Transportation Basics

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Transportation Basics

There are two major gateway airports to France just outside the capital: Orly, 16 km (10 miles) south of Paris, and Charles de Gaulle, 26 km (16 miles) northeast of the city. At Charles de Gaulle, also known as Roissy, there's a TGV (train à grande vitesse) station at Terminal 2, where you can connect to high-speed trains going all over the country.

Once in France, the best way to travel is by train, either high-speed TGV or regional train. A France Rail Pass allows three days of unlimited train travel in a one-month period. With train service efficient and enjoyable, long-distance bus service is rarely used, though there are some regional buses that cover areas where train service is spotty.

If you're traveling by car, there are excellent links between Paris and most French cities, but poor ones between the provinces. For the fastest route between two points, look for roads marked for autoroute. A péage (toll) must be paid on most expressways: the rate varies, but can be steep. Note that gas prices are also steep, upward of €1.30 a liter, or about $6.50 a gallon.

Although renting a car is about twice as expensive as in the United States, it's the best way to see remote corners of the lovely French countryside. To get the best rate, book a rental car at home, and well in advance if you're planning a trip in summer and early fall. If you want automatic transmission, which is more expensive, be sure to ask for it when you reserve.

Here's a good tip: If you're traveling from Paris, a practical option is to take the TGV to another large city, such as Avignon or Nice, and rent a car there.

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