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Old Dec 10, 12, 4:42 pm   #1
 
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Suggestions 15-day itinerary & transportation around France and Italy?

Hey all!

It's been a *long* time since I've gone to Europe. I was in Italy back in '02 for my study abroad program. Did quite a bit of traveling by train and air at the time.

I'm so out of the zone (it's been such a long time!) but my wife has been on my case to take her to Europe so I'm trying to figure out an itinerary.

So far, I'm thinking we should fly in to CDG from LAX, and then make our way down to Rome and fly FCO back to LAX. Venice *might* be a nice excursion but I don't know if we're really that desperate to go.

Anyway, it's really everything in-between (the flight to Europe and back) that's up in the air, especially regarding transportation.

Here is a very *rough* and pretty aggressive itinerary (all transportation below is assumed via train or bus by default but I'm open to suggestions by air if it makes more sense):

3/13 - Depart LAX @ 8:30am (transfer in PHL)
3/14 - Arrive Paris (CDG) 7:00AM.
3/15 - Explore Paris - Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, etc...
3/16 - Versailles Day trip? Spend night in Versailles or Paris?
3/17 - Paris ->train-> Nice (5 hour train ride).
3/18 - Nice
3/19 - Nice ->train-> Monterosso (Cinque Terre). .
3/20 - Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre) - hike/train from Monterosso.
3/21 - Riomaggiore ->train-> Pisa (see leaning tower and move on) -> Firenze
3/22 - Firenze
3/23 - Firenze ->bus?-> Siena. Stay in Siena.
3/24 - Siena ->train or bus?-> Rome
3/25 - Rome
3/26 - Rome
3/27 - Depart Rome (FCO) @ 10:50am
3/27 - Arrive LAX @ 9pm


We don't need to see *everything* in every city - just the main highlights, which I generally vaguely can recall from before. But it would be great re-tracing my steps w/ my wife. She went a long time ago as well but regrets it as the trip wasn't a very memorable experience (that and she took it for granted).

Any ideas/advice?
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Old Dec 10, 12, 4:49 pm   #2
 
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A day trip to Versailles is enough. You don't want to lose more time checking in and out of another hotel.
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Old Dec 10, 12, 4:51 pm   #3
 
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A day trip to Versailles is enough. You don't want to lose more time checking in and out of another hotel.
Cool. Is it possible to get to Nice from Versailles without having to go back to Paris? I was checking around briefly and didn't see a whole lot - seems like you've gotta get back to Paris in order to connect to Nice.
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Old Dec 10, 12, 6:09 pm   #4
 
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Cool. Is it possible to get to Nice from Versailles without having to go back to Paris? I was checking around briefly and didn't see a whole lot - seems like you've gotta get back to Paris in order to connect to Nice.
Not that I know of. It's only about 40 minutes train ride between Versailles and Paris anyway.

How about flying from Paris to Nice? It's faster and cheaper than the train.
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Old Dec 10, 12, 7:37 pm   #5
 
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Honestly, I think you're seeing way too much and spending an awful lot of your time on a train.
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Old Dec 11, 12, 12:29 am   #6
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Personally ... I think trying to pack all this in with all that travel is going to make the trip for most people so knackering that they will hardly take anything in.

If the objective is to check the places off of a check list as "done it and seen it - again" - no problem. If you just want to skim the surface of each place you're barely going to do that because you have imho totally under-estimated what condition you will arrive in after your very long trip from the US and also how much of each of your travel days will be spent traveling.

It would take most people a day or two to get over the flight alone and you are unlikely to be checking in anywhere at 7am to freshen up.

On a matter of detail - most people wouldn't decamp from Nice to Versailles .... and to be honest no disrespect to Versailles you need to prioritise what it is you want to see. Apart from a couple of grand rooms in Versailles it is missable. It sounds like you have already seen it already anyway? And to travel to Pisa to merely see the leaning tower ?

I agree with the previous comment of flying to Nice rather than taking the train unless it's a time when you can travel overnight but as much as I love Nice it seems a pointless detour anyway. And to travel to Pisa to merely see the leaning tower ?

You've asked for opinions ..... I'd seriously consider cutting out a fair bit and make it a lot more relaxing.
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Old Dec 11, 12, 12:54 am   #7
 
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And to travel to Pisa to merely see the leaning tower?
I think that's not so bad since Pisa is on the way from Riomaggiore to Florence anyway.
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Old Dec 11, 12, 1:24 am   #8
 
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Thanks for all the tips, guys. We'll have to prioritize and consider what would make the most sense definitely. I figured the itinerary I proposed would likely be too aggressive but wanted to get a feeler.

Flying to Nice from Paris sounds like it would work. But I'm starting to re-think Nice to begin with. Of course, I think it's only because we were wanting to hit both France and Italy that I wanted to try to get more of France in the mix. As far as Pisa - I've done it before where I've made it less-than-a-half-day trip and stopped off to see the Leaning Tower for a few hours, then hopped on the train to La Spezia (coming from Siena). Definitely doable - I don't intend to spend more than several hours in Pisa anyway.

Any suggestions on other cities in France to visit if I were to cut out Nice all together? Or would the recommendation be just more time in Paris? Then fly to directly to Pisa or something?
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Old Dec 11, 12, 2:35 am   #9
 
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Old Dec 11, 12, 1:57 pm   #10
 
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I'm also considering lowering costs by arriving/departing from the same city (probably Rome in this case).

Would it make sense to make our way north via train to Florence/Pisa/Cinque Terre/Paris, and then fly easyjet back to Rome?
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Old Dec 11, 12, 4:08 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by jplee3 View Post
I'm also considering lowering costs by arriving/departing from the same city (probably Rome in this case).

LAX-CDG $1020 is where direct flights start with those dates (interesting via IST or SVO for around $900, no visa rrequired)

LAX-FCO no directs. $743 via SVO is cheapest (again, no visa required) with a jump to $950 on US and then steadily higher from there.

LAX-CDG/FCO-LAX open jaw gives you about the same prices as above and so does LAX-FCO/CDG-LAX

Of course, again for the same $1050 you can just go LAX-CDG, then CDG-FCO a few days later and then FCO-LAX. The funniest is that again for the same money you can go LAX-CDG/ORY-NCE/FCO-LAX.

Paris-Nice is almost 6hrs on the train and the cheapest price in 2nd class is around $80 per person, with $120 being more likely. Nice-Monterosso is around $100, with Nice-Rome pushing upwards of $180.

Skip France and just go to Italy.
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Old Dec 11, 12, 4:12 pm   #12
 
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LAX-CDG $1020 is where direct flights start with those dates (interesting via IST or SVO for around $900, no visa rrequired)

LAX-FCO no directs. $743 via SVO is cheapest (again, no visa required) with a jump to $950 on US and then steadily higher from there.

LAX-CDG/FCO-LAX open jaw gives you about the same prices as above and so does LAX-FCO/CDG-LAX

Of course, again for the same $1050 you can just go LAX-CDG, then CDG-FCO a few days later and then FCO-LAX. The funniest is that again for the same money you can go LAX-CDG/ORY-NCE/FCO-LAX.

Paris-Nice is almost 6hrs on the train and the cheapest price in 2nd class is around $80 per person, with $120 being more likely. Nice-Monterosso is around $100, with Nice-Rome pushing upwards of $180.

Skip France and just go to Italy.
Thanks! LOL, in the back of my mind I was thinking "Forget France!" but I think my wife really wants to see Paris... I could totally do without it though.

Do you think it's worth saving the $$$ and riding Aeroflot (w/ layover in Moscow SVO) or should I spend the extra $$ and take a shorter and more direct flight (i.e. via US Airways, Delta, or Airfrance)? Flying through Russia just doesn't appeal to me much hahahaha.


What if I were to cut the itinerary down to this?:

Paris
Cinque Terre
Florence (w/ Siena day trip)
Rome

Last edited by jplee3; Dec 11, 12 at 5:03 pm.
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Old Dec 11, 12, 5:10 pm   #13
 
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It all depends on what you're more concerned with: money, time, ease, etc. Check and see how much more an open jaw ticket would be. Remember that easyjet has fees for many things including baggage, and they're strict with the carry on size.

Are you flexible with your dates? You can gain a couple more days by connecting weekends instead of leaving and arriving mid-week.

Weather-wise, March in Paris was too cold for me, but that's a personal preference. Making your way north is good as the temperature may warm up. Or leave out Paris and go to Venice.

Only you know what type of travel (and pace) you like and what things you're looking for in your trip, but you must be packing really light or don't mind all the moving around with your bags. We went to France and Italy too two years ago and established bases in Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice, and did multiple day trips to the surrounding cities. Even with 3-4 nights in each base, we thought it would've been better and more relaxing if we had left out a city or two with more time in each place. I myself tend to want to see "more," but with each trip I'm slowing down a bit to enjoy the Italian life of dolce far niente.
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Old Dec 11, 12, 5:15 pm   #14
 
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Originally Posted by PokerHammy View Post
It all depends on what you're more concerned with: money, time, ease, etc. Check and see how much more an open jaw ticket would be. Remember that easyjet has fees for many things including baggage, and they're strict with the carry on size.

Are you flexible with your dates? You can gain a couple more days by connecting weekends instead of leaving and arriving mid-week.

Weather-wise, March in Paris was too cold for me, but that's a personal preference. Making your way north is good as the temperature may warm up. Or leave out Paris and go to Venice.

Only you know what type of travel (and pace) you like and what things you're looking for in your trip, but you must be packing really light or don't mind all the moving around with your bags. We went to France and Italy too two years ago and established bases in Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice, and did multiple day trips to the surrounding cities. Even with 3-4 nights in each base, we thought it would've been better and more relaxing if we had left out a city or two with more time in each place. I myself tend to want to see "more," but with each trip I'm slowing down a bit to enjoy the Italian life of dolce far niente.

Thanks for the tips. All things to take into consideration. My intention is to pack light, yes. But I think my wife may not like the idea as much. I think I'm probably most concerned with time and money, which obviously isn't making any of this planning easy LOL. My wife is probably more concerned with money and ease. Of course, our overall time is limited to about roughly 2 weeks. We'd generally want to see the top 5 attractions at most in each place we stay, I'd say.

Also, I was checking weekends but it seems like prices skyrocket trying to find flights from LAX->CDG or FCO
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Old Dec 11, 12, 5:58 pm   #15
 
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Okay, here's my wife's short list of things she really wants to see:

eiffel tower
arc de triumphe
louvre
versailles
pisa

So apparently, Paris cannot be cut lol. I think Jardin du Luxembourg would also be good to visit.

As far as what I want to do/see (primarily in Italy):

Whatever we can in Rome (coliseum, vatican, st peter's, spanish steps, villa borghese, etc)
Cinque Terre hike
And mostly walking around exploring Florence and Siena.

Last edited by jplee3; Dec 11, 12 at 6:15 pm.
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