Please sign in to post.

Train Travel - Alsace / Champagne / CDG

Hi everyone,

Looking for a critique on the following plan. My husband and I leave Paris on Monday, April 29 to head towards Champagne/Alsace and then fly back to the States from CDG at 1pm on Saturday, May 4. Thoughts on the following:

Mon. 4/29 take the train from Paris to Strasbourg, rent a car and explore the area.
Fri. 5/3 take an early train to Champagne/Reims, spend the night.

Sat. 5/4 take an early morning train from Champagne/Reims straight to the airport (aim to arrive no later than 10am).

Does this seem too much / too tight? Any suggestions are appreciated! Thank you!

Posted by
1806 posts

I have never been to Reims so I can't speak to it. When you say explore the area, are you staying in just Strasbourg or are you staying other places in Alsace? There will be a lot of driving from Strasbourg to Alsace each day. Colmar should not be missed and there are some great villages all over Alsace. If you want to explore the wine region of Alsace I would suggest basing in Colmar or one of the villages in Alsace. You can train to Colmar from Paris via Strasbourg and rent a car there too. Avis has a rental office in the train station. A great region to visit. Enjoy. This sight may help. https://www.alsace-wine-route.com/

Posted by
27405 posts

I would absolutely want to be at the airport 3 hours early (or earlier if the airline suggests it). There are a couple of TGVs that are scheduled to get to the CDG rail station before 10 AM, departing at 7:26 and 8:37. Those two trains take only 31 minutes. The next train takes twice as long and isn't due to arrive until 10:34, which would probably make you nearly an hour late getting to the check-in line. I wouldn't dare risk the last train that would get me to the airport on time (the 8:37 departure).

Actually, I wouldn't spend the last night in Reims at all, because I'm highly risk averse when looking at an expensive-to-replace transatlantic ticket. If there's some sort of a rail problem (very unlikely, I know) that results in cancellation of those two early trains, you're looking at an 80-mile taxi ride that ViaMichelin estimates will take 1 hr. 37 min. I have no idea whether there's a traffic risk between Reims and CDG.

Edited to add: The 1:37 travel time is from the Champagne-Ardennes TGV station to the airport. ViaMichelin estimates 1:33 from Reims itself.

Posted by
10 posts

@Threadwear - my thought was to train to Strasbourg to pick up a car and then base ourselves elsewhere in the region. My husband is hoping to stay in Kaysersberg, but we haven’t confirmed anything for this part of the trip.

@Jazz+Travels - our flight departs CDG at 1pm.

@acraven - I had been eyeing that 8:37am train since it gets to CDG at 9:08am - 4 hours prior to our departure. Is the train system known to have issues? I do understand your wariness, but I’d also love to avoid staying at an airport hotel on the final night of our trip. Also - can you tell me the differences between 1st and 2nd class tickets?

Thank you all!

Posted by
27405 posts

I've never sat in first-class on a train or a plane; I can only say that second class on trains has always been perfectly comfortable to me.

The trains don't commonly have issues, but there can be strikes (announced in advance, I believe), and emergencies do happen. There is someone on this forum who has described being on a TGV headed toward Paris when someone chose to commit suicide on the tracks. The train ended up 4 or 5 hours late, and there were many passenger on the train who missed their flights that day. I am hyper-cautious about money (and last-minute one-way tickets back the US are big money); that's the kind of situation I think about when I make travel plans.

If you plan to buy comprehensive travel insurance, I guess this is something you don't need to consider. I self-insure when it comes to travel expenses.

Posted by
7443 posts

I would take that earlier train (7:26am) so in case there are issues, you have one more train leaving that morning before you would be cutting the time too short for your flight.

The difference between first & second class on trains is not worth paying the extra unless the price on sale is very close. Mainly it’s usually the difference between two rows of two seats & two seats together with one across the aisle. Sometimes coffee & a small breakfast is brought in a carton. Second class has nice legroom, etc. - not like a plane. I have flown first class overseas when I was bumped up a few times. Ahh, that is very nice, just not willing to pay that price! I’d much rather spend a fraction of that price on some wonderful activities during the trip.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, Jean. One more question (for now). How much in advance do you suggest arriving at the train station prior to the train departure?

Posted by
20427 posts

I like to be standing on the platform 10 minutes before the train arrives. Both the 7:26 and and 8:37 arrive 3 minutes before departure as the trains are coming from Strasbourg. You already have ticket in hand. A couple of minutes to locate the train composition board and then walk to the spot where your reserved carriage will stop.

Posted by
33291 posts

When are you returning the car? How will you get from there to the station which is a fair distance out of town?

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Nigel. Car pickup and return would be in Strasbourg. When you talk about the station being outside of town, where are you talking about?

Posted by
20427 posts

Champagne-Reims-Ardenne TGV station is indeed outside of town, but there are trains and trams connecting to Reims, as well as taxis. Its about 5 miles from Reims center.

Posted by
1806 posts

I will second or third the advice of being near the airport the night before my flight. When I had to catch a specific train in Colmar to get to TGV in Strasbourg I was staying in Obernai. Road repairs were going on in Alsace and traffic was backed up for miles. Fortunately my GPS got me around them. Timing is everything. Also consider Paris CDG takes a while to get through security, etc. Things happen, traffic, rental car return issues, late trains, etc. Just something to think about.