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Choice between flying into Italy (Rome) or France (Paris or Nice) from Kansas City

Traveling “solo” with my son, who will be 11 when we travel to Europe in June for an
extended journey through Italy and the South of France.
Wondering if logistically it may be wiser to fly into one country versus another— in terms of congestion, ease of movement onto a train or taxi, etcetera.
We are working on itinerary now and figuring out a combination of trains and plans for rental car.

Also wondering if it matters whether we travel east to west or vice versa between Italy and the French Riviera.

Posted by
9489 posts

I’m not very tolerant of heat so I, personally, would start in Rome and work north from there.

I’ve flown in to Rome and Paris but only flown out of Paris. Either would work fine. You don’t mention Venice but that is the only place I’d not try to fly home from….just too difficult to organize an early morning transfer.

Posted by
49 posts

Thank you so much!

Also wondering best/ safest airline (s)

Posted by
206 posts

OP: Also wondering best/ safest airline (s)

All the major US, European, and Asian carriers are perfectly safe. I doubt if you could make a meaningful ranking between them. You take a greater risk driving to the airport.

Posted by
6507 posts

anna, are you aware you can book this as a multi-city fare - into Rome, out of Paris (or vice versa)? My choice of airline (I'm also in KC) is whichever itinerary (connecting city) works best at a reasonable fare. I dont worry about which of the majors is "best" because that's undefinable. Safe in what way? Crashes, or COVID prep?

My preference is flying Delta from KC via Minneapolis. I try to avoid Chicago - O'Hare, Newark, or Atlanta because they are too busy. Consider that flying United or American via Chicago, you will likely be on a small regional jet from KC to ORD, and that has potential issues for luggage and more frequent delays. United via Dulles is also a reasonable option. But if there was a significant cost difference, it would sway the decision. Getting to a taxi is not a problem either place.

Posted by
49 posts

Thanks to everyone for your very helpful ideas.

Who thinks Venice is important ?

Posted by
49 posts

I should qualify:
Of course, Venice is “important”, but what I mean is—

is it still considered a unique gem in the world that should not be missed if on the continent or do the negatives outweigh the positives these days in terms of crowds/ crime, etc.

Trying to figure out how much to go off the beaten path versus hotspots since some lines may be down now…

(We have up to six weeks time-wise,
But perhaps, that is long for taking my son at that age (?:)
So many choices
I want to be smart about itinerary and take time but not stay “too long” in certain places… )

Posted by
20796 posts

I certainly do. However, you have to work within the constraint of time available. It takes time to relocate and deal with hotel check-in, etc. I'd want to be sure I had enough nights at my major stops to cover my high-priority sightseeing in those cities. Some folks allow only a night or two in Venice, which seems to guarantee a less-than-ideal visit.

Posted by
6507 posts

anna, you could easily do the whole trip in just Italy. Yes Venice is one of the most unique and culturally significant places in the Western world. Where else will you see an entire city over a thousand years old with no cars, and in the water? By KC standards, there is no crime there.

But pay attention to the COVID requirements in Italy.

Posted by
4341 posts

If you haven’t been to Rome previously, I would fly home out of Rome. Comparatively, it’s a more intense city than the others you mentioned, and we always feel like we need to not have jet lag crossing their streets - LOL!

Paris is a great city to begin your trip. If you happen to head to the Loire Valley region of France, I think your 11-year old would love the fortress in Angers to explore! That’s also a nice area to ride bikes. Nearer to Italy, Annecy is also a nice town to have a little lake time with pretty mountains and another place to rent bikes.

I’ve been to Italy five times and France four times and always just traveled by train. It may be much more relaxing for both of you.

Posted by
9489 posts

I'm not a huge fan of Venice BUT it is so amazing to see that with your amount of time I'd add it in.

Since it seems like you've not been to Europe before, I'd probably go for 4 weeks including longer stays in Rome, Florence and Paris. To me a week in Venice is a lot but I know many who would think it too short. Definitely a week in Rome and Paris! 4 nights would be too long for me in CT unless you are going to do a lot of hiking there or maybe you are going to have some beach time? If you want beach, I'd go with Monterosso and stay in the new town over the old town.

Posted by
4341 posts

Anna, I see you’re new to the forum, so this additional info may apply or not. When we took our kids on vacation trips in the US or to see relatives, it was always interesting to ask afterwards what they enjoyed the most - sometimes something very insignificant to the adults. So, I would suggest asking your son what he is most wanting to see, what activity to do, etc. The more I research & plan a trip, the more exciting it is to actually be there, so involve him in the planning. For instance, if he loves to bike, I mentioned a couple of options above, but there’s also the medieval wall in Lucca that you can ride bikes on the wall. Would he like something like Ostia Antica at Rome if he read about it, first?

The first time I was in Europe was when I was 18 years old, and I remember feeling like “not one more castle”! So a nice variety is always good. Also, check the internet for local festivals. I went to a jousting festival in Arezzo, Italy which is just one example of the types of festivals that we don’t have in the US - lots of fun!

If he likes mazes, Venice is the ultimate maze! : )

Posted by
49 posts

Wow,

All of these thoughts are so helpful to me—

Thank you!!

Posted by
49 posts

looking for more input/ wisdom/ instinct

Cappadocia
or
the caves of Southwestern France

Posted by
27425 posts

Who think Venice is important?

I do. I return as often as I can - annually before illness and covid

Of course, Venice is “important”, but what I mean is—

is it still considered a unique gem in the world that should not be missed if on the continent or do the negatives outweigh the positives these days in terms of crowds/ crime, etc.

I really don't think there is anywhere in the world like Venice. In my opinion it is unique. There are other water based cities in the world, for example in Thailand but nothing like Venice.

I haven't experienced or heard of any crime there - other than frequent crime in the Commissario Brunetti novels by Donna Leon, but even in the novels they don't involve tourists much; perhaps a glass furnace worker or the conductor of an opera. I am sure there is some crime, and the handbag sellers / umbrella sellers / rubber boots sellers / glow in the dark toy sellers (same people using the same sheets on the pavement and illegally selling what they think tourists need or want at the time) certainly are regularly moved on, and there must be some crime or there wouldn't be a real life Questura, but neither crime nor police are evident. It is fun actually as a tourist to see the emergency services (police, ambulance, fire) screaming down the Grand Canal with lights and sirens, and making the wakes that all other boats are forbidden to. Most definitely no fun at all for the victims or patients but that doesn't mean I don't look up and watch...

I think an 11 year old would enjoy all the stairs up and over the canals. With a few exceptions I think that virtually all the bridges, large and small, are unique. As far as the maze mentioned above I as an adult enjoy seeing how one bridge and passage will bring me around a different way than I am going. I would think that an 11 year would be in heaven. And then spotting all the different boats - you know that everything comes by boat and everything leaves by boat - like garbage boats, vegetable boats, hotel linen boats, luggage boats, repair boats, taxis, different types of public transportation, funeral boats, everything.

But you know your boy better than I.

Are there crowds? Yup. I don't like them either. I and other folks here have written extensively easy ways to avoid them. It is a wonderful spectacular city. I love it.

Posted by
20796 posts

I haven't been to Cappadocia, but for me that would be part of a multi-week trip to Turkey. I believe the transportation required to reach Cappadocia from western Europe would be time-consuming. You really don't have to subject yourself to that sort of thing in order to have a trip offering a lot of variety.

I have been to the Dordogne and think it is an area that could be appealing to an 11-year-old, though I will note that I'm a childless 70-year-old female, so what do I know? In addition to the caves (which do require research on entry procedures, and for which a rental car would be very, very handy), there are kayak or canoe trips on the river, castles and medieval villages. Getting around to the smaller places is much easier by car (or the occasional one-day tour). I managed with trains and public buses, but I had a lot of time and stayed in several different large towns because of bus routes. Some smaller places were off the table, and getting to Rocamadour without a car involved a dangerous 3-mile (each-way) walk along a rural highway with no shoulder.

Posted by
49 posts

You are a lovely and generous person to share your thoughts about Dordogne.

Age is only wisdom and I greatly value your insight.

I think it is wise to wait on our visit to Turkey,

Regarding Dordogne, I have researched and so want to go!

but I am still reticent to drive with my son in Europe—
I have minimal experience with a standard transmission and we were sideswiped and almost killed on the freeway by someone running from the police several years ago—
So I like to avoid just instinctively the high-speed areas. Although I wish to face my fears, I don’t know if European roads are the place to do it. Furthermore, my night-driving is not so hot, for my eyes have had surgery.

So, you see, although I like to think bravely, I do not want to be foolish while I have my son in a foreign country navigating roads with minimal French fluency.

Posted by
2062 posts

Anna, if you really want to go to the Dordogne (aka Périgord) region to see the caves, it is possible to take trains from Paris then take a minibus tour the next day. I have done that a couple of times now and will be doing it again in September. Rick has some suggestions for guides in his France book which I highly recommend you get.
Regarding the trains, the connections round trip from Paris are the easiest. We will be going from the South this year which will make for an extremely long day but that's the way our itinerary is coming together. (We will use a driver to get us from Sarlat to Amboise.
I suggest at least 2 nights in Sarlat but 3 would be nice to have time to actually enjoy the town itself.

Posted by
49 posts

Here is where I’m at:

Fly into Paris
3 Nights
which journey by train toward Venice next ?

ie Geneva
Or Lyon
Or Basel
to Milan. ?

with side trip to either
Lake Como or Maggiorore

Then Venice 3-4 nights
Train to Rome (which/ how)

Something in Tuscany on way to
Cinque Terre 3 nights

Train to Nice x 2 nights

Then train to San Raphael x 1-2 weeks as home base (we have a friend there…

Then up through Dordogne
by train
? What tour, cave and castle ?

What about Terme ?

Back home via Paris
? Stay another 2 nights

4-6 weeks
We will have a backpack each and a roller international “carry on”

Please
May I have your thoughts?
Great thanks !

Posted by
49 posts

Forgot to say

Thinking Rome for 3-4 nights
We have seen the Colosseum
But thinking to go back there and Villa Borghese

Not sure what else to see (“again”)

We have also seen Pompeii
But not sure whether to go back and include this as a side trip to Vesuvius which we have never climbed
Plus Amalfi (thinking to skip since we will taste Cinque Terre and French Riviera)

Posted by
49 posts

One more clarification

Train from Paris in direction of Venice…

I question route via either Basel, Geneva, Lyon
etcetera, not only in terms of the intervening landscape, of course, but which place might ba a stopping point for a night’s rest from travel.
My boy will be 11 by then

I assumed Milan would be a good stopping point on way to Lake Como or Maggiore
But maybe we don’t need to stay there overnight and can just continue travel to the lake
?

Posted by
1820 posts

Start in Paris (like Jean said, Rome is hectic). TGV to Bordeaux where you will have a good selection of cars at the station and maybe even an automatic. Drive the scenic 1+ hour to the Dordogne and you can even tell the gps to keep you off the highway. Dordogne is great for an 11 year old boy. From there drive to Carcassonne and then on to Provence where there are a lot of Roman stuff that an 11 should love (Pont du Gard, bring a bathing suit, i.e.). Drop the Car in Marseille and Fly to Venice. From there trains to Florence, Siena, Orvieto, Rome. All very easy.

Posted by
6839 posts

Your itinerary is a little haphazard--almost like you're running in circles.

We used to travel as fast and far as we could by automobile, but $9 gasoline in Italy changed our way to travel. We have taken some train trips, but really get a little bored after 3-4 hours. The advent of cheap European airlines has been the godsend, and that's how we travel long distances. We also travel slower--and better these days.

I'm a believer in picking two or three cities and seeing them really well. Flying open jaw into one city and out of another. I also like traveling in cities that are relatively close together and in somewhat of a straight line. I also like to pick one more city for a long weekend that's nothing like the other cities on the trip.

I'm talking about flying to Paris and spend a few days there. Then fly to Venice. Take a train down to Florence. Spend a few days out in the Tuscan countryside at an agriturismo. (Skip Cinque Terre which is on the other side of Italy.) You could drive down to Orvieto and spend a night or two before turning in your rental car across the street from the train station. Then take a 70 minute train into Rome Termini. As you leave Rome, fly to someplace different--like Lisbon or Copenhagen for a long weekend.

We once flew into Budapest and took a train to Bratislava. Then we took a 39 mile bus trip into Vienna. It was a 4 hour train ride up to Prague, and we flew home from there. That's a quick, efficient trip to great cities. Munich-Salzburg-Vienna is another great trip--the old continental Europe. We're always looking for more bang for our buck, and traveling efficiently just works better.

Posted by
49 posts

I know it was said not to worry about air carrier choice…

But I have it in my mind that either American Airlines or United has had a reputation for not being user friendly and also a preponderance of canceled flights.

Also, are Brussels Airlines (operated by Mesa Airlines DBA United)
And Lufthansa (MesaAirlines DBA United Express)
just as wonderful as all other carriers?

We are trying to book Kansas City to Nice and
Return via Rome

But the flights are so long and I am thinking to fly into a Paris and take a train down to Cote d’Azur

Posted by
3567 posts

are Brussels Airlines (operated by Mesa Airlines DBA United) And Lufthansa (MesaAirlines DBA United Express) just as wonderful as all other carriers?

I am afraid this doesn't make any sense. Mesa Airlines is a subcontractor that operates some United and American regional jet flights in the US on behalf of United and American. AFAIK all of the regional jets for American, United, and Delta use subcontractors like Mesa to operate the regional sized jets. This is just for the first leg of your journey that gets you to O'Hare, Dulles, or Newark. If you want a regular sized jet for the domestic connection look at Delta as suggested by Stan above, although Delta from Minneapolis does not serve Nice or Rome directly, so you would have to connect in Amsterdam or Paris.

In the big scheme of things flights from the East Coast to Europe are not really that long. San Francisco to Bangalore at 18 hours is a long flight.

Posted by
49 posts

I just wanted to know peoples opinion about the general safety of the smaller jets and carriers

Posted by
6839 posts

Anna; In case you have not noticed, but the Kansas City Airport is a very difficult airport to fly out of going to Europe. The city's too large to not have any direct flights to Europe

We prefer to catch connecting flights to Europe through Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte or Newark. We try to avoid O'Hare and especially JFK. We also try to stay away from Washington, DC as we've seen flights into Reagan Airport that required riding a bus to Dulles.

On the other end, we avoid Charles DeGaulle and Heathrow whenever possible. Milan and Rome and Frankfurt are good as is Zurich.

Much of my flight research is done on Wikipedia as I can pull up every airport in the world and see where flights come from and go to and the servicing airlines. Someone within the industry updates the lists immediately. You have no idea how much this info has helped me over the years. And price is not everything--as times in the air and on the ground on transfers is important.

Posted by
3726 posts

Anna, see if this itinerary will work for you.

Arrive Paris. 5 N.

Train 2Hr40min. Paris-Avignon.
Train 20 min. Avignon-Arles. 3 N.
Places to see…Nimes (58m) day trip to the Camargue area,

Train 2Hr58min. Arles- San Raphael 1-2 weeks.

Train 55min. San Raphael-Nice 2 N.

Train 5Hr03m. Nice-Monterosso. 3 N.

Train. 1Hr10m. Monterosso-Pisa.
Afternoon train. 4Hr57min. Pisa- Varenna. 3 N.

Train 4Hr17min. Varenna-Venice. 3 N.

Train/bus combo 3Hr17min. Venice-Siena 3 N.
4 if you add Florence.

Train/bus combo. 2Hr 55 min Siena-Rome. 3-4 N.

Fly out of Rome. Much easier than Paris. 30 minute taxi to the airport.

Any thoughts?

Posted by
49 posts

Gerri
So great your ideas are
Just 2 days ago I scheduled a flight on United thru Orbitz to Paris for 5 nights in the Marais

Then was going to train it down to San Raphael but
I love your idea about Camargue
I am all about that.

But
Is Arles the closest and nicest place for us to touch down and stay overnight before a “safari “ tour the next morning?
I was not planning on renting a car (I need an automatic and like to avoid speedy freeways)
But if you think a car best, I will just muster courage
Also, wondering if it would be possible to do as a side trip from San Raphael
Instead but it seems more straightforward from Paris

Also
Yes flying out of Rome back home 6 w after start
In the middle, aiming to meet one friend and her daughter my son’s age for travel to Andalusia then back to Lake Maggiore or Como
then Venice and Rome

What do you think?

Posted by
49 posts

Also curious if you have thoughts about other remarkable “side trips” overnight from San Raphael

Posted by
1009 posts

I notice you have booked through Orbitz. Not something most seasoned travelers would do because most of us book through the actual airline. If something goes wrong (a relatively common event) Orbitz is not at the gate so your remedy may not be forthcoming. Booking through actual airlines is preferred for peace of mind.

Edited to add that aviation safety, while a consideration, is generally impossible to predict. The American carriers are fungible; all have pros and cons. As far as the European short haul carriers are concerned, I think they are mostly the same as well. I haven't seen a carrier that is more or less safe than any other carrier. I might not fly Indonesian Airlines, but that's about it.

Posted by
3726 posts

Anna, from which airport are you flying to Andalusia? Are you returning to said airport?

For the camargue, check with the tourist office in Arles. Yes it is the closest, by car an easy 20 minute drive.

Posted by
958 posts

Hi. This may not help with itinerary: Sarah Murdoch at Adventures with Sarah is taking her two sons to Italy at the end of this week. Visit her website and click on the Facebook icon. If this trip is anything like previous ones, she will be posting videos frequently through which you might glean some feedback from her sons (one is 17 and the other younger). If you visit her YouTube channel, you can probably locate previous versions of this trip and others with her children.

Sarah is a whiz at planning, packing, and undertaking fun trips. I watch her travels daily when I can.

Posted by
49 posts

Thank you Debbie

Gerri—
We were planning to take the train to and through Andalusia,
then back East, I guess by train too—to the lakes above Milan and then toward Venice
down to Rome and flying out back to US from there…

I am thinking we will meet our friends in San Raphael and also I forgot to tell you we also want to go to Dorgogne before or after Spain

Am I biting off too much

Posted by
49 posts

I already bought a ticket to San Raphael from Paris so if I stop in Arles
I will switch it and try to rent an automatic there

But I think we should keep the tour in the park since I bet they know how to access the terrain

I need to buy a eurail pass after that

Posted by
3726 posts

Yes, I think you’re biting off too much! That said, you and your friend + children have 2 weeks free.
Since you are now taking the train from Paris to San Raphael, Is that when you are planning on your trip to Andalusia? With that time frame, you could do this.

First, before you buy a eurail pass, have you checked train times from your friend’s home? Travel by train is about 21 hours. This is a huge waste of time. You can fly from/to the below cities, combined flight times would be considerable less, giving you more time to actually see the places you’re going.

Flights below….

Nice-Granada.

If you plan on only the cities, the train is fine. If the White Villages, car would be best.

Granada-Bordeaux.

Train from Bordeaux- Perigord to see the Lascaux
Caves. Can do a tour.

Bordeaux-Marseille.

Train to Arles. Tour to Camargue. These 2 days are on the first segment. Edited. Any extra days can be added at your friends home, or added to the rest of your trip.

This is beginning to feel like a trip into the metaverse.

Posted by
49 posts

Gerri

Why Bordeaux to Marseille in particular?

I was thinking Bordeaux Milan there to head toward lake Maggiore then Venice

Meta= Virtual ?

I was aiming for otherworldly
,

Posted by
3726 posts

Because you originally wanted to go to the Cinque Terre, Monterosso. .

Exactly, out of this universe. It’s been fun.

Posted by
49 posts

I am stuck trying to figure out if we can stay in a vineyard (booking just three months out from now) near Camargue.