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Paris-Rome-Florence-Venice-Nice: trip report

Paris-Rome-Florence-Venice-Nice: trip report

Sep 5th, 2001, 11:17 AM
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Paris-Rome-Florence-Venice-Nice: trip report

you need to break it into shorter sections so it will show up
Sep 5th, 2001, 11:17 AM
Posts: n/a
Perhaps it was too long - lets try breaking it up.

Just returned from my 18 day trip to France and Italy (8/16-9/3). During my trip planning I found the information on this forum very helpful. Now it is my turn to provide the details. Our itinerary included three days in Paris, four in Rome, three in Florence, (almost) three in Venice and three in Nice. I'll concentrate on the logistics of the journey and not on the sightseeing.

Flights and airports
We flew AirFrance direct from San Francisco to Paris. Coming back, we flew from Nice to Paris (CDG) and then direct to San Francisco (11 hour flight!). All flights were booked in advance.
When we arrived to Paris (our second time there) we walked to the RER station to take a train to the city. Unfortunately due to the accident RER service to and from the airport was suspended. Passengers were advised to take a bus. We opted for a taxi - beware, the taxi stand closest to the RER station does not get too many taxis. We waited for 5 minutes and only one taxi pulled up. We walked to the terminal C where a few taxis were waiting curbside. The ride to the city was about 230 Franks (~$32) which was significantly cheaper then we took the taxi on a Christmas day last year where it was about 600 Franks.
In Nice, we took a taxi to the airport as our flight was leaving early in the morning. The ride was 250 Franks (~$35). Nice airport is not very big; there are two terminals - make sure you know from which your flight departs as they are some distance apart (AirFrance is departing from terminal 2). In Paris CDG, AirFrance flights arrive at the terminal 2, which is very big. Walking from hall F to hall C can take about 15 minutes, but there is a shuttle bus.
Sep 5th, 2001, 11:18 AM
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Trains, stations and tickets
We took an overnight trains from Paris to Rome, and Venice to Nice. We took a day trains from Rome to Florence and from Florence to Venice. Overnight travel was in first class "double" compartments, and day trains were Eurostar Italia second class seats. We enjoyed all of the trains very much. The "first class double" is a compartment for three people where they don't put a third person with you - you basically pay for the empty seat. There are three seats on one side of the compartment that are converted to lower, middle and upper banks. There's a small table/sink combination on the other side of the compartment. Two toilets are down the hall.
In Paris, all overnight trains to Italy (Florence, Venice, Rome, Milan) are departing from the new station Gare Bercy (NOT Gare de Lyon). The station is not far from Gare de Lyon, but it is a different station. There's a metro stop (Bercy) not far away but not right in the station. We took a taxi to the station. The station is small and does not have all the amenities that a large Paris train station does. There's NO ticket counter, for example. The IS a small cafe with ready-to-go sandwiches, bottled drinks and snacks, a waiting area, an rental car counter - that's all.
The Termini station In Rome as well as Florence, Venice and Nice stations are traditional full-service stations.
We booked tickets for overnight trains in advance through SNCF (www.snsf.com), which was significantly cheaper then RailEurope or other US distributors. You can make a complete reservation on the web site. You have to pay for the ticket and request station pickup, rather then have it mailed to you. You can pick up your ticket at any SNCF office in France just by presenting a confirmation number and a credit card that was used during purchase. You don't have to be a resident of France or satisfy any special requirements. There are many SNCF offices in Paris, including the CDG airport (where we picked up ours) - it is right by the TGV/RER station (get in the line for TGV Grande Ligne, and not for the regional tickets). You can also pick up the ticket at any station that have a ticket counter. There are also SNCF offices in other countries, but their locations may not be continent. If you traveling plans include France, you can book in advance and get all of your tickets (for any country) while you are there. Last winter we did the same for Paris-London trip.
We got tickets for Rome-Florence and Florence-Venice at American Express office in Rome. They don't charge the commission and there's no line there. The office is one block from the Spanish Steps. We wanted to travel on 9:30 train from Rome to Florence but it was sold out at about noon the day before. 8:55 train was available. If you prefer traveling on a specific train, make sure to get your tickets about two days in advance. We traveled on Eurostar Italia, second class which was fine.
Sep 5th, 2001, 11:18 AM
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Paris: Tonic Hotel Louvre (12-14 Rue Du Roule)
This was our second stay at this hotel. It is close to the Les Halles/Chalet metro/RER station making it easy to get to/from the airports, and most train stations. Good location, nice 3-star hotel. This time our room was smaller, but clean. Rooms are air-conditioned, there's a "standard European" continental breakfast. We paid about $100/night.

Rome: Caprice Hotel (38 Via Liguria)
We highly recommend this 3-star hotel just off Via Venetto and 3 minute walk to Barberini metro station. It was very cheap (180,000 lira or about $75 a night), breakfast included. The room is of a moderate size, clean, air-conditioned. There a shower but no tub though. It is a 10 minute walk to Spanish Steps or Trevi fountain, 15-20 to Piazza Novona. The metro will take you to Vatican or Coliseum/Forum area. Two metro stops from Termini station or about $7 taxi ride. A few nice restaurants on Via Venetto - we liked Peperoni best (just cross via Venetto as you walk down the steps from the hotel), but we did not like the second restaurant up via Venetto as you walk from the metro station (can't remember the name exactly).
We booked a day trip to Pompeii with Carranti tours through the hotel. It was only about $85 per person and included a panoramic tour of Naples, two-hour walking tour of Pompeii, 30-minute stop in Sorrento, lunch, bus transportation and a guide. We enjoyed it very much, especially the drive from Pompeii to Sorrento. We figured it was about $20 more for the tour compared to the trip to Pompeii on our own by train. For this $20 we also got to see Naples and Sorrento, has a guide and drove on a scenic rode. Carranti tours have other half- one- two- or three- day excursions you can book. I have a brochure and can provide more details upon request.
Sep 5th, 2001, 11:19 AM
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Florence: Roma Hotel (Piazza S M Novella 8)
This is a little more expensive 4-star hotel (about $120/night), nice room and amenities. High ceilings, which was nice, but the position of the air conditioner high above did not allow for the room to be cooled down properly, at least to my taste (my girlfriend thought it was fine). It is very close to the train station (we walked to/from) and to all major sights (no more then 20 minutes). Florence itself is a small and very walkable city.

Venice: San Marco Palace (Piazza San Marco 875)
Excellent 4-star hotel just off the Piazza San Marco. It is also referred to as Residence San Marco. For $130/night we got a two-room suite with sleeps four plus a day bed. Separate air-conditioning controls for the two rooms, clean and nice. Continental breakfast included. The hotel is new so everything is top-quality.

Nice: Comfort Hotel Boreal Nice (9 Rue Paul Deroulede)
Nothing special - 3-star hotel with small room and old furniture. About 15 minutes from the beach, same from the train station. We paid about $75/night. Next time I will look for an alternative, but I may come back if everything else proves more expensive.

I'd be glad to answer any questions you may have or privide more specific details on any subject.
Sep 5th, 2001, 04:28 PM
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Thank you sooooo much for such great detail. I chickened out and just stuck with France this trip but copied your report and will use it next time when I venture to Italy.

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