Terri and Finn’s European Adventure (July/Aug 2022)
Last summer, I took my then 17 year old (Finn) on a three week European adventure right before Finn flew off to Burlington, VT for their first year of college at UVM.
It was fantastic. Even when things went wrong, which they did, we ended up in a great, if not better, place.
We met lots of people, practiced our French and worked together to understand (Finn) and be understood (me). We made a great team and ideal travel partners.
We flew from SFO through Frankfurt on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 and arrived in Nice, France on Thursday, July 28, 2022.
We rented a car in Nice and after driving around the Gorges du Verdon, Provence, and Le Drome regions, we took the train to Paris to spend five nights at my friend Terry’s apartment in the 17th arr.
From Paris, we took the train to Lyon and rented another car. We drove from Lyon to Geneva to Chamonix to Les Arcs 1800 and after a dinner in La Thuile, Italy, drove back to finish our trip in Lyon.
We missed our connection in Frankfurt and enjoyed an unexpected night there before arriving home on Tuesday, August 16, 2022, a day late.
Technically this was a 20 day trip but I didn’t start the travel log until we arrived in Nice.
We met up (and stayed) with friends throughout the trip.
We both love doing this.
At the end of the trip, we made a list of our favorite parts.
Finn’s Top 9
— Gorges du Verdon and driving around
— Driving to Italy for dinner, the thick, hot chocolate, and the cow in the road
— The brocantes in L’Isle sur la Sorgue and Carouges (Switzerland)
— The old towns, large and small
— Citrus restaurant in Nice: it was a great beginning to our trip, dining with our friend Kathryn (despite being absolutely exhausted)
— Getting fresh croissants and bread in Paris
— Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix
— Nearly running out of gas in Les Arcs 1800
Terri’s Top 8
—Traveling with Finn
— Driving to Italy for dinner: the cow in the road, the views, and the adventure
— Gorges du Verdon: the spontaneity of the day, freedom to drive wherever we wanted, making last minute reservations at a fantastic hotel, the views, and dinner at the hotel
— Speaking French, meeting people, getting ideas from them
— Meeting up with friends: Kathryn, Sophie and Sandy, Somerset, Imene, Lara, Terry, Michele, Kriss
— Aiguille du midi in Chamonix
— Road trip and driving: love the freedom
— All the different modes of transportation (16!)
— Parking near Chateau du Barroux: I should have taken a picture of where I squeezed our car into versus the parking lot that was just over the hill.
— Consistenly missing lunch windows which wasn’t funny at the time but in retrospect, was pretty funny
— Eating chocolate mousse with chopsticks
— Missing the lunch window (noon-2 PM) on so many days. But we did get to eat chocolate mousse with chopsticks.
— Oversleeping in Nice: we were supposed to be up and at the car rental place by 10. We didn’t get the car until after 2 because they closed for lunch. We still had a great day and we walked from the hotel to the train station which was lovely.
— Hair care: our hair was dry and frizzy throughout the trip and we really struggled to find hair products in the stores we went into. This just ended up being comical.
— Gas situation in Les Arcs (nearly running out of gas). I was so stressed.
— In Paris, the first day, when we went right instead of left and ended up in SoOeste. We ended up having a lovely lunch and meeting a very interesting man who loves California enough to have a tattoo of it on his arm.
— Purchasing a poke bowl and carrying it around for a few days before we realized that it might kill us if we ate it.
— Not having ice for the cooler. We ended up buying frozen vegetables in a Sherpa store in Chamonix since we couldn’t find any ice or other cooler freezer block.
— Missing our connection in Frankfurt and having to spend the night in Frankfurt and arrive home a day late. But this ended up being pretty great in the end.
I also wrote about our trip in 24 hour increments beginning when we arrived in Nice, France. It was a trains, planes, automobiles, bus, paraglider, pedicab, type of experience. Here are the links to the 19 posts:
Day 1: Nice, France (plane, Uber)
Day 2: Nice — Gorges du Verdon (car)
Day 3: Gorges du Verdon — Aix en Provence — L’Isle sur la Sorgue) (car)
Day 4: L’Isle sur la Sorgue — Carpentras — Dieulefit (car)
Day 5: Dieulefit — Paris (car, train, taxi, metro)
Day 6: Paris (metro, bus)
Day 7: Paris (Bolt, metro)
Day 8: Paris (bus, metro)
Day 9: Last Day in Paris (metro, Uber, train)
Day 10: Paris — Lyon — Geneva (train, car)
Day 11: Geneva (mouettes, tram)
Day 12: Geneva — Lausanne — Montreux — Chamonix (car, bus)
Day 13: Chamonix (cable car)
Day 14: Chamonix — Les Arcs 1800 (gondola, car)
Day 15: Les Arcs 1800 (car, ski lift, paraglider, van)
Day 16: Les Arcs 1800 — Thuile, Italy (car)
Day 17: Les Arcs 1800 — Lyon (car, Bolt)
Day 18: Lyon (funicular, Uber)
Day 19: Lyon — Frankfurt-Home! (plane, train, pedicab, train, plane, car)
That’s four countries, countless kilometers, and sixteen different modes of transportation. Finn tried to get me onto a Bird scooter but I chickened out. This I regret.
Some More Info
When we weren’t staying with friends, we mostly stayed in Mercure hotels which are part of Accor. When we needed last minute hotel reservations, we used booking.com (Gorges du Verdon and L’Isle sur la Sorgue).
We flew United because I have been sucked into the United cult with MileagePlus. Our flights from Frankfurt to Nice and Lyon to Frankfurt were on Lufthansa. We got upgraded to business class and were able to use the lounge at Frankfurt. My Chase Infinite card gets us into the United lounge.
We traveled with two roller bags and two backpacks, all of which we carried on at SFO. We checked bags on the return to SFO because we’d picked up a few things. Finn had a backpack. I had a backpack and a cute woven panier I purchased in L’Isle sur la Sorgue that contained what Finn would need when they left for college.
We have Global Entry, TSAPre, and Clear. None of these work outside of the US.
I rented the car in Nice from Avis and in Lyon, from Hertz. I would have preferred to rent only from Hertz but there was no option to return to Hertz in Valance.
My Chase Infinite card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee so most of our purchases were charged to that card which means I get more miles and continue to be part of the United borg. We didn’t use very much cash. At some gas stations, my credit cards didn’t work and we had to use Finn’s debit card which did work.
Where we could, we used free wifi. All other times, I paid Verizon $10/day (sometimes more if we used a lot of data) to remain connected. Finn only used free wifi.
We brought a soft sided REI cooler bag for travel snacks which I just now realized (after looking at the REI pics) turns into a cube. It folds flat for easy storage.
All photos were taken with my iPhone 13.
We did laundry at the apartment in Paris and my friend Terry (who has the apartment in Paris) did a load of laundry for us in Les Arcs 1800. We did very little sink washing as a result. Finn did a little bit of shower washing because they have quick-dry items.
We used Bolt (like Uber but the company started in Estonia) and Uber when Bolt wasn’t available.
I downloaded quite a few public transportation apps like in Montreux and for the train (SNCF).
About the Author
Terri Hanson Mead is the multi-award winning author of Piloting Your Life, Managing Partner of Solutions2Projects, LLC, and an advocate for women through all of her platforms including YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and this blog. Terri is the mother of two college aged kids, is based in Redwood City, CA and in her spare time, loves to travel, cook, play tennis, and fly helicopters around the San Francisco Bay Area, especially under the Golden Gate Bridge.