My boyfriend and I are thinking of travelling to France and Italy and the UK this time next year.
I was wondering if any of you can tell me some good places to stay in terms of keeping costs down (we don't want to slum it or stay in hostels etc) and being close to main attractions.
Also the best way to travel in your opinion? Rail? Bus? Cheap Flights? (We're not going to travel around a lot, just UK and France/Italy.)
I want to see Cornwall, as my ancestors are from there and in particular i want to get to Lands End. A lot of people have said that driving is the only way to get around Cornwall. Is this true?
Also any suggestions of sights to see/gorgeous towns to stay in would be appreciated.
Also, can anyone tell me the best places to go where english is spoken more widely in France and Italy? I have heard that some neighbourhoods (i use this term loosely) speak english more freely than others. and as i only have basic french and italian behind me, and my boyfriend speaks none at all, it would be good to know that we can be understood when we have to be!!
Thanks guys. (any other tips about travelling through france and italy i.e where not to go - would be appreciated too) thanks!
I've traveled through Cornwall both by foot/bus and by car (different trips).
It is not true that you "need" a car to travel through Cornwall. I had no problems exploring by bus. However, it is true that with a car, you can travel far more quickly and efficiently, and you can reach a few places that would be otherwise hard to get to without doing a lot of walking. If your time there will be limited, or you don't have a lot of patience for slow travel, then it might well be a good idea for you to hire a car, especially since you will be splitting the costs between two people. If you'd rather use public transportation, though, it is perfectly feasible. It just takes a bit of planning and a bit of patience, as many routes do run infrequently.
Land's End itself has sadly been desecrated by a rather tawdry theme park "attraction" built right at the end of the peninsula. It has little to recommend it, other than as a bus stop and as a place for long-distance walkers to use the toilets. The coastline itself, however, is spectacular. I would recommend ignoring the theme park entirely, and instead spending some time walking the coast path. It's really rather impressive how all the crowds disappear as soon as you walk ten or fifteen minutes along the coast in either direction from the "attraction."
For a short walk (around 1.5 miles), you could walk from Land's End to Sennen Cove, or if you wanted to make a whole day of it (around 8 miles), you could walk to Land's End from Porthcurno. Buses run to both villages, so with planning, it is possible to do either as a one-way walk while based in Penzance or St. Ives. Even if you're not terribly interested in walking, I would still highly recommend at least taking a short stroll along the coast away from the park and back, if only to see the beautiful coastline without the distraction of the ugly tourist trap.
For other sights to see near Land's End, the Minack Theatre near Porthcurno is truly stunning - pictures don't do it justice at all. St. Michael's Mount is also well worth visiting. They are both easy to reach by bus. St. Ives is beautiful and has lots to do; it would be a good choice for a base while you are in the area. The road between St. Just and St. Ives is gorgeous on a clear day. If you aren't driving, it still might be worth a bus ride: you could make an entire day of it by stopping off at Zennor, or by exploring Cape Cornwall (near St. Just), or both.
If you like prehistoric monuments, the Penwith Peninsula is absolutely littered with them, although many of them are difficult to reach without a car. The Merry Maidens Stone Circle is the simplest to reach by bus. The heathland on which Men-an-Tol and the Nine Maidens Stone Circle sit is far more scenic, IMO, but harder to reach without your own transport. If you wind up hiring a car and you are interested in antiquities, there is a wealth of possibilities open to you.
Wow thank you so much for your response!
It sounds a shame about the park that they have put at lands end. What a silly idea. Why ruin the natural beauty of the place??
I had been looking at St.Ives and wondered if it would be a good place to be based.
I'm wondering how far it would be from St. Ives to Mousehole? (As my family originally came from Mousehole, i would love to go there.)
You have given me so many ideas to explore, thank you so much!
Europe has a number of cheap airlines which make getting around easier. Car is still the easiest way to get around Cornwall as buses can be rare and don't go to many places.
Distance from St Ives to Mousehole is 9 miles.
English is not spoken much anywhere in France but you can often get by without it. 99% of the French I speak in France is: Yes, no, thank you and goodbye. Even small towns often have a tourist office where some English is spoken.
Public transport is strictly limited in France and a car preferable (though it may be easier to work from a base with days out.) However car hire in France is EXPENSIVE as in as much for one day as for a week in parts of Spain. Maybe just have a car when needed? (Returning it to a place other than where you picked it up is also expensive).
If you do want to improve your French quickly and easily, you could try: Michel Thomas's courses. They have been out a while so they are often available at reduced prices.
I have found lowcostholidays (Hotel Only option) often has good accommodation at cheap prices in many places.
As to travelling this time next year, don't. Early July into August is very expensive with rooms full up, travel full up and crowds everywhere. June is a lot better, and cheaper.
Oh, I think you'll like Mousehole! It's lovely - in fact, I'm almost certain I meant to list it as one of the places in the Land's End area worth a visit. I was rather surprised to see that I left it out. Mousehole is actually someplace it's much better *not* to take a car, if you can avoid it. It's not a car-friendly sort of place at all - very narrow, steep little streets, with precious little parking. Fortunately, you don't have to drive there: buses run quite frequently from Penzance and back - it's just a short hop, maybe about twenty minutes. Buses also run frequently between St. Ives and Penzance, so it would be easy to get there on public transport from St. Ives. Even if you do decide to hire a car, I'd probably choose not to try to take it into Mousehole, myself.
Here's a link to some timetables, so you can get an idea of where the buses run and how frequently:
I don't think that site lists all the bus routes, but it will at least give you an idea. As you can see, Penwith is actually pretty well-served by public transport, especially in summer. It gets trickier elsewhere in Cornwall.
I think that St. Ives would make a very good base. It has a wide variety of accommodations to suit all budgets, and is also just such a lovely town in its own right. Penzance is more the transportation hub for that area, but I think that St. Ives is a much nicer place to stay.