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Train travel from Rome to Normandy

I am not sure where to start. My husband and I will be traveling this summer. Our plan is this: Rome->Riomaggiore->Lugano/Morcote->Dijon->Paris->Caen->Paris

We will be staying at each of those destinations at least one night. How do I book trains? When should I reserve? Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!

Posted by
2567 posts

For the part of your travel that involves trips in France, go to www.SNCF.com/en for schedules and tickets. When it is time to buy, if your credit card does not work at the SNCF site, try trainline.com. Tickets for French trains generally go on sale 90 days before the travel date but sometimes they are sold earlier for popular summer destinations. The earlier you buy, the more likely you will get inexpensive tickets but often these tickets are not flexible. You can look now at the SNCF site and sign up to receive a notification when tickets go on sale. Consider reading up about European train travel at https://www.seat61.com/.

If any advice is appreciated means comments on the itinerary are okay, my comment is to spend more than one night in most of your destinations. Some, Rome and Paris, need more than a day for a good visit and for others you will arrive after a five hour+ train ride and have a five hour+ train ride the next day (Riomaggiore to Lugano and Lugano to Dijon) so maybe spend two nights so you have a chance to see more of your destination than the train station.

Posted by
5010 posts

We will be staying at each of those destinations at least one night...

This hints at some other possible issues around the pace of your trip and expectations. Before you start booking trains, it's critically important to get an idea of how much time you really have to spend. Exactly how many days/nights are you planning for this trip (and have you booked your flights yet)?

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you both. I do have flights and actually have hotels booked at the destinations above (with options to cancel). We have been to Rome before, so will only be staying 2 nights there. We will spend 3 nights in Riomaggiore, 2 nights in Lugano, 1 night in Dijon (picked this place as it seemed to be a good half way point for rest), 3 nights in Caen, and then 1 night in Paris before flying out.

Posted by
23890 posts

what do you hope to see in your two days in Normandy?

Posted by
7189 posts

Caen wouldn’t be my choice for staying overnight. It’s a quick jaunt in a rental car from Caen to Bayeux which is a MUCH better and interesting place to be. Caen has the WWII memorial/museum and a good selection of rental vehicles. Those are the only reasons to visit Caen.

Posted by
2567 posts

Agree completely with Tim about Caen.

Posted by
17099 posts

Yes, the reason to stay in Caen is primarily to have good access to buses traveling east to places like Honfleur, Cabourg and Deauville/Trouville. Caen was obliterated during the war and has little old architecture left. It does have a few historic sights and the very large Peace Museum, but I wouldn't stay there unless I had multiple days of activities planned that could be more efficiently accomplished from Caen.

You do not need to rent a car to get to Bayeux. There's rail service from Caen. If you plan to take a small-group tour of the invasion sites (which I would recommend)--most of which depart from Bayeux--you can spend your second day enjoying the sights in Bayeux: the excellent invasion museum, the cathedral, the Bayeux tapestry, the picturesque historic center. A car would not be necessary if those were your planned sightseeing targets.

Posted by
7189 posts

But if you plan to get around town to see nearby sites or to the beaches then you need a car. Yes, there is rail between Caen and Bayeux, but if you take a train to Bayeux the rental car facilities are severely limited...that's what I did.

Posted by
6543 posts

I wouldn't even think about taking such a long train trip. The distances in Europe quickly get farther than most travelers realize. Over 4 -5 hours and I'm flying.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you. I have changed by Normandy stay to Bayeux! Recommendations for car rental in Caen?