First Time in Europe

Hi!I do have quite a number of questions; we will be in Paris Dec 1-8 and I intend to visit a nearby country: 1. What would the nearest country be? 2. Do I just need to purchase a Eurorail Pass?
3. If I stay in Paris till the 4th and choose to take the train to Rome on the 5th and back on the 7th in Paris; will that itinerary be advisable? Thank you.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21475 posts

Adelle, As this is your first trip to Europe, I'd highly recommend that you read Europe Through The Back Door ASAP. It provides a lot of good information on "how" to travel in Europe. When your Itinerary is finalized, use the country-specific Guidebooks to plan hotels, restaurants, sightseeing, transportation, etc. Have you allowed for your two travel days? You'll arrive in Europe the day after you depart, and the last day will be needed for the flight home. NO, you don't need a Railpass for the few trips you'll be making. Use P-P tickets. I'd suggest skipping Rome (especially by train) as you'll use two days of your very short Itinerary just for travel. Even using a budget flight would still take the better part of day each way, when all is considered. If you want to visit another country, you could consider overnight trips to Switzerland, Brussels, Amsterdam or perhaps western Germany, as those are all within reasonable travel distance from Paris. London via EuroStar is also reasonably easy. Good luck with your planning!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12685 posts

Look at a map !!! Rome is a long, long ways. You cannot go in one day return the next. You could do London but not Rome.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5640 posts

If someone was going to spend a week in Austin but wanted to spend 2 days in another state, would you advise them to take the train to Denver? The distance is approximately the same as between Paris and Rome. Is your desire to "visit a nearby country" just to be able to say you you went to another one? What are you actually interested in seeing? In your short time in Paris you will not run out of things to do, and if desired there are a variety of shorter day trips you could take. If you must actually leave France you could easily go to London, Amsterdam or for a smaller city atmosphere you could go to Bruges, Belgium. You don't need a rail pass, but you will save money if you buy your tickets in advance. Be aware that in December days will be very short. When I was in Paris in late December/early January it didn't get light until about 9:00 a.m. and it was dark by about 4:30 p.m. We were in Paris 10 nights and never ran out of things to do. And it wasn't my first time there either.

Posted by Charles
Austin, Texas, USA
325 posts

Others have made good points. Here are my thought on your questions. 1. London would be your best bet as you can get there quickly 2. No rail pass needed, just point to point and/or eurostar if you go to London
3. I for sure would not consider Rome as a side trip, especially since you sound like you are flying home from Paris. As others have said, there is plenty to do in Paris, at least 2-3 days and even more if you are into museums. You could do other side trips from Paris like Versailles, Normandy, Caen, and Mont St. Michelle. If you end up going to London, you should give yourself a couple days for that too. If this is your first trip, then you will find more than enough to keep you busy in Paris and London.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11663 posts

1. Check a map. Nearest is Belgium, England nearly as close. 2. No. 3. No. France is about the same size as Texas. Paris to Rome is like Texarkana to El Paso, plus half the length of Italy.

Posted by Adelle
Austin, TX
3 posts

Thank you. Your responses sure enlightened me. And Ken, I bought - Backdoor to Europe...

Posted by LGATX
Austin, TX, USA
69 posts

I am assuming you arrive on the first and leave on the 7th. That is really only 6 days. You will have plenty to keep you busy in Paris, if you want to visit another country, yes London would be the best bet, although I would recommend looking at day trips in France. There are many beautiful places that will be just a train ride away and its very different in the countryside than in Paris, no one will be handing you an English menu, you'll def get to practice your language skills! Its fun, completely different feel once your are out of the city. Backdoor is great, you can also go up to search on this site and type in "day trips from Paris" and find a lot of good information. The good news for going in December is you won't have to deal with the really long lines that you have in the peak travel months. Our first trip to Paris was in December and it was absolutely perfect. Happy Travels!

Posted by Adelle
Austin, TX
3 posts

Thank you Linda. I will be flying on the 1st and fly back on the 8th. However, I will follow suggestions and advises to make my first time experience wonderfully unforgettable.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3692 posts

That means you only have 5 full days. I would stay in Paris, with maybe one day trip. I've spent months in Paris and never ran out of fun things to do.

Posted by Roda
26 posts

Stay only in Paris and visit Versailles . There are lots of beautiful places too see and just enjoy the city :) .

Posted by Mary
Government Camp, OR, USA
11 posts

Whoa... Train to Rome one day, one day in Rome and another day on a train back to Paris? DON'T!!!! Waste of sightseeing time. There is more than plenty to see in Paris for a week. If you must go somewhere besides Paris, take a trip to central France into the Loire Valley to see the "Chateaux" - Castles to us. A lovely area, closer to Paris. Probably a package tour available from your Paris hotel to make that an easy trip for a day or two. If you do that, see Chambord, Chenonceau, Amboise, maybe more. Nearest country? Try a map... Belgium probably easiest. Eur-rail passes are expensive for just one short round trip. If you really had to go somewhere like Rome, take a plane and save your time for sightseeing. There are some cheap airlines inside Europe - jet blue, City Hopper, etc., look online. Paris is my favorite city, been there many, many times. Still more to see. Been all over Europe many times, too. I would definitely not spread myself so thin. There's plenty to see in Paris, save the money you'd spend bolting from here to there and just go back to Rome for a week some other time. It's my second favorite city... They're both well worth a week+ each. Best of luck, hope you love Europe!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21475 posts

Adelle, If you could get an extra day or two, you could also consider a "sampler" tour of two countries. You could for example..... > Fly inbound to London - spend 3 days there and then take the EuroStar to Paris and spend another 3 days there. Fly home from Paris. > Fly inbound to Amsterdam or Brussels - spend 3 days in either Amsterdam or Brussels (day trip to Bruges) and then take the train to Paris for the remainder of your time. Fly home from Paris. Of course you could also reverse the order of either of those Itineraries. Once you've finalized your Itinerary, it would be a good idea to use the country or city-specific Guidebooks to plan your touring so that you don't waste any time. That way you'll be able to get to the sights that interest you the most. Cheers!

Posted by Wray
Boston, ma, usa
294 posts

My recommendation would be to stay in Paris. It is a wonderful city and one could spend weeks exploring it. But, should you get tired, you could, take day trips to Versailles, to Chartres and/or to Givenchy. Then there is Rouen and Tours... However, I prefer to know one area well, rather than many very little. I have a brother who prefers to add up his countries...only requires one hour on the ground. LOL. It's all a matter of personal choice, and that choice can only be made by you. Enjoy YOUR trip!