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France and Italy Combo: Baguette Pizza

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France and Italy are the two of the popular destinations in Europe, and this itinerary takes in the best of both countries, from dazzling big cities to relaxing beaches to delicious dinners at sidewalk cafes.

Starting in the City of Lights, Paris, you will work your way down through the sunflower fields and ritzy beaches of southern France, continuing into Italy where giant pizzas and palazzos await you. From famous monuments and giant museums to quiet moments shared with friends and food at a corner ristorante, this itinerary will immerse you in many facets of the European experience and have you saying bonjour and buon giorno in no time.

Note: Depending on the time of year you travel, you may want to take this trip in reverse. Northern France is colder than central Italy, which can be very hot, and you want to time your travels to be in the best weather. However no cloud could ever obscure the beauty of these two countries, beloved by backpackers year after year, making the combined trip an ideal first excursion into Europe.

Highlights

Cruise on the Seine River at sunset when all of Paris turns pink in the falling light. Get lost in the student-loved Latin Quarter, then get found in the shadow of the gargoyles of Notre Dame cathedral. Walk around the ramparts of the Papal Palace at Avignon out onto to the half-built bridge. Sip pastis at the wobbly table of a sidewalk café on a tree-lined boulevard in Aix-en-Provence. Smell the sea breeze, swim on the French Riviera, and lick the salt off your lips. Experience the breathtaking hiking trails in Cinque Terre. Get out of the way of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which you will swear is about to fall over right now. Experience Michelangelo’s David in Florence. Savor the Tuscan sun, take any road to arrive in Rome to walk in the footsteps of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. Eat the biggest calzone you have ever seen in your life.

Suggested Route

Starting Point: Paris

Ending Point: Rome

Time Frame: 14+ days

France: Land in Paris and give yourself at least three days in the cultural capital, plus a few more if you want to day trip to Versailles, Chartres, or Champagne. Take the high speed TGV train to Avignon and base there or in Aix as you explore Provence for a couple of days. Continue on to the French Riviera, staying in Nice for a couple of days.

Italy: Train through the Italian Riviera, stopping in the Cinque Terre region followed by Pisa before continuing on to Florence for a few nights, then ride down to Siena in Tuscany for a taste of the Italian countryside. End your trip in Rome with at least three days where you will experience Vatican City, the Coliseum, and a million speeding scooters.

DAY 1-3: PARIS
Paris is stunning! Whether you indulge in its grand and monumental history or embrace its intimate romance, Parisian culture will leave its mark on you.  Always elegant and pure in its “Frenchness”, Paris gives you no doubt that you are in one of the greatest cities on earth.  Explore the cozy cafés, buy coveted delicacies from the many markets and take in the essential sights. But be wary of your cash flow – like many other cities of its stature, Paris is not cheap!

DAY 4-5: PROVENCE REGION: AVIGNON or AIX-EN-PROVENCE
Comprised of picturesque towns such as Avignon, Arles, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, this ancient region cultivated by the Romans is a world unto itself. Yes, it is often heavily touristed, but the juxtaposition of romance, country life, modern style and innovation has not detracted from Provence’s historic character and seductive charm.

DAY 6-7: COTE D’AZUR/NICE
Renowned for its sophistication, wealth and power, the Cote d’Azur is a tourist haven offering not just a golden St. Tropez tan, but a rich nightlife and natural beauty. The more laid-back (relatively speaking) large town of Nice has lots of cafés, bars, markets and, of course, pebble beaches (take your flip-flops).  Cannes and St. Tropez are better as day trips from Nice, as they are really over touristed millionaires’ playgrounds - still fun to check out though, especially if there’s a festival in town.

DAY 8-9: LA SPEZIA/CINQUE TERRE
On the Northeast coast of Italy, the impressive Five Villages are a delight to any traveler. Situated between Genoa and La Spezia, these stunning villages envelop you in golden sandy beaches, steep cliffs and sapphire-colored water. Although these days the region is certainly known to many travelers, each town is still very cozy and offers a quiet haven from the big city tourism encountered in Florence or Venice. Sleep late, sit on the beach, go hiking or have a picnic. The five towns (north to south): Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore.

DAY 10-11: PISA/FLORENCE
Florence, once the center of Renaissance art and culture, today remains an intriguing and alluring city. Although inundated with tourists, you can still immerse yourself in its rich history and Italian culture. Don’t miss the surrounding golden countryside which tempts you with the promise of a true Tuscan experience. On your way to Florence, stop in Pisa for a few hours or even spend the night.

DAY 12: SIENNA
Steeped in medieval history, this Tuscan city’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you visit in July or August, do not miss the traditional medieval horse race called the Palio di Siena.

DAY 13-14: ROME
Rome’s magic is indeed alluring and enduring.  It is an authentically Italian city harboring not just some of the most famous and historical sites and monuments, but terrific cafés, beautiful piazzas, vibrant personalities, and of course, excellent shopping. When visiting Rome, take the time to indulge in these smaller treasures and you’ll understand why it is still one of the great capitals of Europe.





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Book This Trip Options

EURAIL PASS ADVENTURE

Buy the France-Italy Rail Pass with 5-7 days of travel in a 2-month period. 1st class costs $401+, 2nd Class $343+ and Youth Pass $261+

ESCORTED TOURS

London to Rome Adventure by G Adventures
Crisscrossing three countries, this whirlwind 8-day tour of Europe’s most celebrated capitals squeezes unique culture, delectable food and drink, stunning scenery, wild nightlife and centuries of thrilling history into eight days without ever feeling rushed. Browse the galleries and museums of Paris, gape at Provence's natural beauty, hike the verdant hills of the Cinque Terre and more. $1399US

Go West Hop-On/Hop-Off Pass by Busabout

This hop-on/hop-off experience includes all the stops in the France Italy Combo but adds in highlights of Spain including Barcelona and Madrid. Minimum tour length is 18 days but you can travel for a few months. Available May to October and costs from $825US. Book with Bakpak for a 10% discount and save $82.50!

SELF DRIVE

Rent a campervan from Lille, France and see the sights at your own pace. No need to pay for accommodation. A unique way to road-trip it. Two weeks in a 2-berth VW Campervan costs between €826 and €1386 (return the campervan to Lille)


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