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2 week france and italy itinerary with kids

Hi,
I would appreciate any help with the logistics and suggestions regarding our itinerary below.
We are travelling from JFK-brussels roundtrip from aug 16-31. 2 adults 2 kids (8,13). The round trip is because of an amazing deal we got using miles. We have been to europe multiple times in the past and have seen netherlands, germany, paris, venice etc.,

My boys love the idea of venice (they havent been there) and my husband would like to drive col de turini or any of the mountain passes.
Is it too late in the season for lavender and sunflower fields?
We all love nature, small pretty villages and the outdoors.

Here is what I am planning so far

Aug 16 – Leave JFK
Aug 17 – Land in Brussels. Train to paris. Sleep in paris (2 nights)
Aug 18 – Sleep in paris
Aug 19 – Train to Avignon/NICE to see french riviera/provence. Sleep in? (3 nights) Rent car for 3 days.
Aug 20,21 – drive col de turini round trip?? Would prefer incorporating the drive into a route.
Aug 22 – Train to CT – sleep in vernazza(2 nights).
Aug 23 – Sleep in Vernazza
Aug 24 – Pick up car. Drive Lucca,pisa to Tuscany(3 nights). where do we spend the nights???
Aug 25, 26 – Tuscan hill towns/siena.
Aug 27 - Drive to venice and drop off car. Sleep in venice (2 nights)
Aug 28 - Sleep in venice
Aug 29 – evening flight to brussels (2 nights)
Aug 30 – All day in brussels
Aug 31 – Leave from Brussels

Posted by
1878 posts

This seems like a lot of crazy jumping around over long distances. Was your special deal on miles only available to Brussels? Train from Brussels to Paris alone could be expensive. Based upon this itinerary, it seems like money is no object for you, if that's the case then go for it!

Posted by
14885 posts

I agree with VS. That's a lot of moving around, especially with 2 kids. I haven't tried to plot it on a map. I suggest you use vialmichelin.com to estimate driving times - remember, they are optimistic and don't include pit stops, slow traffic, looking for parking, etc. Consider how your kids will do, strapped into the back seat of a car during those drives. Also be honest with yourself about how quickly you can get everyone moving. Changing rooms every other night means packing and unpacking every other night. Is anyone a sleepy head in the morning? When will you do laundry? Maybe you've taken the kids on European trips in the past on similarly busy itineraries and my concerns are out of place. If so, I apologize.

In Italian cities the historic centers are usually ZTL's - limited traffic zones, which means that only authorized vehicles (usually only public transport and residents) are permitted to enter. There are signs indicating this, but many tourists don't see them and inadvertently drive in . . . and months later get huge fines (hundreds of €€€) plus handling charges from the rental company. Some hotels (with on-site parking) in some towns are able to secure permits for their guests, so they can enter and leave the hotel. If you are spending the night, check that out. If you are just visiting a town for the day, you'll have to find parking outside the center. Michelin estimates the driving time from Florence to Venice at 4 hours. The train takes 2. You may want to drop the car off in Tuscany and take the train to Venice.

Posted by
16883 posts

If the Riviera and Provence are priorities, then I think you'll want more than 3 days to see multiple destinations. If you're willing to skip Paris, then Brussels Airline flies nonstop to both Marseille and Lyon (one early and one late flight to each destination), or Brussels Airline and EasyJet give you an additional schedule options to Nice (from $50 per person).

Book ahead for family lodging near the coast in August.

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you all for your feedback. In the past we have typically stayed at each location between 3-6 nights. I underestimated the distances between places.

We are thinking of skipping provence and FR in favor of italy. we also did not know about the limited parking zones. On a lot of these forums people have commented on car travel being the preferred way around the area. Did I misunderstand?
Any help regarding the logistics will be much appreciated.

Posted by
3654 posts

FWIW the Roman ruins in Provence are better than those in Italy.

I'd also skip Paris. Train Brussels to Avignon change at Lille also possible.

Posted by
4125 posts

Wow. Look, what are your priorities? Do them.

Based on what you've said, I'd guess you would spend a few nights in Paris and then fly to Italy. Or you could fly to Italy and then Paris.

Think carefully about logistics, terrain, and travel times. Italy is a slower place than France; mountains are slower than flat. A family of four is rarely nimble, but you know your crew best. No bigger bummer than to have to leave a great place too soon just to spend more time on the road or in trains or airports.

Posted by
22 posts

Tom, thank you. Kids seem very excited about the idea of a city built on water. Sadly, provence will have to wait.

We are thinking 10 nights in Italy and debating if we should rent a car.
Does it make sense to fly into Venice, pick up a car when we leave Venice and keep it for the rest of the week in Italy. We found that travel with kids and luggage is much easier with a vehicle. What towns villages are feasible with a car. Would it be a hassle?
I keep reading about pretty towns in the Riviera from where we can take a boat into CT. Is that recommended over staying in one of the villages. Is CT worth the hype with kids? The photographs look dreamy.

Posted by
22 posts

Adam,
Our priority is definitely kid friendly activities in beautiful locales, great food and drinks 😊

Any budget friendly to moderately priced accommodation suggestions with great views?
If possible we prefer unique local accommodations to hotels.