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Old 01-12-2018, 06:42 AM   #1
Bobo Fett
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Planning a summer in Western Europe

Planning a big family trip over to Europe this summer - we're taking my parents on a European vacation for their 50th anniversary. So, for 6-7 weeks, UK and then France and Italy (and perhaps some other places) will be invaded by my wife and I, our teenaged son and daughter (16 & 18), and my parents. Europeans, you've been warned!

Besides giving notice that some might want to vacate, I'm posting this looking for feedback and advice. So far I just have a *very* rough outline of what we're going to do, but I'll be filling it in very quickly, as I need to get booking things. Here's the plan thus far:

~2-3 weeks in the UK, possibly including Ireland
~2 weeks in France
~2-3 weeks in Italy

May sidetrip over to Andorra and down to Barcelona (assuming things are more or less peaceful there then) during our France time.

Looking to mostly stay in homes rented via AirBnB, staying in different areas from 3-7 days. Likely travelling primarily by train, with thoughts of renting cars for single days in areas where we'd want to do a lot of exploring.

We arrive at Gatwick on June 26, and I was planning to start with a few nights in Brighton - the one place my daughter and mom really want to visit. Then was thinking of a few nights in Exeter as it looks like a beautiful area, then a few nights in Bath (sidetrip to Stonehenge from there). Plan to make our way up to Edinburgh and back down to London - not sure if the way up would be straight up the "center", or if going through Wales would be worthwhile. Also considering a hop over to Ireland and back.

Places I'm considering getting to, but likely we won't be able to do them all:

Oxford
Cotswolds
Stratford-upon-Avon
Settle to Carlisle Railway
Cambridge
Hadrian's Wall
Castles - not sure which or where, but I need to see some castles, dammit!

We'll end up in London for...IDK, 3-5 nights? Then I was thinking of taking a ferry from Dover to Calais. The original idea was to take the Chunnel, because it's...cool? But it's just a long tunnel,and I wanted to see the cliffs of Dover and perhaps Dunkirk and Normandy, so was thinking the ferry might make more sense, as I sort of assumed most trains through the Chunnel just keep on going towards Paris without a lot of stops in the north. But I haven't really looked into that yet.

Haven't really got any plans for France yet, other than Dunkirk, Normandy, obviously a number of nights in Paris, and definitely some stops along the French Riviera.

In Italy, I think we'll be overwhelmed with options, mostly in the North (Milan, Venice, Florence for starters), but we'll want to get to Rome as well.

So, if you actually got through all of that without nodding off, I'd love to hear any of your thoughts, even if (especially if?) it's just to tell me how dumb some of those ideas are. Specific advice, general tips, places I should see not on my list, places on my list I should steer clear of, whatever you'd like to contribute.
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Old 01-12-2018, 01:46 PM   #2
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

It's a bit out of the way if you're going Normandy-Paris-French Riviera, but the Loire Valley (scattered around the city of Tours) is probably your best bet for seeing tons of awesome castles in a very short amount of time.

Here is some info on some of the best ones: CASTLES!!

(Ch‚teau is French for castle)
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Old 01-13-2018, 07:40 AM   #3
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

Thanks! Not necessarily that out of the way if we head over to Andorra and Barcelona before the Riviera.

Thinking now after Brighton, might skip Exeter and stay in Bristol - make that our home base for longer rather than staying in both Exeter and Bath, and just rent a car to drive down to Exeter, over to Stonehenge, up to Stratford, etc., and then take the train straight up from Bristol to Liverpool/Manchester.

3 nights in Brighton, then perhaps 4-5 in Bristol. Train to Manchester, maybe a few nights in Manchester/Liverpool area, then rent a car to go up to Edinburgh/Glasgow for a few days, back to Manchester with car, then train back down to London - maybe stop in Cambridge on the way. 4-5 nights in London, then to Dover to ferry over to France.

At least that's the rough plan now, subject to change on a daily basis until I actually book stays. Only things booked so far are the plane tickets there and first 3 nights in Brighton. So there's still time to stop me if I'm doing anything crazy or missing anything I'll regret!
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:36 AM   #4
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

My wife and I loved Bordeaux. She loved it for the chateaus, and I for everything else, since I don't drink much wine. Normandy is absolutely incredible, would highly recommend it if you get the chance. My grandfather is buried in the cemetery there, and it's amazing to walk through. Think smaller version of Arlington in D.C., but worth it in my estimation.

I just recently moved to Europe myself, so I'm not that knowledgeable of most sites around me yet. Switzerland is very expensive but has some great sites to see as well, Matterhorn, JungFrauJoch for 2 examples. I'm sure you really can't go wrong wherever you decide to go. Just make sure to check travel warnings on the State Department's website for all the countries you plan to attend, it'll tell you if you should be on higher alert than normal, and warn you of crime to watch out for.

Last edited by BartendingAA; 01-13-2018 at 09:38 AM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:21 AM   #5
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobo Fett View Post
Planning a big family trip over to Europe this summer - we're taking my parents on a European vacation for their 50th anniversary. So, for 6-7 weeks, UK and then France and Italy (and perhaps some other places) will be invaded by my wife and I, our teenaged son and daughter (16 & 18), and my parents. Europeans, you've been warned!

Besides giving notice that some might want to vacate, I'm posting this looking for feedback and advice. So far I just have a *very* rough outline of what we're going to do, but I'll be filling it in very quickly, as I need to get booking things. Here's the plan thus far:

~2-3 weeks in the UK, possibly including Ireland
~2 weeks in France
~2-3 weeks in Italy

May sidetrip over to Andorra and down to Barcelona (assuming things are more or less peaceful there then) during our France time.

BARCELONA DEFINITELY WORTH A SIDE TRIP. I WOULD HIRE A CAR IN SOUTHERN FRANCE AND DRIVE DOWN OVER THE PYRENEES (INCLUDING ANDORRA IF YOU LIKE – QUITE HIGH UP) TO BARCELONA. ALSO SOME LOVELY COASTAL VILLAGES NEAR THE FRENCH-SPANISH BORDER – PLACES LIKE COLLIOURE (WHERE MATISSE PAINTED) AND CERBERE.

Looking to mostly stay in homes rented via AirBnB, staying in different areas from 3-7 days. Likely travelling primarily by train, with thoughts of renting cars for single days in areas where we'd want to do a lot of exploring.

We arrive at Gatwick on June 26, and I was planning to start with a few nights in Brighton - the one place my daughter and mom really want to visit. Then was thinking of a few nights in Exeter as it looks like a beautiful area,

EXETER ITSELF ISN’T VERY SPECIAL, BUT THERE ARE SOME NICE RESORTS FURTHER DOWN THE COAST AROUND TORQUAY. THOUGH IF YOU HAVE TIME I’D RECOMMEND HEADING ON TO EASTERN CORNWALL INSTEAD. THE EDEN PROJECT IS WELL WORH A VISIT AND THERE ARE LOTS OF FANTASTIC LITTLE FISHING VILLAGES.

then a few nights in Bath (sidetrip to Stonehenge from there). Plan to make our way up to Edinburgh and back down to London - not sure if the way up would be straight up the "center", or if going through Wales would be worthwhile. Also considering a hop over to Ireland and back.

YES, DEFINITELY BATH AND EDINBURGH. MAYBE STOP OFF IN YORK.

Places I'm considering getting to, but likely we won't be able to do them all:

Oxford
Cotswolds
Stratford-upon-Avon
Settle to Carlisle Railway
Cambridge
Hadrian's Wall
Castles - not sure which or where, but I need to see some castles, dammit!

ALL THE ABOVE GOOD PLACES TO GO. BEST CASTLES ARE IN WALES! AND SNOWDONIA IS GREAT (CLIMB SNOWDON?) – COULD ALSO GO TO HARLECH CASTE IF IN SNOWDONIA.

We'll end up in London for...IDK, 3-5 nights?

4 NIGHTS ABOUT RIGHT FOR LONDON.

Then I was thinking of taking a ferry from Dover to Calais. The original idea was to take the Chunnel, because it's...cool? But it's just a long tunnel,and I wanted to see the cliffs of Dover and perhaps Dunkirk and Normandy, so was thinking the ferry might make more sense, as I sort of assumed most trains through the Chunnel just keep on going towards Paris without a lot of stops in the north. But I haven't really looked into that yet.

YES, DEFINITELY FERRY.

Haven't really got any plans for France yet, other than Dunkirk, Normandy, obviously a number of nights in France, and definitely some stops along the French Riviera.

I WOULD AVOID MOST OF NORTHERN FRANCE, MOST OF WHICH IS FLAT, DULL AND NOT PARTICULARLY FRIENDLY TO VISITORS, (UNLESS OF COURSE YOU WANT TO VISIT THE WAR MEMORIALS, ETC, ON THE COAST, WHICH IS A DIFFERENT MATTER). SPEND A FEW DAYS IN PARIS, OBVIOUSLY, THEN HEAD SOUTH TO A CHATEAU OR TWO IN LOIRE VALLEY AND ON TO THE PYRENEES. I LOVE THE AREA BETWEEN TOULOUSE AND BARCELONA – VERY ANCIENT VILLAGES, BEAUTIFUL SCENERY, INTERESTING FOOD.

In Italy, I think we'll be overwhelmed with options, mostly in the North (Milan, Venice, Florence for starters), but we'll want to get to Rome as well.

ALMOST EVERYTHING IN ITALY IS GREAT THOUGH MILAN WOULDN’T BE ON MY LIST – A MODERN CITY, EXPENSIVE, NOISY. THINK ABOUT BOLOGNA AND PISA TOO. IF YOU LIKE MOUNTAINS AND MOUNTAIN TRAIN JOURNEYS, TRY AND GO VIA SWITZERLAND.

So, if you actually got through all of that without nodding off, I'd love to hear any of your thoughts, even if (especially if?) it's just to tell me how dumb some of those ideas are. Specific advice, general tips, places I should see not on my list, places on my list I should steer clear of, whatever you'd like to contribute.
I’M JEALOUS!

Last edited by Mike Haven; 01-13-2018 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 01-13-2018, 08:21 PM   #6
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

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My wife and I loved Bordeaux. She loved it for the chateaus, and I for everything else, since I don't drink much wine.
Added to my list, thanks. Might be able to get over there if we go to Andorra & Barcelona.

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Originally Posted by BartendingAA View Post
Normandy is absolutely incredible, would highly recommend it if you get the chance. My grandfather is buried in the cemetery there, and it's amazing to walk through. Think smaller version of Arlington in D.C., but worth it in my estimation.
Excellent, that's the plan. Perhaps surprisingly to some, it's one of the only things our 16 year old son has said he wants to see.

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Originally Posted by BartendingAA View Post
I just recently moved to Europe myself, so I'm not that knowledgeable of most sites around me yet. Switzerland is very expensive but has some great sites to see as well, Matterhorn, JungFrauJoch for 2 examples.
Swinging through there is definitely being considered, but time may be our enemy on that.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Haven View Post
BARCELONA DEFINITELY WORTH A SIDE TRIP. I WOULD HIRE A CAR IN SOUTHERN FRANCE AND DRIVE DOWN OVER THE PYRENEES (INCLUDING ANDORRA IF YOU LIKE – QUITE HIGH UP) TO BARCELONA. ALSO SOME LOVELY COASTAL VILLAGES NEAR THE FRENCH-SPANISH BORDER – PLACES LIKE COLLIOURE (WHERE MATISSE PAINTED) AND CERBERE.
Yeah, my original thought was some kind or trip via train from Paris through Tours down to Andorra and Barcelona, but now that I start looking into it more closely it would seem that, incredibly, the train system wasn't designed to fulfill my every whim and such a trip might not be so easy. So now I'm thinking train/bus to Toulouse and rent a car from there to go down to Andorra and back. But I've always been assuming that renting a car and returning it to a different destination is expensive there, as it is here - if I find I'm wrong about that, it could open up a lot of possibilities.

Edit to add: Just checked into a Paris-Marseilles car rental, and the one way fee is only $150 - new doors of opportunity have opened!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Haven View Post
EXETER ITSELF ISN’T VERY SPECIAL, BUT THERE ARE SOME NICE RESORTS FURTHER DOWN THE COAST AROUND TORQUAY. THOUGH IF YOU HAVE TIME I’D RECOMMEND HEADING ON TO EASTERN CORNWALL INSTEAD. THE EDEN PROJECT IS WELL WORH A VISIT AND THERE ARE LOTS OF FANTASTIC LITTLE FISHING VILLAGES.
Yeah, staying in Exeter was really about the surrounding area, which we should be able to drive to from Bristol instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Haven View Post
YES, DEFINITELY BATH AND EDINBURGH. MAYBE STOP OFF IN YORK.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Haven View Post
ALL THE ABOVE GOOD PLACES TO GO. BEST CASTLES ARE IN WALES! AND SNOWDONIA IS GREAT (CLIMB SNOWDON?) – COULD ALSO GO TO HARLECH CASTE IF IN SNOWDONIA.
I had been thinking of a side trip to Snodownia from Liverpool/Manchester; good to see some confirmation that it would be worthwhile.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Haven View Post
I WOULD AVOID MOST OF NORTHERN FRANCE, MOST OF WHICH IS FLAT, DULL AND NOT PARTICULARLY FRIENDLY TO VISITORS, (UNLESS OF COURSE YOU WANT TO VISIT THE WAR MEMORIALS, ETC, ON THE COAST, WHICH IS A DIFFERENT MATTER).
Yes, war memorials and related historic sites are the purpose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Haven View Post
SPEND A FEW DAYS IN PARIS, OBVIOUSLY, THEN HEAD SOUTH TO A CHATEAU OR TWO IN LOIRE VALLEY AND ON TO THE PYRENEES. I LOVE THE AREA BETWEEN TOULOUSE AND BARCELONA – VERY ANCIENT VILLAGES, BEAUTIFUL SCENERY, INTERESTING FOOD.
Awesome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Haven View Post
ALMOST EVERYTHING IN ITALY IS GREAT THOUGH MILAN WOULDN’T BE ON MY LIST – A MODERN CITY, EXPENSIVE, NOISY. THINK ABOUT BOLOGNA AND PISA TOO. IF YOU LIKE MOUNTAINS AND MOUNTAIN TRAIN JOURNEYS, TRY AND GO VIA SWITZERLAND.
Good to know about Milan; no way I'm going to get to everything I'd like to in Italy anyway. Switzerland's definitely getting some consideration, especially since we have some family living there.

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I’M JEALOUS!
I think I'm the one who should be jealous, since you live a hop, skip, and a jump away from all of this!
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Old 01-13-2018, 08:46 PM   #7
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

Milan and Venice are lame imo, I'd skip those. Venice is beautiful and all but it's such a tourist trap. Interesting if you're into insanely crowded open air museums.

Rather than going to Milan I'd spend 4-5 days each in Florence + Tuscany, Rome, Naples & surroundings.
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Old 01-13-2018, 09:16 PM   #8
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

Scotland>>>England, in terms of tourist viewing imo. Some places like one day in london + one day in Cambridge could be good. Ireland is only good if you have a car to hit the coastlines, if you can do that its awesome, hit cliffs of Moher, etc, if not only visiting dublin is a waste of time flying over imo, Unless your goal is to drink, which with a family I guess its not.

If you rent a car and view Scotland youll also get as many Castles as you desire.

I dont know too much about France, but for me Milan you can skip, Venice is worth going to but probably as packed as youll ever see a tourist spot, take the boat to Moreno, its cheap(<$10) and more beautiful than Venice, also takes about 1hr passing various towns.

From there id go to Florence, and Rome is worth visiting.
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Old 01-16-2018, 07:53 AM   #9
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

Thanks for the Italy tips. I can't see outright skipping Venice; feel like we all want to at least see it once. But at the very least, now we probably won't plan a few days there. Also already enough to see that skipping Milan sounds like a decent plan.

Really rethinking this whole Dover-Calais over to Dunkirk plan. With only so much time, and a lot of people that may not be as excited about hopping on and off multiple modes of transport in one day, I'm not sure that it's a wise investment of time just to see some white cliffs and a war museum. I mean, I want to see both, as well as Vimy Ridge, but it might be wiser to save that for another trip where it's just my wife and I who can easily rent a cheap car (as opposed to 150-200 CAD/day for a van for 6), and just hop on a train from London straight to Paris this time and give ourselves more time for other things.

Sooooo much to see, which means I always knew we'd only scratch the surface - probably better to keep plans for a large group simpler and make sure everyone enjoys themselves.
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Old 01-22-2018, 07:04 AM   #10
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

So, I've got all of our UK stays booked now.

Brighton - 3 nights. Since we're flying in to Gatwick, this seemed like a nice calm way to start; a city where I was able to get a place from which we can walk everywhere we want to go and we get some time to acclimatize. Then train over to:

Bristol - 5 nights. Decided on this for a bit of a hub. Renting a minivan here, and have potential daytrips planned for Bath/Stonehenge, Cotswolds, Cardiff. Was also thinking of a day down to the "Jurassic Coast", but it's a long trip and I'm worried about packing too much in. Need a day to just relax and see Bristol. Then train up to:

Liverpool - 4 nights. Renting a minivan here as well, but this one we'll be taking up to Scotland and back down to London. Probably take a day trip to Snowdonia, and another to Manchester - although I'm likely smarter to do that by train, so the plan will probably be to get the car a couple of days in and just have it to go to Snowdonia and then head out of town to:

Edinburgh - 4 nights. No idea exactly what we're going to see here yet, but I'm sure between going over to Glasgow, driving in the surrounding areas, and Edinburgh itself, we should have no problem filling 3 days. Then continue in the minivan to:

York - 2 nights. We're actually well outside of York in a cute farmhouse. We'll only be spending one day in York, which probably deserves more, but that goes for so many other places we'll be at as well! Then off to London.

But I should take it back a step and mention all the driving. Anything we should be seeing on the way from Liverpool to Edinburgh, and then again from Edinburgh to York? We don't want to make the days too long, but part of the reason of renting a vehicle is to give us freedom to explore! Only definite stop I have planned now is Vindolanda/Housesteads for Hadrian's wall on the way back to York.

So from York, planning to return the car to Cambridge, and take the train to London from there.

London - 5 nights. Have a place close to the Tube, and will have no problem filling 4 days there. Then it's the train to:

Paris - 6 nights. Have increased this, as we're probably changing our plans for the rest of trip from what I mentioned earlier, so I'm going to make a day trip to Normandy. Yes, I know it's a long day and it will be rushed, but my son really wants to go and I don't think it's practical for us to give it the proper 2-3 days, so we'll do our best to make a good day of it. Pretty sure, like London (and Rome to come), there will be no problem filling 4-5 days here. Then, flying to:

Rome - 5 nights, at least. We've changed things up because it looks like my parents, who were going to leave from Paris, want to stay a little longer and see Rome. Since we're never going to see everything I'd like anyway, I think I'll have to shelve Loire Valley and Bordeaux, saving them for a future trip.

From there, everything is a little less firm, and I could use some suggestions. Obviously a few nights in Florence. In spite of the advice I've received, Venice is on everyone's list, so we'll spend at least a couple nights there, but perhaps not as much as originally planned. The question is - whence from there? I'd say we have about a week to make our way to Barcelona. We might go up to Switzerland, which will then mean less time elsewhere. But if we were to leave Venice with a week to get to Barcelona, that would give us time for 2-3 stops of 2-3 nights each. Genoa, Monte Carlo/Nice, Cannes, Marseille, elsewhere? They all look beautiful, so I guess the question is, if you only got to stay at 2 or 3 of them, which would you choose?
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Old 01-23-2018, 12:41 AM   #11
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

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Genoa, Monte Carlo/Nice, Cannes, Marseille, elsewhere? They all look beautiful, so I guess the question is, if you only got to stay at 2 or 3 of them, which would you choose?
I lived in Nice for 3 months and visited them all except Genoa. Didn't really like Marseille much, it's very grimy, smelly, but the Old Port area is pretty great. Nice, Monte Carlo, and Cannes are all pretty interesting, but I wouldn't really call any of them can't miss. Actually my favorite part of Provence is probably the smaller towns, of which there are tons of great ones (…ze, Cassis, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Les Baux de Provence). If you go to Cassis you can try to see the calanques too, which are pretty awesome if you like natural stuff.

Nice would be a good base b/c you can easily get to MC or Cannes (or …ze or SPdV). It's probably worth seeing for a day or 2 though. One thing I love about France is although it's a small country, each region is so different and you can see the outside influences reflected in the architecture, cuisines, etc.

So basically I'd say none of those will be the highlight of the trip, and I wouldn't go too far out of my way, but if it's convenient and you have a few days to kill, go for it.
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Old 01-23-2018, 08:31 AM   #12
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

plan looks good

are you driving or plane/train for the second as of now unplanned part of your trip?

+1 on skipping cannes nice etc and going for the smaller towns in that region, don't forget the interior of the provence as an option too, might be a nice change of pace too after 16 days of city tripping. i'm not an expert in the area but plenty of beautiful small villages around the mt ventoux

the region is full of villages like this:


alternatively you can have a similar vibe checking out the smaller villages of tuscany, perhaps
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Old 01-24-2018, 06:17 AM   #13
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

If you mean after Florence, my latest thought was train, but if I do decide to go with smaller towns, a car might be better. I know when I was looking at driving from Paris down to Barcelona and then back along the French Riviera, it was quite reasonable, but the cost spiked if I took it into Italy (drop fee, presumably), so I was considering leaving the car somewhere like Nice. I suppose now I could consider doing something similar in reverse.

Fossilkid's made an excellent point with the proximity of Nice to Cannes and Monaco. Maybe stay in Genoa for a few nights, then 3-4 in Nice with day trips to Monaco and Cannes.

On another note, so an interesting article on CNN that very much backs up what others have been saying ITT about Venice:

http://www.cnn.com/travel/article/places-to-avoid-2018/

Not that I doubted everyone, but it was a good read. I see Barcelona is in there with similar concerns. Hmm.
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Old 01-24-2018, 10:57 AM   #14
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

Barcelona is ok and nice just don't behave like a redneck. Venice is different cos it's so small and insanely flooded by tourists every day, especially in the summer, all the sights can be done in 1/2 day, don't recommend to stay much longer
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Old 01-24-2018, 09:55 PM   #15
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

Very cool. I spent 6 weeks in Western Europe this past summer as part of a ~3 month round-the-world trip (thanks airline miles) and did more quick stops so had a hell of a time putting the puzzle together. We spent 1.5 days in Nice, 2 days in Cannes during the film festival, and then over to Monaco for the Grand Prix. Super easy to knock those 3 all out via very cheap train tickets (think subway, not Amtrak). My sense was outside of Grand Prix, a day in Monaco would be enough unless you want to do a bunch of shopping. We delayed too long on booking an Airbnb for Monaco and prices got ridiculous due to Grand Prix, so we ended up staying 1-2 train stops away in Menton and that was a nice town to explore too.

Definitely don't skip Venice - I agree it's super touristy but I think 2 days is the right amount of time - a day and a half would probably suffice if the logistics work that way for you, but it's worth doing the boat ride from the airport and a gondola ride on the Canal Grande. Any more than 2 is overkill. Florence on the other hand, we visited for 3 days (including a half day heading down to Pisa) and felt like we could've easily spent more time there. Rome - had 2 days and wished I had 4.

If you don't end up doing the French Riviera, San Sebastian was one of my favorite stops of the whole trip and could be a good stop immediately before Barcelona. Really nice beach, some walkable coastline, good food and laid back vibe. If you do want to do Bordeaux, you might consider doing Paris/Normandy in an earlier leg since they're much more northern and then after leaving Italy going Bordeaux -> San Sebastian -> Barcelona. The San Sebastian -> Barcelona flight is super short/cheap, and we ended up liking it a lot more than Barcelona, though perhaps we were just exhausted at the end of a long trip and that was more our speed then.

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Old 01-25-2018, 04:36 AM   #16
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

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Barcelona is ok and nice just don't behave like a redneck. Venice is different cos it's so small and insanely flooded by tourists every day, especially in the summer, all the sights can be done in 1/2 day, don't recommend to stay much longer
+1. Except for La Rambla, Barcelona feels a lot less tourist dominated than Venice, Rome, etc. The locals are very open and friendly. I cannot confirm what that CNN article says at all.
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Old 01-25-2018, 05:59 AM   #17
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

+1 on the barcelona comments, ramblas etc is super touristy but rest of the city is doable. def not same ballpark as venice

one point that wasn't mentioned in this thread (i think) is that if you go to southern europe in august some stuff is going to be closed or on reduced hours. churches musuems shops etc

+1 on san sebastian, esp if your kids can appreciate good food
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Old 01-27-2018, 02:58 PM   #18
Bobo Fett
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

Thanks everyone for the additional feedback.

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Originally Posted by Bobo Fett View Post
From there, everything is a little less firm, and I could use some suggestions. Obviously a few nights in Florence. In spite of the advice I've received, Venice is on everyone's list, so we'll spend at least a couple nights there, but perhaps not as much as originally planned. The question is - whence from there? I'd say we have about a week to make our way to Barcelona. We might go up to Switzerland, which will then mean less time elsewhere. But if we were to leave Venice with a week to get to Barcelona, that would give us time for 2-3 stops of 2-3 nights each. Genoa, Monte Carlo/Nice, Cannes, Marseille, elsewhere? They all look beautiful, so I guess the question is, if you only got to stay at 2 or 3 of them, which would you choose?
Latest iteration looks something like this:

Rome - 6 nights
Florence - 4 nights
Venice - 2 nights
Genoa - 2 nights
Nice - 4 nights (day trips to Monaco & Cannes)
Barcelona - ?

None of these are booked yet, although I'm close on a place in Rome. So everything can still be changed, but I think the Rome/Florence stops look pretty solid.

TBH, Genoa's really on there just because it looks like a good midway point to Nice; not sure if it's worth a couple nights or not.

Not sure exactly how to handle the Nice-Barcelona portion. That's a long haul via car or train, but no one place is jumping out at me as a great stopover. But perhaps that means a full day on the train going through the area would be the best way to see it.

Since we're probably not going to be able to fly directly home to Vancouver from Barcelona, am considering a car from there back to Paris (can fly direct from there), which could bring Loire Valley back into play.
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Old 01-28-2018, 06:15 PM   #19
kaby
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

I haven't been there but cities like Avignon, Nimes or Carcassonne ("a hilltop city famous for it's medieval citadel") might be good stopovers. Or maybe the Camargue?
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Old 01-28-2018, 09:56 PM   #20
Fossilkid93
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

I've been to most of those mid-sized cities (Avignon, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, NÓmes). I really liked all of them and they can probably be done in 1 day each. You can also look up le Pont du Gard. Really impressive portion of an ancient Roman aqueduct in very good condition. It's easily reachable from NÓmes or Avignon. Unfortunately didn't make it to Carcassonne, but most people rave about it too.
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Old Today, 09:28 AM   #21
CRABFISH
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Re: Planning a summer in Western Europe

If you want to see some nice castles, jump on the train to Kent (The garden of England) one day (45 minutes) whilst staying in London. Two very nice castles to visit - Leeds castle and Hever castle.
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