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Nice To Florence Travel

Nice To Florence Travel

Postby Raedwolf » Thu Apr 10, 2014 1:35 am

Hi there - what's the best way to travel from Nice to Florence? We have heard the night train is a good way to go?

ANSWER: Hi . . . Kaley from Australia!

On your question, there really is no "best way" to travel from Nice to Florence, including by an over-night train.  One rail options goes from Nice to Milan and then a train change and going down to Florence on a different train.  That takes about seven hours with 25 minutes for the train change in Milan. There are other rail options, including going to Genoa and then to Pisa and then to Florence that involve more total time and added train changes.  Some of the rail options involve 3-6 train changes and up to 15 hours in total time.  

Sorry!  What's your total, overall travel plan?  Where do you fly into and out of?  When is your trip scheduled?   Maybe I could make some other suggestions.  There are options to fly that route.  You could drive, but rental car charges get high for picking up in France and dropping in Italy.  Per MapQuest.com, it is a 4 hours 37 minutes drive to cover these 259.86 miles between these two cities.     TELL ME MORE!  Then, with more detailed information from you, I can make better, more specific suggestions on what best fits your needs and interests. Below are some notes on the nearby Provence area.  Are you planning to visit there?

Does this start to help a little? What are your reactions and needs for added information?  Be happy to provide additional info and answer other questions after learning more from you.  Be sure to complete the evaluation section so that our "bosses" on this volunteer service know we are working hard to make inquiring minds as happy as possible. ENJOY!  Merci Beaucoup!

Thanks.  Terry Casey in Columbus, Ohio

PROVENCE: WHY IT IS A GREAT PLACE?  ITS WONDERFUL OPTIONS: Why do people love Provence?  It is a region having a love affair with the land, earth and environment.  The landscape is lush and verdant.  Open-air markets have baskets of fresh herbs, fruits, flowers, fabrics, etc.  The colorful spirit of the Mediterranean fills the air.  Provence is nature at its purest.  The sky is a piercing shade of blue.  Fields are abundant and the air is clear.  The climate ensures that spring, summer and fall yield magnificent and varied harvests.  Throughout France, Provence is known for the best of everything natural.  People in the area take great pride in these natural traditions for what they grow and how it is prepared in each village and every kitchen.

LOCATION: Provence has at its southern edge the famed Cote d’Azur with its wonderful coastline along the Mediterranean Sea.  Generally Provence is consider the area east of the Rhone River with the Alps being the eastern border.  Provence enjoys a southern sun that shines 320 days yearly, giving the region blue skies and mild temperatures year round.  It is most picturesque in the spring with its flowering trees and shrubs.  Summer offers local markets full of fresh harvests.  Mid July is when the lavender field are in full bloom, filling the country air with a soothing fragrance.  The Mistral winds can bring icy temperatures on bright sunny days. Getting lost can be fun in Provence.  You can stumble across a charming village, history abbey or great tree-lined roadway. KEY PROVENCE LOCATIONS: AVIGNON is "one of the great art cities of France".  Its old part of town has the Papal Palace, seat of Popes 1309-1377, street musicians perform near palace; art museum in Place du Palais open Wednesday through Monday, population of 87,000, town is on Rhone River. Once the religious, political and financial capital, Avignon is today a cultural capital and plays host annually in July to the largest festival of live theatre in the world. It has some of the best example of Gothic architecture in Europe.

AIX-EN-PROVENCE(population of 125,000) with Cezanne's studio on the road to Entremont; university town founded 122 B.C. as first Roman settlement in Gaul, near thermal springs, dining at Gu et Fils. An elegant and beautiful town, the visitor will enjoy discovering its ‘thousand fountains’ as he or she roams through its labyrinth of narrow streets. Aix-en-Provence is also renowned worldwide for its unique classical music festival.

Car travel to such nearby areas as ARLES, highest priority area city with Roman ruins, including 20,000 seat arena where bull fights are held in the summer; founded 49 B.C. by Julius Caesar, population of 52,000, Van Gogh's former home. Tarascon has its 15th century castle. LES BAUX is a very neat medieval village with great views that has no major population now, but tourist flock to soak up its history and great views. You should dine right near there at L'Oustau de Beaumaniere for ONE OF THE BEST MEALS YOU CAN HAVE IN FRANCE(lunch is more affordable). This website gives some excellent info on the area, plus this excellent Michelin two-star rated dining place: http://www.relaischateaux.com/en/search-book/hotel-restaurant/oustau/region NIMES was settled 121 B.C. and has a population of 140,000. Around the time of Julius Caesar, Nimes was a bustling city on the strategic Via Domitia linking Rome to Iberia/Spain. Nimes's arena, temple and nearby aqueduct are among the best-preserved in all of the former empire. Cars are banished from the compact old city dotted with other ruins, enhancing the feel of yesteryear. The Maison Carre is an almost impossibly pristine Roman temple.

ST. REMY has its Roman ruins, a population of 9000 and is the setting of world-famous literature.  Saint-Remy is one of the most representative of Provençal towns and allows the visitor to appreciate the true charm of this oft-celebrated region of the country. It comes as no surprise that Saint Remy, like Cannes or Saint Tropez, is a destination for many well-known personalities.  This Gallo-Roman village is on the plains 20 km south of Avignon. Residents more recent than the Romans include Dr. Schweitzer, Dr. Nostradamus and Van Gogh. The picturesque, old village is protected by the circular 14th-century wall which is lined by its protective circle of buildings.  Its dolphin fountain is located in the shaded square in front of a 16th century old convent.  This is a busy, active village, with a good selection of restaurants and hotels for the traveller. Among the shops are a few with some regional pottery, including some beautiful sunflower plates influenced by Van Gogh.  The road between St. Remy and the autoroute(at Cavaillon, 17 km to the east) is a scenic drive out of the past: the road is lined by plane trees .

PONT DU GARD(Roman aqueduct/bridge) to the west of Avignon is a must see with its well-preserved history and beautiful setting. Saturday AM market at Uzes near Pont du Gard can be totally charming and wonderful. Try good Provence website of:


Try Avignon’s official tourism office: www.avignon-et-provence.com

For St. Remy:http://www.saintremy-de-provence.com/anglais/ssomm.htm

COASTAL SUGGESTION: The old village of Eze, along the coast between Nice and Monaco, hangs up in the mountains above the water and crowds. It's wonderful to visit. Great, great views! Totally charming! Have lunch or dinner there at one of the two great eating places and feel like you're sitting on the edge of paradise! At 1,407 feet above the Mediterranean, Eze offers commanding views of cliffs, sea, sprawling estates and off-shore islands. The village's narrow streets or more really paths among the buildings lead to the Jardin Exotique  It is a maze of paths flanked by mammoth flowering plants and spiky cactuses.  For about $3, you can walk up to the best view on the French Riviera. On a clear day, you can see Corsica!  It does not get much better than Eze.  Their tourism office: www.eze-riviera.com

CONGESTION, TRAFFIC WARNINGS: Be properly warned that Nice, Cannes, Monaco, etc. can and will be extremely crowded during their peak tourism periods.  Lots and lots of people(both residents and visitors), too many cars, too few highways and limited land between the mountains and sea to hold all comfortably and easily.  The movies have made these large cities seem attractive and appealing.  Do not Cary Grant and Grace Kelly seem to be having fun there?  So glamorous and exciting?!  For movies, they make it seem so wonderful.  If you are rich and in the “best, right” areas, it can seem and be wonderful.  BUT, that congestion might be a turn-off.  It depends on what are you expecting, seeking and willing to pay for to hang with the rich and avoid the mobs in these famed areas.

WEATHER/BEACHES FOR THIS AREA?  It is NOT always hot and perfect beach weather during all months of the year in this region, especially in the November to April period.  Also, the beaches are not all perfect, nice and sandy, gently sloped, etc., as some have experienced in Florida, the Carolinas, California, etc.  The movie images paint a perfect picture!  BUT, in many areas for some months, the beaches can be rocky and the weather mostly in the 50's and 60's.  Sunny, probably.  Windy, maybe.  Not trying to be negative, just realistic!  Timing in this area is important!  Movie-like expectations must be matched with reality and your timing for visits in this area.  Also some of the best beaches in a few peak areas are reserved for private hotel or resort use only.  Not all of the best beaches are open to the general public.

CAR RENTALS OPTIONS: We have had excellent success with


Their phone toll-free is 1-888-223-5555(North America only).

There are also rail-auto plan options through raileurope.com

Avis has lots and lots of location around France and Europe. Don’t assume one price will be the THE PRICE, best price.  Make an advanced booking at a good price, but keep check back as different specials will come up, especially in these fast-changing economic times. WEB-MAPPING FOR FRANCE:

Use this website to get any detailed maps you need. Scroll to the bottom of the page and follow the directions with your details on where are coming from and going to. It will give both graphic maps and written point-by-point instructions.http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp?country=FR


RAIL SCHEDULES: You can go to this websitehttp://www.raileurope.com/us/rail/point_to_point/triprequest.htm



and check all of the various train options, timings and costs on rail travel within Europe through the "schedules" option on their web page.  For some routings, such as Avignon to Barcelona or Nice to Rome, it will not yield results.  You will be need to break it out into separate routings such as Nice to Genoa, then Genoa to Rome.  Great, very useful site!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Hi there - so, more information. We fly into London and have 5 days there, then 5 days in Paris then on to Nice(I think we'll fly to Nice, though not sure of that yet)for 2-3 days. We would like to go from Nice to Florence(2 days) then the Cinque Terre(2 days) and then onto Rome for 5 days. We fly out of Rome to go home.

I like the idea of driving from Nice to Florence and the hire charges don't seem unreasonable, particularly with Hertz for pick up in Nice and drop off in Florence. Do you have any suggestions on where we could possibly stop off from Nice to Florence on our driving trip - we might like to stay over night somewhere in Tuscany before our stay in Florence. We would only have about 24 hours for the driving leg, but really like the idea of being able to stop off in places for a quick leg-stretch or morning or afternoon tea etc.

We weren't planning on spending much time in Nice itself as we're beach bum type people(!) but instead intend to use it as a base to discover a little more of Provence in the short time we have there. We haven't thought too much about where as yet, though your suggestions are a great starting point!
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Nice To Florence Travel

Postby Link » Thu Apr 10, 2014 2:01 am

Hi . . . again . . . Kaley from Australia!

Thanks for the added background information.  This really helps me see the "BIGGER PICTURE" on your plan.  

My first reaction/suggestion would be that you should take the TGV train down from Paris to Avignon and get your rental car there.  WHY?   .  Between Paris and Avignon, it is only a two hour and 35-40 minute trip that zooms this route by traveling up to 199 mph.  On other TGV routes, the top speed is around 186 mph.   These super nice and fine TGV trains are not, however, on all routes, nor to all cities.  You would spend nearly three hours getting out to the Paris airport and be there ahead for security, etc.

Second, there is some distance(two plus hours driving) between the airport in Nice and Avignon and the heart of Provence.  Taking the train down would be more time-efficient and enjoyable.   If you really want to see Provence with all of its charm, beauty and history, this plan would be smoother with the best flow. In driving from Provence/Nice towards Italy, I would make your stop at Cinque Terre as you move towards Florence.  You would waste lots of time doing Florence first and then doubling-back to hit Cinque Terre.  That also helps break up your trip between Provence and Florence. Having five days each for London, Paris and Rome is smart and good.  That's perfect timing!!!   You won't be too rushed and you will be able to see and enjoy the depth of great things in these wonderful cities. Below are some notes on Rome, Florence, etc. What are your needs for added information?  Be happy to answer other questions.  Be sure to complete the evaluation section so that our "bosses" on this volunteer service know we are working hard to make inquiring minds as happy as possible. ENJOY!  Merci Beaucoup!

Thanks.  Terry Casey in Columbus, Ohio


1. Relax and enjoy!  The Romans already controlled the world once and are not in that much of a hurry.  It will all work out.  Be patient!  That's their approach to life!

2. It's hard to have a bad meal in Italy!  If you like seafood, you'll find lots of great dishes there.  But most everything is wonderful.  Enjoy the food!

3. The driving in the cities can be a little crazy, but the Italian are great, defensive drivers . . . very alert and aggressive.  Outside of the cities, it’s much easier and lots like driving right here in Ohio.

ITALY FAST FACTS: Total land size is slightly larger than Arizona, but the population is 58 million, nearly twice that of California.  The “boot” is 800 miles long by about 100 miles average width, May is one of the four best months for Italian travel(better weather and not over-crowded with tourists). Italy is the world’s largest wine producer.


VENICE(pop. 299,000), best options/priorities of St. Mark’s Basilica(Sun. 2-5:30, M-S 9:45-5:30) be sure to take stairs/steps and go up to the higher second level for both great inside and outside views, wonderful 1000-year old church; Doge’s Palace(9-6 daily), see the jail area, great outdoor pictures from the balcony off of the grand ballroom-reception area on the second level; do sunrise walk, enjoy the “battling bands” at night on San Marco Square; Grand Canal boat ride; Rialto Bridge and its area is wonderful; Gallerie dell’Accademia(9-10, Sun 9-6) has very good art, but not as great the Uffizi in Florence, nice stuff by Leonardo DaVinci;  wonderful shopping options, including silk, such as ties for $8.50 on San Marco Square; just walking around Venice is the total joy, no cars, truck or motor scooters, just lots of interesting people in a great, historic setting!  You’ll walk where Marco Polo walked after being in China!

FLORENCE(pop. 384,000), best options/priorities of Il Duomo Cathedral(open 9 6 daily), if ambitious, climb to the top of the tower, great views, good way up; Palazzo Vecchio(their historic town hall) has great old rooms, climb higher for wonderful views of town; Uffizi Museum and Gallery(open 9-7, closed Monday) enjoy wine on their patio overlooking the Vecchio Plaza near the end of the museum visit; Accademia with Michelangelo’s David(8:30-7); Ponte Vecchio bridge; Santa Croce Church, lots of the famous buried there; Pitti Palace(open 8:30-7, closed Monday).  Try to get advanced tickets for both the Uffizi and Accademia.  This could save much time waiting in line.  Things are busy now, but not as bad as in the late Spring and Summer.

ROME(pop. nearly 3 million) This vivid city has so many unforgettable images: St. Peter's Dome against a pink-and-red sunset, the city's silhouette from Janiculum Hill at dawn; the array of broken marble columns and ruins of temples of the Roman Forum; a Bernini 17th-century colonnade resting against an Egyptian obelisk carried off from Heliopolis while Jesus was still alive; Renaissance frescoes in a papal palace built on top of the tomb of a Roman emperor.

Rome went all out to spruce up for 2000 and the Jubilee with decades' worth of grime from pollution scrubbed from the city's facades, revealing the original glory of the Eternal City. Many of the most popular areas(such as the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona) are sparkling and inviting again.

Whether they're still time-blackened or newly gleaming, the city's ancient monuments are a constant reminder that Rome was one of the greatest centers of Western civilization. In the heyday of the Empire, all roads led to Rome, and with good reason. It was one of the first cosmopolitan cities, importing slaves, gladiators, great art, and even citizens from the far corners of the world. Despite its carnage and corruption, Rome left a legacy of law; a heritage of great art, architecture, and engineering; and an uncanny lesson in how to conquer enemies by absorbing their cultures.

But ancient Rome is only part of the spectacle. The Vatican has had a tremendous influence on making the city a tourism center. They created great Renaissance treasures and even occasionally incorporated the old into the new- as Michelangelo did when turning the Baths of Diocletian into a church. And in the years that followed, Bernini adorned the city with the wonders of the baroque, especially his glorious fountains.

Rome is also a city of sounds, the peal of morning church bells, yielding into an urban symphony. The streets fill with cars, taxis, and motor scooters, all blaring their horns as they weave in and out of traffic; the sidewalks become overrun with bleary-eyed office workers rushing to their desks after stealing into crowded cafes for the first cappuccino of the day. The shops lining the streets open for business by raising their protective metal grilles as loudly as possible. Before long, fruit-and-vegetable stands are abuzz with activity as homemakers, maids, cooks, and others arrive to purchase their day's supply of fresh produce, haggling over prices and clucking over quality.

By 10 am the tourists are on the streets, battling crowds and traffic as they wind their way from Renaissance palaces and baroque buildings to the famous ruins of antiquity. Indeed, Rome often appears to have two populations: one of Romans and one of visitors. The traffic is worse than ever, complicated by a confusing lay-out of changing street names, twisting directions, etc.

More than Florence or Venice, Rome is Italy's treasure trove, packed with masterpieces from more than two millennia of artistic achievement -- Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling to Federico Fellini filming La Dolce Vita and 81?2 .

Rome's 2,700 years of history are laid open with every step. Nero fiddling, Mark Antony praising Caesar, and Charlemagne being crowned. Walk in their footsteps past the masterpieces of Michelangelo, sip your caffè in the shadow of Mussolini, and dodge Vespas speeding by Baroque palazzi and Egyptian obelisks.


Can travel 17 miles south from florence via SS222/Strata Chiantigiana, to Greve in Chianti, vineyards area along the way; then 25 miles south to Siena(pop. 65,000); this  would be a very good travel option for going south from Florence; Can take expressway route back.

San Gimimgnano is nearby to Siena and is the town of seven towers; has very, very nice shops, including leather goods.


Suggested and Highly Recommended by Us from May of 1999:

Oliviero, very elegant setting, couple blocks from Vecchio Palace, wonderful food, family run, three stars by Access, 15-Gault, Via delle Termi, 51; phone: 055/28 76 43

Ristorante Nandina, near to Ponte Vecchio bridge, moderately priced, great meal, more informal than Oliviero; two stars by Access, nearby to one of the best shopping areas, 15-Gault; Piazza S. Trinita, phone: 055-213 024

Suggested and Well-Rated by others:

Alle Murate, 52r Via Ghibellina, three star by Access, 15-Gault, Eyewitness good marks   

Enoteca Pinchiorri, 87 via Ghibellina(meal of a lifetime, very expensive and nearly impossible to get into.

Caffe Cibreino, Piazza Ghiberti 35(next door to costly Cibreo)(tel 055-234-1100) not too far from Santa Croce

San Zanobi, via San Zanobi, 33 red, tel. 475-286)(Mardee) several write ups

La Baruciola, 61 Via Maggio, tel. 218906 Just one street over from Piazza di Pitti.  It is the only restaurant on a street filled with antique shops. For a five course meal for two, with wine, we only spent 53,500 - 63,500 Lira($30.00 - $35.00).  This is half of what we spent on dinner any other evening.This restaurant was not filled with tourists, although they were extremely cordial to those of us who were, asking about our travels and recommending small towns and sites to visit nearby.)


Suggested and Highly Recommended by Us from May of 1999:

Osteria alla Piazza, just off of the SS222/Strata Chiantigiana route near Castellina in Chianti; in small village of La Piazza, telephone: 0577-73 35 80; simply wonderful food in a great setting


Greve in Chianti

It is the largest centre in the Chianti region and its name is synonymous with good wine. In 1325, as a fortress, Greve was burned to the ground by Castruccio.  The rebuilt church of Santa Croce which houses beautiful paintings of the school of the Beato Angelico and also of Bicci di Lorenzo stands at the bottom end of the asymmetrical main square of Greve.1 km from the centre stands the Castello di Montefioralle and on the "strada chiantigiana" there is to be found the Castello di Uzzano(famous for its Chianti Classico).  Go to central square market.....stores display on the sidewalk the crafts of Tuscany:  linens, pottery/ceramics/woodwork, straw items.  Not fine but cheap fun.  Walk thru butcher shop. Visit wine shops, buy chianti.

Castellina in Chianti

Castellina is a quiet and peaceful village full of old buildings, up on a hill at 578 mt high; it is set amidst the countryside of vine-yards, olive plantations and oak woods. In XIIIth century, together with Radda and Gaiole, it was a member of Lega del Chianti, whose flags had the famous black cock, that became symbol of Classic Chianti Wine.The town preserves the typical thirteenth century plan: the beautiful castle, which now houses the Town Council, and the unique Via delle Volte, a street almost totally sheltered by vaults. Buildings such as churches, castles and farms are spread all over the charming surroundings of Castellina.

Siena . . . a Must See & Do of Tuscany!

Siena is . . . the city of the blessed Virgins and the "Balzana"; black and white; decisive, just as its heraldic symbol; passionate and contemplative; always climbing and descending; clear and at the same time obscure; steep and narrow streets; the red of the Piazza del Campo appearing blinding and suddenly. In the alleys, in the museums and oratories of the Contrada, the spiritual songs of the Palio evoke very ancient rituals and modern allegories, while during the evening the shuffling of soles on the deserted pavement is in contrast with the peacefulness of the green valleys providentially enclosed within the wall, which ancient administrators had erected hundreds of years before it became common practice. Siena is also the Cathedral and the extraordinary panorama from the Facciatone; the Sala del Pellegrinaio in Santa Maria della Scala, the Libreria Piccolomini and the prestigious Accademia Chigiana; the enormous Medicean fortress that on the inside, at the Enoteca Italiana, harbors the most precious wines of Siena, Tuscany and the peninsula; sweet-smelling Trattorias, sweet spices, the sounds of the artisans and spouting fountains; Fontebrande and the mystery of the Diana, a famous river underneath Siena; the alchemy geometry of the Piazza, suggestively neo Gothic and cathartic. And these are the reasons why "Siena opens up its heart more than any other place," as the famous inscription reads on the Porta di Camollia.  
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