A while back I posted my sample itinerary for this trip, but polished it up from what I had there. As of today, the first three-week leg of the journey is complete and we covered a lot of ground:
Rome, 3 nights.
Coliseum/Forum, Vatican City/Sistine Chapel, Castel Sant’Angelo, plus a general walk-about the city
Hotel Suites Farnese Design. A++
Florence, 2 nights
Duomo, Pont Vecchio, Academia della Galleria, strolling, shopping, eating.
Hotel Apollo Guest House. A
Cinque Terre, 2 nights in Volastra (near Manarola)
One full day walking four of the five towns
Hotel Il Saraceno B+
Alassio, 1 night
Day to unwind, highlight was an evening walk along the public pier looking at the twinkling lights of the Riviera
Hotel Dei Fiori. A
Nice, 3 nights
Evening on the town with friends who live in Nice. Day trip to Monaco with another friend who lives in Nice, and who drove us through some little towns and the countryside for a pleasant afternoon.
Hotel Ellington A-
Lyon 2 nights
Afternoon in a lavarie doing laundry, Musee des arts décoratifs. River boat cruise on the Saone and visit to the basilica.
Hotel Alexandre C
Paris 3 nights
Evening with friends who live in Paris wandering through Jardin du Plantes. 2nd day, a long walk through the Latin Quarter, bookstores, Curie Museum (while husband went to La Défense) followed by trip to Montmartre and sunset at Sacre-Coeur. Last day, Musee d’Orsay then strolled over to the Louvre. Popped out of the metro at Etoile to say “hello” to the Arc de Triomphe, waved at the Eiffel Tower from M-6.
Hotel Coypel B-
Brittany, 4 nights
Stayed with friends near Rennes. Did a weekend tour winding through tiny villages in Finistere visiting lighthouses (la route des phares) and spent a night in an old stone cottage right on the edge of the sea. 1/2 day at Mont St Michel.
Paris, 1 night
Husband flies home. I’m in Paris one more night then onto a few weeks solo and visiting more friends.
Air BnB in the Indian Quarter near Gare du Nord. A
My analysis: I based the itinerary on my husband’s “Must See” list and that stretched from Rome to Brittany and had to include the Cinque Terre and Nice. That accounts for the 2-3 night stays which got pretty tiring at times. (We did the entire trip by train, with some car tours at local destinations). I reminded him that in order to cover all the places he wanted to see we had to keep moving on! We skipped Pisa, which was on the original list, and if I had it to do over we’d maybe skip Lyon as well, or pick another smaller city to visit on the way to Paris.
We agreed that Brittany was the highlight of our trip. We were finally off the beaten path, on a beautiful, wild coastline dotted with charming little villages that we’d have never found on our own. The best part was that we got to experience a few days living and vacationing like the locals (a picnic on the rocks while waves crashed below, then later picking up sea glass along the beach. AND NO TOURISTS)
We just skimmed through Paris since we’ve spent plenty of time here before. We visited friends, and a couple of favorite sites, but didn’t feel pressured to do the town. RS talks about “finding the back door,” and I agree it makes all the difference in how you experience Europe. Italy was amazing, of course, but we felt like tourists (which we were) while in France we feel like guests because we’re visiting friends.
Next leg on to London, Lille, Bruges, and other points to determined...