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Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

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Great Barrington...
posts: 4,177
reviews: 42
Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

I only have an advanced Master's Degree so I am unable to decipher how these consecutive day rail passes work in travelling through France and the rest of Europe. It seems harder to crack than the "Da Vinci Code". I hope someone can help. Here is what I want to do:

1. I plan to arrive in Paris CDG from NYC JFK.

2. After spending a few days in Paris I want to travel on a HIGH SPEED train to other cities in France.

3. From France I want to travel to other countries such as Spain, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Norway on HIGH SPEED trains.

4. When I get to these countries I want to travel on HIGH SPEED trains between cities within a country like Spain (i.e., Madrid to Barcelona).

5. I plan to travel for a total of about 20 days.

My questions are:

1. What kind of pass do I buy (Eurorailpass, Railpass, Eurail, etc.)?

2. How much should it cost?

3. Are there supplements?

4. Do I need to make reservations each time I travel?

5. Is 1st Class Travel really worth it?

6. Where should I buy my ticket?

Thank you!

Paris
posts: 314
1. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

Be careful,

There are not HIGH SPEED trains on every line in Europe. France is probably the most equiped country, but there are still many lines at regular speed.

The only answer I can give you is about 1st class. Do not expect a big big difference with 2nd. The seats are just more confortable, but it does not make your trip shorter, and the nd seat are fine.

Kamloops, BC...
posts: 9,751
2. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

First of all -- it is not necessary TO SHOUT --

Second - go to www.ricksteves.com. He has a downloadable guide to rail passes. It will help you decide which pass, if any, you need to buy. You can then order the pass(es) from his site or from a travel agent or from a number of other places.

La Rochelle
posts: 1,287
reviews: 14
3. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

I travel first class a lot (comes with the job) and 9 times out of 10 it isn't worth it - unless free coffee and newspaper really means that much to you.

When I travel in Europe I get my tickets through Rail Europe http://www.raileurope.co.uk/ or Deutsche Bahn

You will find this website useful: http://www.seat61.com/

Sarasota, Florida...
posts: 700
reviews: 13
4. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

I suggest STA travel (they have a website). They are geared to university students & faculty who ride the trains frequently.

If you qualify as a teacher or student, you might get a hefty discount if you purchase an International Student (or Teacher) I.D. Card for $23 from STA.

I just returned from taking my students & we got more than at 50% discount off the regular Eurostar fare by booking through STA with our ID cards.

Personally, I don't think first class is any big deal. The train will be either nice or not so nice. You just take your chances!

If you're sleeping on the train...that's a different story. I"d get a sleeping room.

Sarasota, Florida...
posts: 700
reviews: 13
5. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

Since you're traveling all over Europe, have you considered Ryan Air instead of train travel. They are super discouted air fares using smaller airports. As an example, now you can fly Rome to Barcelona for 22 euros each way! My university students use ryan air all the time & report good luck with it.

I believe the website is: www.ryanair.com.

Have a great trip.

Ohio, USA
posts: 19,030
reviews: 4
6. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

pixfield -

Some research here will help clue you in as to what high speed trains are available in Europe, and may make figuring out which pass is best for you a bit simpler, though I dubt if anything other than a full-bore multi-country 21-day Eurail pass will work. If that is correct the first class question is irrelevant since the Eurail pass is first cass only unless you are under 26.

europeanrailguide.com/european_trains.html

You should realize that some routes are served by high speed rolling stock but are not dedicated high speed lines. The TGV line to Nice is high speed only as far as Marseille/Aix-en-Provence, and many other lines are the same. AFAIK there are NO high speed trains in Sweden, Norway or Poland. In Spain at most a couple of routes are genuinely high speed - Madrid-Cordoba-Seville being the only one I can think of off the top of my head.

To find timetables and routings for trips you are thinking of www.bahn.de will be your best resource.

JCM1949 -

I worked out a detailed itinerary for pixfield using at least a half dozen budget airlines that fly into major airports. I guess that ended up in the cicular file. Ryanair is only one of the many European LCCS (Low Cost Carriers) and though it *may* have the most extensive network many routes work better with other LCCs flying out of major airports. EasyJet, based in the UK, is perhaps the best known of these.

Great Barrington...
posts: 4,177
reviews: 42
7. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

Thank you very much, all of you.

I am looking into RyanAir and I have a few questions and comments on that too:

1. Do you need to reserve far in advance to get the super discounted fares? If so, I would rather have the flexibility of the train.

2. RyanAir flies doesn't fly into too many "major" airports. Isn't getting into the city a problem then?

Mannheim, Germany
Destination Expert
for Zurich, Mannheim
posts: 13,350
reviews: 3
8. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

>. Do you need to reserve far in advance to get the super discounted fares? If so, I would rather have the flexibility of the train.

Yes. Of course the super-low prices on Ryanairare only availabe for the very early bookers. However, with many high-speed trains (especially in France) you have to have a reservation in advance (a few hours are enough in 99% of all cases). Just the pass is not enough.

>2. RyanAir flies doesn't fly into too many "major" airports. Isn't getting into the city a problem then?

More one of time and convenience than of availability. Usually there are shuttle busses waiting for the Ryanair flight to get you to a nearby city for 5-10 Euro. However it can take you quite a while (for example 1 1/2 h to get from "Frankfurt Hahn" to Frankfurt).

Ohio, USA
posts: 19,030
reviews: 4
9. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

Reservations are required for many of the faster city-to-city trains all over Europe, whether they are high speed trains or not. And yes, trains do fill up, especially at peak travel periods and on weekends to popular destinations. Rail operators are no less conscious of maximizing revenue per seat-mile and yield management and so on than are airline executives.

UK
posts: 10,664
10. Re: Train Travel in France and Throughout Europe (But not...

If you're looking for budget carriers for flights in Europe, there are a few sites (the one I have bookmarked is http://www.flylc.com/directall-en.asp) which help identify which airlines fly where - though you may need a Master's in European geography to identify the various possible airports for a particular area.