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Itinerary Help - London, East France for Christmas

Itinerary Help - London, East France for Christmas

Old Dec 18th, 2020, 06:05 AM
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Itinerary Help - London, East France for Christmas

Hello, and Bonjour!
While we can't travel much (or, at all) during the pandemic, I am planning for future winter travel for 14-15 nights at London, Paris, and other areas to experience Christmas, shopping, and some wine. I will have my parents (above 60) and two children (5-10 years old) with me. Please share your thoughts if my plan is possible, or too rush?

Day 1 - 2 in Paris
Day 3 - Versailles (worth it during Dec? or should I bring my kids to Disneyland?)
Day 4 - Paris
Day 5 - Mont Michael
Day 6 - Strasbourg
Day 7 - Colmar and Eguisheim
Day 8 - Riquewihr and Kayserberg
Day 9 - Arrive in London and do a Hop on-off bus tour, V&A Museum, Royal Albert Hall.
Day 10 - Elizabeth Tower, Buckingham Palace, Royal Guard House Parade, before heading to Harrod's after lunch? Spend the evening at River Thames/cruise.
Day 11 - Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St Paul Cathedral, London Bridge, Tate Modern Museum, The Shard. Lunch at Borough Market, and then to Oxford Street.
Day 12 - Notting Hill until lunch. Drop by Kensington, or just stroll along Hyde Park for the rest of the day?
Day 13 - Stadium Tour.
Day 14 - Covent Garden & Trafalgar
Day 15 - Cambridge Day Tour.
Day 16 - Return.

Many thanks in advance for your time and advice. May you all stay safe and happy during these trying times.

Last edited by LYC; Dec 18th, 2020 at 06:12 AM.
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Old Dec 18th, 2020, 09:02 AM
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Well the plan needs specific days to be correct as say markets are only open certain days and Christmas day in London can be pretty quiet and stuff needs booking (though a fair bit of stuff is normally open now-a-days prices go through the roof).

I love Alsace but it will be cold in December and again stuff will be fully booked .

The whole weather and length of daylight hours is a significant issue for every day. I suggest you need a plan B for every day which would allow you to dry off.

Mont Saint Michel the same.

Hop on buses are poor value, you might as well take the ordinary bus system, you will see more.

Trafalger is an area of sea near Spain and the wet site of a famous battle. Do you mean Trafalger Square? If so it is pretty dull. When using British terms in the capital it is important to use the full the names otherwise you will end up with confusion
Elizabeth Tower is a very new name for an old building, most Londoners will not know what you are talking about. If you said Big Ben, you'll find them nodding their heads, it is a drive by.

The Tower of London is best visited early on or go for the "keys" ceremony. Mid morning is a bad time to visit and bookings for the keys is about 12 months out
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Old Dec 18th, 2020, 10:50 AM
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some random thoughts just for you to think about:

Your plans for France are very ambitious - especially with 6 people and two of them children and in the winter. IMO waaaaay too much dashing around half the country.

Disney is up to you -- your children are the perfect ages so I'd probably say yes. BUT you have allowed almost no time in Paris so I'd cut most of your plans for other parts of France and JUST do Paris and DisneyLand

Day 11 is just about impossible The Tower of London/Tower Bridge and St Paul's plus lunch in between would fill most of a day by themselves . . . and you plan on including Tate Modern and the Shard all BEFORE lunch time. That would be impossible even for a 20 something running full tilt let alone 6 people / 3 generations.

The weather is too iffy to pre-plan anything like a rver cruise or H-o-H-o bus. Even on a nice day a river cruise would be really cold and uncomfortable unless you stayed inside and you can't really see much from inside because the windows fog up - same for the H-o-H-o buses.

Day 12 confuses me - what are your plans for Notting Hill? It is a very nice neighborhood but except on Saturdays and the Portobello Road Market, it isn't much of a wander around and sightsee sort of place. And I would not try to navigate Portobello Road Market with six/2 kids -- it is an absolute zoo.

If you are traveling over the actual Christmas/New Year holidays you need to consider the actual dates. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day can be problematic in London - especially Xmas Day because there is no public transport. So it might be better to plan thing so you are in France ON Christmas Day and visit London either before or after.

Much of your itinerary will need to be decided on the actual day -- for instance strolling through Hyde Park would be OK on a semi mild day and gawd awful if rain is blowing sideways.

For a family trip my suggestions for 'must sees: in London would include:
1- Tower of London/Bridge
2- British Museum
3- Natural History Museum and perhaps the Science Museum
4 - Westminster Abbey
5 - a street market . . . Borough or Camden or Portobello Rd . . . However over the holiday period these would all be very VERY crowded so it would be difficult
6 - V&A
7 - some parks but very weather dependent
8 - St Paul's Cathedral
9 - London Transport Museum / Covent Garden /street performers
10 -One or two theatre performances -- especially a Panto

Plus a lot more. Several of the sites mentioned take a good 2 to 4 hours so it is hard to squeeze in more that 2 biggies a day when you factor in lunch/crowds/weather.

Last edited by janisj; Dec 18th, 2020 at 10:53 AM.
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Old Dec 18th, 2020, 11:45 AM
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Spend an extra day in Paris rather than go to the Mont Saint-Michel. There is the Science museum which has ;age specific sections with hands-on activities. The Cité de la Musique has a museum with recordings in front of each type of instrumentation and period, and when we were there it also had live performers demonstrating instruments appropriate to the exhibits in that room.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cit%C3..._l%27Industrie

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cit%C3..._de_la_Musique
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Old Dec 18th, 2020, 10:54 PM
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I just took another look at the France bits and saw:

Day 8 - Riquewihr and Kayserberg
Day 9 - Arrive in London and do a Hop on-off bus tour, V&A Museum, Royal Albert Hall.

I have no idea how you could accomplish this. Kayserberg to London no matter which mode of transport you'd use would eat up an entire day so you'd be lucky to arrive in London before dinner time. I'd guess the fastest would be taking a train to Basel or Zurich and flying to London but those would take about 9 hours by the time you figure in terminal time and transport in to London from the airport.
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Old Dec 19th, 2020, 01:38 AM
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Hi LYC, you have accounted no time for travel. Go to google maps and see how long the journey from Mont St Michel to Strasbourg is.
And as Janisj says, traveling to London from Kayserberg takes a day.
Start again, accounting for travel times. So Day 6 is travel to Strasbourg, nothing else. Day 7 is visit Strasbourg.
I would drop the eastern area of France. Or drop Mont St Michel.
In London you have listed a number of places, some of which take some time to visit, others you only walk by.
You don't want to visit London Bridge.
And as Janisj says, on Christmas day there is no public transport in London, and most places are closed.

Plenty of time to get your itinerary right before next year, have fun planning!
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Old Dec 24th, 2020, 04:22 AM
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Hi everyone,

Thank you very much for your detailed feedback! I really appreciate it.
Would you kindly look at the 2nd version here:

Day 1 & 2 in Paris

Day 3 - Versailles (worth it during Dec? Or else, just stick at Paris?)
Day 4 - Disneyland
Day 5 - Check-in hotel in Strasbourg. Free & Easy
Day 6 - Colmar and Eguisheim
Day 7 - Riquewihr and Kayserberg
Day 8 - Flight to London and check-in.
Day 9 - V&A Museum, Royal Albert Hall.
Day 10 - Westminster Abbey, Elizabeth Tower/Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Royal Guard House Parade.
Day 11 - Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St Paul Cathedral, and London Bridge.
Day 12 - Stadium Tour.
Day 13 - Covent Garden & Trafalgar Square
Day 14 - Cambridge Day Tour
Day 15 - Borough Market, Tate Modern Museum, The Shard.
Day 16 - Return.

Will these travels look better?
With the above plan (from Day 8-15), when would you advise me to slot in Harrod's shopping and time for tea at Fortnum & Mason?
Would I be able to have time for a stroll at Oxford Street or Hyde Park after Cambridge Day Tour on Day 14? I read somewhere that Hyde Park can be beautiful in Dec, preparing for the festive season?

I am flexible to extend this trip to 16 nights as I might want to go to Mont St Michel, although not too sure if Dec is good for go there for a day tour. I must thank you who had shared with me about the words and the transportation in London. I plan to only rely on public transportation around Paris and London, so this trip will most probably happen in the first week of Dec itself.


Last edited by LYC; Dec 24th, 2020 at 04:29 AM.
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Old Dec 24th, 2020, 10:29 AM
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OK -- I only have a few minutes right now but will come back later.

• Have you been to Paris before? If not you are cutting it very VERY short. You are really only allowing one day for the city which is almost in to 'why bother' territory. Arrival day is usually eaten up with airport formalities, trekking in to the city, checking in/unpacking (and likely having to wait around for a room if you arrive in the morning as most US flights do), suffering from exhaustion/jet lag, maybe a short stroll in te fresh air, early dinner and bed. Not time for any real sightseeing. So I would add at least 2 more full days to Paris.

• Some of your London sites are either not much or should be avoided during the holiday period. London Bridge is really nothing -- it s a modern concrete bridge. Royal Albert Hall is an attractive round bldg that you can easily see any time you decide to visit Hyde Park. Unless you are attending a performance it isn't on most people's must list. Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower (they are the same thing) and Buckingham Palace are merely walk-bys. Royal Guard House Parade is a big open/empty space so not much to see/do unless you are there for the changing of the horse guards -- it is at 11:00AM. And Harrods and Oxford street (assuming things are back to semi-normal) should be totally avoided during the season. TOTAL zoos where is is actually difficult to walk. This gives an idea what Oxford Street is like in December https://www.shutterstock.com/editori...2018-10041615b

• You now have some really light days - for instance days 12 & 13 could very easily be combined in one. None of the stadium tours last more than a couple of hours, Trafalgar Sq is a 'walk through' and Covent Garden an hour or two depending on how much shopping you do (again -- it will be very crowded). While at Trafalgar Sq pop into the National Gallery if you are at all interested in art.

Question - is there a reason you have chosen a day trip to Cambridge rather than Oxford? Both are fine but I'd give the nod to Oxford for a day trip.
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Old Dec 25th, 2020, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
OK -- I only have a few minutes right now but will come back later.

• Have you been to Paris before? If not you are cutting it very VERY short. You are really only allowing one day for the city which is almost in to 'why bother' territory. Arrival day is usually eaten up with airport formalities, trekking in to the city, checking in/unpacking (and likely having to wait around for a room if you arrive in the morning as most US flights do), suffering from exhaustion/jet lag, maybe a short stroll in te fresh air, early dinner and bed. Not time for any real sightseeing. So I would add at least 2 more full days to Paris.

• Some of your London sites are either not much or should be avoided during the holiday period. London Bridge is really nothing -- it s a modern concrete bridge. Royal Albert Hall is an attractive round bldg that you can easily see any time you decide to visit Hyde Park. Unless you are attending a performance it isn't on most people's must list. Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower (they are the same thing) and Buckingham Palace are merely walk-bys. Royal Guard House Parade is a big open/empty space so not much to see/do unless you are there for the changing of the horse guards -- it is at 11:00AM. And Harrods and Oxford street (assuming things are back to semi-normal) should be totally avoided during the season. TOTAL zoos where is is actually difficult to walk. This gives an idea what Oxford Street is like in December https://www.shutterstock.com/editori...2018-10041615b

• You now have some really light days - for instance days 12 & 13 could very easily be combined in one. None of the stadium tours last more than a couple of hours, Trafalgar Sq is a 'walk through' and Covent Garden an hour or two depending on how much shopping you do (again -- it will be very crowded). While at Trafalgar Sq pop into the National Gallery if you are at all interested in art.

Question - is there a reason you have chosen a day trip to Cambridge rather than Oxford? Both are fine but I'd give the nod to Oxford for a day trip.
Wow, thank you so much for the details with the limited time you have - Happy Holidays!

I got similar feedback from friends that Cambridge would be slightly more serene than Oxford, so if I can combine day 12 & 13 into one day, then I can use the extra day for Paris. I also hope to try the punting in Cambridge, but not too sure if it is possible in Dec although I had read somewhere that there is punting all year round in Cambridge.

I might just forgo Oxford street since Dec is a busy month (me think!), but what do you think about Mayfair? How long should I expect if I want to walk around the street and head to Picadilly area for Picadilly circus, Fortnum & Mason tea and shopping? Would one whole day be sufficient at Picadilly and Mayfair?


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Old Dec 25th, 2020, 12:09 PM
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Once again I'm on my way out but just a couple of quick comments.

Punts are available to be rented in Cambridge in Dec (VERY weird IMO), Oxford is more sensible only open from sometime in March til October (and I wouldn't punt in March either). But you definitely aren't going to want to punt in Dec.

No city centre is 'serene' in December but with all the students gone either city would be less crowded than usual. Cambridge is lovely but the weather in East Anglia can feel even more cold that west in Oxfordshire. At least to me it does. Just checked and both cities average about 45° highs in Dec so maybe that is just subjective on my part. But as you can see -- NOT punting weather

"but what do you think about Mayfair?"

I wouldn't bother wandering around Mayfair. It is a neighborhood of 4 and 5 star hotels/Michelin starred restaurants and a few posh shops. Not really a sightseeing sort of place. A walk along Piccadilly is worthwhile though - Green Park, the Ritz, pop into the Burlington Arcade for a look-see, Fortnum & Mason, Royal Academy ending at Piccadilly circus


Merry Christmas
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Old Dec 25th, 2020, 05:32 PM
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I can’t tell which days are Christmas on your itinerary. . We spent Christmas in London last year, 5 nights. Museums were closed as were most restaurants. The restaurants that were open had reservations that booked them 100% full several months before Christmas. It took a lot of planning, a lot of time and assistance from a British friend , and calling from US to order a prepared Christmas dinner to go in London for reheating. I wonder if children would enjoy V&A. Our grandchildren loved the British Museum.
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Old Dec 25th, 2020, 09:36 PM
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Given that you should try and keep awake until a reasonable bed time when you arrive in Europe but you may not have a super amount of energy (not sure where you're coming from), I would think about travelling to Strasbourg on arrival in France, then to Paris and then Eurostar to London. If that sounds like too much, I'd still take the train from Strasbourg to London, which won't be much slower than flying when you consider door to door travel but is likely to be more relaxing. I'd prefer either over flying. An alternative may be to fly directly to a port closer to Alsace, such as Basel. Basel to Colmar is not far by train. I don't know whether there are direct flights to Basel or Strasbourg from your home country.
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Old Dec 25th, 2020, 09:51 PM
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I personally wouldn't bother with Disneyland - I imagine you want to see places which you can't experience somewhere else. If you'd like something kid focused then try Cite des Sciences, which has lots of interactive displays (but I suppose that's pretty international too). Paris has more museums than pretty much any other city I've visited, there are bound to be some which interest the kids, and there's heaps to see and do in Paris. I'd probably also skip Versailles unless it's of special interest, just because you don't have much time in Paris. If you visit the Eiffel Tower, then I recommend walking up as it's much more interesting than taking the lift.

I'd have a list of places you'd like to visit in London and then just wing it when you get there.

I recommend not doing everything together - split up and get together later in the day.

What happened to your Swiss trip? Is that still happening or decided against it?
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Old Dec 26th, 2020, 01:15 AM
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Oxford.

Punting in Dec. Crazy.
The days are short but I advise try and schedule in a college chapel service at 6 or 6:30. Then supper then train home.
Two world class museums and good shopping but note the UK is mainly one colour "grey" in Dec.

Alsace. Not much happens in the town's you mention but have a careful look at the town websites just in case there is something special on and book it. Colmar punting in little Venice is unlikely to be on. Unlikely to be a vine walk, so you may want to plan your own. Very easy to do.
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Old Dec 26th, 2020, 02:53 AM
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I might swap in Kew gardens and take out Hyde park but only because the green houses are warm and often with lovely decorations. https://www.kew.org/

"town's" abve, sorry using a phone badly, "towns"

The nice thing about London museums (nearly all) are free and with a special show which costs more. So you can go more than once. I'd recommend 4 hours for the V&A the first time which is just about exhausting. Then if you get more time during the trip you can popp back.

Hamleys, if the kids are with you you might want to pop by for a bit. https://www.hamleys.com/

Day 13 looks light.
Stadium, how many are you looking at visiting?
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Old Dec 26th, 2020, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
I might swap in Kew gardens and take out Hyde park but only because the green houses are warm and often with lovely decorations. https://www.kew.org/
. . .
Day 13 looks light.
Stadium, how many are you looking at visiting?
Ditto to Kew gardens -- and if you can get tickets to the evening " Christmas at Kew" light show - its amazing but does sell out. I was hoping to go again this year but of course that flew out the window. My TR from last year has several photos of the Kew program )the TR is long but you can scroll down to the photos)

Bilboburgler: I 'think' LYC meant a Stadium tour- like one stadium - Wembley or whatever, not a tour of multiple stadiums / stadia.
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Old Dec 26th, 2020, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post

Bilboburgler: I 'think' LYC meant a Stadium tour- like one stadium - Wembley or whatever, not a tour of multiple stadiums / stadia.
I thought I saw that Virgin is doing a multi-stadia tour but given that the 02 is still a Nightingale hospital it might depend.
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Old Dec 28th, 2020, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Ditto to Kew gardens -- and if you can get tickets to the evening " Christmas at Kew" light show - its amazing but does sell out. I was hoping to go again this year but of course that flew out the window. My TR from last year has several photos of the Kew program )the TR is long but you can scroll down to the photos)

Bilboburgler: I 'think' LYC meant a Stadium tour- like one stadium - Wembley or whatever, not a tour of multiple stadiums / stadia.
Yes, that is correct! Thank you very much! Plan to head to either Emirates or Wembley. Haven't decided.
Oh, and what is TR? So sorry.
I saw the pretty pics of Kew Gardens in Dec (that's what I googled), and yes, it is really pretty.
However, it is quite common to find similar garden at where I live, so I picked Hyde Park Winter Wonderland for a little bit of fun.
Do you have any idea of what are the must-do's or must-eat/drink there?

Last edited by LYC; Dec 28th, 2020 at 09:32 PM.
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Old Dec 28th, 2020, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Once again I'm on my way out but just a couple of quick comments.

Punts are available to be rented in Cambridge in Dec (VERY weird IMO), Oxford is more sensible only open from sometime in March til October (and I wouldn't punt in March either). But you definitely aren't going to want to punt in Dec.

No city centre is 'serene' in December but with all the students gone either city would be less crowded than usual. Cambridge is lovely but the weather in East Anglia can feel even more cold that west in Oxfordshire. At least to me it does. Just checked and both cities average about 45° highs in Dec so maybe that is just subjective on my part. But as you can see -- NOT punting weather

"but what do you think about Mayfair?"

I wouldn't bother wandering around Mayfair. It is a neighborhood of 4 and 5 star hotels/Michelin starred restaurants and a few posh shops. Not really a sightseeing sort of place. A walk along Piccadilly is worthwhile though - Green Park, the Ritz, pop into the Burlington Arcade for a look-see, Fortnum & Mason, Royal Academy ending at Piccadilly circus


Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas, and thank you so much for your input! I will only walk at Piccadilly as you had advised then. ^_^
Ahhhh.....then I shall forget about punting altogether, but out of the two, would Cambridge be more quiet/less busy for my parents and my kids? Since the city itself is definitely going to be busy during the holiday season, I wanted to break away for somewhere a little quiet/quaint, yet charming. I initially thought of Windsor or Bath, but I was worried my kids might be bored.

Last edited by LYC; Dec 28th, 2020 at 09:35 PM.
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Old Dec 28th, 2020, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr View Post
I can’t tell which days are Christmas on your itinerary. . We spent Christmas in London last year, 5 nights. Museums were closed as were most restaurants. The restaurants that were open had reservations that booked them 100% full several months before Christmas. It took a lot of planning, a lot of time and assistance from a British friend , and calling from US to order a prepared Christmas dinner to go in London for reheating. I wonder if children would enjoy V&A. Our grandchildren loved the British Museum.
The pandemic is far from over, so the earliest we are looking into travelling there would be first two week of December 2021 (fingers crossed), hopefully to see the Christmas decor around. Thank you for sharing the situation about the museums and restaurants, and I will ensure that all bookings to be done ahead of time. My parents and my eldest daughter, who will turn 9 next year, is into art, design and music, so I thought the V&A might be more suitable for them. My I know what did you find interesting in British Museum?
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