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Euro Trip (France, Italy & Croatia) in 17 days

Trip details:

We are 2 Couple planning for a 17 days trip to Europe from June 6th to June 22th 2015. We want to cover France, Croatia and Italy.

Shraddha, my wife, and I will be traveling from Bangalore and port of entry is Paris(CDG). Sriram and Deepu are travelling from SFO and reaching CDG.
Our interest include nature/landscapes, history/museums, wine/gastronomy. Sriram and I love driving and are planning to hire / rent a car.

On the food preference, we are all vegetarians :)

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Indicative Itinerary:
05th - (Part of the groups) Reach(es) Paris

06th to 10th  - The part of the group above visit(s) Rome / Italy.

10th - The second half of the group reach(e) Paris and rendezvous with the first half of the group in Paris

11th - Fly to Nice and explore Nice

12th - Head to Verdon Gorge

13th - Explore nearby villages, lavendar fields, 12th century tower etc. Drive back to Marseiiles

14th - See a bit of Marseilles in the morning. Fly to Zadar. 

15th - Drive/Take a bus to Dubrovnik (4-6 hrs). See a bit of Dubrovnik that evening.

16th - Explore Dubrovnik

17th - Drive to Split and look around Split that evening.

18th - Hvar island

19th - Return to Split, see the palace in Split and head to Plitvice (stay over)

20th - Plitvice that morning and head to Zadar (2 hrs away). Fly to Paris Orly.

21st & 22nd  - See Paris

23rd - Fly out

 

 

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Day trip from Rome:

Since you have 4 days in Rome (and two of them are half-days), I would suggest doing a day trip rather than spending a night somewhere else. Here are a few options:


Ostia Antica - this used to be ancient Rome's port but is now 3 kilometers from the sea due to silting. There are well-preserved ancient buildings and the place is less than hour from Rome by train.


Assisi - this town is known for St. Francis Basilica, Italy's patron saint. The building has beautiful frescoes. In the town you can also visit the Piazza del Commune, the main square, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva church with Roman columns and Saint Claire's Basilica with great views of the countryside. Assisi is located into the hills of Umbria and is a couple of hours from Rome so it would be a good idea to start early if you want to go there.


Pompeii - this ancient town is very well-preserved since it was buried under the ashes of Mount Vesuvius when it erupted. You will have to take a fast train to Naples and then the Circumvesuviana train to reach Pompeii. It might be a good idea to book a tour in Rome to go there since the whole visit will be organised to fit into a day. Photo of Pompeii below


 


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Rome (2-3 days):

Day 1 - I suggest starting with the Colosseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill. They are all next to each other. You should be done by mid-day if you start at around 8 to 8:30 am. In the same area you could visit the Bocca della Verita and the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church if it's open (and if you're interested) or else, do this first and then go to the Colosseum. Next door is the huge Circo Massimo which is a big stadium.


In the afternoon you could go the Aventine hill to get a view of St. Peter's dome through the keyhole and rest in the leafy orange tree park on the same road and enjoy a view of Rome from here. Later on you could visit the Pantheon (check closing time) and have a gelato here and go to the Trevi fountain (see photo below). Spend the evening walking around this area visiting Piazza Navona to get a feel of Rome and its architecture. Have dinner in the area too, if you like.



 


Day 2 - Start early 7 or 7:30am - Queue up and climb St. Peter's cupola to get a view of the Vatican and Rome. Then visit the basilica and the Vatican museums (another queue). I like the map museum but there are others to choose from depending on your interests. You could have lunch at the museum cafeteria and hang around longer, if you like.


In the afternoon, if it's too hot to walk around, rest in the Villa Borghese park across the Tiber river. Then visit the Spanish Steps and head back to the river past Palazzo Ruspoli and Chiesa (church) di San Rocco all'Augusteo across the bridge to see Castel Sant'Angelo. After this, I would recommend the Gianicolo Hill while there's still light for a nice view of Rome and finally, spend the evening in the Trastevere quarter where you could dine and a drink or two.


If you spend a third day in Rome, start early to visit some churches like San Luigi dei Francese and also Santa Maria Maggiore. In the Piazza dei Popolo there is the Santa Maria del Popolo church too. You should also see the Campidoglio square desgined by Michelangelo and the Piazza Venezia with an imposing palace. 


You could do more or less depending on when you reach. Even though the area around the Termini station isn't the best, you could stay there to have easy access to the train while getting in and out (and it's not far from the Colosseum) but there are plenty of choices in the city centre too.


Food - Good food is not hard to come by in Italy and even for vegetarians there are plenty of pizza and pasta options. As far as places to eat are concerned, it really depends on where you are and when. I suggest choosing a place not far from where you are where you see locals and few tourists. In any case, for pizzas you could try La Pratolina, Via degli Scipioni near the Vatican although it might be very busy. Pizzeria Remo is not very far from the Circo Massimo - Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice. There are many sandwich shops - the bread is good and there's a lot of variety and many types of cheese and other fillings to choose from. I like the one on Via Marsala when you exit the Termini train station. As soon as you exit, go right: it is a few metres away, across the street. Sorry, I don't remember the name and can't find it online! Pizzas are sold by slices in many places and panini is a good option too. If you like wine (I usually only drink red so that's what I go by) just order a quarter of the house wine without going for the more expensive bottle, it's usually just as good. Da Enzo is supposed to be a good place near Tiber Island, Trastevere. Via dei Vascellari. La Carbonara dal 1906, Via Panisperna near Piazza Venezia is recommended for home made pastas. It has mixed reviews but is a traditional place. Osteria Bonelli in Viale dell'Acquedotto Alessandrino is an unpretentious very local joint. Don't be too tied down by a list of places. Try to spot a non-touristy place with many locals in it. I'm pretty sure you'll be able to tell the difference quite quickly. Then there are ubiquitous gelato places if you like ice cream. It's nothing like anything we get here in India! Look for the ones that say 'artigianale' (means, artisan or crafted).

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Paris - 2 days:

Day 1
10.30 AM: Rue Moffetard
12.00 PM: Catacombs of Paris, 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy
01.30 PM: Fontaine Saint Michel, Boulevard Saint Michel and the Boulevard Saint Germain, try some authentic organic Lebanese fast food at Chez le Libanais


03.00 PM: Ile Saint Louis and have a delicious ice cream at Berthillon


03.30 PM: Visit the Notre-Dame cathedral on the Ile de la Cité between the two banks of the Seine. On the same island is Sainte Chapelle – a beautiful structure with several stained glass windows


05.00 PM: Pont Neuf – one of the city’s famous bridges. Here take a cruise on the Seine (photo below, at the day1 suggestions)


06.30 pm: Take the metro up to Bir Hakeim


07.30 pm: The Eiffel tower is best viewed by crossing the Seine and climbing the stairs at Trocadéro


08.30 pm: Eiffel tower


09.30 pm: stroll through the Champ de Mars



Day 2
10:30 AM: Montmarte Hill, views of Sacré Coeur basilica.
11.30 AM: Place du Tertre. This square is filled with artists painting portraits, scenes ofParis in general andMontmartre in particular.
Lunch
01.00 PM: Marais
02.00 PM: Centre Pompidou, the square in front of this bizarre structure is vibrant and alive with street artists, sometimes musicians and people sipping coffees, eating ice creams or just idly sitting around.
03.00 PM: Les Halles - an underground shopping centre 
04.00 PM: shop on the Rue de Rivoli
05.00 PM: Jardin des Tuileries – the garden in front of the  Louvre
06.00 PM: Place de la Concorde - Keep walking on Champs Elysees?
07.00 PM: Arc de Triomphe - climb up at sunset, the view of La Défense with the sun descending behind it is impressive


This again is indicative. You could skip things like the boat trip if you want to spend more time visiting other sites. I have not included a visit to the Louvre because it is HUGE and I strongly recommend spending your 2 days getting a feel of the city whilst visiting some of the smaller museums or more accessible sites. It takes time to get into the Louvre and then you are in a big maze that could take hours to visit. I have mentioned "Day one" and "Day two" but again, this is purely for the sake of splitting up different visits; you could choose the things that interest you and visit them in any order. 


Day one - A good way to start a visit to Paris is at its historic centre – the islands. Visit the Notre-Dame cathedral on the Ile de la Cité between the two banks of the Seine. After admiring this beautiful gothic 12th century church from the outside, queue up and enter the building free of charge and this time admire the impressive rose windows made of stained glass. You could also climb the cathedral (though, you have to pay a fee for this) and get a stunning view of all of Paris. On the same island is Sainte Chapelle – a beautiful structure with several stained glass windows.


After visiting these monuments, go to the neighbouring island of Ile Saint Louis and have a delicious ice cream at Berthillon. The flavours are rare and exquisite but be ready to wait in another queue. Then walk to the Pont Neuf – one of the city’s famous bridges, and head down to the Seine by the stairs next to the equestrian statue of Henri IV. Here take a cruise on the Seine to get familiar with the city on one of its main lifelines. Buy tickets online to get a discounted rate:http://www.vedettesdupontneuf.com/. On the cruise you get to see the Eiffel tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Notre Dame itself and several other places that you could visit later.


After the cruise, go to the Musée d’Orsay which is worth a visit since it isn't too big and has a great collection of art. Then go to the left bank in the 5th arrondissement and wander around the Latin Quarter. The two main roads here are the Boulevard Saint Michel and the Boulevard Saint Germain. This was an area frequented by intellectuals and even today you will find lots of book shops here. You will also see the Fontaine Saint Michel where a lot of youngster gather and watch street artists and their histrionics. There are many restaurants offering every type of cuisine conceivable in the Saint Michel area but most of them are tourist traps and are best avoided. However, you could try some authentic organic Lebanese fast food at Chez le Libanais at 35, Rue Saint André.


Facing the Seine, turn left and walk along the river until you reach the Eiffel tower. If you are tired, take the metro up to Bir Hakeim. The Bir Hakeim Bridge has been immortalised in films like Inception. The Eiffel tower is best viewed by crossing the Seine and climbing the stairs at Trocadéro. In the evening it is lit up and it sparkles every hour for a few minutes. You could climb the tower on foot midway or take a lift all the way up for a view of the city. At night, from up here, you could see the City of Lights in all its luminous splendour. End your day with a stroll through the Champ de Mars, the park around the tower. You could speed it up by using the metro. There are stations every 100 to 200 metres.


Day two - Start your day in the Marais in the 3rd and 4th districts (metro Saint Paul or Hôtel de Ville on line 1). This lively area is one of the oldest parts of the city and has an eclectic mix of Jewish and homosexual residents. It is teeming with restaurants and delis and a stroll through the area is a must do in Paris. The Centre Pompidou or Beaubourg (metro Rambuteau on line 11) is a modern art museum in this part of Paris. The square in front of this bizarre structure is vibrant and alive with street artists, sometimes musicians and people sipping coffees, eating ice creams or just idly sitting around. Named after former president Georges Pompidou, this museum is built inside out with all its colourful pipes on the outside. Inside there are interesting modern installations, some temporary exhibitions and an exhilarating slide you can use to descend from one floor to another! The museum has a restaurant with a view in keeping with the style of the rest of the building. It also has a very impressive library. If you decide you want to spend more time outdoors, I recommend just walking around this museum and then visiting les Halles – an underground shopping centre – considered to be a technological marvel for it was not expected to stay up. Walking past the Église Saint Eustache – a church – you have the option of visiting the sumptuous Opéra Garnier. Otherwise, you could book an actual performance (schedule and reservations available on http://www.operadeparis.fr/en/L_Opera/Palais_Garnier/PalaisGarnier.php) and experience a concert in this beautiful monument in the evening. If you are interested in some shopping, the enormous Galeries Lafayette shopping centre is just around the corner.


In the afternoon, you can relax in the Jardin des Tuileries – the garden in front of the  Louvre museum and later on you can shop on the Rue de Rivoli, a long street that runs along the garden and the Louvre. Walking away from the Louvre and through the Tuileries garden, you will arrive at the impressive Place de la Concorde with a tall Egyptian obelisk and a beautiful fountain. On your right is Le Crillon, one of Paris’ most luxurious hotels and on the left is the Assemblée Nationale or the National Assembly. This was the square where the king and queen of France were guillotined after the French Revolution. Cross the Place de la Concorde to arrive on the Champs-Élysées. Walking on this famous avenue, you will see the Grand Palais with its glass and metal roof on your left. Continuing further, you will see flagship shops of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton. There is also the Lido with its cabaret performances and at the end of this street you will arrive at Place de l’Étoile (meaning star) where 12 roads converge to meet at the Arc de Triomphe – like a star. You can pay and enter the building where there are exhibitions explaining the history of the place and on the roof you will be treated to views of the Eiffel tower, the Champs-Élysées and the business district of La Défense with its modern arch called the Grande Arche. If you climb up at sunset, the view of La Défense with the sun descending behind it is impressive. End your evening with a cabaret performance at the Lido on 116 bis Champs-Élysées, if your budget allows it. Reservations are possible on their website: http://www.lido.fr/us/. You cannot go in wearing shorts and they have a casual yet elegant dress code.


Another must do is the charming and village-like Montmartre (photo below) in the 18th arrondissement (metro Anvers on line 2). This hill can be climbed on foot or by using the funicular and at its summit you will find the bright white Sacré Coeur basilica. It seems this church is constructed with a stone that gets bleached in the rain keeping it as white as ever. There is another view of Paris from up here but you cannot see the Eiffel tower. Montmartre is the only wine producing part of Paris and the grapes grown on this hill produce around 700 to 1000 bottles a year, the proceeds of which are used for social work in the area. There are some beautiful houses on this hill and you will be surprised by its rather rural feel. Not far from the Sacré Coeur is the Place du Tertre. This square is filled with artists painting portraits, scenes of Paris in general and Montmartre in particular. Around the artists are numerous cafés and restaurants but most of them are tourist traps. If the ambiance appeals to you, pick a restaurant for dinner, but the slopes of this hill offer some less touristy bars and restaurants. You could spend a lot of time admiring the live art and exploring the quieter streets. If you are fan of French cinema and have watched the Oscar-winning film Amélie be sure to stop for a coffee at the Café les Deux Moulins on Rue Lepic where the film’s protagonist worked as a waitress.


In the evening, the foot of the hill comes to life and the star of this area called Pigalle is the Moulin Rouge, Paris’ most famous cabaret. Pigalle is the red light district of Paris. End your evening at the Moulin Rouge if you didn’t already go to the Lido or just relax in a restaurant before retiring for the night.



Paris has a lot of interesting place so if you don't want to see some of the museums or places mentioned above, you could visit the Jardin (garden) du Luxembourg and the Pantheon where you will find the tombs of many important French personalities. From here you could go to Rue Mouffetard, a lively street, full of cafés and restaurants. Nearby is Grande Mosquée, the big mosque with a nice café serving mint tea and Arab sweets. Another possibility is an evening along the many bars and cafés around the city's second water body, the charming Canal Saint Martin. 


You obviously don’t have to do things exactly the way I have written them. It all depends on your interests. As far as food is concerned, the French are rather carnivorous but you get very good salads and baguette sandwiches or paninis with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. French pastry is also delicious and there are bakeries and pastry shops (look for signs saying boulangerie and pâtisserie) everywhere!


1. The Catacombs are passages filled with skeletons so if that interests you, then why not? I wouldn't consider it as a must do in the city but that's a personal choice! You could also think about Le Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, a cemetery with tombs of famous people like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, etc.


2. In a two-day visit to Paris I would recommend getting a feel of the city rather and visiting all its monuments rather than going to museums. The Louvre is considered to be a must do museum but doing it justice requires a day! If you really want to visit a museum or feel like doing something indoors then think about the Musee d'Orsay, an old railway station converted into a museum which is easy to visit and has a good view from its terrace. This of course is only if the weather is bad or you feel like visiting the interiors of a building, considering you are not big art enthusiasts. 


3. Chez le Libanais is a small takeaway like place but also has some seats. For vegetarian food, you could look for a creperie like Chez Imogenes on 25 rue JP Timbaud (metro Oberkampf) or other creperies that might have some vegetarian options. Otherwise, French food is usually non-vegetarian! This link has some interesting options:


http://www.timeout.com/paris/en/food-and-drink/vegetarian-restaurants-in-paris


4. The street artists don't really have timings and are not permanently there and keep changing but Centre Pompidou and Saint Michel are areas where many of them are around. They are not always interesting but sometimes you might stumble upon good musicians or martial artists. I once saw a capoiera performance in Saint Michel but it was just a one-time thing because I didn't see them again. I would say, look out for them if you're in these areas but don't count on anything and don't go out of your way to find these areas just for street performers.


5. There are classes and this one has good reviews on Tripadvisor:


http://www.tripadvisor.in/Attraction_Review-g187147-d1600380-Reviews-La_Cuisine_Paris_Cooking_Classes-Paris_Ile_de_France.html


6. The metro connects every part of Paris so it's a good way to get around apart from walking. You could also use cycles provided by the city which you can unlock using your credit card. They are called Velib and there are parking spots all over the city. Here's an idea of prices so that you can decide whether you need a pass: single ticket - 1.80 euros; 10 tickets - close to 15 euros; a two-day pass - 18.15 euros. You might want to buy a "carnet" of 10 tickets and use it up and get another set of 10 when you run out of the first set. It might be more economical than getting 4 passes. 


I'm suggesting some markets based on what they are known for in order to help make your choice:


Le Marché des Enfants Rouges


39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris


Métro: Filles du calvaire, open on Sunday from 8:30 am to 2 pm 


It is the oldest market in Paris (1615) and has products from all parts of France and from other countries as well (Moroccan, Chinese, Japanese, Caribbean, Lebanese)


Le Marché d’Aligre


3 Place d’Aligre, 75012 Paris


Métro Ledru-Rollin, open everyday EXCEPT MONDAY from 7 am to 2 pm


Apart from French products you can also find African, Asian and Indian stands. There are little cafes where you could get a drink. Make sure you visit them early because they are not interesting after lunch time.


Les Halles


right in the centre (metro Chatelet Les Halles) is an underground covered market but it's now more of a mall than a market. This whole area has been renovated quite recently so I don't know what it looks like any more!


I forgot to mention something really interesting - June 21st is Fete de la Musique to celebrate the first day of summer. It is an amazing time to be anywhere in France, particularly in Paris. The entire city turns into a concert and you have live performances all over the place that go on all day and all night. Many metro and bus lines stay open all night exceptionally on this day every year to encourage people to be a part of this huge music festival. You are really lucky to be in Paris on this day!


For rock shows, the Place de la Republique is usually the place to be. Classical aficionados head to the Palais Royal for a day of symphonic bliss, while indie bands play at Denfert-Rochereau. La Fête de la Musique 2015 Paris organisers usually post an up-to-date program more than a month in advance, so be sure to check it out to see who is playing where.

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Nice, Verdon Gorge and Marseilles:

Let's start with Nice -  visit the old town, the market and go up to the chateau in order to get a sweeping view of the city as well as the azure waters of the Mediterranean or Baie des Anges as it's called here. The main road along the coast is called Promenade des Anglais and it is full of big hotels that celebrities and rich Russians stay in! The main interests are old town and the castle. If you like museums and paintings, you could visit Musee Matisse or Musee Chagall. Nice being very close to Italy, has a lot of influence from that country in its architecture and food so you can get pizzas and similar vegetarian options.


There are plenty of places around here if you have more time - Monaco, Antibes, Saint Raphael, Cannes - all easily accessible by train. 


Marseille - for a sweeping view of the city, visit Notre Dame de la Garde. The Marseille Cathedral is also interesting for its architecture. This city so far south that you're almost in North Africa and you will definitely feel it in the population and the markets and souks. An interesting excursion is a boat ride to Chateau d'If, the setting of the Count of Monte Cristo. Near Marseille you have stunning limestone cliffs with narrow turquoise channels and secluded coves called "calanques" in French. Most of the good ones are around Cassis and are great for a bit of hiking or just relaxing by the sea. 


For lavender fields, try Valensole (photo below). It is near Manosque. Try the route Forcalquier, Valensole, Puismoisson. This is actually called "Route de la Lavande" or lavender route. They usually bloom from mid-June so I hope you'll get to see them.



Another option would be to do Nice in a day and head to the gorge for a day and a half driving through the lavender area and doing half a day at the Calanques near Cassis before going to Marseille. This way you will get to see another landscape including beaches. 


Suggestions to experience of the French countryside:


A 17th century French military engineer named Vauban is known for constructing citadels and fortresses all over the country and Entrevaux has one such citadel dominating the landscape. Apart from this, you could visit the cathedral (although this isn't a highlight) and just walk around the village. It is rated as one of the most beautiful villages in Provence. Nearby are the Gorges du Cians and Gorges du Daluis, which, according to some people (particularly those who have seen the Grand Canyon) are more impressive than Verdon. 


Regarding where to stay, France has a list of its most beautiful villages and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie features in it. This link has a few suggestions including its chapels and the pottery museum if this interests you. 


http://www.france-beautiful-villages.org/en/moustiers-sainte-marie


The cliffs around it are definitely worth hiking in. From Notre-Dame de Beauvoir you can get amazing views of the countryside. It is quite an effort to get there but think about the view! There are other activities like paragliding and cycling around the lavender fields if you are adventurous. 


In the villages themselves, there aren't really any specific sites to visit but it is the whole setting in the Provence region that gives them their charm. Just walk around and explore them and admire the view from the hilltops since most of them are on top of bauxite or lime cliffs. Otherwise, if you like adventure sports, there are options for kayaking, cycling, trekking and paragliding like I mentioned earlier. 

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Tentative itinerary By Madhu Sudhan
Replies (+)

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

SM - Shraddha / Madhu
DS - Deepu / Sriram
 
05th - SM reach Paris.
06th to 10th  - SM plan to visit Rome / Italy. Open to other locations also.
10th - DS reach Paris and meet SM
11th - We fly to Nice (EasyJet 7 AM flight) and we do Nice
12th - Head to Verdon Gorge
13th - Do nearby villages, lavendar fields, 12th century tower etc. Drive back to Marseiiles
14th - Morning a bit of Marseilles. Fly to Zadar (Ryan Air 1520 hrs flight)
15th - Drive/Take a bus to Dubrovnik (4-6 hrs). Bit of Dubrovnik that evening.
16th - Do Dubrovnik
17th - Drive to Split and do Split that evening.
18th - Hvar island
19th - Return to Split, do the palace in Split and head to Plitvice (stay over)
20th - Plitvice that morning and head to Zadar (2 hrs away). Fly to Paris Orly (Transavia 2050 hrs flight)
21st & 22nd  - Do Paris
23rd - Fly out

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Madhu,
 
Your itinerary looks good since you've planned to get around by flight. 
Do you plan to fly straight to Italy from Paris and then back to receive DS? In this case you will have 4 days in Italy (6th to 9th).
Please tell me what exactly you would like me to help you with.
 
Prajwal

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

Hi Prajwal.

 

We will be reaching CDG around 5:30pm on 5th June. DS will be arriving at CDG around 6pm on 10th June. So our plan was to start on the 6th Morning and return on 10th post lunch. We thought of Rome but are open to outer recommendations also. 

 

We want your guidance of the following 

 

  • Wanted to check with you on the Croatia visa. What i found out was if we have a multiple entry Schengen Visa, then we do not have to apply for a seperate Croatia Visa. 
  • On the accomodation, we were thinking of either IBIS or similar hotels. Our budget is a max of $100 per night per couple. 
  • Pointers on local Sight Seeing / Must see places i.e a detailed Itinenary
  • Commute recommendation

 

Regards

Madhu

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Madhu,

 

Have you already booked flights to Rome and back? Rome is a good choice because there are many Easyjet flights between Paris Orly and Roma Fiumicino. The price is decent too (37 - 48 euros each way). I would suggest spending 2 days in Rome and 2 days in Florence OR 3 days in Rome and a day trip somewhere nearby. Based on the pace at which you want to see things (considering Rome is big and has a lot of sites, museums and churches) and also the number of things you want to see in each place you can make a choice and we'll work on the details.

Coming to the Croatian visa, visa regimes keep changing but what you have found out corresponds to what I have read too. I also believe you need to have proof of accommodation. I suggest you read the following site in detail and you contact the authorities in India to be sure because you don't want to go all the way there and have a bad experience!

http://www.mvep.hr/en/consular-information/visas/visa-requirements-overview/india,94.html#p

Please specify also your plan to visit Dubrovnik including the mode of transport you wish to use (rented car or bus) and find out if there is any extra documentation required to go there. Dubrovnik does not have a contiguous border with the rest of Croatia and this is one the constraints in letting them into the Schengen zone. Based on their response you can decide whether or not you want to apply for a visa before going there.

For accommodation, it should not be a problem to find hotels within your budget. Have you thought about AirBnB? It's an interesting way to get an insight into the way locals live.

https://www.airbnb.co.in/s/paris?checkin=05-06-2015&checkout=06-06-2015&guests=2&price_max=10780&ss_id=kqv5smzb

If your prefer hotels, there are many options like www.booking.com. Let me know and I'll make some suggestions. The best way to choose is by checking the ratings and reviews of these places.

We'll work on local sight seeing once the itinerary is fully clear (based on you choice regarding Italy). As far as commuting is concerned, in cities like Paris and Rome, it is very easy to get around by metro, bus and on foot. In places like Split and Florence, you can walk to the main sites.

I'll start posting things to see and do city wise in the "Itinerary" section.

 

Prajwal

 

 

 

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

Hi Prajwal,

 

Thanks for the details. Also, would it be possible to suggest Hotel / Accomodation for each location. We are yet to book the hotels and wanted to check with you first before finalizing them .

 

Regards

Madhu

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Madhu,

I've posted some links for accommodation in Paris, Rome, Split and Dubrovnik. I have mostly used www.booking.com, www.hostelworld.com (but selected only hotels and not hostels) and the Ibis/Accor hotels website. These are of course just a few among plenty of options. You could either go with one of them or look for others using the same sites by finetuning the search criteria like price, location and most importantly ratings/reviews. 

AirBnB is a good option where people rent out their house or flat giving a chance to stay like a local. 

Let me know if this corresponds with what you have in mind. If you have already looked at something and want to run it by me, you can send me the link and I'll tell you what I think (mostly based on location and ratings).

Also tell me what you would like to do in Italy and I'll complete that itinerary. There are tours to places like Pompeii from Rome for a day. Otherwise, you could spend a couple of days in Florence. 

Let me know.

Prajwal

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

Hi Prajwal,

 

Thank you for the details. In a day or two, we will short list the hotels and share them with you for feedback. Also, can you share some details on Nice, Marseille ( in and around) which you recommend.

 

For the Rome trip, Shraddha and I are were checking looking at travel options from Rome to Florence and from Florence to Pari and did not find any flight options. So we think we will spend the time in and around Rome and a day trip sounds interesting.

 

Just a question, is there any other country / city you recommend other than Italy for a 4 day trip ( instead of Rome).

 

Thanks in advance.

Regards

Madhu

sriram wrote:  

Hi Prajwal,

We started planning with 1 day in Nice, 2 days in Verdon Gorge and nearby places and half a day in Marseilles. This is from 11th morning to 14th evening 3 pm when we fly to Zadar. Can you help build an itinerary for these days in these places? Do suggest anything else nearby that is worth a visit as well. We were reading that the villages near Verdon gorge are famous for lavender fields. Could you suggest some to cover this as well? 

Thanks for all the details shared so far. 

 

Cheers,

Sriram

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Madhu and Sriram,

Let's start with Nice -  visit the old town, the market and go up to the chateau in order to get a sweeping view of the city as well as the azure waters of the Mediterranean or Baie des Anges as it's called here. The main road along the coast is called Promenade des Anglais and it is full of big hotels that celebrities and rich Russians stay in! The main interests are old town and the castle. If you like museums and paintings, you could visit Musee Matisse or Musee Chagall. Nice being very close to Italy, has a lot of influence from that country in its architecture and food so you can get pizzas and similar vegetarian options.

There are plenty of places around here if you have more time - Monaco, Antibes, Saint Raphael, Cannes - all easily accessible by train. 

Marseille - for a sweeping view of the city, visit Notre Dame de la Garde. The Marseille Cathedral is also interesting for its architecture. This city so far south that you're almost in North Africa and you will definitely feel it in the population and the markets and souks. An interesting excursion is a boat ride to Chateau d'If, the setting of the Count of Monte Cristo. Near Marseille you have stunning limestone cliffs with narrow turquoise channels and secluded coves called "calanques" in French. Most of the good ones are around Cassis and are great for a bit of hiking or just relaxing by the sea. 

For lavender fields, try Valensole near Manosque. Try the route Forcalquier, Valensole, Puismoisson. This is actually called "Route de la Lavande" or lavender route. They usually bloom from mid-June so I hope you'll get to see them.

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Madhu,

Three days in Rome and a day trip sounds good. Do note however, that Italy has fast trains making the trip from Rome to Florence rather quick so you don't need flights from/to Paris.

Another country would be Belgium since it is close to Paris and there are beautiful medieval towns like Bruges and Ghent that are definitely worth visiting apart from Brussels. Check them out and let me know.

Prajwal

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

It takes around 1 and a half hours or less to travel from Paris to Brussels by the fast train and the same time on the Italian Frecciarossa train line between Rome and Florence.

www.voyages-sncf.com

www.trenitalia.com 

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

Hi Prajwal,

 

Based on your feedback, Shraddha and I are planning for Rome. We just booked the tickets from Paris Orly to FCO. Starting from Orly on 6th June at 12:35 reaching FCO at 14:35. Our return is on 10th June at 15:10 and reaching Orly at 17:15.

We are open to do both 3 days in Rome + 1 Day day trip or 2 days in Rome and 2 days in Florence. 

 

Thanks in advance.

Regards

Madhu

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Great! I have added day trip suggestions on the itinerary page. Although Florence is technically doable as a day trip (being just 1.5 hours from Rome by train), it is worth at least two days and the province of Tuscany around it deserves a trip in itself. This is why I have suggested shorter visits. 


Nice, Verdon Gorge and Mareseilles By sriram
Replies (+)

sriram wrote:  

Hey guys,

I thought I'll add a new topic to flush out the itinerary for these places. Copied over the info from above topic:

sriram wrote:  

Hi Prajwal,

We started planning with 1 day in Nice, 2 days in Verdon Gorge and nearby places and half a day in Marseilles. This is from 11th morning to 14th evening 3 pm when we fly to Zadar. Can you help build an itinerary for these days in these places? Do suggest anything else nearby that is worth a visit as well. We were reading that the villages near Verdon gorge are famous for lavender fields. Could you suggest some to cover this as well? 

Thanks for all the details shared so far. 

 

Cheers,

Sriram

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Madhu and Sriram,

Let's start with Nice -  visit the old town, the market and go up to the chateau in order to get a sweeping view of the city as well as the azure waters of the Mediterranean or Baie des Anges as it's called here. The main road along the coast is called Promenade des Anglais and it is full of big hotels that celebrities and rich Russians stay in! The main interests are old town and the castle. If you like museums and paintings, you could visit Musee Matisse or Musee Chagall. Nice being very close to Italy, has a lot of influence from that country in its architecture and food so you can get pizzas and similar vegetarian options.

There are plenty of places around here if you have more time - Monaco, Antibes, Saint Raphael, Cannes - all easily accessible by train. 

Marseille - for a sweeping view of the city, visit Notre Dame de la Garde. The Marseille Cathedral is also interesting for its architecture. This city so far south that you're almost in North Africa and you will definitely feel it in the population and the markets and souks. An interesting excursion is a boat ride to Chateau d'If, the setting of the Count of Monte Cristo. Near Marseille you have stunning limestone cliffs with narrow turquoise channels and secluded coves called "calanques" in French. Most of the good ones are around Cassis and are great for a bit of hiking or just relaxing by the sea. 

For lavender fields, try Valensole near Manosque. Try the route Forcalquier, Valensole, Puismoisson. This is actually called "Route de la Lavande" or lavender route. They usually bloom from mid-June so I hope you'll get to see them.

 

sriram wrote:  

Thanks for the details on Nice and Marseilles Prajwal. Are the places you have suggested in Nice part of a single day itinerary? Also, which is the best place in Nice to get the best experience of the French Riviera? All of us are non-swimmers though, so it'll be nice to visit beaches where we can enter the water :)
Also, currently we're thinking 11th is for Nice, 12th and 13th is for Verdon Gorge + the lavender route and 14th half a day for Marseille. Can you advice if this itinerary spread sounds ok? Does Verdon Gorge and the lavendar route have enough things nearby to cover over two days? I read about Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and Valensole online. Do you think it is worth spending 2 days in this area? Could you suggest more things to do at these places and any activities at Verdon Gorge?
Would it take us the entire half a day to visit Calanques at Marseilles?
Please do suggest any changes we can make to visit the best places in these 4 days.

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

You can do what I suggested in Nice in a day. There is no sand beach in Nice, it is a pebble beach and you can get into the water there although it might not be hot yet. 

Your 4-day itinerary looks okay but you won't be able to do the Calanques and Marseille in just half a day. After Nice, you could drive to the Provencal town of Entrevaux and explore the gorge area after that (including Moustiers and the other places I suggested earlier). Provence is a beautiful region so you could easily spend a couple of days around here and stop at a few places along the way before ending in Marseille. You might want to make a stop in Aix-en-Provence if you prefer a slightly bigger place, otherwise the villages in Provence are worth a visit. 

Another option would be to do Nice in a day and head to the gorge for a day and a half driving through the lavender area and doing half a day at the Calanques near Cassis before going to Marseille. This way you will get to see another landscape including beaches. 

sriram wrote:  

Thanks Prajwal. Is there anything specific that Entrevaux is popular for?

Could you suggest what are the popular sight seeing places or activities to do when we visit the villages of Provence (apart from the gorge and the lavender route)? Among those villages, could you suggest which one would be the best to stay in?

I guess we're basically looking forward to get the best experience of the French country side so any suggestion for that are welcome.

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

A 17th century French military engineer named Vauban is known for constructing citadels and fortresses all over the country and Entrevaux has one such citadel dominating the landscape. Apart from this, you could visit the cathedral (although this isn't a highlight) and just walk around the village. It is rated as one of the most beautiful villages in Provence. Nearby are the Gorges du Cians and Gorges du Daluis, which, according to some people (particularly those who have seen the Grand Canyon) are more impressive than Verdon. 

Regarding where to stay, France has a list of its most beautiful villages and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie features in it. This link has a few suggestions including its chapels and the pottery museum if this interests you. 

http://www.france-beautiful-villages.org/en/moustiers-sainte-marie

The cliffs around it are definitely worth hiking in. From Notre-Dame de Beauvoir you can get amazing views of the countryside. It is quite an effort to get there but think about the view! There are other activities like paragliding and cycling around the lavender fields if you are adventurous. 

In the villages themselves, there aren't really any specific sites to visit but it is the whole setting in the Provence region that gives them their charm. Just walk around and explore them and admire the view from the hilltops since most of them are on top of bauxite or lime cliffs. Otherwise, if you like adventure sports, there are options for kayaking, cycling, trekking and paragliding like I mentioned earlier. 

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

I have updated the Stay page with a couple of hotels in Moustiers within your budget. It's a popular place and rooms are getting quickly booked so I suggest you like it up soon!


Croatia By sriram
Replies (+)

sriram wrote:  

Hey Prajwal,

Would you recommend the boat tours from Hvar to visit some of the caves around the islands, the Green and the Blue Grotto? We are non-swimmers so do you think the tours may not be as enjoyable? Some of the pictures we see online are pretty impressive and we were curious if we can visit as well.

Also, the drive to Dubrovnik passes through Bosnia. Is there any place/city you recommend for us to stop/visit while passing Bosnia?

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Sriram,

The Green Cave requires a certain amount of swimming and even if you can do it without swimming, it may not be very enjoyable since most people go there for this reason. The Blue Grotto on the other hand may be worth a visit since the colours are the most interesting thing here. Your tour company might make you sign a disclaimer saying you don't know how to swim. 

Below are some tours from Hvar. Don't book the Three Cave tour because that might involve a bit of swimming. Also, they offer things like lobster lunches and other seafood options which would be of no interest to vegetarians so before you book, do make sure you clarify these things including the whether or not you need to be a swimmer.

http://www.ilirios-hvar-tours.com/boat-tours/

http://www.visit-hvar.com/tours.php

Here are some tips to avoid tourist traps:

http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/Croatia/Dalmatia_Split_Region/Hvar-387272/Tourist_Traps-Hvar-TG-C-1.html

Prajwal

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Regarding Bosnia, you'll only be crossing a strip that's barely 6-7 km so I suggest you stick to Croatia. Besides, you would need more time if you want to include another place in your itinerary. Please make sure that you are able to enter and stay in Bosnia before you start your trip!

If you do decide to add Bosnia (considering your visa permits it), the most famous place to visit is Mostar. It is an hour and a half from Neum, the town you will cross to get to Dubrovnik. 

sriram wrote:  

Thanks Prajwal. Sounds like the Blue cave tours are the only ones we should look out for.

With the current itinerary we have in mind, we're getting to Hvar on the 18th and plan to do the boat tour and exploring other parts of Hvar on the same day. Do you recommend making bookings for the boat tour early on (18th June is a Thursday) or is it ok to get to Hvar and check out our options?

We might spend on the first half of 19th also in Hvar. Our next destination will be Plitvice, so I want to get some suggestions on the best place to stay over for the 19th. We'll be getting back to Split from Hvar on the 19th and then drive to Plitvice from there. Does this sound like something we should be able to manage? I ask mainly because Plitvice seems to be a national park area and whether driving into the wilderness around sunset will be ok? The idea is to get to Plitvice on the 19th so that we can start exploring Plitvice early on the 20th. We need to be back in Zadar by 7PM for our flight on the 20th. So does a time frame of 8AM to 4PM sound good enough to explore Plitvice or would we need more time? Also, could you recommend any places to stay at or near Plitvice?

Feel free to recommend any changes to the above plan.

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Just a thought - have you considered taking a ferry from Dubrovnik to Hvar (3 hours just like the drive to/from Split) and the ferry from Hvar to Split (1 hour 30 minutes)? It might be more logical and might save you a bit of time. There is a ferry at 16:30 that gets to Hvar at 19:35. You could spend the whole of the next day there and take the early 8:00 am boat reaching Split at 9:10. You could visit Split for a day or more and head to Plitvice. This way, you could arrive there a bit earlier if you are concerned about arriving late (considering the sun sets at around 9pm). There are wild bears in the park but I suppose you should really consider yourself lucky to spot one!

http://www.croatiaferries.com/hvar-split-ferry.htm

Regarding the time you will need, you should account for at least 5 hours to hike along the main trail (you could do it faster but it's better to take your time and enjoy the place). If you have time to spare, you could take a boat ride. For accommodation, there are home stays and hotels and you could get information at the entrance where you pay but it's better to book in advance:

http://www.booking.com/searchresults.en-gb.html?src=searchresults&city=-92146&ssne=Plitvi%C4%8Dka+Jezera&ssne_untouched=Plitvi%C4%8Dka+Jezera&error_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.booking.com%2Fsearchresults.en-gb.html%3Faid%3D311984%3Blabel%3Dhotel-20933-hr-arkDtcfd7ARyggFyBL5DagS32453956513%253Apl%253Ata%253Ap1%253Ap2%253Aac%253Aap1t1%253Aneg%3Bsid%3Dbd42023b07476e74982acdcc336048b5%3Bdcid%3D4%3Bclass_interval%3D1%3Bcsflt%3D%257B%257D%3Bdest_id%3D-92146%3Bdest_type%3Dcity%3Bdtdisc%3D0%3Bhighlighted_hotels%3D20933%3Bhlrd%3D1%3Bhyb_red%3D0%3Binac%3D0%3Bnha_red%3D0%3Boffset%3D0%3Bredirected_from_city%3D0%3Bredirected_from_landmark%3D0%3Bredirected_from_region%3D0%3Breview_score_group%3Dempty%3Bscore_min%3D0%3Bss_all%3D0%3Bssb%3Dempty%3Bsshis%3D0%26%3Bor_radius%3D0%3B&aid=311984&dcid=4&label=hotel-20933-hr-arkDtcfd7ARyggFyBL5DagS32453956513%3Apl%3Ata%3Ap1%3Ap2%3Aac%3Aap1t1%3Aneg&lang=en-gb&sid=bd42023b07476e74982acdcc336048b5&si=ai%2Cco%2Cci%2Cre%2Cdi&ss=&sb_travel_purpose=leisure&checkin_monthday=19&checkin_year_month=2015-6&checkout_monthday=20&checkout_year_month=2015-6&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2&group_children=0&highlighted_hotels=20933&highlighted_hotels=

I read a blog where someone did a day trip to Plitvice from Zadar by bus so that's something to think about. If you have a car, you would be able to do it faster, otherwise, since you are 4, you could take a taxi.

 

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

Hi Prajwal,

 

thanks for the feedback. Shraddha and I were dicussing about the HVAR leg today and came to the same conclusion. We also considered the following

 

  • From Dubrovnik, drive down to Drvenik and then take the ferry to Sucuraj. 
  • From Sucuraj, we can explore the road towards Hvar and spend the night at Hvar

sriram wrote:  

Hey Prajwal,

The ferry link you shared does not allow cars on board (both Dubrovnik-Hvar and Hvar-Split). I searched a bit for car ferrries from Dubrovnik to Hvar and it turns out they may not run on all days of the week. Some blog posts suggested that they may not operate always and it may take up to 6 hours.

The Drvenik to Sucuraj idea that Madhu suggested sounds like a good one. Here's a link about the Drvenik-Sucuraj ferries:

http://www.total-hvar.com/index.php/hvar-blog/item/some-tips-on-taking-the-ferry-from-sucuraj-to-drvenik

The drive from Dubrovnik to Drvenik is about 2 hours and the leg from Drvenik to Hvar (ferry + road) is about 3 hours. It might make sense for us to split it over 2 days. If we do Dubrovnik on 15th and 16th, then drive to Drvenik on 16th night and stay over, we can take the early morning ferry from Drvenik on 17th to Sucuraj and drive on to Hvar.

We can spend the 17th and first half of 18th in Hvar and head to Split on 18th evening/night (Hvar to Split ferry which carries cars takes about 1.5 hours). Link for Ferries from Hvar to SPlit:

http://www.hvarinfo.com/hvar-ferries/

We can spend little over half a day of the 19th in Split and then drive to Plitvice. So we have the whole of 20th for Plitvice and to head back to Zadar that evening.

Prajwal, your thoughts? does this sound like a good plan?

thanks!

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Sriram,

I sent you that link because I didn't think you needed a car. In your original itinerary you had said by car or bus so I thought using the but was still an option. Think about whether having a car is really necessary considering Split, Dubrovnik and Hvar can be visited on foot.

If you do decide that having a car is more convenient then your itinerary is good. Do factor in the cost of taking a car ferry. Another thing is time - based on what you have found, it would take 5 hours to get to Hvar to Dubrovnik as opposed to 3 hours if you directly take the ferry from Dubrovnik.

Either way you choice would be based on whether you have a car or not.

Prajwal

sriram wrote:  

Hey Prajwal,

do you recommend making the ferry bookings and tour bookings (for the blue grotto etc) early on or can it be done after we get to Croatia?

thanks!

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Sriram,

If your itinerary is unlikely to change I would suggest going ahead and making the bookings so that there are no issues later. June is technically not tourist season yet but more and more people are choosing to travel in the shoulder season just before or after the peak season so you may not want to take a risk.

Did you find out about visas to Croatia? What is the latest situation regarding Indians with Schengen visas?

Prajwal


Paris stay By sriram
Replies (+)

sriram wrote:  

Hey Prajwal,
We have a slight dilemma in managing our stay in Paris in the final leg of our tour. We land in Paris Orly on 20th night from Zadar at 10.50 PM. We plan to do Paris over 21st and 22nd. But Deepu and I have a flight early morning on the 23rd to San Francisco, for which we will have to stay in a hotel close to/within CDG on the night of 22nd. We were considering three options:

1) Stay in Orly on 20th night. Move to Paris city center for stay on 21st night and move to CDG to stay on the night of 22nd. The issue we see is either the back and forth to get the bags from one hotel to another or exploring the city with the bags in hand (which is a pain as well).

2) Stay in Orly both the 20th and 21st night. travel to and from Paris city center to Orly on 21st and 22nd when we're visiting Paris. Move to a CDG hotel using the airport-to-airport shuttle from Orly to CDG on 22nd.

3) Stay in Orly all 3 nights. Deepu and I alone will check out and put our bags in Madhu's room on the 22nd (daytime). The same night we both will head to CDG from Orly using the shuttle and stay at CDG.

4) We head straight to a city center hotel in Paris on 20th night after we land in Orly and stay 20th and 21st night there. We'll move to a hotel in CDG only for the 22nd night (with a possible early check in to save us some time). For this to work, we should be able to get to Paris city center from Orly at 11PM on the 20th and we're not sure if this is a safe/reliable option.

5) We land in Paris Orly on the 20th night and take an airport to airport shuttle to CDG and stay all 3 nights at CDG. Although no bags need to be moved around for this, we will have to travel to and from CDG every day, which is pretty far from Paris city center. Also hotels in CDG are pricier as well.

Based on above options, some questions we have are:

- how easy is it to stay in a hotel in Orly and get to and from Paris city center?

- how easy/safe would it be to head to Paris city center on 20th night after 11PM?

- the airport-to-airport shuttle operated by Air France from Orly to CDG takes about 1.5 hrs is what we found. Could you confirm this as well?

Could you please suggest what would be the best way to manage the stay for the 3 nights - 20th, 21st, 22nd (last one should be CDG) which might be least hectic?

thanks!

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi,

I do not recommend staying Orly or CDG since you would be compromising on the "Paris experience". Besides, the commute between the city and the airports is too long and expensive to keep repeating. A taxi from Orly to Paris should cost around 40 euros or less (depending on the traffic) so for four people it is more economical than the bus factoring in the convenience of having your own vehicle that drops you exactly where you need to go. Paris is generally a safe city and the central parts are safer than the suburbs (where the airports are located). You might want to have a night out and simply stroll around late in the evening and staying in one of the airports would deprive you of such an option. Areas like Rue Mouffetard, Montmartre, Oberkampf, Canal St. Martin are very lively at night and it's part of the Paris experience. 

While it's true that lugging around bags using the bus and the metro can be difficult, the fact that you could take a taxi together eliminates that problem. 

What time do you need to be at CDG on the 23rd? You can use the metro and change to RER B at Gare du Nord until around midnight (I think the last train on Saturdays leaves a little after midnight) and reach by around 1am or slightly after. If I were you, I would rather get to the airport at this time, check in and wait for my flight there than actually stay at the airport. 

Let me know if this helps.

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

Hi Prajwal,

 

We will be reaching Orly airport around 11pm on the 20th June and our initial plan was to stay at ibis budget Orly Chevilly Tram 7 near the airport. Our thought was that it will be too late to travel from the airport to the City center and were not sure if Taxi will be available to the Orly airport to take us to the city center at this hour.

If the taxi are available at 11pm at the airport, will they accomodate 4 passengers ( read some where that some taxi's take max of 3 pax only). 

 

On the 23rd, Sriram / Deepu has his flight at 6:00am to SFO and Shraddha / Madhu have their flight at 10am. How early should be reach CDG for International Flights? is it same as in India i.e. 3 Hours prior to the flight?

 

Regards

Madhu

 

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Madhu,

There is a bus called Orlybus between the airport and Paris Denfert Rochereau (14th district) that runs until half past midnight. Try the taxi first and if they don't agree to take you all then look for the bus. They should run every 20 mi utes or even more frequently.

 

Prajwal

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi,

Is everything going as planned? Have you decided on your transport in Croatia and accommodation in Paris?

Let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

Prajwal

sriram wrote:  

Hey Prajwal,

There's some flux in one of our plans and we're just working out the kinks. Once there is some clarity on this in the next few days, we will confirm our Paris stay as well.

We were just glancing around the prices of Ibis and other hotels in paris and anything close to the Eiffel Tower is pretty exorbitant (not surprising). We've been looking mainly using the Tower as the pivot. Do you suggest we look at some other landmark or some other district as well as a pivot? We will be building our Paris itinerary based mostly on the places you have recommended, so it'll be good to stay in a district close to most of the places you've suggested.

In the next few days, we will put together a final Paris itinerary and run it past you.

We've made a booking via AirBnB to stay at Moustiers on 11th and 12th. We've reserved something on booking.com at Marseilles for 13th night. If you have some recommendations on any good places to stay in Marseilles (with a view/night life etc), do let us know.

We've made accomodations all over Croatia via AirBnB. Meanwhile, we're inclined to using a car as the mode of transport in Croatia. We will look out for ferries that will take cars when going from Dubrovnik to Hvar and from Hvar to Split.

thanks!

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi,

In Paris, don't be so particular about staying near the Eiffel Tower. There is nothing much to visit there apart from the tower itself. Look at areas like the Marais, Opera Garnier, Bastille...with metro stations every 100 - 200 metres it doesn't really matter where you stay. Just make sure you're able to carry all your luggage easily because many stations don't have escalators or lifts. Some of the links I sent you on the Stay page are also areas you can look at. Paris is around 20 km from one end to the other, much smaller than Bangalore!

I will add places in Marseille to the Stay page. Look for places in "Vieux Port" which is by the sea or "Panier" an area based on which an extremely popular French TV series is based (it's called Plus belle la vie in case you want to know what it looks like).

Prajwal


Paris itinerary By sriram
Replies (+)

sriram wrote:  

Hey Prajwal,

I have put together a tentative timeline based itinerary for places to visit on the two days in Paris with some questions below. Of course, we wont stick to the clock but this is just to get an idea whether all of this is feasible. Please let us know if this looks feasible.

 

Day 1
10.30 AM:     Rue Moffetard
12 PM:         Catacombs of Paris, 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy
1.30 PM:    Fontaine Saint Michel, Boulevard Saint Michel and the Boulevard Saint Germain, try some authentic organic Lebanese fast food at Chez le Libanais
3 PM:         Ile Saint Louis and have a delicious ice cream at Berthillon
3.30 PM:     Visit the Notre-Dame cathedral on the Ile de la Cité between the two banks of the Seine. On the same island is Sainte Chapelle – a beautiful structure with several stained glass windows.
5 PM:         Pont Neuf – one of the city’s famous bridges. Here take a cruise on the Seine.
6.30 pm:    take the metro up to Bir Hakeim.
7.30 pm:     The Eiffel tower is best viewed by crossing the Seine and climbing the stairs at Trocadéro.
8.30 pm:     Eiffel tower
9.30 pm:     stroll through the Champ de Mars



Day 2
10:30 AM:     Montmarte Hill, views of Sacré Coeur basilica.
11.30 AM:     Place du Tertre. This square is filled with artists painting portraits, scenes ofParis in general andMontmartre in particular.
Lunch
1 PM:         Marais
2 PM:         Centre Pompidou, the square in front of this bizarre structure is vibrant and alive with street artists, sometimes musicians and people sipping coffees, eating ice creams or just idly sitting around.
3 PM:         Les Halles - an underground shopping centre
4 PM:         shop on the Rue de Rivoli
5 PM:         Jardin des Tuileries – the garden in front of the  Louvre
6 PM:         Place de la Concorde - Keep walking on Champs Elysees?
7 PM:         Arc de Triomphe - climb up at sunset, the view of La Défense with the sun descending behind it is impressive.

 

Questions:

1) Catacombs of Paris is something I came across and has good reviews on tripadvisor. Would you recommend this?

2) I have not included any Art museums or museums in general since we're not exactly art enthusiasts. So do you recommend any MUST-DO museums in Paris?

3) Could you recommend more places that might serve good food (vegetarian options) like Chez le Libanais?

4) You'd mentioned that there are street artists at Centre Pompidou and Fontaine Saint Michel. Are they performing through out the day? At least on a Sunday?

5) Do you recommend any baking or cooking classes that we should try in Paris?

6) The Metro is probably the best way to get around I assume. Should we get a day pass for each day?

thanks!

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi,

A couple of things in your itinerary - Rue Mouffetard is not of any great interest during the day since it is a line of cafes and bars that get busy in the evening. In the same area you could start with the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Pantheon if that interests you. Montmartre is also nice is the evening but it is also okay to visit during the day. You might want to factor this in and juggle a few things around.

I am going to answer your other questions in order:

1. The Catacombs are passages filled with skeletons so if that interests you, then why not? I wouldn't consider it as a must do in the city but that's a personal choice! You could also think about Le Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, a cemetery with tombs of famous people like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, etc.

2. In a two-day visit to Paris I would recommend getting a feel of the city rather and visiting all its monuments rather than going to museums. The Louvre is considered to be a must do museum but doing it justice requires a day! If you really want to visit a museum or feel like doing something indoors then think about the Musee d'Orsay, an old railway station converted into a museum which is easy to visit and has a good view from its terrace. This of course is only if the weather is bad or you feel like visiting the interiors of a building, considering you are not big art enthusiasts. 

3. Chez le Libanais is a small takeaway like place but also has some seats. For vegetarian food, you could look for a creperie like Chez Imogenes on 25 rue JP Timbaud (metro Oberkampf) or other creperies that might have some vegetarian options. Otherwise, French food is usually non-vegetarian! This link has some interesting options:

http://www.timeout.com/paris/en/food-and-drink/vegetarian-restaurants-in-paris

4. The street artists don't really have timings and are not permanently there and keep changing but Centre Pompidou and Saint Michel are areas where many of them are around. They are not always interesting but sometimes you might stumble upon good musicians or martial artists. I once saw a capoiera performance in Saint Michel but it was just a one-time thing because I didn't see them again. I would say, look out for them if you're in these areas but don't count on anything and don't go out of your way to find these areas just for street performers.

5. There are classes and this one has good reviews on Tripadvisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.in/Attraction_Review-g187147-d1600380-Reviews-La_Cuisine_Paris_Cooking_Classes-Paris_Ile_de_France.html

6. The metro connects every part of Paris so it's a good way to get around apart from walking. You could also use cycles provided by the city which you can unlock using your credit card. They are called Velib and there are parking spots all over the city. Here's an idea of prices so that you can decide whether you need a pass: single ticket - 1.80 euros; 10 tickets - close to 15 euros; a two-day pass - 18.15 euros. You might want to buy a "carnet" of 10 tickets and use it up and get another set of 10 when you run out of the first set. It might be more economical than getting 4 passes. 

sriram wrote:  

Thanks Prajwal! yes we will shuffle the places around so that we cover the right places at the right time.

The cooking lessons seem to be a bit over our budget but we'd like to get an experienc of the local markets. Do you recommend any Souks or markets in Paris for us to visit, which may be close to one of the above places?

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Sriram,

I'm suggesting some markets based on what they are known for in order to help make your choice:

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

39 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris

Métro : Filles du calvaire, Open on Sunday from 8:30 am to 2 pm. 

It is the oldest market in Paris (1615) and has products from all parts of France and from other countries as well (Moroccan, Chinese, Japanese, Caribbean, Lebanese...)

Le Marché d’Aligre
3 Place d’Aligre, 75012 Paris
Métro Ledru-Rollin, Open everyday EXCEPT MONDAY from 7 am to 2 pm. Apart from French products you can also find African, Asian and Indian stands. There are little cafes where you could get a drink. 

Make sure you visit them early because they are not interesting after lunch time. 

Les Halles, right in the centre (metro Chatelet Les Halles) is an underground covered market but it's now more of a mall than a market. This whole area has been renovated quite recently so I don't know what it looks like any more!

I forgot to mention something really interesting - June 21st is Fete de la Musique to celebrate the first day of summer. It is an amazing time to be anywhere in France, particularly in Paris. The entire city turns into a concert and you have live performances all over the place that go on all day and all night. Many metro and bus lines stay open all night exceptionally on this day every year to encourage people to be a part of this huge music festival. You are really lucky to be in Paris on this day!

For rock shows, the Place de la Republique is usually the place to be. Classical aficionados head to the Palais Royal for a day of symphonic bliss, while indie bands play at Denfert-Rochereau. La Fête de la Musique 2015 Paris organisers usually post an up-to-date program more than a month in advance, so be sure to check it out to see who is playing where.

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hey guys,

One last thing before this discussion ends - there's another market called Marche aux Puces (flea market) which is outside Paris proper but accessible by metro - Porte de Clignancourt. It is really old but doesn't have food products but things like clothes and antiques and decorative stuff. I would recommend it only if you are into that kind of stuff otherwise just stick to your itinerary within Paris.

Have a great trip and please don't forget to leave a review telling me how it went! Enjoy!

Prajwal


MISC Items By Madhu Sudhan
Replies (+)

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

Hi Prajwal,

I had few questions

1)About a sim card for the trip. Do you recommend any particular network providers which will work across France,Croatia,Italy? Which is the best place to get the sim cards right at the airport or anywhere outside?

2)We are foodies and would like to try the local specialities. Any suggestions/recommendations where we can try French desserts(macrons,pastries,brulees) etc

3)What is the weather like during the time of our visit? This will help us pack the right clothes. :)

4)Are there any books like entertainment book/coupon book which will give us any offers on entrance tickets or give us food coupons/concessions?

5)Any useful android apps for the travel/finding amenties in general.

Thanks,

Shraddha

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

Another thing I read/saw somewhere is French/Italians are particular about their lunch breaks/siestas. Will the stores/attractions have long lunch breaks/closing hours in the noon?

Madhu Sudhan wrote:  

7)How much cash do we need to have while travelling to each of the countries? Are cards accepted everywhere?

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi Shraddha,

1. You could get one of those cards like Matrix from here so that you won't have to waste time looking around shops and having communication issues there. The big French operator is Orange and works outside the country too but there will be roaming charges. There are plenty of shops in the city that sell sim cards and there are also Orange shops.

2. French pastry is legendary so it would be a really good idea to try some there. Look out for the sign "Patisserie", most of them are good and they make their pastry everyday. Famous pastry shops specialising in macarons are Laduree (on the Champs-Elysees) and Dalloyau (there are many outlets, one on rue de la Convention near Jardin du Luxembourg and another on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore). For chocolates and other desserts, you can try Lenotre or La Maison du Chocolat on rue Saint-Honore. 

Even in the restaurants you eat in, look for the "menu" which is a combination of starter (entree), main course (plat) and dessert (which sometimes includes cheese as an option because cheese is dessert in France) and choose their dessert.

3. In June, it could be cool in the evening so you might want to carry some warm clothes but nothing too heavy. Make sure you have something for the rain because there might be some spring showers. Otherwise let's just hope for nice sunny weather!

4. There are some passes like this one - http://www.parispass.com/

In Paris, there is a magazine called Pariscope which lists all the entertainment and other shows in the city with prices, discounts, etc.

5. There are the usual apps like Tripadvisor but you can also find some city guide apps by looking for say "Paris city apps". Tripadvisor itself has city apps. There are also apps for taxis like G7 Taxi and a useful one called Find Toilets!

6. You wouldn't need to worry about big shops and tourist places closing in the afternoon but make you sure you go to a restaurant in France between 12 and 1 for lunch. The waiters and staff get really edgy and annoying if you go in close to closing time (around 2 pm) and make the whole eating experience unpleasant. Same goes for dinner - 8 or 8:30 pm is good.

7. Cards are accepted almost everywhere unless their machine doesn't work or there is some problem. How much cash you should carry purely depends on whether you are going to shop or buy souvenirs. Since most of you accommodation and transport is booked, you'll need to count the cost of meals, local transport and entrance tickets. Once again, this depends on the kind of places you go to and whether or not you pay by card. A meal should be around 10-20 euros per person and entrances between 5 and 12 euros depending on the place. So you would need to calculate the amount of cash based on what you have already booked and what's left to spend on. You get cards in banks like ICICI here which allow you to withdraw money from ATM's in euros so that may be a good way to not carry too much cash.

Prajwal

Prajwal Madhav wrote:  

Hi,

You could also go to the tourist office or information centre in cities or at the airport where they usually have city passes that allow you to visit different places at a discounted price. This of course depends on whether their offer includes things you want to see or do.

Prajwal


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France Croatia trip

Thanks to Prajwal for the wonderful guidance. We've managed to prepare an itinerary for all the places we're visiting.