My fiance and I just purchased our honeymoon tickets (yay!) to Europe for July 2012. We are going on a cruise for a week leaving from Venice and want to take a train from Venice to Paris upon our return. Has anyone taken this route before? Is it worth going on the overnight train? Also, what's the difference between 1st and 2nd class tickets? Thanks!
The physical difference between 1st and 2nd class train is usually seat size/style and the number of seats per cabin. Try and get an individual cabin when available. Sometimes you can just change seats to whatever is open after boarding (if it's not reserved). As far as the overnight train, it's a long way, so you'll have to decide if you want it or not. You'll inevitably have to change trains a few times, so it won't be sleeping for the whole 14-15 hr train ride. There's also so many different possible routes for that schedule. It's about the same distance as Seattle to Reno. Unsolicited advice.....Would you take the train to Reno or fly? Personally, I would fly, it's going to make a really long day of boring travel after the first few hours.
There is a direct night train that leaves Venice at 19:57 and arrives in Paris at 08:19. On most night trains you can choose among bunks in 4- or 6-person couchettes and beds in 1-, 2-, or 3-person sleepers. If you're willing to pay for it, go with a 2-person sleeper. For a detailed description, including photos, of night trains between Italy and France, go here. If you want to travel both quickly and cheaply, fly on a budget airline. The search engine skyscanner.com will list your choices.
Traveling by night train in Europe can be a fun experience, depending on your style of travel. Some people like to do it for the "experience;" others would rather hop on a plane and just get there. Trains are one of my favorite things about going to Europe, especially since there really isn't much of a train system left in America. I'd never take a night train in the states, but I took 3 while in Europe. It wasn't luxury, and I didn't get that much sleep ... but it satisfied a curiosity of mine. We ate on the train (once with a picnic in our compartment and once in the train's dining car), took showers (not the easiest thing to do) and slept while the train traveled through the countryside. You're likely to wake up many times when the train stops, especially at borders. Not saying that anyone actually comes to your door to wake you but the train stopping tends to be enough to wake people (sort of like when the power goes out in your own home and people wake up from the silence). Best of luck if you decide to do it. It can be fun and interesting.
Thanks everyone!! This totally helps :) At least we can now discuss the pros and cons with more knowledge!
In July 2010, We took the exact night train from Venice to Paris that Tim mentions above. Our teenagers had requested it. We had a 4-person couchette (reserved and paid in advance on Trenitalia.com) so we didn't have to share with strangers. Had a lovely in-cabin picnic, fun getting the beds ready and crawling in. Problem was, it doesn't take the train that long to make the trip. So, in order not to arrive in Paris at 4:00 am, the train parks on a siding for a few hours in the pre-dawn. Power shuts down. Motion stops. We woke up just suffocating from the heat and stale air. Never did get back to sleep. It ruined our planned day of sightseeing in Paris. All we wanted were showers and a bed. We went to our accommodations early and didn't do much else that day except snap at each other. We all agreed "never again". But I suppose it's an experience. Your mileage may vary! P.S. Lots of people want the experience, so night trains in the summer sell out very early especially on this route. I bought as soon as sales opened online (90 days in advance). The cheapest fares sold out on a week or two. It was fully sold out in five weeks. So if you want it, book it, since your trip is also in July.