My wife and I are heading to Italy and France next March for 4 weeks. It will be our first trip. We are spending the following in each city:
Rome: 5 Nights
Florence: 3 Nights
Venice: 2 Nights
Overnight train to Lyon
Lyon: 3 Nights
Nice: 2 Nights
Overnight train Nice to Bordeaux
Bordeaux: 3 Nights
Paris: 7 Nights
Just had some questions.
What's the weather like March-April in France and Italy? Do I need to pack warm. I'm living in a place where the average temperature around that time is 14-16c.
Any places we should see that don't include the obvious e.g Eiffel Tower, Duomo, Colosseum?
What should we do in Rome at night? What about Florence & Venice? We prefer romantic, pretty settings or nice walks.
I know a lot of people will question Lyon but I'm a chef and that's the gastronomical capital of the world (along with Paris & San Sebastien) so since we are there what sights are there to see.
Food wise, how much can we expect to spend for traditional, simple cuisine in each city. We don't want to eat from the Menu Turistico. We have booked a couple of three michelin starred restaurants so we don't mind spending but....
In Bordeaux, do any of the First Growth Premier Cru wineries (Chateaux Margaux, Latour, Haut Brion or either of the Rothschilds) run tastings and tours? Do they have a cellar door or do we need to find a store?
In general, are there less tourists now that the global economy is terrible. Or is it too early to say?
In Paris, what sights do we need to get to early in the morning and what sights can wait a little longer. Is fontainebleau worth the trip?
Any useful things we should pack? Like pen & paper, handiwipes etc.
Are noise cancelling headphones worth it? Or a bit of a placebo?
The initiary is very good. But consider spending 4 days in Rome and 4 days in Florence. For an art and culture freak there is more to see in Florence than in Rome. (Or are you worried about the amount of money your wife might spend on all the fashion in Florence? It is shop til you drop there.)
You don't need to pack really warm, 5-25 C will be normal temperature in March/April. Dress in layers, bring raingear and be prepared for anything between snow, fog, rain, hailstorm and bright sunshine all within the course of a day. (Spring weather is crazy in Europe.)
Food wise a lot of people here (me included) are great believers in food from the supermarket + cook yourself, for this you need approx. 10 EUR per day and person (breakfast + lunch on sandwiches, joghurt and fruit, dinner prepared in the kitchen of a hostel, a rental appartment or the camping site). Considering the prices for a simple pizza in Florence or Venice you should keep that option in mind. As a fact quite a number of people who are really into Italian food rent a car for a day and travel to Cinque Terre (five small villages just south of Florence, most famous is San Gimignano) and buy supplies like handmade pasta and wild boar salami there. It is not cheap (4 EUR for a small bag of pasta!) but definitely worth the trip. As for avoiding the tourist traps (high prices and convenience food), check out the small backalleys. In Venice look at restaurants in Burano or Murano or on the Lido. Cannot really help you with prices, but 25 EUR per meal and person should be realistic. (Tip: Buy all your softdrinks or your mineral water in supermarkets!)
As in regards to the number of tourists, Rome, Paris, Florence and Venice will never have a lack of tourists. About the only time the flow slows down a bit is in the winter months, and for Venice (Carneval) it never really does.
I really like Paris but 7 nights...! Jesus, that's much. There's much to do and see, however I believe it's excessive. But who would get tired of Paris... ah well.
I agree, 7 nights in Paris is a lot! You could probably see all the major sights in a couple of days, three at the most. Having said that, if you plan to visit the Louvre, allow a whole day!I can recommend the Catacombs, very impressive. Also, Paris is terribly expensive!
As said previously, the weather in Europe can be very unpredictable.