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floydianslip Feb 21st, 2005 11:02 AM

Need advice for France/Italy trip
My friend and I (24 yr olds) are planning to visit France and Italy for about 16 days around end of March. This was a last minute plan, and so we haven't worked out the details of the trip yet. We would like to get to see and travel more of the countryside, mountains or other scenic areas.
Right now, we plan to spend about 3 days seeing Paris, about 6-7 days exploring other places in France(precisely what those places would be- I haven't decided- and I'd like any advice). Spend maybe the next 7 days in Italy, seeing Rome, Venice, Florence.
My flight gets me to Paris, and I depart from Venice. Unfortunately I wish this wan't the case, since I wish we would visit Switzerland instead of Italy.
Also, what's the best way to travel to places in France? I was thinking about purchasing a EuroRail pass.

Any comments on the itinerary, transportation etc. are appreciated.

PalQ Feb 21st, 2005 11:16 AM

A France-Italy railpass is cheaper than a Eurailpass but of course just covers the two countries. If you want to do Switzerland investigate the Eurail Select Pass for France, italy and Switzerland. If you have any questions on railpasses i'd call BETS' European Rail Hotline (800-441-9413) and talk to experts who have travelled trains in these countries for years and can answer all your questions. Ask for their free European Planning & Rail Guide, a supergb publication that talks about trains in both countries, includes rail maps of each, etc. It also includes info on all railpasses.

Edward2005 Feb 21st, 2005 11:19 AM

The Provence/Riviera region is right next to Italy, so that's a logical choice after Paris. Or you could do Provence and then the French Alps, crossing into Italy over Mt. Blanc. That could help get you your Alps fix. If I had 7 days for Italy, starting in the north, I'd probably 2 days in Florence, then 3 days in Tuscan hilltowns, then 2 days in Venice. I would not try to do the Big Three in one week because that would be an overdose of big cities and I think hilltown Italy is every bit as important as any one of the Big Three. Italian hilltowns are like crack for me.

ira Feb 21st, 2005 11:20 AM

Hi floyd,

>My flight gets me to Paris, and I depart from Venice. <

Excellent. Much better than going to Switzerland.

>about 3 days seeing Paris, about 6-7 days exploring other places in France<

I suggest 7 days in Paris and then on to Italy. You can see France after you've been to Paris a few times.

This gives you 10 days for Rome, Venice, Florence.

Great trip. Enjoy it.


suec1 Feb 21st, 2005 11:30 AM

Well you don't give us much info about your interests which makes it hard to know what you might enjoy but you may want to head south from Paris, maybe to Arles which is a neat smaller town, then go along the Riviera. Won't be beach weather but it is a beautiful coast, I would think spring flowers would be appearing. Nice might be a good place to stop a few nights. Not sure 7 days is enough for Flo., Rome and Venice - I'd be inclined to omit one and my choice to omit would be Flo unless you are big time art fans. You mention Switz, for hiking?, if so maybe a stop along the Cinque Terre would be a good idea tho its not the Alps! I'm sure you'll get alot of other input but you may want to post again your interests to help people give you more personalized advice. SueC1

Dayle Feb 21st, 2005 12:50 PM

Hi F,

Since you are going in March, I would not recommend Switerland for hiking. It will still be end of ski season.

I agree that 7 days is not enough for the big three in Italy. Choose 2.

Buon viaggio!

floydianslip Feb 21st, 2005 01:31 PM

Thanks for all the replies.
In France, I certainly want to spend some time in Paris, since this will be my first visit. However, I would probably more like to see the quaint towns, or drive/pass through some scenic areas, explore the country side. Someone said, that this stuff should be done only after one experinces Paris fully? Do you'll think that's the way to go?
Provence and the French Alps seem like areas I would like to visit. I'm still reading up about them though to see what all there's to do there.
We want to get to Rome from France by Train, since we plan to get a pass- but there seem to be no trains to Rome from Nice/Marsaille, what place would be a good place to catch a train from South/East France?

A question about the France- Italy rail pass: Do I need to make reservations on overnight train journeys and the day trains if I have the 4 day pass?
Also, if my plans change, can reservations be cancelled?

rex Feb 21st, 2005 01:36 PM

Unless your goal is to spend a lot of time seeing the inside of trains (you <i><b>could</b></i> choose to criss-cross the heck out of the length and breadth of France in 6-7 days), then you will almost certainly NOT want a &quot;rail pass&quot;. Choose an itinerary (which might include flying from France to Italy on any of several low-cost intra-Europe airlines - - see for more info), and then get a cost estimate at

You will most likely see that ordinary (&quot;point-to-point&quot; tickets) train fares will be cheaper than a rail pass particualrly since train travel is such a good bargain in Italy. There are numerous fares zig-zagging all over Italy for only 15 euro.

I'll dissent slightly that seven days isn't enough to &quot;see&quot; the &quot;big three&quot; in Italy adequately. You have to make compromises with every itinerary. Sicne you were hoping to see Switzerland, and (you think) your heart isn't so much &quot;into&quot; Italy, then I would propose giving short shrift to Florence. Although it increases your train travel time, consider spending a day in Trento or Bolzano instead (or both), en route to Venice (where you should end up).

Your options for flying from France are better to start with Rome, but as an alternative - - you <i><b>could</b></i> choose to not do justice to Rome, and spend a single day there; that's a little bit like making the decision to not go to Rome at all (also a personal choice you could make) - - it would free up time to put Florence back in (one day or two) and still leave Trento or Bolzano.

I would urge you to arrive in Venice (at least) two full days before your departure.

Best wishes,


suec1 Feb 22nd, 2005 04:37 AM

Hopefully you are getting some good ideas from your reading. There are night trains to Rome from Paris and Geneva. Also trains from Nice to Rome - one that leaves in the morning and an overnite but I don't think its a sleeper train. I think if you have a railpass you would have to pay extra to get a sleeping compartment - that would be reserved. Besides that you may not need reservations unless you are traveling on Easter travel days! or on high speed trains in France. An earlier poster recommended Budget Europe Travel Servie (BETS) and they are great 800-441-9413. You can get a railpass from them and they will send you a Eurail timetable that has so much useful information - I use it over and over to plan the basic outline of my trips - then you can go to the country rail sites to get more detailed and up to date info. Even if you don't buy anything from them the people at BETS are super helpful in planning your trip and understanding the trains.

mamc Feb 22nd, 2005 04:48 AM

Having been to France 8 times, Paris is always my first destination. Although I love rural France (especially Provence, the Dordogne, Normandy and the Loire), I agree with Ira that you should give Paris its full due before venturing into the countryside. I suggest 5 days in Paris, 2 days in the south of France (Riviera ?) before going to Italy and seeing Florence, a bit of the Tuscan countryside and Venice. That is a lot for 2 weeks but it mixes cities with rural areas.

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