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8 nights in France by train...HELP!

I just booked a flight to Paris but am having a problem deciding on where to visit. I've been to Paris several times so I have decided not to spend time there. I love wine, food, art, museums, churches... I'm thinking small cities or towns. Here's what I have: Arrive in Paris and take a train to ???? for 3 nights. Jump on another train to ???? for 3 nights.
I have decided to spend my last 2 nights in Tours because there's a fast train to the airport my last day. I need help. Where can I go for my two three night stays connecting easily by train? I don't plan to use a car so I need places I can get around on foot or using public transportation. Thanks so much for your ideas!

Posted by
31 posts

I find it interesting/confusing that you'd book a RT flight to Paris without a place/plan/desire to see . . . In other words, surprised that a definitive area/place in Europe hadn't caught your interest/curiosity to explore ~ whether in France or even another one of the other countries (Switzerland/Austria/Italy . . .). Getting input on an "extra" place to see, or opinions between a few indecisive thoughts . . . perhaps you've already seen the other lovely countries and just wanted to stay focused on the one that you haven't fully checked out.

Posted by
25 posts

Sorry if you don't approve of me booking a plane ticket before I finalize my agenda. I travel every year and have been to most big cities at least once (Paris, London, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Rome, Florence, Venice, Athens, Vienna, Budapet, Prague, Krakow, Istanbul.......) I've done parts of Germany by train and thought it would be fun to jump on a train in Paris. I normally fly into and out of different cities in Europe but it did not seem to make sense in France. I can get a 7 hour direct flight on the dates I need to travel to Paris so why not? I have several ideas but I thought I would see what others might suggest. Thanks!

Posted by
4132 posts

Forget Tours. Take the TGV to the airport from Avignon and go Beaune - Lyon - Arles. You'll see a lot of France. Small towns, alas, need wheels to get to them. A car or bicycle in Burgundy or Provence would be brilliant. What's wrong with Tours: Not much to see without wheels, and to get there from almost anywhere else you must return to Paris first. Lots of great stuff on the rail lines in Provence, too.

Posted by
403 posts

I agree that the Loire (Tours) is much better with a car. Small town Provence is too, but there are plenty of urban sites in Provence to see in such a short stay. Indeed, you might want to TGV from Paris-CDG directly to Avignon and stay there most of the entire time. You could happily spend a day in Avignon itself, then take a train for a day in Arles, and another train for a part-day in Nimes. Rick describes well how to get from Avignon to the Pont du Gard by bus, and it is easily worth a half day. Isle sur la Sorgue is accessible by train from Avignon and would give you a taste of small town Provence, especially if it is market day. Orange and Aix en Provence can be reached by train. Marseilles and Cassis are within reach for rail daytrips. Then either train to Lyon and spend the night before a 1 hour ride to CDG Airport, or take the 3 hour direct morning service from Avignon to CDG. Have a great time!

Posted by
1175 posts

Hi Anne,
Think about the 6 hour TGV to Monte Carlo from Gare de Lyon. You can easily visit Nice or the other delightful small towns nearby by bus or just explore Monte Carlo, all without wheels. Then you might explore some towns along the Brittany coast or maybe even Caen and Bayeux, all accessible by train. Bayeux is our favorite and there are tours to the Normandy beaches or MSM from Bayeux. Check out www.seat 61.com for tips on booking, not that you need them. First class to Monte Carlo booked 90 days in advance is a real bargain with great views along the way from the upper deck.

Posted by
10284 posts

I think Adam nailed it, going down the Rhone Valley instead of the Loire. It has more variety, is more accessible by train, and for someone who did not list chateaux in her post, it may be more interesting. Finally, Tours is a fairly modern city, rebuilt after WW II. For someone who loves wine, food, art, museums, and churches, I'd go to straight to Avignon with side trips to Orange, Aix, and other towns in Provence. Then up to Lyon which has major museums, famous food culture, center of the old silk industry, and then to Dijon, important as the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy and filled with major art and churches, a city which is much too overlooked on this board. But you could take a side trip to Beaune from Dijon because it seems everyone wants to go to Beaune. It does have the famous Hospice with one famous Rogier Van Der Weyden painting in the hospice and a couple of buildings to see, and good food and wine.

Posted by
14580 posts

Anne, After you arrive in Paris, I would take the TGV within two days to Strasbourg, where you can easily spend 3 nights...a lovely city to explore on foot. You might want to go to a small place from Strasboug as a day trip: Obernai is my recommendation. Since you'll be in Tours, going to Saumur is a possibility, very doable by the TER train.

Posted by
25 posts

Thank you everyone. I'm leaning to taking the TGV from CDG to Avignon for 5 nights and then to Lyon for 3 nights. My flight leaves at 10:45 am on Air France. If my TGV train arrives at 8:29 am should I be okay to get my bagged checked and make it to the gate in time? Does anyone have any hotel suggestions? I want something central, clean and under 100 Euro. I will travel in November so rates should be reduced. Thanks again!

Posted by
10284 posts

Anne, You must be a much less anxious traveler than I am because I'd be frantic taking the train the morning of my flight. Why don't you go back the night before and stay at Ibis CDG Terminal 3, or another airport hotel, so you can stroll to check in after a nice big Ibis breakfast. You should be heading out of the hotel around 7:45 for a 10:45 flight. I prefer a second cup of coffee at the airport and some duty free shopping than having my name called on the loudspeaker because the plane doors are closing. CDG can be a madhouse in the morning.

Posted by
3255 posts

I agree with Bets - I wouldn't be comfortable taking the TGV back to Paris the day of my flight. Avignon and Lyon are great choices. In Avignon we stayed at Hotel Boquiera cozy hotel near the TGV station stop and a good location for the city. In Lyon, Hotel La Residence is a good option on a pedestrian street. Just across the bridge from the Old Town.