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22 days in France

Hi Everyone, I was just wondering if anyone has done tried Rick's 22 days in France itinerary. If so, does anyone have a rough idea of how much they spent? I'm trying to do something like this over the summer break, but trying to do it the cheaper way, if that's possible. Thank you everyone!!

Posted by
10344 posts

Trip cost questions are difficult to answer because each traveler's budget and travel preferences differ--but here's a prior discussion on this site that hopefully will help you, it generally discusses the subject of "how feasible is it for an independent traveler(s) to attempt to replicate the itinerary, # of days, destinations covered, etc that Rick's group tours do": here's a prior discussion of the average cost of traveling in Europe: Europe Trip Budget

Posted by
4132 posts

Years ago we did a portion of Rick's "22 Days in France" itinerary. Great destinations and unbeatable information, but for us an impossible pace. We did Normandy at about 3/4 speed and were still exhausted.

That makes sense, since Rick's itineraries are based on those of his tours, in which the main events are reserved in advance and travelers are freed of many logistical burdens.

But based on that I'd say (1) you need 30 days to do Rick's 22 days and (2) your expenses will be accordingly greater from extra hotel nights and meals.

One way to a cheaper itinerary is probably one with fewer changes of venue and thus less transit costs.

Posted by
2788 posts

My wife and I go to Europe every summer for a month and during that month have taken 7 RS tours in the last 7 years. We spend time on our own either before, or after, or both. We have little trouble keeping up with the RS tour guides, but have found that we need about 50% more time to follow his suggestions in his guide books when traveling on our own. Plan accordingly Happy Travels.

Posted by
32245 posts


I assume you're referring to the sample Itineraries Rick has in the "Planning" section, one for travel by car and the other by train/bus?

You might be able to do the trip quite inexpensively by choosing more inexpensive lodgings or whatever, but I suspect it would require an enormous amount of planning. The only way you'd be assured of getting the lodgings you wanted in your price range would be to pre-book all of them. You would also have to plan the logistics of getting to the various locations very carefully.

One other option you might consider is the RS 15-day Paris & the south of France tour. They're are a bit pricey but I've found the tours to be a very efficient way to cover a lot of distance in a limited time frame and also provide an incredible travel experience as the Guides impart so much knowledge about the history of the region, etc. (it's almost "information overload"!). No need to book any separate walking tours with local Guides as that's all covered (which would be an additional expense for those travelling on their own).

If you want to spend a bit longer on the trip (considering the long flights) you could either arrive in Paris a few days before the tour starts and have a look on your own and/or travel somewhere else for a few days after the tour ends. The RS France tour ends in Nice, so a quick trip into northern Italy (the Cinque Terre, Florence, Lago di Como?) would certainly be a possibility. Open jaw flights would be a good idea for that type of arrangement.

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by
9 posts

THank you everyone for your input! You are helping me to achieve my goal of visiting France!! If anyone has any other information you can think of, I'd be more than happy to hear it. My goal from 2009 is to try and visit a new country every year. It doesn't have to be filled with 5 star hotels or anything like that, in fact, I'd rather it not be like that at all. I'm just trying to see as much as I can and to meet as many people as possible. I thank you all for your help and guidance. I truly appreciate it:)

Posted by
1449 posts

Abby, I'd echo what Charlie has said about the pace. I've traveled independently several times and once took a RS tour, and my estimate is also that it takes about 50% more time to approximate what the tour does. The guides have been there many times so they know how to quickly get around the city. The bus driver drops you right at the door of the hotel and you don't have to take time with parking or walking from the train station. They have reservations at the museums, and guides ready to meet you (this is the part that's difficult to duplicate; if you hire guides on your own its very expensive, if you take group tours you go when its convenient for the tour company, not your schedule). So realistically figure it'll take you 30 days to duplicate.

If you want to do it cheaply, you'll need to do a lot of planning up front. Research places to stay, esp. hostels. Look into public transportation; on some legs the bus will be cheaper, on other the train. Plan out each day in detail so you know what order you'll visit sites to avoid backtracking. Make lunch the big meal of the day.

And since you've asked for general advice, if you don't speak french now would be an excellent time to learn a bit of it. Being able to speak just a bit of the language is going to make things a lot smoother (more fun, too!). Since you're talking about next summer, you have time to go thru a program like Pimsleur. The full series is 90 30-minute lessons; most people find they need to do each lesson twice for it to really stick. You can borrown the series from many libraries. I've gone thru the Italian series and was able to rent rooms, ask prices, get directions, etc. all in Italian.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you everyone for all of your input!! Ok, so I guess I'm just travel crazy, because now I'm thinking of Greece and Turkey. Here is my scenario, I'll be graduating from college this May and I'm being given a bit of money to travel to where ever I wish. So, I would really like to see as much as I can. I just have the urge to travel and meet as many people and see as many things as I can. So, if anyone has a list of top five places they would suggest, I would love to hear it. Thank you again for all of your help!!

Posted by
104 posts

Hi Abby,

Ok, so to reply to your latest question, I would suggest that you do some major research into the cities/towns/countries that interest you the most. I traveled for the first time this summer, and I had just graduated university, so I was in your situation. I was gone for 35 days, and originally I had planned on seeing twice as many places as I ended up seeing. I thought I could rush through cities and I wanted to see as much as possible, but then I realized that there is only so much that you can see in a month. So my advice would be to slow down, because I found that the longer I stayed in a city, the more I fell in love with it.

Is this your first time going to Europe? If it is, then I wouldn't suggest Greece and Turkey as your destinations. In Rick Steves' Europe through the Back Door, Rick talks about moving from West to East when you travel, as the language barrier and cultural divide become greater the further east you go. So, I would suggest sticking to countries like the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc. I stayed in London, Paris, Marseilles, the Cinque Terre, Rome, Naples, Florence, and Venice, and it was a perfect first introduction to Europe and to traveling. My top five places would be London, Paris, Cinque Terre, Rome, and Florence. To save money, check out - hostels are great for saving money, especially in big cities.

Let me know if you have any questions, and have fun!

Posted by
9 posts

HI Caitlin,
Thank you so much for your advice. I was originally planning on traveling all over France for a month or so, but after looking at pictures of all the other places I could visit, I kind of want to travel all around if I could. I guess I just want to see as many places as I can since I'm being given this trip as a gift, but I'm just not sure where to begin.
It's not my first time to Europe, this would be my second, but my first trip was just to Scotland so I never really hit France, or Italy or Spain. Perhaps you are right about moving from west to east. I just had seen a movie that took place partially in Greece, and it was absolutely beautiful! That's the kind of stuff I want to see. Stuff that just takes your breath away. I wouldn't mind going to cities, especially to see things like the Eiffel Tower or the other touristy things, but I'd also like to spend more time in the country or the more scenic areas.
I just wish I knew where to begin. I feel like it would almost be easier to just go on a tour and then I wouldn't have to think about planning stuff. But then again, I really want to do that. And I was totally excited to look for hostels and everything like that. Again, if you have any suggestions, I would be more than willing to hear them. Thank you so much!!

Posted by
25 posts

My husband bought Rick Steves "22 days in France" book in 1990 to prepare for our trip to France. It included the 3 places I wanted to go (Paris, Mont St Micheal and Carcassone). It is still a very treasured book and now I have his recent ones.

We have done all of the 22days except the Alps across three different trips.

All of the places he suggests are great and we've really enjoyed. Of course the more time you can spend in a place the better. Our last trip with 3 daughters was 1 week Paris, 1 week Dordogne, 2 weeks Provence, italy then another week in Paris.
You definately should have at least two nights in most places. Overnight only at Mont st Micheal and Carcassone is fine - but you must overnight even if its expensive now to enjoy these wonderful places when they are not full of tourists.

The times that we actually did his "day' were busy and tiring, we wouldn't have like to follow it every day of our holiday.

Have fun, email/reply if I can be of any more help.

Posted by
104 posts

Hi again!

Harry mentioned taking a Contiki tour, but I would disagree. I have friends who did this, and you do see a lot - they have 22-day tours that hit eight or more countries - but you move so fast, and the places you stay are usually cities, and it is generally one never-ending party. Not that this is a bad thing, and I am sure that it is a lot of fun, but if you want to see places that take your breath away, then I would plan the trip yourself - plus, like you said, planning is a lot of fun!

So, if you want to see breath-taking places, I would definitely recommend the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, both in Italy. They are absolutely stunning! Also, the south of France is really beautiful - Provence and the Riviera. I agree with you on Greece, it looks gorgeous, especially Santorini - I wish I had time to see it this summer, but hey, I know I will be back!

In 22 days or so you can see quite a bit, especially if you plan well, so I would suggest getting a bunch of travel guides and start planning!

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you Caitlin for all of your advice:) I really appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to help with my trip. Thank you so much again!!

Posted by
14 posts


I have never been on one of Rick's tours, but I have bought many of his tour books, supplies, and most importanly adopted the philosopy of traveling not only to see the world, meet new people etc, but to be a traveler and not a tourist in the true sense of the word. I don't mean to "preach", only to make a few suggestions.

My goal is to empower you. You CAN do the homework, make your own plans, reservations, pick your own points of interest and create a personalized trip that will reward you. You will grow though each step and it will make you a more accomplished traveler. First suggestion. Rent an apartment for a week at a time in a central location that will allow you to take day trips. This simple choice allows you to shop at markets, eat regionally, get to know the people, spend less and feel like a local. The simple research you will do to learn about the area will get you so excited you will be traveling in your thoughts before you get on a plane. There are great B&B's, with host that will help you find the best their area has to offer, be a guest in a religiou house, in Italy there are Agriturismos, hotels are the last option, they are impersonal and expensive. Spend you $$ on museum fees, a great meal, a great bottle of wine watching the sunset when everyone else has gone home. Investigate. There are so many options that are free if you take the time to look. Start on the internet. It's like a candy store, one epipahney after another. Read travel forums like Rick's for insight of the best places to go, use www.virtualtourist,, www.tripadvisor. You'll get hooked and have a ball. Learn just a bit of the language if you don't already speak it. We started out with a two week itinerary in Italy, the next two trips were 4 weeks, this year 6 weeks and I did eveything on my own. I say that sheepishly, because I could not have done any of it without the help of fellow travelers. Abbey, we are 64 and 68 years young, You can too!