I will be travelling in Europe with my family (husband and 2 kids - 13 and 10) mid 2015 and will only have about a week in France, maybe stretching to 10 days. We want to spend 4 or 5 days in Paris and then head to Battle of the Somme sites. Probablt Perrone for the museum and Villers-Bretonneux for the Australian war memorial. We will be doing this after Paris and then heading to England on Eurostar. are there other things in that general area that I should try to get in the itinerary? Can it all be done on public transport or will I need a car? Either way are we better backtracking to Paris to get on Eurostar or head to Lille?
You inadvertently posted this under the "Croatia Reviews" section of the forum. Re-post under the France section and I'm sure you'll get more responses.
Hi. Thanks!!! I knew as soon as I had posted that it wasn't in the right spot but couldn't find it!!
I think this sounds like a great trip! I think you ought to get a car. With 4 people, renting a car is really very economical. We (family of 4 with 2 kids - 13 and 15) found driving in France to be easy (we did not drive in Paris) and you have so much more flexibility. I have not been to the sites you mention, but you might want to stop in Compiegne on the way there and visit the railway car where they signed the Armistice. I was there 30 years ago and remember it to have been quite interesting. There are some good cathedrals in that part of France -- Amiens, Laon, Reims. We like to spend time hiking as well and found France to be jam packed with great hikes. I'm not sure about trains but it seems like you must be able to get to England via Lille.
If you can get rid of the car at Lille, then you can get a Eurostar there which is a lot easier than doubling back to Paris (which would involve getting rid of the car on the edge of Paris and then trying to get to Gare du Nord).
For WW1 sites, recommended is Ieper (known as Ypres during WW1), and nearby Passendale. Lille itself is worth some time exploring (between dumping he car and catching the Eurostar. You could spend your last night in France there.
Option 2: instead of picking up a car in Paris, fighting your way out of Paris and along the Autoroute all the way to Northern France, you could get a TGV from Paris to Lille (1 train per hour, journey time 1 hour), use that as your base, then return the car (no one-way fees) and catch a Eurostar to London.