Opinions please..are we nuts?

I'm beginning to wonder if we are nuts with this plan. Fly west coast to Paris- immediately take train to Provence (3 hours to Avignon, rent car and drive to St. Remy (30 min) - 7 nights Train back to Paris (3 hours) 5 nights Train to Frankfurt (4 hours)-meet with friends for 4 nights Train to Munich (4 hours) immediately rent car and drive to Zell am See (2:30 hours) 3 nights Drive to Lake Bled (2:50 hours) 3 nights Drive to Divaca (1:30 hours)3 nights Drive to Ramsau (4:30 hours) 2 nights
Drive Munich (2 hours) drop car stay 3 nights Fly MUC home to west coast I don't want to "waste" a night by having to come back to a city to prepare to leave the following morning, so I'd rather leave the city first and return to tour it when we are done with the country- Paris and Munich My biggest question is: is it too much travel time? It seems ok to me, espeically since we are spreading it between lots of days, but I wonder if it may feel like it's too much actually doing it. Opinions?

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
668 posts

It is a lot of moving around but you've got a whole month (lucky you!) and you're never spending less than two nights in any one place. If your train and driving times are right, you won't spend more than half a day at a time on the rails or road, except the day you train to Munich and drive from there. But you have a good rationale for that one day that will be entirely "on the road." I don't know all your destinations but you must have reasons to choose them, so I say go for it! If you find yourselves getting tired of moving so much, it's likely to be later in the trip when the car will give you flexibility to deviate from the plan, maybe head back to Munich sooner or whatever. Have a great time!

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

It all seems OK to me except that hoping off the plane, catching a train and renting a car thing. Unless you sleep as well on a plane as you do at home (much laughter here) you will be both tired and jet lagged. Add in that your flight might be delayed, customs, waiting for your luggage yada yada - well seems like a stressful start to your holiday. Stay the first night at an Ibis or somesuch reasonably priced hotel near CDG airport, get some exercise, rest up and start off fresh in the morning. Personally I do not want to be behind the wheel of a car under the circumstances you've laid out. Of course maybe you're in your late twenties and traveling first class...

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Hubby doesn't like the plan ( Paris to Provence ) and he's the driver! But, he can sleep on the train... Right?
We have flown to Munich rented a car and driven 2 or more hours. This seems better since we will be on a train, and then just driving 30 min. I'm just not sure when you throw in a new country, new airport, new train station, new language, than we have done before. Is it complicated and difficult after minimal sleep? And no, we are not young (50's), fly economy, and hubby will sleep a couple hours on the plane, but not much.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7972 posts

I'm betting that you have that first day planned so tightly you couldn't get a bb in a buffalo butt - - judging by the fact that you can't get from the Avignon station to St Remy in an hour the first time you try it. How long from landing until the train leaves? You'd best have given yourself at least a couple of hours. Then you need to half hour to get the car and get going, then the hour of driving. Does that put you into St Remy as it's getting dark - - the place is a non-grid maze of one-way streets. The day is going to be a lot longer than you think. You're arriving in Paris only to come back a few days later. What's wrong with eliminating the first day mess by goofing around in Paris first (you can be in town an hour after you walk out of the arrivals hall), then heading south, thence to Frankfurt, and continue as planned? The total train time would be about the same. The total proportion of days to travel time for the whole schemer looks pretty good.

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
632 posts

The first day is a killer. Getting from Granite Bay to Paris will be a marathon and you probably won't have gotten a good nights sleep before your big trip. I would spend the night in Paris and get a room near the Gare de Lyon station so you can walk there to catch the TGV to Avignon the next day.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
1427 posts

Hi Susan, Maybe train to Munich and instead of getting your car, stay 3 nights now. Then get the car and continue. After Ramsau, if you need a "last night" by the Munich airport, take a night from earlier in your trip and stay in either Erding or Freising. Paul

Posted by David
Sacramento, CA, USA
205 posts

Susan Aside from the fact that London and Rome are missing from the list... 1st day is very doable. Take a 4pmish flight out of SFO (book it for a weekend and I'll drive you two to SFO)will put you into Paris CDG about 11amstill morning. Take the train.....You should hit Avigon about 5-6 pm (figuring time out of CDG to the train station etc). If this is a late spring/summer trip with lots of daylight well past 8 pm...no big deal about that last 30 min drive. David

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2837 posts

Instead of flying to Paris and training to Avignon, then renting a car, consider flying to Marseille and renting your car there. Marseille is a major airport with lots of connections, and as long as you're on one ticket, you'll be put on the next available flight if there's a problem with the connection (you don't have to figure out how to schedule the train). Similarly, if flying Air France is an option, book your ticket into Avignon train station ("airport code" XZN). This may not be much more money than a ticket just to Paris, and since your train is part of the flight ticket, you don't have to worry about missing the connection.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Thank you everyone for all the help. Yes, Harold, excellent idea but I'll have to find a sale. Right now that is about $2000 per ticket! How nice of you David to offer to drive us. Thanks Paul, another good idea. I think I'm just going nuts now! This is always the hard part for me, the rest of planning is so much easier.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

We would love to fly straight to Provence, but it is so much more expensive, at least right now. Ok well, our revised plan: Fly to Paris- spend 1 night to chill...stay?? Train to Provence-(3 hours) 5 nights Train to Paris-(3 hours)5 nights Train to Frankfurt (4 hours) 5 nights with friends Rent car drive to Rothenburg (2:30) 1 night Drive to Zell am See (5 hours) 3 nights Drive to Bled (3 hours) 3 nights Drive to Divaca (1:30) 3 nights Drive to Ramsau (4:30) 1 night Drive to Munich area (2 hours)drop car- spend afternoon in Munich- sleep in Freising 1 night
Fly home Any thoughts?

Posted by Carol
Santa Cruz
128 posts

Because you are renting a car when you arrive in Provence, and you aren't going into Paris first, I'm suggesting what we did in May. We flew Air France through Paris to Montpelier (which is well under two hours from Avignon). The airport at Montpelier was small, friendly and has car rentals onsite. An easy landing and beginning to a fun trip. No suggestions for the rest of your
adventure....

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2268 posts

I'm not sure where Ramsau is. There appear to be many in Austria, and a few in Germany. If you mean Ramsau-Dachstein, its only 1 1/2 hour drive from Zell am See. So it seems like you could eliminate it as a stop and add it to your TTD list in Zell am See.
You're not nuts yet, but you will be if you get too many opinions. Sooner or later, you just have to decide what you want to do, then suck it up and do it.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
1427 posts

Hi Susan, You new itinerary has 28 nights. Your original posting had 30. Is this on purpose? Paul

Posted by lisa
akron, ohio
98 posts

Susan and Monte - As other posters have said, the first day looks like a total killer day to me, if you leave it as originally planned. I like your second plan so you can rest the first day, but if you are going to stay in Paris the first night, why not just stay instead of coming back three days later? If the Ramsau you are visiting is the one close to the Austria border, you will love it, it is quite beautiful! As someone else stated, at some point you'll just have to decide and go for it. Good luck and have fun!

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
963 posts

I think it's a good idea to spend a night in Paris before taking the train to Avignon. A good night's sleep and then a 3-1/2 train ride should take care of any jet lag and leave you rarin' to go when you get your rental car in Avignon. When I did this last summer I spent the night at the Hotel de Venise - nothing fancy but walking distance to Gare de Lyon, clean, safe, pleasant management, approx 80 euro for a double, decent reviews on booking.com and TA.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Yes, Paul, we did downsize on purpose. I will need a couple days recovering from jet lag so by cutting back that will give us two rest days on our return before we have to work. We cut one from Ramsau and one from France. We may add one back in to Ramsau. We have taken out Munich and added Rothenburg. Don't like the one night stops, but they are mostly to set up transportation or break up a long drive. Lisa, we are staying one night to get over jet lag, we'll leave for Provence for 5 nights, then return to Paris for 5 nights. The leg Provence to Frankfurt would be way too much! Sam, I am going nuts. But, unfortunatley, it is part of my character! Nancy, thanks for the hotel tip! Ramsau near Berchtesgaden, just a nice stop due to long drive and we've stayed before and love it. Difficult to make it only a one night stop! Thank you everyone for all the help!

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Yes Jo, absolutely! We'll have 38 min left from our hecktic schedule to have coffee with you!

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
948 posts

I tried to read all the posts to find my answer, but I didn't, I think (i'm tired, stayed up late watching Breaking Bad finale, husband snored all night). Why are you back tracking to Paris? Why can't you do your Paris thing first then be off to the south and then fly or train to Frankfurt?

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Well, Kelly, the airfare I found was around $250 pp (three of us) then I wasn't sure about the $$ getting from the city center to the airport as far as time and cost. Plus, I just don't love to fly. I checked the train schedule and it was like 9 hours or more. But, I just checked it again and noticed a train direct to Frankfurt in 7 hours and some for just 39 Euro. Ok, a new idea! That way we could just stay put in Paris for the full time and not "waste" a day recovering from jet lag. We may go for it. Thanks for prompting me to look again! It is a long day, but as long as we have time for coffee with Jo, life will be good!

Posted by Debi
Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
257 posts

Very silly to leave Paris and return to Paris later in the trip! Or for that matter to arrive some where to leave and return later! Happy Travels!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2687 posts

I agree it's never silly to return to Paris. Leaving a city and coming back to it later or at the end of the trip depends also on your schedule and that of others. It's all part of zig zag traveling.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Yes, Debi, that was my thought too! But, the alternative was to try to drive with no sleep for 24 hours. But, now I'm thinking we may just do that one long train ride to Frankfurt from Provence. That way we can arrive in Paris and stay put for 5 nights, maybe go to Loire for one night, then to Provence for 5 ngihts. That is my current thought. Any opinions of this latest idea? Or are you all getting tired of me changing my mind??

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2268 posts

No, but you better post a trip a report when this is all over and done with.

Posted by Cristina
Northern, Italy
208 posts

When you are renting the car you are going to drive to Lake Bled, make sure your rental company allows the model vehicle you are renting to be taken in to Slovenia. I know some rental companies don't allow the German made vehicles (Mercedes, Audi and such) to be taken in to Slovenia. Also, before you get in to Slovenia, make sure you buy the road tax sticker or ask when you pick up the car what the rules are for having the sticker with a rental car, they may be able to tell you. If you drive through any part of Austria you will need one for that country as well. Living so close to Slovenia myself I have heard some horror stories about the road tax stickers, called Vignettes, here in Italy. I had a friend just tell me that a couple of weeks ago she got a ticket as the police were waiting at the first highway exit across the boarder where she was going to buy her sticker at the first gas station. She received an on the spot fine for not having it.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2630 posts

Certainly not "nuts" territory by a long shot. I do wonder if there are any affordable flights from Marseilles or even Lyon to Germany that you can exploit. Then you can just start in Paris and not have to double back. It would gain you a day.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

As the planning goes along, things change, hopefully for the better. I actually have found two more days! So, for now, this is our current plan: Fly west coast to Paris - stay 5 nights Train to tours- rent car -3 nights Drop car, train to Paris , U turn and back to Avignon - rental another car Luberon area - 5 nights Train from Avignon to Frankfurt- 7 long hours- have coffee with Jo! Meet friends- 3 nights Pick up car drive to Rothenburg 1 night Drive Zell am See Austria 3 nights Drive lake Bled 3 nights Drive Socca River Valley 3 nights Drive Ramsau Germany 2 nights
Drive and drop car in Munich - next day fly home Any thoughts? Less nuts? Still don't like the long hauls - Loire to Provence and Munich to Frankfurt. Also, hate the crazy airfare prices right now!

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
963 posts

"Drop car, train to Paris , U turn and back to Avignon - rental another car
Luberon area - 5 nights" I'm not sure I understand this, is there a reason you're taking the train back to Paris to go to Avignon rather than taking the train directly from Tours to Avignon?

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

From what I understand a train ride from Tours to Avignon does take you back to Paris- change trains- then sends you on to Avignon. I don't see any other choice. We could drive but it would be really far.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
963 posts

I see a direct train leaving Tours (Saint Pierre des Corps station) at 14:31 daily, arriving at Avignon TGV station at 18:45 - no changes. If you're able to drop your car at SPdC that seems like an easier way to go. Hope I'm not reading the schedule wrong, but I don't think so.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Nancy, right you are!! I didn't see that! I think I was looking for an early time out knowing we would have to go back to Paris. It is still 4 hours, but seems much easier.
Thank so much for finding that for me! Question: Is there any way to tell what the fare is when it isn't posted on the site? Seems like I find some and others don't ever show.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2268 posts

Not only does it bypass Paris, it saves you the major headache of changing stations via Metro in Paris. The TGV from Tours arrives at Paris Mont Parnasse, but all the trains to Avignon depart from Gare de Lyon. That would be a pain. Looks like the price could be as low as 50 euro total for 2 using the direct train from StPdeC.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Sam, where is it you are seeing a price, and a price for two? Are these tickets "Really" attainable? We are also taking our 22 year old daughter so I don't know about any student discount or family discounts. Do you know?

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Amazing how these little helps you are giving me can really change our experience in a big way. Thanks!

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
963 posts

When are you going? I used a dummy date of Dec 4 (60 days out) and it looks like it's 25 euro each, total of 75 euro for three, no other discount for under 26.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2268 posts

Yes, pricing is based on a dummy future date, because the whole European train schedule will be redone on December 14, so you can't get reservations or prices beyond that date. There will be another semiannual schedule change in June 2014. So you will not actually be able to buy tickets and get real prices until April 2014 at the earliest.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

I understand how you need to check train schedules just for the near future, or up to 90 days out, but I don't see where the fare is listed. Sometimes on some trains it is listed- but for Dec 4 I don't see that. It say "tariff abroad" but then says fares are unavailable. Is there somewhere else I can see them?

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Also, Nancy or others, how did you notice that one train goes straight from Tours to Avignon and all the others head back to Paris? Looking at it and checking a couple I assumed they all had the same route. Did you check every one or what clued you in that that one was different? ( I just look at de Bahn and see all the time schedule and number of stops) Thank you, Thank you!

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Well, for one thing, I just noticed I put in "Tours" as my departure rather than St. Pierre-de-Corps. Anyway to educate myself on what "stations" I should use?

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2268 posts

Oh, you have to go to http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/?DISTRIBUTED_COUNTRY=GB That's the French rail network where you will actually buy the tickets. We just use DB for research and buying tickets in Germany or to or from Germany. But their information is much more detailed than France's. You can see all the intermediate stops and other details. Since this route is all in France, that is where you need to buy and they give the prices. There are a few tricks on this particular route. Avignon has 2 stations, one for slow regional trains called Avignon Center. It is just outside the walls of the old city. The other is Avignon (TGV) a few mile outside of town where the high speed trains come and go. They are connected by a bus service. Tours is similar. There is one main station in the downtown called Tours, and a high speed station a few miles outside of town called St Pierre des Corps. All the high speed trains stop there, they may or may not go into Tours. So when you enter St Pierre des Corps and Avignon (TGV), you see some direct trains (0 changes). Then put that info and a date in the en.voyages site and you get the trains and prices. In this case, you could have skipped the whole DB process and just gone to en.voyages.
One more trick. when using en.voyages, you should put the "ticket collection country" as France. If you put in USA, you get automatically bounced to Rail Europe, which does not show all the trains and charges higher prices. The reason for this is complicated. Rail Europe is owned by the French railway and they want to steer traffic to their American subsidiary. So every one else gets to buy direct from them on their website at the best price, and they try to get us to pay more because they think we are rich and stupid.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
679 posts

Did you notice my most recent revision, Jo, on Oct. 4? I sketched in coffee with you! Still trying to figure out all the logistics and timing, but right now it looks like we will take the early morning train from Avignon to Frankfurt arriving at about 16:00 on Friday, June 27th at Frankfurt Main. From there we need to get to our friends house outside of Frankfurt. We will spend three nights with them and leave Monday morning for Rothenburg. Not sure if we will rent a car to drive to their house or try to take a train and then rent one Monday morning.