Tips for first trip to France/Italy

Nov 8th, 2008, 06:09 AM
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Tips for first trip to France/Italy

I am really enjoying some of the threads here, but I have some specific questions I thought I'd ask you all about...

In December I am taking my family (husband, 12 year old son and 18 month old son) on our first trip out of the US (well, I've been to Canada, does that count?). I speak French fairly well, and a little Italian. We're going to fly into Paris, drive to Naples, see Rome, Florence, Venice, then drive around Lac Leman, into the Loire Valley, then stay for 5 days in Paris.

I know this sounds like a crazy trip since we're going in winter, driving the whole time, trying to see too much and taking a baby (what are we thinking?!). But aside from those criticisms, what advice would you give, considering our circumstances?

We already have our hotels booked, but what should we see for sure?
What should we avoid?
What about great things for the kids? Our kids are used to museums and trying new foods, etc.
How should we expect the weather and the holidays to change the "normal" things one would do on such a trip?

Advice from experienced travelers would be appreciated!
Lisa4RKT is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 06:14 AM
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How much time do you have? How many nights in Europe?
ellenem is online now  
Nov 8th, 2008, 06:18 AM
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We'll be there two weeks and two days. The itinerary looks something like this...

Fly into paris, get car, drive to Italy for a night in Cherasco.
6 nights in Naples and/or Rome (we have family in both places, so lodging is flexible), 2 nights near Florence, 1 night in Venice, one night in Martigny, one night in Loire, 5 nights in Paris.
Lisa4RKT is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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Hello Lisa,

i'm Mauro from Rome, i think your trip could be better without Venice ( is too far from your way back to France) and Venice for one day with babies is not enought, about food here in Italy every little place got his own cousine so you'll all enjoy it.

In Rome i would spend more time also visiting Naples (pompei-ercolano-sorrento-positano and amalfi)

in Rome i suggest Colosseo, Roman Forum, San Peter Curch (your sons will love to get up to the Dome), here in Rome you can have a good walking, be carefull with your car because is not avoid to get in the center of the city, but you can use pubblic transport that is very good.

All the Best

tourimania is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 07:23 AM
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I think you need to sit down with Google Maps or another map site of your choice and re-evaluate your plan.

Getting off a plane jetlagged in Paris and then expecting to drive over 800 kilometers to Italy is not just inadvisable, it's downright dangerous!

It's almost another 1,000 km to Naples from Cherasco and even if you made it there are 2 days gone from your 16. And you'll be even more tired and have seen very little but asphalt so far.

Some quick math... 6 days in Rome/Naples plus 5 days in Paris
equals 11 days. 2 days have already been spent getting to Naples so that's a total of 13 days. It will take 2 days big time driving to make it back to Paris from Rome. So that's 15 days.

You want to spend a day in Venice,
2 in Florence, and another in the Loire... where is this time going to come from?

You need to seriously rethink this.
I'd say the 2 biggest changes you'll need to make will be to fly between Paris and Rome/Naples and most likely drop both Venice and Florence. You could do the Loire as a day trip from Paris.

But you really need to figure out the distances and times and redo things accordingly.

I hope this gets you thinking...

ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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I am not sure what pleasure you will derive from such a trip.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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1st mistake - Flying in and out of Paris. Fly into Paris and home from Naples.

2nd mistake - Too much driving/cities for your limited amount of time.
kybourbon is online now  
Nov 8th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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Sorry but I don't know where to begin. I second the notion that flying in to Paris and then driving to Italy is just an awful idea.

One night in Venice - isn't even worth the effort.

2 nights "near" Florence I don't know if that means you are going to visit Florence for 2 days or just 1 day or if you plan to explore the "area" for 2 days? Two absolutely FULL days in Florence is the bare minimum in my opinion.

Depending on how locked in you are on your hotel reservations...there may not be much room to change your plans but if you can rearrange your itinerary I would highly recommend you do so. Perhaps eliminate Venice and stay in the area of Rome for the entire rest of your stay in Italy. You can make a few "day" trips from there. However driving in and out of Rome is a nightmare. The drive from Rome back to Paris...i suppose divide it up, stopping for the night along the way.

I just think the whole flying in to Paris and back out of Paris, trying to see what you want to see has made your itinerary difficult.
caroltis is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 08:19 AM
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Lisa, I really am not trying to be rude, but this itinerary is absolutely insane! As others have mentioned, do you really realize the driving time involved? All you're going to remember from this trip is the inside of your car. And you have way too many stops for a two-week trip. I don't think you want a car for any of it!

Presumably your flights can't be changed, but hopefully your hotels can be changed. Fly into Paris, immediately fly on to Rome. Spend 4 nights there, train to Florence for 3 nights, train to Venice for 3 nights, fly or overnight train to Paris for 4 nights. Even this is a rushed itinerary, but at least you will have a little time in each place and actually have time to see a few things!
SusanP is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 08:53 AM
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Having driven around much of France and Italy on many occasions, I have to agree with the above posts. It seems like your whole vacation will be in a car.

Europe is so wonderful, and driving around exploring is just a joy. Please reconsider, get some good maps, and cut your locations or do some flying.

The places on your list are all so beautiful and interesting you will not want to cut and run so quickly. IMO, I would pick 3 of your destinations and take some time to smell the roses.
TPAYT is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 09:09 AM
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Starting with day 1, you're flying over the Atlantic and then immediately picking up a car and driving. Is it an overnight flight? If so, you'll be tired as well as jetlagged. If it's a day flight, you'll start your long drive in the evening. How long does it take to drive from Paris to Cherasco?

You know, this is so prepostrous an itinerary, I'm beginning to think the OP is a troll. Just trying to get a rise out of all of us.
Mimar is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 09:35 AM
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I just looked up the driving trip from Paris to Cherasco on Mappy. It will take 8 hours and 33 minutes driving time. It will cost €131.17 in gas, plus another €86.50 in tolls in France.

With all the stops to comfort a screaming baby it is going to take a lot longer than that, and I'll bet you will be screaming at each other big time.

nukesafe is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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Have been to europe more than 70 time s- many of them road trips - and I have to say this trip is insane.

First - flying in an out of Paris makes no sense. If you can;t change to an open jaws ticket - into Rome and out of Paris, then fly from Paris to Rome immediately upon arrival. Landing an Paris and then driving to Rome is not only ridiculous (it will take at least 13 hours without any stops ) esp with a toddler - it is dangerous to drive that many hours - even splitting driving between you since you'll be jet lagged and falling asleep in 2/3 hours).

Realistically, if you arrive on an early plane and get into your rental car by 8 am you will be arriving in Rome around midnight (allowing for finding your way and with stops to get gas, food, use potties. (We never drive more than an hour or so right off the plane just due to the tendency to fall asleep at the wheel.)

For the rest of your trip you have way too may stops and won;t have time to really see anything in several of the places. If you want to see Paris and have family in Rome and Naples, I would:

Either fly directly into Rome or fly from Paris to Rome and spend the first 6/7 days in Rome/Naples. Then either fly or train from there to Paris, where you can spend about 5 days - and do a day trip to the Loire if you want.

Otherwise you will be spending huge amounts of time driving, locating and checking in and out of hotels - and will have 2 very cranky kids on your hands most of the time.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 09:42 AM
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Just for kicks, I looked up the same Paris/Charasco trip going by non-toll roads. Mappy estimates it would take 14 hour, 22 minutes!

Sounds like a trip from hell. Please start with a clean piece of paper, and re-plan this.

nukesafe is offline  
Nov 8th, 2008, 03:10 PM
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This is one of the all-time most wacked-out trip propositions I've ever seen, honestly.

Do you have a map? Please get one and look at it really, really carefully.

With a baby, too? OMG, you will just hate yourself about 3 hours after you land in Paris, if not before.

I implore you to forget this plan completely and start over.
StCirq is online now  
Nov 8th, 2008, 05:24 PM
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This plan simply does not work. It needs some serious trimming back.

"fly into paris, get car, drive to italy" is a lot harder and longer than you make it sound in your post! There is no point in going all the way to Venice for only one night. I love the Lac Leman area of Switzerland but don't see how you will have time for it on this extremely busy itinerary.

As others have mentioned, have you actually added up the predicted driving hours to do this route? So you know how many hours per day you will be in the car?

suze is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 04:46 AM
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Thanks to all who replied politely. We are considering some changes to our itinerary. In any case, this will not be the trip of our dreams because we're going in winter, and we would rather take our children when they're older. However, some opportunities shouldn't be passed up.

So, aside from the fact that we're crazy, does anyone have responses to my actual questions?
Lisa4RKT is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 05:11 AM
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Lisa: I have to agree that it is pretty crazy. Just curious about the stay in Cherasco..why did you choose to stop here? Which hotel did you pick in Cherasco?

I am asking because I plan to visit Cherasco and the region next year..
ekscrunchy is online now  
Nov 9th, 2008, 06:11 AM
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Why start in Paris?
Start in Rome.
From Paris to Naples takes 3 days and tons of gas.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 06:33 AM
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The idea of an "open Jaw" plane ticket makes a lot of sense.. Usually it doesn't cost any more to fly for instance into Rome, and home from Paris. IF you rented the car ,you'd want to turn it in in Italy (perhaps Florence), and train or fly to Paris.
You don't need a car in Paris, unless for a couple of days if you would want side trips.There's more than enough to see and do in Paris itself for 5 days.
Arriving in Paris and starting off to Italy in a car doesn't seem the best thing to do. Usually a couple of hours that first day after arrival and overnight flight should be the limit for safety!!!
Dec. is a fun time to travel....though when you get to Paris you might find very cold, and wet, weather which could put a "damper" on some of your plans.
mari5 is offline  

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