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France or return to Italy

We have never been to France but we have been to Rome, Florence and Venice Italy in '08.

I am researching two Rick Steve's tours and I am soliciting comments on their content.

The tours are Paris and the heart of a France and The heart of Italy tours.

We loved Italy and I really want to get back to Rome and Florence. Volterra, Lucca and the Italian Rivera are places I would love to see.

But, I also want to see Paris, Mont St-Michel and the D day beaches. I want to do one of these tours in May '15.

The France trip is longer and cost more the the Italy tour. The Italy tour has more departure dates (late October could be an alternative date), attractive itinerary but I have been in Rome and Florence before.
However one could make many trips to Rome and Florence and not see it all.

We love history and I especially love photography. I am weighing the pros and cons of the tours and would love to hear comments from people who have actual knowledge of the sites of interest on either tour.

We are planning to retire in 2016 and this could be our last "expensive" vacation. Any insights are welcomed. Thank you.

Posted by
784 posts

It sounds to me that your heart is in Italy. I love France and have been there several times, having seen much of the country. However, if I faced the same choice you have, only in reverse, I'm 95% sure I'd pick France because that is where my heart is.

Posted by
34 posts

Thanks Carolyn.

I loved Italy but I had to visit it to fall in love with it. The tough part of travel is the decision process of returning to places that you have fallen in love with versus finding a new destination that may tug at your heart too.

I love tours that combine large cities and smaller European towns which we love. Both tours seem to offer that. Oh I wish I was younger and richer so I could do both!

Posted by
2732 posts

There are no bad choices here, so don't agonize too much! I have not done either tour, and I have never been to Italy, but I have been to all those places in France. They are fabulous. I would just say that if you are on the fence, go with France since it will be all new to you.

Posted by
98 posts

I have been to Paris and the Champagne area. Loved it all and will go back someday. I also need to go back to Spain and want to see Prague, Budapest, Vienna, krackow etc.. I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit in the US to some very nice places, but wherever I go and no matter how much I enjoy myself, I feel like I should be in Italy next time.
So many places, so little time and not enough money.

Posted by
7567 posts

Haven't done either Tour, but have been to France and Italy on multiple visits. Both offer more than can be experienced in just a couple of visits, so returning to either is totally justifiable, as is visiting both once, to get a taste. Our week in Rome (and another 2 weeks in other parts of Italy) in December 2012 left a lot unseen and undone in just Rome, so I could see going back to experience more that was missed.

However, since you haven't yet visited France, I'd suggest going there next, so you'll have gotten a sense of some of Paris and points north. The D-Day sights in Normandy have their own appeal to those interested in history, although Italy has its own WW II sights, Flip a coin and you'll have a fabulous destination either way, but France would be, perhaps, a more novel experience, especially if you're looking for that big trip before retiring.

Posted by
183 posts

My wife and I did rome , florence and venice in 2010, loved it , then we went to paris .nice, and versaille in 2012 , we loved france and are planning a trip back to paris and Amsterdam in the fall of 2015 . The sights and the cafes , enjoying a glass of wine in paris and on the French Riviera and people watching ,are worth every penny .....enjoy

Posted by
755 posts

I took 2 wonderful trips to Italy. Then I went to France and adored it! Since you have already been to Italy, I suggest you venture out and try the France tour. After you retire, you may feel comfortable returning to these 2 countries on your own.

Posted by
31 posts

Go for France. I completely understand how a country can enter your heart and call to you. France has done that to me, but I have never regretted a new adventure.

Posted by
10 posts

I have been to both countries pretty extensively and they both have their charms. I love both of them! It's really a matter of what you want. Do you want to revisit some places you've been and make new memories or try something new? Neither is the wrong answer. Watch a few of Rick's video or check online and pick a place! I will say just for me everyone should see Paris once....

Posted by
2030 posts

I understand the lure of wanting to revisit those great cities and explore new places in Italy. It is so beautiful. But if you have not been to Paris you really have to go at least once! The history and architecture are amazing, though quite different from Italy (as is the weather, and of course, the people!). I love photography also, and can never take too many photos of Paris. The D-Day beaches, Nice, and countryside of France are beautiful too --- you should check it out. Personally if I was going to do one last splurge tour I'd do Paris.
Hope you find a way to keep going back even though retired -- as I'm doing.

Posted by
3614 posts

Just something for you to consider. . . You mentioned that retirement will put an end to "expensive" trips. We almost always travel independently. I have estimated that it costs half of what a tour costs. If you do France this time, you'll have gotten your feet wet in two of the most attractive destinations in Europe, and should feel up to going it alone. There are lots of ways to travel frugally. We stay at charming but low-cost places, and don't skimp on meals. Once we retired, I looked at our total assets, divided by the number of years we could realistically consider doing something as strenuous as European trips, and was surprised that it looked as if we could do one every year. That was 18 years ago, and I think we've gone to Europe 16 times since then, sometimes doing house exchanges, a real money saver. Don't let retirement put a damper on your adventures.

Posted by
4105 posts

How about doing the France tour then add 4-5 days and fly to Pisa.

Fly into Paris and out of Pisa, Milan, Rome whichever location you end up at. Use multi city tab to do this.

From Pisa, see Lucca and the CT or the Italian Riveria.

Easyjet flies from Paris Orly direct to Pisa... very inexpensive flights.