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Searching for a Family Friendly Europe Destination

Old Sep 11th, 2010, 10:56 AM
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Searching for a Family Friendly Europe Destination

My husband and I would like to take a vacation to Europe in July or August 2011 and we want to bring our 2 young children, ages 6 and 2.5. We are looking to be there for 1-3 weeks but don't know where to start in terms of planning. We aren't big on the museums but would like to see the small villages, markets, countryside, etc. We would appreciate your help in planning....at least a place to start!

Rhonda
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 12:07 PM
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Here it comes.... go here....go there......we loved here......
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 12:10 PM
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Well - all of europe and many other people are vacationing then - so prices will be high and most things very crowded. Also, many areas will be very hot/humid and in europe AC is not common in many smaller/less expensive places.

So, your first questions are:

What type of climate are you looking for (realizing you will likely not have AC)
Do you want to settle for 2 or 3 places for a week each (the most sensible with 2 small kids)
What language skills do you have (helpful if you re renting an apartment or house versus staying in a hotel.

If it were me I would look at cooler areas - Switzerland, Germany/Austria or even Scandinavia. there are a lot of places you can stay in and do many interesting day trips by car. (I know many people will start heading you out to Italy - but 2 small kids with no AC when the temps are in the 90s and humid is not my idea of fun - for anyone).
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 12:15 PM
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Do you have any particular leaning towards which countries you want to visit? Like does France interest you more? Or Switzerland? Germany? Italy? Spain? Netherlands? What were you thinking of when you first decided you wanted to take this trip?

Take some time and look at photos of various countries, either online or in guidebooks at the library, just to see what places catch your fancy over others.

Your question is so open ended it's impossible to say. I think you could go anywhere in Europe and find those things you mention in your post.

Try to do 2-3 weeks for the trip. One week is just too short for going all the way to Europe (i'm assuming you're in the US?)
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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With small children, I would choose some place like Germany. There are the small villages and marketplaces you are looking for. Also, Berchtesgaden/Bavaria area in Germany is absolutely breathtaking. Lots of hiking/park options there.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 12:19 PM
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hi rhonda,

really your choice is determined by how much heat you are willing to stand. sometimes we warn against going to southern europe in the height of summer only to discover that the traveller comes from somewhere like Texas, where they are used to broiling in the sun.

then, there is what sort of holiday you want - with 2 small children, many europeans will rent a holiday home or [in france] a gite or an apartment, either in the mountains, in the country, or at the beach.

if you have more than one week, you could perhaps think of two contrasting places - a week in the dolomites and another on an italian lake, or Brittany/normandy and the Loire, or the Dordogne and the Landes, or....
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 03:17 PM
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It is an open ended question, so I think you are really wanting personal opinions. My first love is Italy, so I can't believe I am not saying go there, but with small children in mid summer, I would consider the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, and perhaps Paris. The Netherlands and Germany both have many charming small towns. Germany has castles. The Netherlands has Maduradam and canals. They are both cooler in the summer. They both have nice B&Bs and love kids. You might find a farm stay in Northern Germany where the kids could roam a bit, see cows milked, etc. In Belgium, you could visit markets, windmills, etc., but you might also spend a day or so in Ostend on the beach. It is a lovely resort on the sea with a wide sandy beach.
It will be hot in Paris, but there are so many parks and nice places for kids to play, it could be fun. They can rent or buy small boats and sail them on some of the ponds. Okay, I may have some spelling errors, so please overlook.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 04:39 PM
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That time of year I am a fan of the Germany/Austria/Alps loop.

If it only 1 week, do not bother.
If it is 3 weeks add Switzerland and the Italy lakes. Decide your time first, then come back for more. Flying into Zurich and home from Munich makes a good open jaw itinerary.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 04:58 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. Now that I know the temperatures in some places for July/August, we definitely want to go somewhere that is a little cooler....or at least has air conditioning everywhere we go. So by the sounds of it that would eliminate France and Italy. I think we are leaning more towards 3 weeks so if that is the case can anyone recommend an itinerary in terms of cities to visit and the order in which to do so? Just want to make sure that our time flows well from one city to the next. We don't necesarily need to stay in a hotel as we would love to stay in a little home or something near the water yet close to small villages. Sorry so vague....don't know much about Europe hence the reason for the visit. Our language skills are purely english and we are coming from Canada. Thank you in advance for the help!
Rhonda
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 05:23 PM
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Why don't you just decide what you want to see and let your children just come along for the ride. Just like you would do if you were vacationing in Canada or the US. It doesn't seem to matter a lot to you. Just my opinion.
I WOULD think that you might do some investigation on your own about what might be available.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 05:36 PM
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I'm doing plenty of investigating but because I'm not familiar with Europe I'm not sure about distance between cities and what makes sense. Yes I can look on a map but that doesn't always tell me what I need. Feedback from other people that have experienced various places in Europe helps to narrow things down....the whole point of this forum I thought.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 06:50 PM
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With 3 weeks for what you describe I think Austria, Germany &/or Switzerland would all work well.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 06:55 PM
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You can use mappy.com or viamichelin.com to get driving distances and times between cities.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 07:25 PM
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I think kids would like the Bavaria area of Germany and also the Rhine area. Germany had good weather and is pretty affordable. You can also do only trains if you don't feel comfortable driving.

You could fly into Frankfurt, go to the Rhine, spend 3-5 nights, go to Bavaria and do a small village and possibly Munich. You should then have a week or so to do Austria or Switzerland. Switzerland is great for scenery and hiking where in Austria you could do Salzburg, Hallstatt, or Vienna which might be more cities than you are looking for. I'm sure kids would like Salzburg, Austria.

Also if you are okay with higher costs and want to stick with English a trip with London and English countryside would be good. I did that when I was 12 and loved it.
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 01:39 AM
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Aramis, don't be such a cynical ass. The whole point of these boards are for those less experienced in travel to gather info from people who HAVE enjoyed certain places.

If you don't want to try to help, don't post.
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 02:37 AM
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I think that the things you're looking for are best found in France and Italy.

I'd go there and handle the heat- which won't be THAT bad anyway
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 05:18 AM
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As I do more research, I was thinking that going to Paris for 1 week and Switzerland for 1 week might work in terms of travel distance and method between the two and considering my young children. I would appreciate feedback on that idea and whether this thought is a good one considering the age of my children. If it's hot in Paris I think we will survive...summers in Ontario Canada are about 30 degrees celsius! Also thinking we could take a train from Paris to Switzerland...thoughts??
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 05:36 AM
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Well, you could; but it's not what you set out looking for....
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 07:20 AM
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So, if you go to Paris and Switzerland, get an apartment with AC in Paris. Similarly, in Switzerland, pick one base (or possibly 2), rent an apartment and do daytrips, by train, bus or boat.

An apartment gives you more space, allows the children to sleep while you talk or watch TV in another room. And you can store snacks in the refrigerator. Plus children enjoy establishing in one spot, getting to know the grocer, etc.

For apartment recommendations, search this site or go to www.slowtrav.com, where there's lots of information about rentals including reviews of individual apartments as well as reviews of rental agencies. There are apartment/villas listed on www.tripadvisor.com too.

Depending on your destination in Switzerland the train journey from Paris can take 4 or 5 hours, with one change in Basel. While I love trains for children, don't know how that long a journey -- with a change -- will work for you.
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Old Sep 12th, 2010, 07:29 AM
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I think 1-week each in Paris and somewhere in Switzerland would be a fantastic trip! You can certainly find markets, countryside, small villages, between those two places. Just because you're in Paris doesn't mean you have to go to musuems all day long, there's plenty of other things to see and do. Staying a full week would open up easier renting two apartments.

Yes there would be that one 5-hour train ride (for example Paris to Lausanne or Geneva) or you could take a flight. Definitely book your plane tickets to fly in to Geneva (or Zurich) and out of Paris, or the other way around, to save backtracking at the end of your trip.

take a look here for one idea:
www.montreux.ch
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