From June 28 to July 8 we traveled through France, visiting Paris, Annecy, and Lyon. My wife and I had been to Paris before, but the rest of our family had not. We began with the major attractions, which were easy since this travel team had made sure to book skip the line or private guide tickets to things like the Eiffel Tower, Place of Versailles, the Louvre, etc. Then, we departed via train to Annecy, at the foot of the French Alps, where were enjoyed local cheese specialties, the scenic views, boating, and hiking near Mont Blanc. It was the first time any of us had visited a glacier in person. Then, we ended the trip with a two-night stay in Lyon where we had tickets to cheer on our USWNT as they won their fourth World Cup.
The trip, in general, was amazing. The travel team did a good job of scouting hotel sites and helping us navigate through busy parts of the country, given that tourist season was in full swing AND the Women’s World Cup was going on. The team placed us in walking distance of many attractions, including most of the historical sites of downtown Paris, old town city centre in Annecy (right on the lake, to boot), and in Lyon we were five minutes from Fanfest and zero minutes from a metro (subway) station.
I’ll end with noting that we used the Women’s World Cup to help pinpoint where we’d go-we wanted to see a World Cup final. When I began researching options, none of the sports travel agencies were able to meet our demands for locations, activities, and length of stay. So, we switched gears to traditional agencies who were agreeable to append the World Cup to the trip. The travel team excelled in this regard-they are based in Lyon, and they knew the area quite well. This led to more thoughtful decisions on their part as opposed to using an agency based in somewhere other than the country of destination.
I think each of our party would have a different thing they’d list as the most memorable. For the overnight hikers, it would be their trip and mountain hut stay. For my wife and I, it was probably the delicious local cheese options available in Annecy, including fondue, raclette, and tartiflette. Paris remains charming, and for some of the kids, I’d imagine the Eiffel Tower was the tops, or perhaps the numerous visits to castles near and in Annecy were my daughter’s favorite. For my oldest son, it was probably playing futsal and other games at FIFA fanfest in Lyon with their Notre Dame rising high in the background.
For the family as a unit, the answer is easy: our country won the World Cup!
There’s little we’d do differently aside from forgetting a personal item in a hotel room safe in Annecy. That took a bit of work with DHL to get back to us, but the item actually arrived yesterday (5 days after the trip). So, all is well.
The only other tip I’d provide is with regard to transportation. We didn’t always use private transfers, but when we did, the drivers in Annecy were far and away the best. Paris VTC was a little late meeting us at CDG Airport when we landed, but they were on the phone quick to make it right.
We had more problems with the private drivers in Lyon. They were chronically late, sometimes didn’t show up in a proper vehicle for our party of 7, dropped us off at the wrong airport terminal in Lyon, took us on an, um, exhilarating ride through Lyon on the way to the match, sometimes exceeding speeds well beyond what I’ve ever driven, US Interstates included, on inner city streets. On the trip to the match, we were split across two cars, and our driver had no clue where to go. We rode around for 45 minutes with her screaming on the phone. It is worth acknowledging that it may have been one of the busier times Lyon has ever seen with outside visitors, so that may have had something to do with it.
If we had known Lyon better, we would have requested a transfer to the airport at the end of our trip only. The public transportation was pretty good, and there was a metro stop right at the foot of our hotel. It connected to the train station where we arrived, and there were additional trams devoted to the stadium, which we did use to return back to our hotel after the game was over. That would have saved us a little money and confusion.
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