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Young Adults traveling to South of France and Italy

Young Adults traveling to South of France and Italy

Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 06:42 AM
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Young Adults traveling to South of France and Italy

I am looking for a good itinerary for a group of 20 year olds traveling to Europe for the first time. We are travelers, but total novices when it comes to Europe.

They will be flying into Europe from the East Coast (Baltimore/Philadelphia) and have a max of 14 days to travel.

My questions are the following:

1. Need a good itinerary for the Sout of France, Italy and Switzerland. Would like to fit in Paris somehow, is this unreasonable?

2. Is staying in Hostels the best source of lodging for them?

3. What is the cheapest/best city for them to fly into? Should they fly into one city and out of another?

4. Is the train the best way for them to get around?

I am very excited to help them plan this trip. I want to have them set in a itinerary and lodging before they arrive. I want the best ideas to keep them safe and have the time of their lives. Any and all ideas and comments are welcome!! Thank you so much!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 06:55 AM
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How big is the group?
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 06:55 AM
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Fourteen days isn't nearly enough time to visit Paris, South of France (where in the south - Cote d'Azur, Provence, Languedoc, Roussillon, Dordogne), Switzerland, and Italy (where in Italy - Venice, Rome, Tuscany/Florence, Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre). You would be spending too much time "getting there" and not enough time "being there".

Getting from Nice to anywhere in Italy (other than close to the France/Italy border) is time consuming.

I would fly into Nice, and:
- Spend 5 nights in Nice. Take trains to visit the coastal towns on day trips. Lots of things to do in/around Nice.

- Pick up several cars in Nice & drive to Provence - perhaps stay in St Remy. Explore Provence by car for 4 nights. You could take the train from Nice to Avignon - but you really need a car to explore the beautiful countryside, small villages, gorges, lavender fields (July).

- Take the 2 3/4 hr TGV from the Avignon TGV station to Paris & spend your remaining time there.

Fly home from Paris.

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 06:57 AM
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Sorry - I should have mentioned the following:

There are 6 of them.
They are planning to go mid-May
They were only looking to see some of Northern Italy.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 06:59 AM
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Good suggestion Stu, but if they are under 21 hiring cars could be an expensive option, indeed some companies charge more for under 25s.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 07:02 AM
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You have two identical posts, not sure you noticed, so maybe this will top one for your responses to collect.

I think that is too many countries for only 14 days. I'm not familiar with Italy and how easy it is or is not to get from there to Switzerland by train, so will defer to others on that point.

YOu could do South of France, then go over to Italy easy. And in 14 days, you could actually start in Paris, then go south, then over to Italy. Or vice-versa, whichever works best. That wouldn't be a bad idea. Then drop Switzerland.

The train is usually the best for short distances. Some cheap airlines have good fares for distances that are longer and will take up a whole day. For example, Rome-Paris or something like that, I would do by plane, not train. But Paris-Nice-Italy somewhere you could easily do by train.

I think hostels would be a good idea for them at their age, sure, and they'll meet other young people. You don't mention how big this group is, which can make a difference. IF it's only 4-5 kids, they could book a couple rooms in a budget hotel rather than a hostel (but don't need to), but if this is a group of 20 or something, how you do these things completely varies, you need to be clearer on what you are talking about in that regard. Because some hotels won't even take reservations for a large group like that.

Yes, they should definitely fly into one city an dout of another, there wouldn't be any point to flying out of the same city you arrived in when you plan to travel elsewhere, especialy when it is far away. I suspect Paris may be one of the cheapest places to fly into on this trip, it's usually cheaper than, say, Rome (I think), but if you are doing one vs. another for arrival/departure, it doesn't really matter which is first -- except you can check flight prices and see if there is a big difference in which is first and decide that way.

Other than Paris or Rome, I don't see any logical cheap city to fly in/out of. Flights to Marseille or Nice or going to go through Paris with a connection, anyway. They may not necessarily be that much more expensive than flying into Paris alone, but I doubt if they'll be cheaper. Zurich isn't bad if you were doing Switzerland, but as I said, I don't think that will fit in.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 07:03 AM
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Watch out for the big events in the South of France in May; Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix, when it is busy and hard to find hotels.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 07:11 AM
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Good to know about the events in May. They are all college students, so they plan to go when classes are over. I like the idea of starting in Paris. I will try to check the train from Paris to Nice.

I guess they could travel east across the coast to Italy. I would appreciate any suggestions for activities/and best amount of time to spend. Starting from scratch!

(I don't know how to delete the other post!)
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 07:15 AM
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I would imagine that as college kids they would have some ideas about where they want to spend their time?

In 2 weeks I would tell them to pick 3-4 locations and have them work from there.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 07:37 AM
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Other than Paris, Milan and Rome the flights would likely be more expensive and require a change. So given that I would fly into Paris and do about 4 nights there, train to Nice for 3 nights there (day trips doable by train or bus to smaller towns), then train or fly to Italy. Easy jet has flights for around 50 euro from Nice to Rome and Venice. Three nights minimum Venice, four Rome and train between them. Fly home from the last one. Check flights to see which cities have the best airfare and flight schedules then decide which one to put last (to fly home from).
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 07:48 AM
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If you're just starting to research train travel in Europe, this is the best resource:
http://www.seat61.com/
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 07:57 AM
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>

This tells me that they really have only 12 days in Europe if the 14 days includes first and last travel days. Please verify this as it will affect the travel plans and the number of locations.

They should visit cities for more diversity and activities, especially night life. Start in Paris for 4 days, take the night train to Nice for 3 days, and then fly to Venice (the train takes a long time and there doesn't seem to be a night train). They could take the train from Nice to Venice and stop in Cinque Terre for a day or two.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 08:16 AM
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The train from Paris to Nice takes 2 3/4 hrs to get to Avignon - then another 3 hrs to get to Nice. The leg from Avignon to Nice is quite slow. That's why I advised flying into Nice via Frankfurt or Paris, and do Nice first & Paris last.

Unless six 20 year-olds can get "up & going" by about 7am, the earliest TGV from Paris to Nice leaves at 10:50 & arrives in Nice at 4:30. By the time the 6 get to the hotel/hostel in Nice and "ready to explore" it will be 5:30 - which pretty much kills most of this day. There are more train schedules to Avignon than Nice - so if it is important to start in Paris, I would visit Provence after Paris & fly home from Nice. However, that might put you in Nice at Cannes/Monaco festival time.

Nice to Florence is a 7 hr train trip with 2 train changes

Nice to Venice is 8 3/4 hrs with 2 changes

Nice to Rome is 8 1/2 hrs with 2 changes.

So the trip from Nice to the most popular destinations in Italy will consume an entire day by train. If you train from Paris to Nice and then into either of these Italy destinations - you will loose 2 entire days in transit out of the 14 (or is it really 14 nights/13 days) that you have.

I doubt if there are any flights from Venice or Florence back to the Baltimore/Philly - so the return home would consume some time.

I would just stick to one country/3 destinations. France or Italy. Call www.autoeurope.com to determine of 20 year-olds can rent a car in Italy or France (it is more expensive in Italy). Also, will any of them be 21 in May??

Stu Dudley
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 10:04 AM
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This is all great information.

They will all be finishing their sophomore year, so barely 20 year olds. I will check into a few things for them. Nice sounds like a good hub. They will probably want to see some things along the coast.

Keep the advice coming!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 10:18 AM
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I hope you are looking at responses on both your posts because you have several that might be helpful on the other post.
This year XL France had great prices on flights to Paris and Marsailles from JFK. They could fly into Marseilles, and from there, train to Nice, Aix, Avignon, etc., then train (or fly) to Paris, stay a few days, fly into Venice and train to Rome, fly home from Rome. That is all pretty straightforward. The coast South of Marseilles is lovely. There are lots of students in Aix. There are lots of options for that area - all depends on their interests. That being said, with only 12 days on the ground, I suggest 5 in Paris, and the rest in Italy. Rent apartments if you can find any that will rent to young people that age.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2013, 10:22 AM
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When we flew from Paris to Nice, the airfares were less than the train. Nice is a good base to explore smaller hill towns and Antibes by bus and or train. Check budget airlines to move to Italy or Switzerland without wasting time on long train rides. Once in Switzerland they should use the excellent Swiss railway services. For budget flights look at Skyscanner.
With only 14 days I would fecommend Paris and the Riviera or Provence or Nice and Switzerland. Or all 14 days in Italy. They don't nave enough time to see all you listed.
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