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Itinerary help please ... Southern France to Northern Italy ... too many choices, too little time!

Itinerary help please ... Southern France to Northern Italy ... too many choices, too little time!

Old Oct 24th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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Itinerary help please ... Southern France to Northern Italy ... too many choices, too little time!

My wife and our friends (two couples in their 50's) are in the process of planning our 2006 vacation. This will be the 6th year in a row that we will be heading to Europe together.

At this point, our very loose plan calls for a week in Provence/French Riviera and a week in Northern Italy, in May. Yes, I know it's getting late ... our pattern in past years has been to book our overseas flights in November, have the basic itinerary decided by January, and have hotels, car rentals, trains, etc. booked by the end of March.

We always use frequent flier miles, and we could begin in any number of large airports... London, Paris or Frankfurt ... and then take a short flight to somewhere like Nice to begin. After the first week, we could train or drive to Italy, and fly back through one of the above major airports, departing from Turin, Bologna, Milan, etc., depending upon where we end up.

Which finally brings me to the point .. we are struggling with the itinerary. Over the past few years, we have been steadily drifting away from the frenzied "museum-a-minute" mentality that we utilized for our earlier trips. Though we still like to sprinkle in the occasional museum, church, concert or other cultural event, we've been gravitating toward more leisurely sightseeing, enjoying the food and wine, and just relaxing. So for our time in France, we'd like to find a picturesque, medieval Provencal town to make our base, have a car, and take lazy day trips for 4 or 5 days. We could then move south and spend 2 or 3 days doing nothing on a beach somewhere along the Mediterranean coast.

We generally look for accomodations in the 150 - 200 Euro per day range, sometimes a little higher. Small, family-run places are my favorite, but we wouldn't rule out a larger hotel at a beach resort.

Moving on to Italy, we've discussed a number of possibilities. We've been to Venice several times, and also to Lake Como, so we're looking for something different. We'd again like to concentrate more in the country than big cities ... I'd love some recommendations for great little inns in country or mountain towns in Piemonte or Emilia Romagna. Again, we would use this as a base for day trips to surrounding towns, vineyards, and maybe even some shopping if the women absolutely demand it.

So, any recommendations you can pass along for towns, hotels, restaurants, activities, etc., in the two broad areas that we're looking at, would be greatly appreciated. Hope I've provided enough information to get it rolling.

Larry
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Old Oct 24th, 2005, 02:53 PM
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What have you already sen in Provence?
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Old Oct 24th, 2005, 03:17 PM
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In France, we've been in and around Paris twice, and spent 4 days in Burgundy. Have never been to Provence.
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Old Oct 24th, 2005, 03:32 PM
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Is the 150-200 euro/day per couple or are you talking about a rental?

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Old Oct 24th, 2005, 03:56 PM
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There are limitless possibilities.

Since '99, we've vacationed in the Provence & Riveria areas for over 21 weeks.

If you are only going to spend a week in France, I would fly to Paris, immediatly take the TGV from the airport to Avignon, and spend 4 days in a nice hotel or B&B in the vineyards in the Luberon region of Provence. Consider Kevin's place:
http://masperreal.com/index.html
near St Saturnin in the Luberon.

Then drive to Nice and either stay there for 3 days, or near St Paul in the hills just back of Nice.

Then on to Lake Como.

If this were my vacation, however, I would not leave France. Two weeks isn't much time in the South of France (as you will find out, once you're there). Also, consider the time of year you will be visiting the Italian Lake region. Lake Como is farther north than any spot in the continental US. The weather could be quite nice, or it could be quite foul - probably a mix of both.

For two weeks in France, I would spend 5 days in the Luberon, then 3 days near either St Remy or Vaison. Then off to the Riveria - perhaps 2 days in St Tropez, and 4 days in the Nice area. To return home, take the TGV from Aix (after spending the morning in Aix), and take the train to Dijon. Stay overnight in Dijon, and take the 6:30 TGV directly to the airport in Paris for your flight home.

I have a 20+ page itinerary that covers my favorite villages, drives, sites, markets, restaurants in this area. E-mail me at [email protected] if you want a copy.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 24th, 2005, 05:01 PM
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Thanks for all the info, Stu, I will e-mail you directly for your itinerary.

I realize we could spend the entire time in either Provence or Northern Italy, but I still believe we would prefer visiting both countries.

Also, just to clarify my original post, I mentioned that we had previously visited Lake Como, and though we really enjoyed it, we're looking to go elsewhere this time. Since you mentioned the possibility of iffy weather, though, it started me thinking back to when we were there ... it was May of 2003, and the weather was absolutely perfect ... sunny and warm for 3 days, with the exception of a 10 minute hail storm on our first afternoon.

But for this time, we're looking to be farther west, either Piemonte or Emilia Romagna.

JeanneB - The 150 - 200 Euro per day would be per couple.

Larry
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Old Oct 24th, 2005, 05:11 PM
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Have you considered the Ligurian coast as your Italy destination? We did a similar trip this past May spending 12 days or so in Provence & the French Riviera and then followed the coast into Italy where we stayed in Rapallo near Cinque Terre. I still can't decide where we should have spent more time -- Provence or Liguria -- I loved them both!
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Old Oct 25th, 2005, 05:54 AM
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Hi Angela -

Though we've not been to Liguria, we have been to the Amalfi coast on a prior trip. Though it's heresy to state this, it was OK, but not nearly our favorite area of Italy. Since a number of people on this forum and elsewhere have said that the Ligurian Coast is in many ways similar to Amalfi, we didn't give it serious consideration this time around.

Larry
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Old Oct 25th, 2005, 06:35 AM
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Hello Larry, I like your travel style. I will leave the French part to others, but I will say that the St. Paul de Vence region would be a good choice. However, if I read you correctly, here is a place that you should consider: www.baurbb.com The owner, Diana, is a delight and will direct you to highlights in the region.
Then, end your stay at my favorite lakes destination before flying home from Milan. See www.orta.net for more details---we like the old but charming Hotel Orta. Good luck ! I do like your approach and style.
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Old Oct 25th, 2005, 06:41 AM
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I spent several days in Emilia-Romagna last year, after starting our trip in Venice, then moving on to Tuscany (then Rome, then home). I liked the area; we stayed in Ferrara, which I found a cute little city that wasn't touristy, spent a day in Bologna, which was the right amount of time for us. Ravenna, about 45 min. SE of Ferrara, contained incredibly beautiful mosaics (in my top 10 of art that I've ever seen). In terms of the scenary, Emilia-Romagna did not compare to Provence or (for example) Tuscany, but we wanted to visit somewhere we hadn't been before. Emilia-Romagna is a trek from Provence, though, unless you're planning to do open-jaws flights and leave from Venice.

You might want to reconsider Liguria. The Amalfi Coast doesn't do much for me or my husband either (horrors!) (we also didn't enjoy Lake Como as much as most people seem to), but we love the Cinque Terre. For us, big foodies, it's partly the food - I much more enjoy the Northern Ligurian cuisine over the southern dishes. So as you can tell, it's really a matter of personal preference.

I haven't - YET - been to Piemonte, but it's near the top of my list. My parents just came back from a trip there, and they raved about it; though they were in the Alba area, which is a bit south of the mountains. They said it reminded them of the beauty of the scenary in Tuscany, but with the Alps in the background. The wine region made them think of the Burgundy countryside. They said it wasn't touristy and the people (of course) were very friendly. If you're at all into wine, the Barolo wine region would be a definite draw.

About 6 years ago, we did a trip similar to yours, but in reverse (and a bit more rushed). We started in Florence, then two days in Tuscany (both of which we'd been to previously), then a couple of days in the Cinque Terre. Then a long drive up to a B&B somewhere outside of Arles. Finished off with two days in Burgundy, then took the train to Paris for several days. Come to think of it, that trip was in May, and the weather was wonderful everywhere we visited.
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Old Oct 25th, 2005, 06:49 AM
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Larry, I don't know what kind of FF miles you have, but Delta will start a new Atlanta-Nice nonstop May 9th.
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Old Oct 25th, 2005, 08:05 AM
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Bob - The Baur B&B which you directed me to is right on target ... exactly the type of place we like.
I've seen your past posts extolling the virtues of Lake Orta, we'll check that out too.

Lexma - Your parents' description of Piemonte and the Alba area reinforces my wish to go there. And we are very interested in wine, so we'd spend a bunch of time in the Barolo region.

Brian - We'd be flying out of Philadelphia on UsAirways FF miles. We've got a round-trip to Gatwick on hold now, and are looking into options for Paris as well.

Thanks for all your help. Keep the suggestions coming.

Larry
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Old Oct 25th, 2005, 05:31 PM
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TTT ... any more suggestions?
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Old Oct 26th, 2005, 08:27 AM
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One more time to the top ...
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Old Nov 13th, 2005, 10:46 PM
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Angela m- We are staying in Rapallo for 6 nights in June/July. Do you have a thread where you wrote of your time there? Thanks, Phil

I asked this question of you in the CT thread, too

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...amp;dirtyBit=1
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