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Provence, French Riveria, French & Italian Alps Itinerary

Provence, French Riveria, French & Italian Alps Itinerary

Old Apr 10th, 2016, 08:22 AM
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Provence, French Riveria, French & Italian Alps Itinerary

I am planning to travel to Nice, French Riveria and French and Italian alps with my husband and 15 year old daughter for 3 weeks in July. We like hiking, water, nature, small towns and villages and photography. We will rent a car in Nice and drop off in Nice. We would like to stay in B&B's along the way, any suggestions would be great.

This is my itinerary so far. My goal was to do a circle trip so that I would start in Nice and end up in Nice with no back tracking. Any advice on whether this is too much driving, especially in the alps. Any places not to miss along the way that I may have missed?
Day 1- Vancouver, BC to Nice
Day 2 - Nice
Day 3 - Nice-Antibes-Cassis
Day 4 - Cassis (hike calanques, Cap Canaille)
Day 5 - Cassis-Saint Remy (base here for 5 nights) to see the sights: Arles, Les Baux, Pont du Gard, Nimes, Avignon, Orange, Isle Sur la Sord, Lavender Route, Luberon Hill Towns any others - is this too much?
Day 10-Saint Remy - Annecy
Day 11 - Annecy - swimming, hiking
Day 12 - Annecy
Day 13 - Annecy-Chamonix
Day 14 - Chamonix - hiking, luge, gondola to lookout points
Day 15 - Chamonix -Varenna, Italy (Como Lake)
Day 16 - Varenna and area
Day 17 - Varenna - cooking class
Day 18 - Varenna-Milan
Day 19 - Milan (Fashion district, La Scala - ballet, Gothic church)
Day 20 - Milan-Eze-Nice (not sure if I should add Monte Carlo)
Day 21 - Nice-Vancouver
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Old Apr 10th, 2016, 08:54 AM
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I don't know your traveling style, but this would be way too much for me. You basically have 1 day in Nice (to get over jet lag), 1 day in Cassis, 4 days in Provence, etc.

We spent 6 days in Provence a couple of years ago and managed to do about half of what you have laid out. This schedule does not give you any time to really experience the towns. We loved canoeing the Pont du Gard and taking a picnic with us, but that took a bit more than half a day. From the things you listed that you like to do, I would highly suggest doing this and slowing down some.

We also really enjoyed the market day (Sunday) at L'Isle sur la Sorgue. There was lots to see at the market, have lunch and then visit the antique market if inclined.

Would also suggest visiting Uzes after Pont du Gard.

When I plug your itinerary into google maps, you are going to be driving around 1500 km and that doesn't even count the drives in Provence. That's a lot of time in a car.

There are many others on Fodors that know the area much better than I do, so hopefully, they can help you plan better. You are having the problem I always experience. There are so many wonderful places that I want to see that it's difficult to narrow it down. I know that when I have been able narrow things down, even though I didn't get to see everything I wanted to, at least I know I really experienced the places I went rather than things being a blur.

Have a great trip.
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Old Apr 10th, 2016, 09:12 AM
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I like it.
Yes you have too much when in st remy. Just establish a list of priorities and drop the rest of lacking time.
I have alwYs been disappointed with Milano. I'd stay af torino instead.

When going from nice to Antibes pay attention to timing - lots of traffic jams there in July. Take scenic way but early.

Check about cuneo on the way back to nice. It lengthens the way and the road is much smaller - this slower but I love this city.

Enjoy and come in good shape !
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Old Apr 10th, 2016, 09:24 AM
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Read this about driving in Italy:

http://driventoit.blogspot.com.au/

Route planning on viamichelin, where Chamonix to Varenna is a good example of what to be cautious of. The estimate is 6 hours, but the vast majority of km's are off the "motorway," where time estimates can be way off.

Re Chamonix, I can tell you that a cable car ride up to the Aguille du Midi on a clear day is a once in a lifetime experience.

Also agree about Torino. With the long drive back, I presume you'd head straight to an airport hotel. These long drives in and out of Italy would be an argument for staying in France.
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Old Apr 10th, 2016, 09:36 AM
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Just because one person you don't know is always disappointed in Milan is no reason not to visit Milan. A great many people find Milan a delightful surprise and wonderful to return to repeatedly. Torino is a fun place, too, with good shopping and food and highly enjoyable museums (are any of you interested in movies, Egypt or cars?). And a more northeastern-Italy trip would make for a more relaxing itinerary overall. But if Milan has things you want to see and do and enjoy, and are willing to make the added effort behind the wheel to get there, then don't disappoint yourselves.

Unless the cooking class in Varenna is being conducted by some expert who uses the locale for teaching something other than the local cooking, I would not pick Varenna for its cuisine. It's a long drive from Chamonix to Varenna (which will be jammed with tourists), and for me it wouldn't be worth it to go zooming past all that beautiful scenery and interesting food and wine in the valle d'Aosta to get to Varenna (lovely as Lago di Como is).

I would suggest contacting agriturismo La Vrille in Verrayes (in the Italian valle d'Aosta) to see if they could give you a cooking class or guide you to one nearby, and stay in the valle d'Aosta. From there it would make sense to go to Torino before heading back to Nice. Suggest you skip Montecarlo.
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Old Apr 10th, 2016, 10:00 AM
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I just spent six days in Milan and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I saw a ballet at La Scala which was a fun experience.
I did a couple of different walking tours, one of the Last Supper and the roof of the Duomo, with other bits and pieces, booked with Walks of Italy.
I wandered through the Cimitero Monumentale which was an amazing place. A cemetery filled with huge family crypts, all different styles, built from different materials, large sculptures, just had to see it to believe it.

I found plenty to do in Milan and was not bored, not sure why so many people give it a negative review.
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Old Apr 10th, 2016, 10:18 AM
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We played hide and seek in cemeteries when I was young actually.
Crypts made good hiding places.
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Old Apr 10th, 2016, 10:50 AM
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I could see that Whathello. There was a lovely cemetery in Victoria we would hang out in during my high school days, but it wasn't a patch on this one in Milan.

I have to say that there were some creepy statues in this Milanese one, not a place I'd play hide'n seek at night!!
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 06:16 PM
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Thanks for all your input. I am thinking now to maybe drop Day 18 and 19 and go from Varenna straight to Nice. I can put those two days towards our stay in Saint Remy.

Or another option would be to eliminate the Italy portion and go from Chamonix down to Nice and take our time. Any suggested scenic route would be helpful from Chamonix to Nice. Is Grasse and the Gorge de Verdun worth spending the time to see if we stay in France?

I really like Valle d'Aosta - looks like a nice town to visit. Also, like the suggestion of Uzes - they opened a cooking school "Cooking with Class" that I went to when we were in Paris a few years ago. Any other suggestions for 1 day or half day classes in Provence area would be helpful. I chose a cooking class in Varenna because I found a chef on Trip Advisor who was given good reviews for a 1/2 day class.

Also, the drive from Chamonix to Varenna - is it better to take the more direct route, or scenic route. And what are the roads conditions like for this route?
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Old Apr 11th, 2016, 06:56 PM
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You could look into flying into Geneva and out of Nice. Pick up a car on the french side, spend a couple of nights across the lake at the charming Hotel Restaurant du Port in the medieval town of Yvoire, then to Chamonix and Annecy, work your way down through Provence and along the coast. Spend the last night in St Paul de Vence.
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