Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

14-18 day highlights of Europe which tour company is best

14-18 day highlights of Europe which tour company is best

Old Dec 18th, 2015, 01:30 AM
  #61  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5,126
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the link.
Saraho is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 02:33 AM
  #62  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,713
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello Martoon : I downloaded a list of daytrips from PARIS posted by a great poster called French Mystique

Here is a brief list that summarizes many of the most popular day trips from Paris (within an hour and a half by train). There are certainly many others you could also do but this list covers most of the biggies:
Provins (an authentic walled medieval town): http://www.provins.net/
Château of Chantilly (wonderful fairytale château, famous art collection): http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/fr/
http://www.chantilly-tourisme.com/
Senlis (small medieval town can be combined with a visit to Chantilly):
www.senlis-tourisme.fr/accueil-senlis.php
Reims (champagne tours, great historic cathedral, museums):
http://www.reims-tourisme.com/
Epernay (champagne tours): http://www.ot-epernay.fr/
Fontainebleau (former royal town with famous château):
http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/
http://www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/
http://www.uk.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/
Versailles (obvious):
http://www.chateauversailles.fr/homepage
http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/
pariswat is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 02:33 AM
  #63  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,713
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte (the château after which Louis XIV based his garden renovations for Versailles and IMO one of the most elegant château in France):
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/
vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/visite_infos_pratique…
Rouen (small city, lots to do, wonderful cathedral, medieval old center): http://www.rouentourisme.com/
Giverny (Monet's house and gardens):
http://www.fondation-monet.fr/fr/
http://giverny.org/giverny/giverny.htm
www.vernon-visite.org/rgb4/who_we_are.htm
Chartres (the famous cathedral and wonderful old medieval town):
http://www.chartres-tourisme.com/


Have a great time planning.
pariswat is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 02:34 AM
  #64  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,713
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Compiègne (château with museums, wonderful old town. Can be combined with a visit to the château of Pierrefonds): http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/
Château of Pierrefonds (Magnificent fairytale looking château. Reconstructed in the 19th century but magnificent nonetheless. Can be combined with a visit to Compiègne):
www.pierrefonds.monuments-nationaux.fr/
pierrefonds-tourisme.net/ot/Bienvenue.html
compiegne-tourisme.fr/Le-chateau-de-Pierrefo…
Troyes (lovely small medieval city):
http://www.tourisme-troyes.com/
Laon (medieval hilltop town with a spectacular cathedral): http://www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com/
pariswat is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 02:36 AM
  #65  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1,713
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Barbizon (famous artists village, can be combined with Fontainebleau):
http://www.barbizon-tourisme.fr/
These are the most popular day trips and all are worthwhile but there are many other less popular and equally worthy day trips. I could easily list a couple dozen more but only if what's on this list doesn't interest you. A good guide book for the Île-de-France region should give you more ideas.

The places mentioned I've been to (about 2/3rd) were great so I endorse the other ones
pariswat is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 04:17 AM
  #66  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,567
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You have received a lot of good advice here.

Although I have used MANY booking websites--Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak, etc--I prefer booking.com for hotels. There are no fees for booking with them. And I always see if the hotel website or front desk can come up with a lower price.

For overseas plane fare, I check on Kayak and ITA MATRIX, now owned by Google: https://matrix.itasoftware.com/ That second search engine is really good at allowing me to play around with days and length of time to see when I can get lower costs.

Then I usually book the actual flight(s) with the air provider, although a couple of times, Orbitz came up with a better fare than I could create. It is interesting that the ITA search will often show that a flight like a Delta one operated by Air France could cost less if booked through Delta, or perhaps booked through Air France.

When booking airfares within Europe only (say going from Spain to Italy), I mainly use skyscanner.com

We don't rent cars in Europe anymore. Mass transportation is SO good that if you are nervous about anything with directions, you are best off just planning rail routes. I'm glad you have checked on seat61.com He probably mentions that the most reliable rail times website for all of Europe is the German one: https://www.bahn.com/i/view/index.shtml. I have yet to buy a ticket through the website, but it remains my go-to for timetables.

I so happy you have escaped being trapped on a tour bus!!!!
Happy Planning,
AZ
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 05:20 AM
  #67  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 27
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow! Lots of great info, thanks so much!!
martoon is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 05:22 AM
  #68  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27,617
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
You can only buy tickets within or to/from Germany on the bahn.de website, but it has schedules for all of Europe. seat61.com has links to the places to buy tickets for each country.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 05:34 AM
  #69  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 468
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
»places to buy tickets for each country«
Advance buying of train tickets is recommended for international or express trains. They often come with huge discount when bought some two months in advance, and they often have compulsory seat reservation.
I have good experience with both the German (www.bahn.de) and the Italian (www.trenitalia.com). They are easy with payment by credit card, printing at home, and English-language options.
For tickets on German trains you must remember that the ticket collecter will probably ask for the credit card with which the tickets were bought.
For Italy www.trenitalia.com the thing to remember is that you need to fill out the Italian originals of place names.
tonfromleiden is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 07:58 AM
  #70  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 801
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Martoon
Now that you're catching the DIY bug I would offer one bit of advice. Depending on how computer savvy you are...I would recommend starting a google map of your trip. If that sounds complicated then it's not essential...but it sure has helped me as I plan my trips. If you already have a google account it's just another thing you can do. I create layers for each City I'm visiting and then add points of interest in each layer. It's fun to slowly see your trip evolve in front of you. Plus it's a great place to tag things you want to see so you won't forget them later. Once you start creating maps you'll never look back. You can change the icons to show points of interest, train stations, airports, hotels, etc. It's pretty user friendly with a little digging at the start.
Have fun! For me planning is half the fun (or more) plus you get to do that for a whole year while the trip is gone in 2 weeks.
Wekiva is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 08:07 AM
  #71  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,567
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You ARE going to have so much fun planning this!
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 08:11 AM
  #72  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,567
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
And since you are going into total "TRAVEL MODE" and want to make use of this extensive pre-trip time, if you have not done so yet--

--Apply for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
--Look up European airline carry-on size restrictions to get an idea of why you may not to buy that cute, seemingly small, supposed "carry-on" roll-on right now.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2015, 09:33 AM
  #73  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,353
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi martoon,

Just a few comments --

First, what tonfromleiden said about the credit card is only partially correct. Yes, the conductor will ask for your credit card id -- but it doesn't have to be the same cc you used to buy the tickets. As you go through the purchase process, you'll be given the chance to select one of your credit cards as your id, but it doesn't have to be the one you used to buy your ticket. I always put my travel purchases on one cc, but when I travel, that card is tucked away in a hidden wallet. I always designate another cc to use as id.

Also, if you bring a smart phone, you can download your ticket to it and show that to the conductor (while you also hand him your designated cc). Just download the DB app, then sign in with your DB registration information, and download the ticket. After the ticket is downloaded, you don't have to be connected to the internet to access and show the ticket.

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Old Dec 19th, 2015, 01:37 AM
  #74  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 27
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
At this point the only thing that sounds a bit scary is taking the train and making the right connections. Its gotta be like anything else though, after the first couple of times, i'll get the hang of it. With your help, I've decided doing day trips out of London and Paris will be the best way we can get our feet wet.

I see this as a practice run for a big trip to Italy. I never thought about doing London and Paris like this.
Looked at a travel guide yesterday and was overwhelmed!! There is so much to see!!
Really like the idea of Google Maps, my brother mentioned that.
martoon is offline  
Old Dec 19th, 2015, 01:51 AM
  #75  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,353
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi again

Yup, as soon as you're in your seat on the train, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about. Truly, all you need to do is to know the time & track number & final destination of your train -- then just hop on board.

FUN!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Old Dec 19th, 2015, 02:20 AM
  #76  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 468
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
»Really like the idea of Google Maps«
The maps on www.viamichelin.com/web/Maps are a good complement, especially with the button »tourist sites«.
tonfromleiden is offline  
Old Dec 19th, 2015, 05:14 AM
  #77  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27,617
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
"Yes, the conductor will ask for your credit card id -- but it doesn't have to be the same cc you used to buy the tickets"

Depends entirely on the country. I don't remember being asked for ID on any of my recent trips. I don't like the idea of depending on my smart phone for my tickets unless I have to, I have limited faith in the reliability of electronic equipment (I used to be a techie) and it's far more likely to be stolen than paper. If you opt to collect your tickets in-country you will need to take the same credit card. For this trip you absolutely need to buy the Eurostar tickets ahead of time. You can save noticeable money buying the day trip UK tickets ahead (UK trains are expensive) but you may not want to lock in your day trips because of the possibility of bad weather.

Trains are so much easier than planes! You do need to get to St. Pancras for the Eurostar half an hour ahead as there are passport and luggage checks, but otherwise ten minutes or so is fine. When you walk into the station, look for the departure board, and then head for the platform.

For St. Pancras see: http://stpancras.com/ - do it now, while they still have a photo of their cute Christmas tree.

For trains in the UK use http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

For transport in London (download the central London bus map) use https://tfl.gov.uk/

For transport in Paris (ditto) use http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21879/visiting-paris/
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Dec 19th, 2015, 05:38 AM
  #78  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,353
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh, that's right, thursdaysd. But we were talking about the DB, so that's what I posted about. On German trains, you need to show the ticket and the cc. On Swiss or French trains, you just show the ticket.

That's all that my experience has been --

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Old Dec 19th, 2015, 06:25 AM
  #79  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,839
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
martoon, one other use for google maps is that if you select a hotel, you can walk around the neighbourhood by streetview. I did this with my last hotel in Paris that was south of Pigalle: not the nicest area. I walked through rue blanche: perfectly fine, no sex shops or popular bars, walked around some more and found a big monoprix around the corner. Perfect. Big factor in deciding for that hotel.

and trains, like Eurostar and Thalys are super easy.
menachem is offline  
Old Dec 19th, 2015, 08:39 AM
  #80  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 73,064
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
>>At this point the only thing that sounds a bit scary is taking the train and making the right connections. <<

Relax For this trip - there shouldn't be any connections anywhere. London to Oxford -- you get on the train at Paddington Station and get off in Oxford (or you could take an express bus instead). London to Bath - same, get on at Paddington and get off in Bath. Stonehenge - Get on at Waterloo station and get off in Salisbury where you get on a local tour bus waiting right outside the station to take you the few miles to the stones. Paris - Get on the Eurostar at St Pancras station in London and get off at Gare du Nord in the center of Paris.

All are easy peasy.
janisj is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -