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7 days in October.

GF and i are going to Europe for 5 weeks in september/october...first time for both, so obviously lots of questions...

trying to figure out logistics for a 7 or 8 day stretch...leaving venice on the 8th of october (latenight train?) , we'd like to head north to the south of germany (castles) (1 day?), through switzerland (2 days?), to chamonix for a couple days of canyoning and gondola riding up mont blanc and then a few days in either provence or burgundy before heading off to paris for a week starting on the 15/16...

hoping to hostel and train,and maybe rent a car for a couple of spots (romantic road), provence... and trying to figure out what places to see and where to stay...we're mostly interested in outdoor activities rather than museums/tours/etc...we're also in our 20's and not afraid to fill our days up with things to do...


Posted by
5677 posts

I would heartily recommend Chamonix. The gondola ride up to see Mont Blanc is spectacular. Also, you can get off halfway on the way back, and hike along the "balcony" to a place where you can catch a train down. Spectacular views of mountains and glaciers etc. I was not fit when I did it, but it would have been better if I had been. There's a cafe near the train where you can stop and have a beer or other refreshment. The walk is in Rick's book. As for the rest, you're all over the map here. If you do Chamonix, then you might want to go through Annecy to Burgundy. I liked Annecy, but you'll need others to chime in on Burgundy. Another route would be to go to Alsace-Lorraine and check out Colmar and Strasbourg. if I were going now, I might look into Reims and surrounding countryside. But that's because I've read several books on WW I and so am feeling the urge for a pilgrimage.


Posted by
4132 posts

Four destinations in a week is...a lot.

Granted you are young and zippy and nimble and these are great destinations. You are also doing this for the first time.

At this point in your trip, will you have been traveling at this pace for a while? If so, you will need a break from it.

Bavaria is a haul from Venice. If you are going to take the trouble to get yourself there, doesn't it merit more than a day?

If you are choosing between Provence and Burgundy, I think it's Provence hands down. They are both great but there's more variety and more to see and do in Provence. (Unless other parts of your itinerary make Provence redundant, or you have particular reasons for being interested in Burgundy, such as its wine scene.)

However, on your itinerary Burgundy would fit much better--less of a detour from Chamonix to Paris.

One option might be Venice to Provence (night train), to Chamonix, to the Berner Oberland, to Paris. No time for Bavaria with that option though.

So, I guess I urge you to set some priorities. Given that you have four other weeks, one option is to shift more time so as to cover this ground in 10 or 12 days. Put your whole itinerary in play.

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Craig. Going to all the places that you mentioned requires a minimum of 11 days before arriving at Paris, unless you ride in trains at night. I do not recommend trying to sleep in a train at night. Several people, at this Travelers' Helpline, reported on their experiences of being in night trains in northern Italy and Switzerland and southern France : they said the train cars swayed, and they were not able to sleep.

Posted by
6245 posts

I took a night train from Vienna to Frankfurt on my last trip to Europe (2 years ago). I did not get any sleep at all. The car's movement, vibration, etc. kept me quite awake the whole time. I used ear plugs to kill the noise, we (me and my wife) had a 4-person couchette compartment (2 sets of bunk beds) to ourselves. Although the ear plugs effectively deadened most of the actual sounds, all the clickety-clack, thump-thump-thump, vibrations, etc., were quite effeciently physically transmitted through the hardware and the bunk and me, and I experienced all the "noise" somehow. I will not attempt to "save a day" by catching a night train again.

OTOH, my wife slept pretty well....but she can sleep through anything (loud noise, motion, sitting up, etc.).

I think it depends entirely on how light/heavy a sleeper you are. For me, it just doesn't work.

Posted by
70 posts

I agree with David, the Bavarian Alps region warrants more time than a day. I have typically traveled by myself and have learned that there is a balance between being on the move versus slowing things down a bit. Sounds as if you have enough time to get around while preserving a leisurely pace. My first trip was 23 days and I made the mistake of attemtping to do entirely too much, (Cairo, Berlin, Paris and the West Country of England). I was road weary halfway through. research and planning is important, however a strict itinnerary can diminish the experience. Your choice of rail and a backpack is the way to go. I've always viewed riding the rails as a vacation from driving... Enjoy!

Posted by
711 posts

Craig.. Both Burgundy and Provence are lovely in October. I would get a car somewhere in Provence and stay in Isle-sur -la- Sorgue. This little town is close to the Luberon villages and the Cotes du Rhone villages. You can also bike around there. Then I would drive up the A7 and A6 to the area around Burgundy. The Burgundy canal is beautiful then and you can walk, hike, bike, or take a canal boat ride . the medievil villages around there are lovely. Lots of wineries around both areas. We drop offf our car at Orly airport-easy with a GPS at Hertz, and take a cab to our hotel in Paris. Send me a private message if you want some neat places to stay in either area. We are photographers and will be in those areas then. We have some wonderful places to stay.