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Itinerary feedback - Chamonix (Southern France); Italian Lake district; Cinque Terre (Italy)

Itinerary feedback - Chamonix (Southern France); Italian Lake district; Cinque Terre (Italy)

Jun 2nd, 2007, 06:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 31
Itinerary feedback - Chamonix (Southern France); Italian Lake district; Cinque Terre (Italy)

We are planning a trip in the last week of September to the places mentioned above. Traveling with a 2 year old child, so need some advice on things to do. Also, wanted to get feedback on how the itinerary looks. We plan to arrive in Paris on 19 Sept and leave 29 Sept. Would like to do a round trip of Chamonix - Italian lake district - Cinque terre - Chamonix in that time frame. Couple of quick questions
- Does that look do-able in terms of time and distance and traveling logistics?
- We are planning to take the gondola from Chamonix over the mountains and go to Courmayeur in Italy. Is that a good idea?
- What is the best way to travel from Courmayeur to the Italian lake district?
- What is the best way to travel from Italian lake district to Cinque Terre and back to Chamonix?
- Some of the best things to do in these regions? ANything else we should add/delete to/from this itinerary?
- How is the train ride from Chamonix to Zermatt and is it worth it to be added to the itinerary?
- Best places to eat/ lodge in these regions?
- Is paragliding in Chamonix good? Any feedback / reviews on that?
- My husband is into photography, so feedback requested for unique photo Op locations in these regions?

Thanks a lot for your feedback in anticipation.


AVS is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 05:02 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 2
We spent time in Chamonix and Cinque Terre a couple of years ago! Beautiful areas and did them all via train travel. To me, it looks like you are cramming too much into a 10 day trip. You could easily spend 3 days in Cinque Terre alone, as it is 5 small villages connected by train and walking trails. Might be an issue with a 2 year old (walking, that is).
Chamonix is also very remote, reachable by train though. Once you get there it's just the beauty of the area, we took a small cable-train up to view the glacier and then hiked down to Chamonix. We spent 2 nights and most of two days there. I think you're underestimating how much time it takes to travel by train...the smaller villages like Chamonix have very limited time schedules for connecting trains. We left Chamonix and travelled south to Nice,stayed for 2 nights in Nice, then on to Monaco, and up to Rome (just to change trains) and then on to Cinque Terre. That took almost a full day of train travel, arrived 8:30 in Vernazza. Spent 3 nights in Cinque Terre. The best Photo ops will be in Cinque Terre and Chamonix!
Good Luck!
Kaylee is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 6,507
"We are planning to take the gondola from Chamonix over the mountains and go to Courmayeur in Italy. Is that a good idea?"

I don't know if it's a good idea, but taking this journey with luggage and a 2-year-old is certainly ambitious. You have to change cablecars at several points, and the lines can be long (perhaps not in September, however). The gondolas that go out over the glacier from the top to the Aguilles du Midi to Hellbronner Point are quite small.

As for getting from there to Cinque Terre, here is what Flanneruk answered on another post:

Author: flanneruk
Date: 06/02/2007, 03:16 am

"In theory, yes.

You have to have got to Pre Saint Didier station, ten mins' bus ride from Courmayeur, in time to catch the 1436 train to Aosta. Then it's a simple seven hour train journey, changing at Turin, Genoa and Sestri Levante, arriving Vernazza at 2228. You can get the later train to Aosta at 1636, where a similar journey gets you to Vernazza at 2356.

To get to Pre St Didier, you need to catch the hourly bus from the teleferique station at La Palud for the ten minute journey into Courmayeur, to catch the hourly bus to the railway station. The services are not synchronised (timetables at www.savda.com/orari_tariffe.htm): there are taxis at Courmayeur, but usually NOT at La Palud. Note that SAVDA changes timetables on June 30. I'd say you need to be at La Palud by 1215 for the 1436 train, though that depends on when you're travelling.

During the summer the first Aiguille du Midi up from Chamonix is at 0710 (0610 in July and August). You should be able to make the connections to the telecabine across the Mer de Glace and to the teleferique down to La Palud by about 1200 if you're on the 0710: BUT it's essential to have reservations (www.compagniedumontblanc.fr).

Just remember, though, that if you miss any of the - I've lost count: is it 8?- connections in all this, you may be stranded. Make sure you've lots of euros in cash for the high likelihood of an emergency taxi."

If you choose to head to Lago di Como instead, the train connection from Aosta goes via Milan to Varenna in about 4 hours. From there to Cinque Terre you connect throug Milan again. You can view the train conections online on several websites; I like the Swiss one www.sbb.ch even for Italy.
enzian is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Frankly, I think you are going to have 3 cranky people acting like 2 year-olds if you even attempt this trip!

As far as travelling from Chamonix to Courmayeur, you may not even be able to complete that trip by cable car, given the weather conditions at the time. My husband and I attempted the reverse trip once, and we weren't able to do it because the weather wasn't good. So it's not a dependable way of making a trip.

The number of connections you have between most of the locations make it hard to even imagine doing this within your time frame, especially with a 2 year old. Are you flying in and out of Paris? If so, I would seriously rethink the approach to the trip. You're travelling constantly in a relatively short period of time.

I'm assuming you are already committed to your tickets - because your interests would suggest that R/T from Milan would be much more appropriate. Since you are committed to Paris (I'm assuming this), why not focus on France and forget about Italy. I haven't been to the Alps region, but you might stay for a few days in Paris and then travel to the Alps, which might be more pleasant and relaxing than rushing from one place to another. You could take the cable car as a day trip wthout having to depend upon it for transportation.

Are you planning to travel by train only or are you going to rent a car? That could make it easier to travel and do at least a PIECE of this trip. But the logistics for the trip that you describe are way too rushed for the time frame that you have.

progol is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 01:15 PM
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If the goal is to visit these different places for photography, you can easily do the entire trip to Italy and back by train instead of going over the mountain on cablecars. You can do that as a daytrip from Chamonix if you like. You could stop overnight in Zermatt on your way to Italy---Chamonix to Zermatt is 4 to 4.5 hours by train. From Zermatt, one route to the lakes would be to head towards Milan but change at Domodossola for the scenic Centovalli train to Locarno. That trip would be 4 to 4.5 hours. If you prefer to go to, say, Varenna on Lake Como, you would continue to Milan and change there. That trip is 5.5 hours. To go to Cinque Terre from Locarno is 5.5 to 6.5 hours; from Varenna would be 5 to 6 hours. From there back to Chamonix is the long trip. You would probably be better off going directly back to Paris from Cinque Terre. There is even a night train from Milan.
enzian is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 31
Thanks a lot for all the advice. This has helped a lot. Infact, heeding all the advice we have received on this forum, we are changing our plans slightly. We are planning to let go of Lake district. We are adding Zermatt and the Italian city of Verona. So, here is our revised plan.
Paris - Chamonix
Round trip cable car to Aiguille Du midi
Chamonix - Zermatt
One day in Zermatt
Train from Zermatt to La Spezia
Cinque terre for 2 days
Train ride from genoa to Verona
LAst couple of days to Verona
Overnight train ride from Verona to PAris

Feedback on this change? This way we avoid the complicated routing and timings of the cable car and then courmayeur. Is this still too much to do? Key highlights of the zermatt area we can see in one day? How is the train ride from Chamonix to Zermatt? Seems like there is a train from Brig to Milan, so it should not be too hard to get from Chamonix to Milan and thent o Cinque terre, right? We added verona to have one decent size city to the trip and some roman architecture. Also, gives us the direct train ride back to PAris.

Your feedback is so very well appreciated. I think this forum is a traveller's delight and brings a new meaning to the phrase "global citizens". It is so cool that we can all learn from each other.
AVS is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 10:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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You can view the train routes and connections on the Swiss rail site, www.sbb.ch

The trip from Chamonix to Zermatt should be lovely. We have ridden between Martigny and Chamonix several times; the part down from the French-
Swiss border is particularly exciting---it must be a rack or cogwheel, because it is very steep. Wonderful views.

The "key highlight" in Zermatt is of course the Matterhorn, which you can see from many places in town. But the best views are from various high points you reach by train or lift. WE haven't been there yet---were going in July---but it seems like one of the favored viewpoints its the Gornergrat, which you reach by train. The Schwartzee is another classic viewpoint, with reflections of the Matterhorn in the waters of the lake. You can ride a cablecar up there. If the weather is good, there is probably time to do both in one day. But you'll also have a half-day on the day you arrive, assuming you depart Chamonix in the morning.
enzian is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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I forgot tto add this part: ther is a good description of the ride up Aiguilles du Midi on the Rick Steves website:


enzian is offline  

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