Tips for first trip to France/Italy

Nov 9th, 2008, 08:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,298
Hopefully Lisa checks in again. We don't know if their flights can be changed at this point. Certainly hotels can be.
suze is online now  
Nov 9th, 2008, 10:10 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,952
>>So, aside from the fact that we're crazy, does anyone have responses to my actual questions?<<

Lisa - nobody is respoding to your questions because your itinerary is absurd. The only "tips" someone could give you for your kids is games to play in the car while driving - because that's where your entire vacation will be spent.

Listen - trash your proposed itinerary. Paris is on the same latitude as much of Canada - and how many daylight hours do you get in Decenber - you won't want to be driving in the dark in a strange country. Like Bob mentioned, the drive to Naples will take 3 days - and it won't be a pleasent drive at all.

Here is what I would suggest as an alternative.

I'll assume your flight to/from Paris is set & can't be changed. December is not the ideal month to travel in most areas of France & Italy - except for Paris - the Christmas seasonn is fabulous there. I would spend a considerable amount of time in Parisa. Another area that will not be hampered by winter is he Loire with all the castles. I think a 12 YO would enjoy those. Another area that is quite pleasent in December is Alsace with all its cute villages. This itinerary of Paris/Loire/Alsace won't entail the "death drive" that your proposed itinerary would.

I would land in Paris & explore Paris first - perhaps 6 nights. Then take the TGV (fast train) to St Pierre des Corps (near Tours in the Loire), rent a car & explore the villages & castles of the Loire. Then drive to Auxerre in Burgundy & explore that town. Then on to Dijon & stay 2 nights & visit Beaune while there. Hit the road again & head for Colmar (Alsace). Spend the remaining time in Alsace & explore the cute winegrowing villages. Perhaps visit Strasbourg too. Then dump the car & take the TGV back to Paris for your flight home.

Stu Dudley

StuDudley is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 10:33 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Stu - The OP's family is in the Rome/Naples area. Your itinerary doesn't get them there.
kybourbon is online now  
Nov 9th, 2008, 11:30 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Did she say that she has to visit her relatives???

If so, I would land in Paris & spend 5 nights there. Then fly to Venice & spend 3 nights there. Then take the train to Florence for 3 nights, then train to Rome/Naples & spend the remaining time (5 nights) there and then back to Paris CDG by air to catch the flight home.

Lisa - your proposed car adventure is very dangerous, like ParisaAmsterdam mentioned. I've driven on the roads between Paris & Naples many times. When you land at CDG and head south, you will be driving with the sun in your face - after an all night flight & jet lag. I don't know about you, but driving with the sun in my face makes me tired. Also, most of that road is 2 lanes, with the left lane for passing & the right lane for cars & trucks. You will be tooling along at 70MPH (with the sun in your face) and encounter a string of trucks doing 60. You'll want to pass, but you'll first check the rear view mirror to see if anyone is passing you as you pass the trucks. You'll get into the left lane to pass & you'll still have to keep your eye on the rear view mirror in case someonwe is doing 85MPH & is right on your bummper. You'll eventually get back into the right lane. In about 5-10 mins, you do the same passing thing again. About 10 times between Paris & Rome, there will be a "deviation" with everyone funnelled into 1 lane - doing 45MPH (the slowest truck will set the pace). This is VERY tiring. We never plan to spend more than about 3 hours on the freeway per day.

It is not like driving in the US - there are more trucks on the road in Europe. There are not many opportunities to get off the freeway - except at freeway gas stations & rest stops.

You'll be able to see more countryside by taking the train from A to B, instead of driving.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 11:32 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 565

You laugh off your trip as "crazy", and call people who are trying to dissuade you "rude".

I don't think it's too strong to say your plan endangers your family's life.

You have never been overseas, and experienced jet lag. You are unlikely to sleep much, or at all, on the plane. So in a sleep deprived state, with your circadian rhythms not yet adjusted to the time change, you plan to get on the road, experience an unfamiliar, fast, and aggressive driving culture, and drive in winter weather over 500 miles in more than 8 hours, including the hours when your body is used to sleeping. That's just plain dangerous and unnecessary.

Honestly, for your children's safety, you need to rethink your first couple of days, and the total amount of driving proposed.

lovisa is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 01:47 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 166
The truth is you are not getting answers to your questions because your trip is not really possible in the real world of travel. I don't think any of us have a clue about how to help you.
nametaken is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 148
Sounds like a lot of time driving,I would get a gps and please alow some time for getting lost ,i have driven ever time i have gone seems like a turn is always missed , but having a gps at least it will re route you.Just got back from Italy for three weeks myself .It was the first time i used a gps there and it was really helpful.
Pleas re think your trip.
Venezia123 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 04:42 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 36
Although I do agree that this particular trip is dangerous and absurd, I would like to be the first to say that a determined family COULD make it happen. In 1996 my family (Mom, Dad, and boys ages 12, 10, and 5) did a similarly crazy trip in 2 weeks in late November. We flew into Munich; drove to Rome, stopping in Salzburg, Berchtesgaden, Venice, and San Marino; drove to Frankfurt via Switzerland; and took a night train from Frankfurt to Paris, where we spent our remaining 3 nights.

Obviously it was a rushed trip, with 10 days on the road and 3 days in Paris, and Lisa's itinerary reminds me of this one we took 12 years ago. I was the 12-year-old boy, so I'm not going to presume I understand the stress my parents may have experienced, but I have talked to them about it, and they feel like it was a good trip. I have great memories of each of the cities we visited, and very few memories of being in the car, even though obviously I was for hours on end.

So yes, Lisa. It is possible, with a few very important modifications. I must agree that the initial drive to Cherasco is dangerous and that you should fly between Paris and Italy (possibly both ways). An overnight train would likely be more expensive than a flight. Understand your situation, make your choices, and go for it.

That said, on to your questions:

1. What to see: It sounds like this trip is going to be one for hitting the major tourist sites (Vatican in Rome, St. Mark's in Venice, Eiffel Tower in Paris) and not much else. Get a good guide book or two, look up opening/closing hours, and plan like crazy (with Plan A, B, C, etc.).
2. Things to avoid: mmmm, I think every single other post on this thread answers that one. Basically, avoid the whole trip. Haha, no, but really, you'll be fine. Kind of.
3. For the kids: gelato and Christmas markets are all that come to mind
4. Weather: upside = shorter lines, downside = possibly disastrous driving situations.

There you go! Best of luck.
cody2006 is offline  
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