Italy and France

Old Nov 25th, 2009, 10:44 PM
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Italy and France

Thanks very much for the comments on our last mail. Some of the reviews were very helpful and we have therefore decided to modify our travel plans as a consequence.
In short, we are now looking to travel to Italy and France in May June 2010 for about 6-7 weeks, leaving Australia about 10th May and back late June. Whilst we have visited Rome and Paris and some of Eastern Europe, we are not experienced travellers within these countries. Hence, we want to optimise our time and experience some of the best of the rural/country side and key landmarks, rather than spend too much time in the big cities. Ideally, we don’t want to spend too much time in and out of accommodation, but try to select the best spots to stay (reasonably priced) as the base from which to branch out by day (if that’s possible). We note that that has been suggesed in some reports as the best way to go.
We have decided at this stage to spend most time in France. Our broad agenda at this stage is; fly first into Rome ( 2 days--been there) on to Venice by train (about 4 days), drive (car hire) to Tuscany (about 7 days), then drive to the south of France where we might pick up some accommodation at say 3 other villas/apartments from where we might branch out to see the country. How we are positioned with our accommodation will/may save us cost and excessive travel. We would return to Australia from Paris (train into Paris from out last stop). All sounds a bit of a challenge with a blank sheet of paper.
No doubt everyone has a slightly different agendas and which is reflected in their travel plans, but we love the old cities and culture and what we want to see and experience is probably not much different from others. Getting the travel/accom balance right we see as important as we do find packing up every couple of days is a little tiring after a while.
We are newcomers to this Forum and are very impressed with what we have read of others’ travels and their reports and the great help offered, and many thanks for the previous replies. Any advice on suggested key spots to stay and any suggested accommodation in those areas so that we can fine tune out plans and book accommodation etc. Any suggestionjs on how much to allow for car hire and meals per day would help the budget planning. Many thanks for any further advice.
Smithy_Down_Under is offline  
Old Nov 26th, 2009, 01:34 AM
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Sounds pretty good to me!

As far as costs, in Italy an inexpensive evening meal cost us 15-20euro per person, slightly more in France but the food was better. Of course, the sky is the limit if budget is not your modus operandi! A baguette or panini was 4-7euro depending upon where you buy. Coffee 2-3euro. In Italy, coffee, beer, juice, and wine all seemed to be around the price, but not so in France. Pastries were a highlight in France, especially for breakfast, and were available everywhere. As a generalisation, when we were in Europe last year, the exchange rate was A$2 to 1euro and we found that if something cost, say, $5 in Australia it would cost 5euro in France and Italy.

Have fun!
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 04:07 AM
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You might want to do two separate car rentals, one for Italy and one for France or you will have to pay a hefty drop fee for dropping the car in a different country.
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 04:57 AM
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"in Italy an inexpensive evening meal cost us 15-20euro per person, slightly more in France but the food was better" them's fighting words! Don't you realize the Italians taught the French how to cook???
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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Look at the " buy back" program from for your car and then plan you itinerary to maximize the car. That may mean starting in France.
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 06:38 AM
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Hi; With 6 or 7 weeks, so many options. You could do the 'buy back' program or two car rentals as suggesetd. For me, I would fly into Nice and out of Rome. Many places in France or Italy that require a week or more. But staying with your initial comments, try this for starters. Rent the car at the Nice airport and stay in the Nice area for a week. Drive west to the Provence area for a week. Then north to the Lot for a week. Finally in France, head north east to Burgundy for a week. Between the Lot and Burgundy, you could stay in the Loire for a few days. Drive to CDG drop off the car and fly low cost on to Venice for a few days. Train to Florence for a few days. Rent a car for a week in Tuscany country side. Drive to the Rome airport, drop the car and visit Rome for a few days. Fly home. Many more places to go in either France or Italy. We enjoy the food in either country. Richard
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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Here is what I would do:

Rome & Venice as planned.

Pick up a car in Venice or train to Siena or Chuisi & pick up a car and stay somewhere in the Val d'Orcia (Pienza, San Quirico, Montepulciano) for 7 nights.

Drive to La Spezia and return the car. Take a short train ride to the Cinque Terra & spend 3 nights there.

Take a train from the Cinque Terre to Nice (1 train change), and spend 4 nights there. Rent a car for the last 2 days & explore some of the Nice Hinterland.

Rent a Gite in Provence for 2 weeks, and stay there.

Drive to the Dordogne, stopping in Carcassonne for a visit, then rent a Gite in the Dordogne area near Sarlat & stay there for 2 weeks.

Drive to Brive la Gaillard (1 hr drive from Sarlat), dump the car, and take the train to Paris for an overnight before your flight home.

Note that most gites & France & many in Italy rent from Sat to Sat. We booked our Gites for Provence & the Alps many months ago. We're helping some friends plan a trip to the Dordogne, and the gite we always stay in there was already booked by others for the entire month of June. Act soon!!!

Two weeks in both Provence & the Dordogne will go by fast - lots & lots of stuff to do & see in those areas - in addition to "down time"

Ideally, it would be better to hit Provence last to catch the lavender blooming in late June.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 26th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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In Italy you might want to look at staying in a monastery or convent for a bit more of an Italian experience. A friend told me about them and I found it is an on-line booking service for places alll over Italy with heaps of places in Rome and the popular tourist destinations. Look good, well located and good value. I'm using them for my trip to Sicily in February.
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Old Nov 27th, 2009, 05:32 AM
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I notice that you have left out Florence? Any particular reason? I would make it a separate stop from a tour through Tuscany.

Are there reasons for leaving out the Cinque Terre and the Italian Lakes region?

ira is offline  
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