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Please help finalise my itinerary - 50 days Germany and France

My partner and I are planning a 50 day Europe trip, from mid September to early November. We plan on visiting Germany, France and (briefly) the Netherlands. The focus of this trip is Germany and France. We have a family function to attend (Annecy, France) but otherwise our precise dates are pretty flexible.

We will be travelling by public transport (train or bus if timing works out better). We like travelling on trains and are happy to do longish train days - we both like gazing out the window. Driving is out as one of us has a cataract and the other is waiting on shoulder surgery.

We are 60 and 74. One of us has mobility issues so we can't manage long walking and rough hikes/trails. We enjoy ambling in parks and along rivers, we also like wandering slowly around towns with nice architecture (medieval and Roman are favourites), we visit galleries, museums, etc selectively as the one with mobility issues really struggles walking slowly on marble floors. We like taking long lunches at restaurants with a nice view. We don't like really big and bustling cities but have agreed that Berlin and Paris need to be on this itinerary.

Below is my first draft:

Flight to Berlin arrives at 1pm September 18 (from Australia so we will be exhausted after 32 hours travelling)

GERMANY = 19 nights

  • Berlin: 6 - including a day trip to Potsdam
  • Dresden: 3
  • Weimar: 3
  • Nuremberg: 5 - including day trips to Wurzburg or Bamberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  • Ulm (or Tubingen?): 2 - treating this as a transfer destination between Germany and France and not planning to do very much

FRANCE = 27

  • Strasbourg: 2
  • Lyon: 4
  • Annecy: 3 - we have a family commitment here but are hoping to fit in a day trip to Chamonix
  • Avignon or Aix-en-Provence: 7 - wanting to find a base town that allows easy day trips to Arles, Orange, Nimes
  • Carcassone: 2
  • Tours or Amboise: 3 - we want a base town to easily see a few chateaux along the Loire
  • Paris: 6 - only things on our "must see" list are Pompidou Centre, Rodin Museum, Musée D'Orsay and Fontainebleau. One of us has been to Paris before and has been to Louvre and Versailles; the other is happy to skip these as they HATE crowds - so we aren't planning to go to these ... or to Disneyland.

NETHERLANDS = 2

  • Delft: 2 - relax before long flight home.

Fly home from Amsterdam Schipol - flight leaves 3pm November 7

I had a few questions about our itinerary.

  1. Is there any issue with the route we picked? What would be the best methods of transport? I assume train would be best. Any passes we should look into getting?
  2. For Germany, I am hoping I have chosen cities/locations that will give us medieval/roman sites. I am not sure if Nuremberg and Ulm (Tubingen?) are the best options, but both seem to work well for trains. Trier was on my short list but it's a bit out of the way and we think we will include it in a future trip.
  3. For Provence without a car, I would love advice about whether Avignon or Aix-en-Provence is a better base (or another town?)
  4. For Paris, suggestions on where to stay very welcome. One of us has been to Paris before but that was in February 1986 when there was no lines at the Louvre but terrorist bombings at the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysee that severely curtailed sightseeing opportunities. So we are basically Paris first timers.
  5. I have two spare nights to allocate among my current destinations - any suggestions? I'm not keen on adding a new destination.
  6. Apartment recommendations are very welcome for Berlin, Nuremberg, Avignon/Aix-en-Provence, Tours/Amboise and Paris.

Thanks for your help.

Posted by
729 posts

Just came back from Lyon. Depending on what you wish to see I think 3 days is enough. Use the extra day for Avignor or wherever else in that region. My dad has mobility issues .I just found out that you can get handicapped assistance for the trains similar to that at airport. We also borrow wheelchair at museum. His issue is he can't walk distances. In Lyon we did the hoping hop off bus ...it was a great introduction and used the Metro to get tothe funicular to the Basilica. Look for the elevators. We also used uber a lot.
Enjoy

Posted by
5640 posts

For Provence without a car, I would love advice about whether Avignon or Aix-en-Provence is a better base (or another town?)

Avignon is better for transportation but I suspect Aix would be a a nicer town to stay in.

I spent 5 nights in Avignon in October. As far as transportation, Avignon is a good hub. I took day trips to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Marseille. Arles, Nimes, and Orange are also easily reached from Avignon, but I had previously visited all three so did not travel there on this trip. I thought Avignon was fine, but I think there are many places in France with a lot more charm.

I definitely recommend downloading the SNCF app. It was very convenient and I bought a number of train tickets on the fly via the app.

Posted by
2464 posts

Tubingen is a nice city. A couple of good day trips nearby. I’d look at Bebenhausen Monastery. Easier to get to than Burg Hohenzollern which I’d recommend if you were staying longer

Posted by
3025 posts

There is nothing wrong with your itinerary. Avignon will make a better base than Aix-en-Provence to visit Arles, Orange and Nimes.

Posted by
2535 posts

Tip for Berlin: book hotel rooms early because around end date of your stay the first people / companies for Berlin Marathon are arriving. Hotel prices are already high.

Tips around limited mobility / accessibility in Berlin.

If you travel with Deutsche Bahn trains you can ask their mobility service at stations for help without extra costs (PDF flyer).

Have a safe and good journey.

Posted by
7822 posts

"Nuremberg: 5 - including day trips to Wurzburg or Bamberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Ulm (or Tubingen?): 2 - treating this as a transfer destination between Germany and France and not planning to do very much."

I would not recommend all that backtracking by using Nuremberg as a base to do those cities. However, Bamburg might work since it is not real far from Nuremberg. Consider doing Wurzburg spending the night there, then heading down the Romantic Road to Rothenburg.

Regarding Ulm or Tubingen, I suggest Augsburg as superior to either of those cities.

"Avignon or Aix-en-Provence: 7 - wanting to find a base town that allows easy day trips to Arles, Orange, Nimes
Carcassone: 2"

We have been to Carcassone, Arles, Orange and Nimes, I would strongly recommend doing Carcassone with a hotel stay. It is way to far from places like Arles for a day trip. Also, if you go to Carcassone, why not do Toulouse?

All of your proposed cities are significantly out of the way from Amsterdam. You only wish to see Delft. What a waste of travel time.
Consider skipping this part of your trip.

Fly into Berlin and out of Paris.

Posted by
979 posts

All of your proposed cities are significantly out of the way from Amsterdam. You only wish to see Delft.
What a waste of travel time.
Consider skipping this part of your trip.
Fly into Berlin and out of Paris.

Our flights are set. We got a good deal on business class flights on an open jaw ticket. Changing our return flight to Paris was going to add around AUD $1000- to our airfare. As I have spinal issues we need to fly business class so I can lie down. It takes around 26-30 hours to get to Europe from Australia so we look out for airfare deals. This means we sometimes need to buy flights before we have really planned where we're going. And buy flights that have high change fees.

We are very happy to see Delft as it has been overlooked on previous trips.

I would strongly recommend doing Carcassone with a hotel stay. It is way to far from places like Arles for a day trip. Also, if you go to Carcassone, why not do Toulouse?

I think you misread my planned itinerary. I'm looking at spending two nights in Carcassone. Toulouse had been included on an earlier itinerary plan but then my husband wanted to add Weimar in Germany so Toulouse got cut.

Posted by
6746 posts

For Germany, I am hoping I have chosen cities/locations that will give us medieval/roman sites.

If you are serious about those eras of history, I suggest altering your plans by using what calls to you from UNESCO's World Heritage sites in Germany, listed and mapped at the page below.

https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/de

The middle ages can often be experienced to some small degree by visiting SMALLER destinations that were not targeted by world wars. There is a multitude of German towns scattered around the country and filled with old half-timbered buildings.

https://queenslandandbeyond.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/GesamtkarteMitneuerRouteDetail2016.jpg

10 days ago we were in Besigheim, one of the half-timbered-house towns in the most southerly part (in red) of the above map. Such a charming old place. We took a 2.5-hr cruise down the Neckar River from Marbach to Besigheim,  had a nice hike and a walk through town, then boarded a train in Besigheim for our next destination.

I am not sure if Nuremberg and Ulm (Tubingen?) are the best options, but both seem to work well for trains.

It sounds like you might be unaware how extensive the German rail system is. I don't know what you mean by "work well" but if what you mean is "has a train station with regular service", then that applies to more than 5,400 towns and cities. You can go nearly everywhere by train, which is how I travel in Germany and is why tiny Besigheim (13,000 population) was one of my travel choices.

Posted by
4991 posts

Nuremberg: 5 - including day trips to Wurzburg or Bamberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Since Bamberg, Wurzburg, and Rothenburg are at three different compass points from Nuremberg, you might want to consider just Bamberg. Or consider an overnight in Wurzburg with a side trip to Rothenburg. Each of those two places can easily (with transit time) consume an entire day.

In Paris the Musée D'Orsay is, as you mentioned, is a "must see" just for the transformation of the building itself. The Rodin was not crowded at all while we were there and is excellent. The Pompidou Centre didn't really impress us at all, but that's just personal preference.

Nothing really wrong with your plans, just offering food for thought.

Posted by
787 posts

Hi there, Looks pretty great. I loved Delft, excellent choice, small and walkable. LMK if you want suggestions where to buy Delft pottery downtown, will try to dig it out, it's here on the Forum somewhere! Would highly recommend the Delft factory / workshop with an amazing blue and white exhibit if you're interested.

We also like wandering slowly around towns with nice architecture (medieval and Roman are favorites), - I'm wondering if you might enjoy Nimes & Arles on a day trip while you're in Lyon, it's 2.5 hours from Lyon to Nimes by train, frankly the Roman architecture looks amazing, along with the nearby Pont du Gard. Perhaps a small day tour?

I lived in Tübingen for 1.5 years as a university student, it's cute and walkable but I don't think it would be my top fav in the area, neither would Ulm, but some of the other posters had good alternatives.

Consider booking the big attractions like Musee de Orsay ahead of time, IMO always best to go first thing in the morning.

Good luck!

Posted by
1605 posts

Can't help too much with many of your locations but I think Nuremberg for 5 nights, or even longer, is just fine. I'm not a big fan of frequent location changes. Bamberg, Rothenburg, Regensburg, Wurzburg, Iphofen, Bayreuth, Coburg can all be reached fairly quickly. Munich, if you've never been.

I much preferred Tubingen over Ulm, Trier or Augsburg (been quite a few years). Architecturally attractive in the old town, nice river front, Bebenhausen and botanical gardens up the hill. Hohenzollern Castle in about 40 minutes, other timber-framed towns close by.

Popped into Strasbourg a couple of days when I stayed in Alsace. Two or three nights is good. Not far across the border is Gengenbach, a lovely little town well worth a visit.

Posted by
19 posts

I can happily recommend the Living Hotel Berlin Mitte for accommodation in that city - I stayed there about a year and a half ago in a sort of three-person suite that came with its own kitchenette. Lovely place, helpful staff, and it literally couldn't be closer to an U-Bahn station (Märkisches Museum). I don't know if this kind of place is up your street and suits your needs but I would definitely stay there again if I were back in Berlin. Hope your trip goes well!

Posted by
74 posts

What an exciting trip! I love how well-balanced your itinerary is, with nice longer stays in some places (so important on long trips).

For transiting from Nuremberg to Strasbourg, I'd suggest either just spending one night in Ulm if you want to break up the train journey (and adding a 3rd night to Strasbourg) or just committing to a travel day so you can have 4 nights in Strasbourg, since you don't have a particular interest in Ulm itself. Strasbourg is a beautiful place that seems well-matched to your interests and a longer stay there could give you more time to explore either side of the border (it's a quick bus or train ride over to some lovely places in the Black Forest).

If you still have flexibility to add spare nights, I'd say add at least one night in Delft and make sure to explore the Hague. If you love galleries, Mauritshuis is unmissable.