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Paris to Italy

My wife and I will be arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport in early April of next year. We are planning to spend a couple of days in Paris (we have been there many times before) and then go on to Italy. We have two choices: take an overnight train (with couchette) to Florence, or fly from Paris to Bologna or Venice. The city we arrive in is not important to us - just the mode of transportation. We are wondering about the price difference, the amount of time, and other considerations (we are 66 and 74 years old, and will have a fair amount of luggage). Any recommendations welcome. Thanks. Peter

Posted by
19959 posts

The Thello will require a train change in Milan at 6 am. The 98 EUR fare for 2 is in a 6-bed couchette with perhaps 4 other people. Does not sound very relaxing for you, and as you say, a lot of luggage. Where will you put it? You could get a 2-person cabin, but you are talking 244 EUR.

Vueling has 2 direct flights a day from Orly for around 100 EUR per person, but you will have to pay extra luggage fees. Easyjet flies to Pisa for a bit less, but you still have luggage fees.

Posted by
4814 posts

First, what do you consider a fair amount of luggage? More than one suitcase and one carry on each? You might want to reconsider that, if you can't easily handle them all yourselves. Having taken a couple of night trains I can say that a restful sleep is definitely not guaranteed, and too much luggage will present a problem, even in a private couchette. Look at Skyscanner or similar websites to find affordable flights to your preferred Italian destination. Personally, I'd choose a flight over that long train ride even if it's a bit more expensive ( from excess baggage fees).

Posted by
293 posts

I'm a huge fan of trains, but in this case I would opt to fly. The schedule for the Thello train is unappealing and, according to the indispensable, Thello accommodations, including couchettes, are bare bones and uncomfortable.


Posted by
11507 posts

Fly , train trips over 5 or so hours suck - it’s not the orient express , it’s a bus on rails .

Posted by
1103 posts

I just booked a flight for us to fly from Paris CDG to Venice VCE in mid April. The price including checked luggage and advance seat selection was around $160. We like trains, but only for trips of less than six hours.

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks for all the advice. We have a medium suitcase each for checked luggage. For carryon, we have a backpack (average size), what I call a "drug bag" (my wife has to take a lot of medications, and it also includes personal care items), and a rolling bag which has her lymphedema machine (weighs about 10 pounds). We do not mind train rides, but this is based on rides of a few hours, such as the TGV from Paris to Lyon, or Paris to Bordeaux. One of the problems I see with the discount airlines is that often there is no assigned seating, so you are in a mad rush to get to the plane (we experienced this a couple of times in Italy), and with our carryons, this could be difficult. Peter

Posted by
27039 posts

Do check luggage fees carefully. Your two checked bags are going to add considerably to the cost of tickets on a budget airline.

Posted by
32197 posts


"One of the problems I see with the discount airlines is that often there is no assigned seating, so you are in a mad rush to get to the plane (we experienced this a couple of times in Italy), and with our carryons, this could be difficult."

Actually, that's not as much of a problem as you might think. For example, if you were to use the easyJet flight to Pisa, you can opt for Speedy Boarding and advance seat selection for a slight additional fee, and that should take care of the "mad rush". One other benefit of choosing those options is that they provide more relaxed luggage limits. easyJet is my preferred budget airline in Europe, and it's nice to board with only a few people, not have to rush to get to my seat and have free access to the overhead bins before "General Boarding" starts.

Check the easyJet website for all the particulars.

Posted by
1825 posts

Like Jazz said above, Orly to Florence. It is way easier than CDG and a short cheap flight. I have yet to read an account of the night train that was enjoyable.

Posted by
74 posts

Two years ago I flew from Venice to Paris (I know, you are starting from Paris). No problem getting from the Venice bus terminal to the nearby airport. Flight from Venice to CDG was easy and the train from CDG to Gare Nord was a breeze. Don't know how much luggage you have but I can't see that being a problem. Take the plane. I am 64, btw.

Posted by
16893 posts

The Thello night train also continues to stops including Verona and Venice, so you could connect in Verona for points south, arriving there at 7:54. Advance discounts are offered but flying is still likely to be at least equally cheap.

Posted by
10169 posts

Six-person couchette means 3 bunks going up on each side, a scruffy sheet to cover you, person on the bottom bunk cracking open the window and person on the top reshutting it all night. We did a lot of these overnighters back before inexpensive flights—and we were young. Came down with a cold on every one of them. I’d fly out of Orly.

Posted by
8025 posts

We did the train with private two person cabin and nice bunks -- we had tons of books and so flying was out (before Kindles). It was not unendurable but not pleasant. The couchettes on the other hand are something I wouldn't attempt past age 25 or so. Strangers stacked 3 to a side, some probably noisy or smelly -- no privacy and no security for your stuff.

This is absolutely a route to fly. You have to be sure to adhere to the luggage rules; they are no onerous but they are specific and all is well. We have taken both Vueling and Easyjet and had good experiences with each.

Posted by
9530 posts

As Ken mentioned, go via EasyJet to Pisa, and purchase the checked luggage you need and their Easy Boarding, which will eliminate the mad dash for seating for you and your wife. this is the way to go!

In addition, that flight is out of Orly, which is much smaller and easier to deal with than CDG. And the cab ride there is cheaper — €35 euro if you're staying on the Right Bank, €30 if you’re staying on the Left Bank.

Be sure to purchase your checked baggage fees when purchasing your ticket, as it's much cheaper then than at the airport.

Posted by
11287 posts

We have taken the day train between Paris and Italy several times. If you have time, it can be a nice day relaxing on the train and arriving in daylight hours. You can move around, bring lunch on the train or order it to your seat in first class, and advanced purchase tickets are a bargain.

The train is direct from Paris to Milan. That was always enough for us so we’d (usually) spend the night in Milan before going home to Rome. (We did go all the way to Rome from Paris once, but it was too much.) Easy to get to Venice, Florence, or anywhere you want to go the next day.