Need some ideas for a driving holiday around Europe

(28 Posts)
ThePavlovianCat Thu 21-Mar-13 15:54:22

My DH and I have decided to have an extended family holiday this year with our (will be then 10mo) baby before I go back to work and before he takes over as primary carer for a month. It will be for 3-4 weeks in August and we are thinking of driving across parts of Europe, getting the ferry to either Spain or France (or somewhere else convenient).

Bearing in mind we will have a 10mo, where would you go and what would you do? Looking for ideas for places to stay, things to do, local festivals etc Eg I know there's a medieval festival in Bayeaux but that's at the start of July.

zazas Mon 29-Apr-13 19:07:41

Thank you for your replies - just got back on-line! Scoul is in the far east/south near the Swiss National Park - bordering with Austria and Switzerland. A beautiful wee town that I spent a summer in one year and would love to share with the children. Now thinking about Italian Lakes - not thinking we will have enough time on this trip and we have to visit to Wengen as promised friends we would see them!

The pass sounds interesting - might check with the driver on that one!

Colmar/Riquewihr sound lovely - might now visit there or on way back - thanks for that!

Neuschwanstein castle is a must do - I had a poster on that on my wall from the age of 6 and it's a childhood dream smile Wank is open for a discussion - with boys aged 13 and 12 I am not sure how that will be perceived!!!

Mondrian - sounds like Heidelberg, through Freiburg is a good route, will check that out now. Italian Lakes next time unless the weather in Swiss Alps terrible!

Mondrian Sat 27-Apr-13 23:59:24

If you do head Lugano way, make sure you stay at least one night at Hotel Stella D'Italia which is on the banks of Lake Lugano, just over the Italian border. All of its guest rooms feature balconies or terrace with beautiful lake & mountain views, breakfast is served in the courtyard by the lake under vine leaves .... Bliss.

Laquila Sat 27-Apr-13 21:37:02

I'm a big fan of the Italian Lakes, particularly Garda, Idro and Iseo, but I do think it'll be uncomfortably hot there in August with a 10mo. Having said that, it was the night-time temps that got me (whilst camping) and if you're in air-con hotels rooms it might not be so much of an issue.

The Switzerland itineraries sound absolutely gorgeous. Jealous!

Portofino Sat 27-Apr-13 21:33:38

They are all fecking scary though. grin

Portofino Sat 27-Apr-13 21:33:03

No, I have looked at the map agin. It was the Susten pass we did.

Portofino Sat 27-Apr-13 21:28:21

Mondrian, I agree. It is a beautiful part of the world.

Mondrian Sat 27-Apr-13 20:42:28

A few years ago we drove from London to Naples & beyond. Definitely recommend driving through the black Forrest. From Heidelberg, through Freiburg and cross at Basel into Switzerland. Geneva/Annecy area is definitely worth a visit but then I would cut across to Lugano, como, Garda ... for us northern lakes in Italy was the highlight of the trip.

Portofino Sat 27-Apr-13 20:22:20

taster of the Furka pass which I think was the one we did actually.

Portofino Sat 27-Apr-13 20:14:29

If you are going to Garmisch, Neuschwanstein castle nearby is not to be missed (castle in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and there is a mountain called the Wank, where you can go up in the Wankbahn and get lunch in the Wankhaus. this caused endless tittering when on my school German exchange. In fact it still makes me titter now grin though depending on your kids, you may or may not wish to avoid.....

LIZS Sat 27-Apr-13 20:14:22

dh made it his mission to drive as many alpine passes as possible so definitely worth the St Gotthard pass in preference to tunnel although iirc it isn't as precipitous as some others ! Be wary if any of you suffer from car sickness but you can at least take a break at the top. For Wengen you have to park in Lauterbrunnen and you may want to reserve a space in the covered car park espeically if stopping there for a weekend or longer otherwise you end up in a field a good walk/bus out of town.

Portofino Sat 27-Apr-13 20:06:32

Dh and I discussed talking some parental leave next summer and doing something similar over 6 or 7 weeks. Better start saving up.

Portofino Sat 27-Apr-13 20:02:02

Colman/ Riquewahr are very very pretty, and you can take in a bit of the Route des Vins. Heidelberg is very nice too though. I haven't been to Reims personally but it seemed a good stop off point. We did the San Gottardo tunnel and drove over the Grimsel pass towards Interlaken. I have never been so scared in my entire life grin Stunning scenery but perilous drops. I blanked out the scenery (stunning) and spent the time praying. The san gottardo pass was recommended to me though. The Reichenbach Falls and the Arschlucht gorge are well worth a visit if you are that area. We went to Grindelwald, went up to the top of the mountain on the cable car and walked half way back down. There is a nice restaurant with a huge playground at the mid point. Very expensive though. Couldn't find Scoul on google maps though....

zazas Fri 26-Apr-13 20:45:41

Hi Portofino - I am liking your itinerary - the Reims, Colmar/Riquewihr, Lake Lucerne or Interlaken/Wengen, San Gottardo pass, Lake Como, Lake Garda, Dolomites (Bolzano), Innsbruck, Garmisch Partenkirchen, Heidelberg and the Rhein Valley, Monschau/Aachen, Breda/Delft, Antwerp, Bruges, back to Calais

So far we have arranged for this August - Calais - Ieper, Luxembourg City / Freiburg / Garmish / Scoul / Wengen over 19/20 days. Planning on a mix of hotels/camping with 5 kids - 6 - 15 years old. But looking for other places to tack on to the trip. Love the outdoors, love history!

Luxembourg City is 100% as is Scoul and Wengen for friend reasons but if you have any thoughts of places within the circle that we 'shouldn't' miss I am all ears smile

Reims could be a possibility on our way back - can you convince me?

Colmar/Riquewihr I know nothing about? However it is on our way from Luxembourg to Freiburg. Or should we go north to Heidelberg?

It looks like we can go the long way to Wengen from Scoul over San Gottardo Pass - it is worth it?

Won't have time this trip to explore the Italian Lakes sad

Thank you!

Portofino Wed 27-Mar-13 20:20:56

Just general gorgeousness really. If you know how much time you have and which way you want to go I can suggest places I have been, hotels, attractions etc. I don't have time to do that for the whole of Europe ;-)

Maryz Wed 27-Mar-13 19:45:36

I want to do that Porto - the first one.

How soon will my house be empty and my bank account full <ponders>

ThePavlovianCat Wed 27-Mar-13 19:08:46

The champagne region (Epernay/Reims) is definitely on the itinery. Thanks Portofino for the sugessted routes. Both have a mixture of places I haven't been to and places I'd love to revisit so definitely somethimg to think about. Are there any particular attractions at any of these places that you woud recommend?

Portofino Wed 27-Mar-13 10:33:57

Or as an alternative: Deauville, Honfleur, Saint Malo/Dinard/Mont st michel
La Rochelle, St Emilion, Sarlat/Lez Eyzies (Dordogne) Lyon, Chambery/Lake Annecy, Lake Lucerne, Colmar, Trier/Berkastel (Moselle valley) Belgian Ardennes (Durbuy/La Roche), Brussels/Bruges, Belgian Coast (De Haan)

Portofino Wed 27-Mar-13 10:17:35

Coming from Calais, I would suggest:

Reims, Colmar/Riquewihr, Lake Lucerne or Interlaken/Wengen, San Gottardo pass, Lake Como, Lake Garda, Dolomites (Bolzano), Innsbruck, Garmisch Partenkirchen, Heidelberg and the Rhein Valley, Monschau/Aachen, Breda/Delft, Antwerp, Bruges, back to Calais.

LIZS Tue 26-Mar-13 08:30:10

In CH you only need a Vignette to go on the motorways. If you're travelling through you could pick a lake then mountain area to stop at. Opt for interesting driving over passes (rather than through endless tunnels) too. The Gotthard pass down into the Italian region is a good one, stop at Lake Lugano the other side not far from Milan. Definitely avoid the tunnels/passes on a Saturday mid July - August as queues are horrible. August 1st is Swiss National day so you'll find a lot of local fairs in even the smallest of villages with celebratory Brunch deals at mountain cafes as well as evening fireworks.

PhyllisDoris Tue 26-Mar-13 08:18:34

A few years ago we drove via Belgium, France and Switzerland to Italy and got as far as Rome. Camping all the way. We drove home via S of France. The whole thing took 3 weeks and the DDs loved it.
Warning - if you drive through Switzerland you need to have a special permit, which is a lot more expensive when bought from border control than if purchases in advanced!

ThePavlovianCat Tue 26-Mar-13 08:10:54

Thanks everyone for the responses. I hadn't thought about the temperature but you're right, too hot would not be good.

I am liking the idea of driving across through France, Belgium, Switzerland and maybe the top of Italy. I haven't been to Switzerland before so are there any places you would recommend?

Unfortunately due to timings, the holiday has to be in August.

Maryz Mon 25-Mar-13 23:37:04

Don't go south in August.

I did a driving holiday with dh back in the days before kids, and we finished up by driving south through Spain. We were heading for Grenada, but by the time we got there we were so pissed off with the heat that we drove straight through, and up the mountains until we reached the snow line grin. It was over 40 degrees - and that was early July. August would be hotter.

Stay further north - Switzerland is beautiful, driving through the Alps is wonderful, as is Northern Italy, Lake Garda and the French Alps - we stayed in Annecy for a couple of nights.

If I were you I would ferry to Holland or somewhere, visit places like Bruges, head east rather than south, and possibly make it as far as somewhere like Geneva (or possibly Northern Italy), coming back through Germany.

JudithIscariot Mon 25-Mar-13 22:23:18

So you don't want to be travelling on the weekends. This is like my dream query grin

JudithIscariot Mon 25-Mar-13 22:21:30

Hmmm. With a 10 month old. You don't want too hot or French traffic jams. Europe goes on hols in August.

ThePavlovianCat Mon 25-Mar-13 14:44:59

Probably hotels/B&Bs rather than camping though happy to have a few nights under canvas (if we can fit the tent in the car!) We like moving around a lot so probably no more than 2 or 3 nights in each place.

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