My Husband and I are starting to plan a 3 week trip to Germany, France, and Spain; 1 week in each country. I have been to Paris, but my Husband has not. We love small, non-touristy towns, but will need to see the major sites as well. We would love any itenerary suggestions or tips. Thanks!
To avoid spending too much time on trains or aircraft, I'd suggest no more than five or six destinations for the whole trip. Don't think that you can do Berlin, Bavaria, the Mosel, Provence, Paris, Barcelona, Seville, etc all in three weeks.
Alsace. Take the high speed train from Paris to Strasbourg. Rent a car and spend a week visiting the small towns in France and Germany.
Carolyn, We suggest using Rick's books to construct a must/nice to list and then use rail and low cost flights (Kayak) to see what is cheapest in $$$ and time. A big help is an open jaw ticket from USA, fly into Barcelona and out of Munich/Amsterdam. Flying to Paris from Madrid for example will save a 1/2 day for sight seeing. We do base cities and day trips via train (Versailles from Paris & Salzburg from Munich). Our rec based on 5 trips is: 6 days - Barcelona/Madrid, 5 days - Paris (Versailles), 6 days - Munich (Salzburg & Neuschwanstein Castle on nice days), and 4 days - Amsterdam (Go via Rothenburg (1 night) by train & Rhine, a 90 minute KD Rhine day cruise counts as a part of a train day for Eurail). We suggest doing Berlin separately as it is very far. See Rick's books for tips on Paris, Munich, etc.; they were invaluable. His tip to use Radius Tours of Munich for Dachau visit made our most moving day. Tip for KD Rhine Cruise as part of Frankfurt to Amsterdam train trip gave us our best day ever in Europe. Candle light tour of Amsterdam's canals by boat was also great. We do NOT drive as it's too expensive for us and no place to park. We agree driving to small towns is great but we think that it's for trips 5-9 when you have a month.
I have used Ricks books for 20 years to plan my annual Europe trips! In the front of each book, Rick tells you the best things to see in the amount of time you have for each country. He also rates each attraction to help you decide what to see each day in a town. I don't work for Rick but I sure have recommended his books a lot! I always joke that Rick Steves goes with me on every trip! Use colored tabs in the book to mark pages you want to refer to and tear out pages to put in your pocket instead of carrying the whole book while you are walking around a city. Hope you have a memorable trip!