Post # 1
We are planning two trips over the next 6-9 months: Italy and Paris, France. I have been to Paris twice, and never been to Italy. However, when I went to Paris previously, it was with my family, so I didn’t plan anything. Here are my questions:
For Italy, We are tentatively planning it for around Easter. Will this affect the trip? Should we be worried about things not being open/operating? Also, what would the weather be like around that time?
Next question: There are A LOT of places to see in Italy, and we’re only going for 10 days. Which regions/cities would you recommend, and how long at each? We are thinking Rome, Venice, Tuscany, Naples or Amalfi Coast, Florence or Cinque Terre with a couple days at each.
We are thinking late summer/early fall for Paris. Which is best? We like it to be warm, but not super muggy and disgustingly hot. We do a lot of walking while we’re in a city, and I want it to be comfortable.
Which area of the city is best to stay in? Also, as crazy as it sounds, I’ve never been to the Eiffel Tower. Is it worth seeing?
Additionally, hotel recommendations in either area would be great!!
Post # 3
@QueenOfSerendip: I don’t have any recommendations on Italy, as I only spent about 30 hours in Rome once, BUT I studied abroad in Paris, so hopefully I can help!
I love the Saint Germain des Pres area of Paris (in the 7th arrondissement). It’s close to EVERYTHING – you can walk almost anywhere from that area (Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, the Seine, etc.). There are some decent hotels in the area, too, and a ton of great restaurants that aren’t overly touristy. When my family came to visit me, they rented an apartment, which was awesome. It was cheaper than a hotel, too.
I also love Montmartre, but it’s a little farther from the city center than St. Germain.
In my opinion, the Eiffel Tower is definitely worth it if you’ve never done it before. I went up it like 10 times when I studied abroad, because of course everyone who visits wants to see it. Go at night – it’s way better. And be prepared to wait in line, especially if you plan on taking the elevator (although I recommend walking up it).
Lastly, late summer/early fall can still be disgustingly muggy in Paris. I got there in late August and the weather was so gross for the first couple of weeks. Also, EVERYONE in France goes on vacation for the entire month of August, so a lot of stuff is closed.
Post # 4
@QueenOfSerendip: I went to Paris and pretty much saw everything, in a days time, but I was very coordinated and scheduled. I 100% reccommend visiting the Eiffel Tower and going up in it if the line is not too long.
Post # 5
I was going to mention things being closed in August in Paris, but PP beat me to it. I would rather go in the fall. My last 2 trips to Europe (one included Paris, the other the South of France) have been in Sept. into Oct. and were great.
I loved Venice. But, its a very small city. We were there for 2 days and it was plenty. The main thing with Venice is the canals and tiny streets, opening into random beautiful squares. I loved it, and would do it again (never seen anything like it before or since!), but you don’t need a lot of time there. Also, I’ve heard that the water stinks. I was there in May (many, many years ago) and that wasn’t an issue. But maybe that’s the case in the summer?
Post # 6
If you had to choose between the two, I would spend more time in Cinque Terre than Florence. We spent nights days in and hiked Cinque Terre and probably could have used an extra day. Florence we did in a day and that was plenty. My colleagues LOVED Tuscany.
Re: the Eiffel tower, definitely get up there just prior to sunset, then you can see Paris in the daylight, watch the sunset, and then see the city at night. Gorgeous. Worth it!
The transit systems for both cities are easily navigated. I don’t remember where we stayed, but it wasn’t right in the middle of things, and that was fine.
Buy a Roma pass. Free transit for 2 days plus admission to two attractions (but not the vatican – that’s it’s own entity. The vatican even has it’s own stamps)
Post # 7
@QueenOfSerendip: The regions of Italy you’re thinking of traveling to can be expensive if you aren’t careful. I’ve only ever been to Rome (in 9th Grade) so I can’t really help with planning – I will say that we were there for 5 days and managed to see a good portion of the city. Depending on how you plan to get around the country (and how long it takes) I think you should aim for maybe 3 days in each city – maybe you could do two cities for 3 days and then do Rome for 4? It really depends how many places you want to see how you space out the travel between them.
As for Paris, I went once in 8th grade (my Grandparents took us; both trips were in November). I do recommend the Eifel Tower if you’ve never been. The view of the city can be really lovely from inside. And the view from La Basilique du Sacre Coure is simply stunning – you can see pretty much everything from the top of the Church.
Post # 8
- Wedding: September 2013 - B&B
I would recommend Capri over Naples for Italy!! Capri was my favorite of my study abroad semester when I was there!
Post # 9
If I could do it again with 10 days I’d spend 2 in Venice, 4 in Cinque Terre and 4 in Tuscany. I LOVED Tuscany and would stay at a villa in the Chianti region and just chill and eat and drink wine. Florence is gorgeous, a day-day.5 there, and one for Pisa, etc, then the rest to explore. We didn’t go to Cinque Terre but I’ve heard it’s gorgeous. Venice is really cool, but can be pricey, so a couple days is plenty.
Post # 10
@QueenOfSerendip: We went to Italy in October for our honeymoon. It was perfect weather. We spent 11 days there and it was the perfect amount of time.
2 Nights in Venice
3 Nights in Florence
3 Nights in Rome
2 Nights in Naples – day trip to Sienna, day trip to Pompeii and Amalfi Coast
I’d be happy to answer any questions, it is very fresh in my mind.
Post # 11
Ive only been in Italy so here’s what I suggest. As Italians are quite religious I imagine things will be closed around easter and the vatican will be packed. I totally recommend passing time in the Vatican. It’s really stunning and you dont have to be religious to appreciate it, I know the Cannonization of Pope John Paul II is sometime in April (cant remember when) and when I was there in December they were advertising ticket reservations for it.
I don’t think Naples is worth seeing (unless you intend to visit the national museum there). I expected more when I went. We stopped on our way to Pompeii and was like “meh”. WE did get some great coastal photos but thats about it. I recommend getting a tour of Pompeii but that’s a day trip from Rome no need to spend the night.
ETA: One thing I did not count on was how expensive a lot of tours/entry fees were. They were much higher than I expected compared to other countries I visited.
Post # 12
@QueenOfSerendip: We did 10 days based in Florence, 2 days in Cinque Terre, and a few day trips to towns outside of Florence around Tuscany. It was the perfect length of time for us. I like to go slow, really explore a place in depth, not just check off the major sights and rush on to the next city – I probably could have spent 3 weeks in Florence and not been satisfied! We stayed in an awesome apartment, which I felt was much better than a hotel. Florence has incredible museums, amazing food, gorgeous walking opportunities. I love it.
Post # 13
- Wedding: February 2013 - Mansion House at the MD Zoo
@QueenOfSerendip: I’m no help on Italy but I lived in Paris in college and just love it. I really like the Marais district–it’s offbeat (and a little cheaper than some of the more popular ones) and the Musee Picasso is there and is really really cool. Paris in summer isn’t terribly hot usually, but if they get a heat wave nothing is air conditioned so it can get pretty miserable. Ditto PPs tips about stuff closing in August. The Eiffel Tower is gorgeous. I particularly like it at night when it’s quieter and less crowded and you can look over the lights of the city–it’s quite beautiful. I’d also recommend walking down (or up if you’re feeling really motivated) and stopping a couple times to look up and down at the structure of the metal work. I can’t recommend a hotel but would suggest looking at VRBO and possibly trying to rent an apartment, which will cut down on food costs. Definitely take day trips (two different days) to Monet’s house at Giverney and Versailles. I also recommend the catacombs which are cool and creepy and like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Buy a rail pass and possibly the museum pass if you’re into museums. There’s one day a month (maybe one day a week? it’s been a few years) where the major museums rotate being open for free. Unless you’re super strapped for cash I’d recommend NOT hitting those. They’re incredibly crowded and it’s tough to get close enough to see anything. It’s bad enough on normal days for major stuff like the Mona Lisa. Definitely go to the major department stores and do some shopping. Feel free to PM me for more ideas. I love Paris, I can’t wait until I can take DH there. He’s never been.
Post # 14
@QueenOfSerendip: So weather wise… it is completely unpredictable. Easter in Italy can have nice weather (but obviously not that warm) or it can be really horrible… it also depends on whereabouts you go. You can look at weather averages but one day it can be clear skies and sunny and the next it maybe windy and rainy. May would be a better option weather wise and mid – late June, and mid september are the best months for european travel.
I would say that early September would be the best month to visit Paris, in europe we tend to have school holidays between June – very early september so this is when we holiday and places get very busy… most kids are back to school in the first few days of september so going say about the 10th september is usually a good option. The weather (although completely unpredictable) is likely to be nice, not too hot (june and july are generally the hottest months) and also not too busy, everything will still be open. Going even a few weeks later in October would be risk if you want good weather.
Weekends will always be busy, if you can go through the week you will have a much nicer time in my opinion.
Eiffel tower… most people do it just to say that they have done it if you know what I mean… Its not essential but if you ahve enough time and it is quiet enough.
Post # 15
@QueenOfSerendip: As @MASPA: has pointed out, the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIIIrd is being celebrated on the Sunday following Easter (Easter = 4/20, celebration = 4/27), if it is at all possible, I would not recommend being anywhere near Rome during this time as the city is going to be even more packed than usual–which will have hoteliers, restauranteurs, and others in a hurried mood–and you do not appear to want this to be a pilgrimage trip. In addition to the regular Easter closures, there might be additional closings at “Rome essentials” like the Musei Vaticani. I also imagine that reasonably priced accomodation is already going to be incredibly difficult to locate during this time.
As this link points out, in other major cities, Easter is doable (in most years I would say that Rome would be a bit challenging, but doable…however, I really think that the double-whammy of Easter and the canonization is going to create a vibe that I would not personally choose for a visit to Rome). I would take the warning about needing to seek out and book quality dining in advance seriously. I will note that if one of your major goals is to visit different churches, their hours might be even more uneven than usual during this time.
As for where to spend your time–are you interested more in spending time in really spectacular natural settings or in visiting sites of major historical significance?
Post # 16
Lived in Paris since 2007. I would avoid going in August, all the locals clear out and just the tourists are around. Here’s my list I share with people:
For things to do:
– Wine tasting in English: http://www.o-chateau.com/
– Best museum in my opinion, if you like impressionism: http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/ – Walking around the Sacre Coeur / Montmartre area: http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/
– Catacombs (if you guys are into that sort of thing): http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/homepage-catacombs-official-website
– For the Eiffel Tower, I’d go at night when it lights up (just be aware of pick pockets…). If you still want a view of Paris, you can go to the top of the Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, or the Montparnasse Tower http://www.tourmontparnasse56.com/en/#/home
– In general stay away from the places that are around touristy places as that drives the price up. For the most part, I’ve found that restaurants that specialize in a certain type of food or theme are much better than the Bistros.
A La Biche Au Bois is good if you are in the mood for French food. It’s right by my apartment and the people who run it are friendly. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d781447-Reviews-A_la_Biche_au_Bois-Paris_Ile_de_France.html
Recently went to Saveurs Végét’Halles which is vegetarian but amazingly good: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d803279-Reviews-Saveurs_Veget_halles-Paris_Ile_de_France.html
When you get sick of French food and want Korean BBQ: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d1013618-Reviews-Wabosso-Paris_Ile_de_France.html
Hope that helps!