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Need help planning itinerary for Alps and Paris trip with my almost 11 year old daughter.

Hi everyone,

Next summer we are having the trip of a lifetime - my husband and two kids plus my parents will be travelling to Italy for 10 days then doing an 11 day Mediterranean cruise. After, most of us are returning to the states but my daughter and I will have two weeks to explore between Rome and Paris (we will be flying out of Paris) on our own. Since we will have seen most of Italy already, i'd like to take her to Switzerland or Austria - even Southern Germany is okay, then eventually to Paris. I'm really open with where we go.

Here is the impo info:

We'll have 14+ days.
I do NOT want to rent a car (prefer a train - esp. scenic trains)
want village life but am open to cities too.
interested in any ideas to really immerse in local culture
interested in ways to meet other families/children

I think that's it. At the end I'd like to spend 4-5 in Paris with her.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Karen

Posted by
21 posts

She's 10 - she'll be turning 11 right after our trip. She is a pretty seasoned traveler and does well.

Posted by
6866 posts

Karen:

You didn't say where your cruise would be ending.

The Austrian Alps, Munich and Bavaria would be great places to visit with a 10 year old. And throw in Salzburg for the Sound of Music experience. The distances between cities are not very far, and train travel is great in every direction. The villages south of Munich and around Innsbruck are very quaint, and great B&B accommodations are everywhere.

Unfortunately, air travel from that region to Paris is without European budget air carriers. Trains are the preferred budget way to get to Paris.

Posted by
12040 posts

Where does your cruise end? That could influence what would be the most convenient Alpine region to transit through. Although with two weeks, you have plenty of time, so a significant detour off of your axis of travel is reasonable.

"interested in ways to meet other families/children"

Look into Flumserberg in St. Gallen canton of Switzerland. It isn't so much one distinct village as a series of hamlets spread across the side of a mountain. But it's one of the most family-friendly Alpine resorts I've seen. To Zürich residents, it functions like a weekend getaway destination. If you ride the lift to the top of the mountains, you can enjoy several kilometers of relatively flat to mildly graded hiking. I've even seen families pushing strollers up there. Although much easier to access by car, bus service makes the rounds from the rail station in the valley to the various hamlets on the mountain.

"interested in any ideas to really immerse in local culture"

I never know exactly what people expect when they write stuff like this. But if you want to actually share the walking trail with the local livestock (cows, sheep, goats and horses), there's plenty of them walking around in the pastures. Everytime I've visited, I've also encountered a friendly group of Bernese Mountain Dogs. There's a good Swiss photo opportunity for your daughter!

Posted by
3336 posts

Immersing in local culture is best done through weekly markets in my opinion! Time your trip so that you can be in a town or two on the weekly market day and you'll really get a feel for a place. If you can't find a weekly market just go to a grocery store and check it out. Culture in Europe is so wrapped up in food and heading to a store can really be eye opening! If you stay in one place for a few days try to frequent the same small eating establishment - if you're lucky the owner will recognize you and talk to you. I've found that if I do that then I'll at least get to talk to one or two people who actually live there. There are plenty of tucked away neighborhoods in Paris where you can stay and find a nice little cafe to frequent!

As for meeting other families and children...that can be difficult in Europe. Europeans aren't as socially open as Americans, at least not in the same sense. Here you can just take your kids to a playground and the child and the parent will have 10 new friends in 30 minutes flat! Europeans tend to stick to their families. It is not common practice to be invited into someone's home even if you are friends with them. That's why cafes are full! This varies from country to country but generally it just isn't done, at least not like it is here. In Switzerland I heard a saying, "The first time you see the inside of your friend's house is when you carry out his coffin.". A bit extreme but I thought it was reflective of what I have found to be true in many places.

Posted by
8271 posts

When my son was 11 yo we went to the playground in the Luxembourg Gardens almost every day he loved it there so much (we were in Paris for 2 mos that trip). The bonus was, each day, he almost instantly made friends with other kids that were either French or from other countries, and it was wonderful. I loved going there too, they have really comfortable chairs, and I enjoyed watching everything around me, reading, writing in my journal, writing postcards, or just relaxing. At this playground, they also have restrooms, a cafe (either sit down or order food from a counter and take it with you), a crepe stand, a carousel, marionette shows and nearby, donkey rides. I highly recommend it. Just playing with kids from other countries will be fun and educational for your daughter. It never mattered if they didn't speak English (some did), playing is universal.

Posted by
813 posts

If your cruise comes back in to Rome, then I suggest taking a quick flight to Zurich or Geneva. It's just a long train ride that may be beautiful as some say, or it can just be a really long day sitting in a cramped seat that is better spent just getting there. Is your daughter a girl scout? If so (if not, but you may still be interested), the Girl Scout World Our Chalet is located in Adelboden, CH. It's a super cute village location and from there you can hop on the train to other great locations like Geneva or Lucerne. From there you can fly or train to Paris conveniently. From Geneva it's quick to get to Chamonix or any of the other super cute mountain villages in that area for gondola rides to the top of the earth it seems.