kayak.com, or you can use www.orbitz.com For an open-jaw flight you want to select the multi-city option, instead of roundtrip.

Another possibility for your trip is to use an airlines flight + hotel option. For example, just for fun, I went to Air France's website and selected flight + hotel and multi-city inputting the following:
Segment 1 - Leave NYC April 20 2008
Arrive Nice (NCE) France April 21,
hotel in Nice April 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 (5 nights)
Transport -use your own transportation to next place, stay for 3 nights - no hotel
Segment 2 Venice Italy hotel
April 29 - May 3 (5 nights), depart May 4 2008 VCE - NYC

For those dates and that routing Air France showed $2,245.77 per person including the hotels. The price might change if you reversed your order and flew into Venice first. You can look up hotels on Tripadvisor and see what people say about them. If I did something like this I would definitely buy the airlines travel insurance (showed additional $165)

Anyhow, you might play around with something like this.

lovisa is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 02:57 PM
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Thanks! This board is great. I'll check out the different flight + hotel options. I found the direct JFK to Venice flight - Delta & Alitalia do one every evening at 7:10 and it takes 8 hrs, 30 min.

I'm thinking about cutting back a bit on the length of the trip, say from 14 nights to 11 or 12, and more importantly cutting back the scale - at least one less destination and one less long train ride. Here are two options I came up with:

1) Drop the French Alps idea (which was to stay in Annecy for a few nights and explore some of the French side of Lake Geneva) and limit the trip to both Rivieras and Venice. In that case, we could start in Venice and spend maybe 4 nights there, then take the long ride to Genoa or La Spezia and spend a few days in the Cinque Terre, and finally on to Nice for a 5-night stay.

2) Drop the Cinque Terre/Italian Riviera. I've discovered the high-speed Cisalpino train from Venice to Geneva (about 7 hrs) and it looks like a beautiful ride. We could start in Venice, staying 5 nights, then take the train straight to Geneva and do 2 nights based in Annecy, followed by one more long train trip from Annecy (through Lyon) to Nice. We'd stay in Nice 4 nights and fly home from there.


csp18 is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 03:26 PM
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I think option 2 still has two full day train rides, and late April might still be a little early for good weather in Geneva/Annecy.

One thing to keep in mind is that April 25 is a national holiday in Italy and trains will run on a more limited holiday schedule. Because it's on a Friday in 2008, it will be a three day weekend - some people will make it a four day weekend.
lovisa is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 03:28 PM
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Of course I forgot to mention that May 1 - Labor Day - is a holiday everywhere in Europe.
lovisa is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 04:00 PM
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30 years ago when we first started vacationing in Europe, we soon discovered that it's best to stay in southern Europe (French Riveria and Tuscany & south) in the late spring/early summer (May & June), and only visit the northern areas in Sept. We reached this conclusion after too many wet & cold Mays & early Junes in Brittany, Germany, Loire, Alps, Italian Lakes, etc.

You're betting the weather will be good in Annecy in late April - 7 hrs to get there, then 2 nights/1 day and then probably 5 hours back to Nice. You're pretty much spending 2 travel days of your short trip to get to/from Annecy. What if it rains the entire time you are there, or it's real foggy or cloudy. Note that Annecy is north of both Minneapolis and Montreal. I think you are trying to force something that doesn't fit.

Bad weather could also make the Cinque Terre less enjoyable.

I would opt for plan 1, but I might also suggest a 3rd alternative:

Amalfi Coast for 3 nights (Positano)
Capri for 1 night
Tuscany countryside for 5 nights
(rent a car)
Venice for the remaining time.

The only long trip would be from Positano to Tuscany. Do this itinerary in reverse - which might increase the likelyhood of good weather on the Amalfi Coast.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  

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