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Driver/guide for day trips from Paris

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Apr 16th, 2016, 03:11 PM
  #1
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Driver/guide for day trips from Paris

Hello!

My family and I will be based in Paris for several weeks starting in mid-May. I am hoping to get recommendations for a driver/guide for day trips to Giverny, Versailles and other reasonably close destinations. English speaker would be appreciated and a comfortable vehicle that can accommodate 4 passengers.

Alternatively, a good car rental service on the outskirts of Paris (close to a metro stop) from which we can pick up a car to drive ourselves...just not interested in fighting our way in and out of the center of Paris.

I would appreciate any and all recommendations! Many thanks.
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Apr 16th, 2016, 03:23 PM
  #2
 
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Context Travel offers several full-day or half-day tours of Paris and vicinity.

https://www.contexttravel.com/city/paris?page=1
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Apr 16th, 2016, 03:31 PM
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Most reasonably close destinations, including Versailles, can be easily reached by train.
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Apr 16th, 2016, 03:51 PM
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I presumed they wanted a private driver for reasons having to do with ease and comfort, and money was no issue. Sounds like it.

But then asking about car rental offices kind of threw me, as that would be more trouble than just taking the train, as you'd have to figure out parking in the locaiton, roads, etc. But if you want one, I'd suggest renting at gare Montparnasse, it's fairly closer to the peripherique. If that isn't far enough out, Europcar has offices at Porte d'Orleans.

I don't know private drivers who would also be a guide, that sounds kind of unusual. In any case, voila, here is a company http://www.driverguidefrance.com/

I know nothing about them. However, they are licensed, official guides so have some credentials.
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Apr 17th, 2016, 02:20 AM
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Neither a private driver nor a car rental makes much sense when there are dozens of wonderful day trips easily arranged by train. A private driver would be unlikely to act as a guide, so upon arrival at, say, Giverny (after the driver "fights his way through Paris traffic), you'd need to do the tour yourself anyway. Getting yourself outside Paris to pick up a rental car would be easy enough, but finding parking upon arrival at your day trip destination could be problematic and/or entail a long walk to the actual attraction. Plus, single-day car rentals are particularly expensive, and the périphérique is hardly fun.

With either of these scenarios you will spend more than you need to spend, use up a lot more time in transit to and from, and encounter at least some of the very logisitcal problems you are trying to avoid to begin with. I would suggest you rethink and do the easiest thing possible - take the train.
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Apr 17th, 2016, 03:20 AM
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Those places in particular (Giverney and Versaalles) are easy to get guided tours from Paris if that is what you want. You could also go to these places by train and take a tour there on premises.
As mentioned, tours to other sites/sights near Paris are very easy to reach by train and then tour with the local arrangements or a tour book.
French Mystique has posted LENGTHY and wonderful possibilities for any of these. A search for those would be well worth your time.
Perhaps a French and Paris tour book would also help you make decisions on where and how.
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Apr 17th, 2016, 11:36 AM
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These are very helpful suggestions. It seems that taking a train is the right way to go. Thank you!
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Apr 17th, 2016, 01:10 PM
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If you want to go to anyplace that requires a reservation for train tickets (all TGV trains and many Intercités trains) you'll need to buy them 3 months in advance to get the cheapest ticket prices.

The cheapest train tickets are going to be the local trains near Paris that have fixed prices so you don't need to buy tickets in advance and you can also wait for the best weather day to do a day trip.

Here is a brief list that summarizes many of the most popular day trips from Paris (within an hour and a half by train). With the exception of Reims, Troyes and Rouen I haven't included places that require advance train ticket purchase to get the cheapest train ticket prices. The rest of the destinations are all local trains with fixed prices. There are certainly many other day trips you could also do but this list covers most of the biggies:

__________________________________________________ ______________________
Provins (an authentic walled medieval town): http://www.provins.net/
Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ ________________________

Château of Chantilly (wonderful fairytale château, famous art collection): http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/fr/
http://www.chantilly-tourisme.com/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord and arrive at Chantilly-Gouvieux. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ __________________________

Senlis (beautiful small medieval town can be combined with a visit to Chantilly):
http://en.senlis-tourisme.fr/
Take train to Chantilly (see above). Take bus number 15 from Chantilly to Senlis. Bus schedules here: http://www.oise-mobilite.fr/index.asp
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Reims (champagne tours, great historic cathedral, museums):
http://www.reims-tourisme.com/
Take TGV train from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices. Train tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Epernay (champagne tours): http://www.ot-epernay.fr/
Trains depart from from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Fontainebleau (former royal town with famous château):
http://www.musee-chateau-fontaineble...mmaire&lang=en
http://www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/index.php/en/
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon arrive at Fontainebleau-Avon. Take Bus 1 from train station to château. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Versailles (obvious):
http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage
http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/accueil.html
There are several possible ways to get here by train from Paris. Easiest (least confusing) is to take RER C from Paris to Versailles Rive-Gauche. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Rambouillet (Royal château now Presidential palace, nearby forest for hiking/biking, pretty downtown. On the same rail line as Versailles and Chartres)

http://www.rambouillet-tourisme.fr/

http://chateau-rambouillet.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/

Trains depart from Gare Montparnasse. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ ______________________________

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/en/
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/useful-information
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Melun. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5. Take taxi from Melun to château or in high season use the shuttle bus from Melun to château. See 2nd link above for further transport info.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Rouen (small city, lots to do, wonderful cathedral, medieval old center): http://www.rouentourisme.com/
Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules. Tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance. Last minute tickets cost 22.80€ each way (45.60€ round trip).
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Giverny (Monet's house and gardens):
http://fondation-monet.com/en/
http://giverny.org/giverny/
http://giverny.org/gardens/index.htm
http://www.vernon-visite.org/index.shtml
Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare and arrive in Vernon. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices. Look at links above for info about shuttle bus to Giverny, or walking or renting a bike.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Chartres (the famous cathedral and wonderful old medieval town):
http://www.chartres-tourisme.com/en
http://www.discover-chartres.com/

Malcolm Miller Cathedral Tours:

Daily tours of Chartres Cathedral from Easter until late October are at 12 noon and 2.45 p.m. Not on Sundays, and during the winter occasionally or on request.

E-mail address is [email protected].

Trains depart from Gare Montparnasse. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ______________________________

Compiègne (château with museums, wonderful old town. Can be combined with a visit to the château of Pierrefonds): http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ _________________________

Château of Pierrefonds (Magnificent fairytale looking château. Reconstructed in the 19th century but magnificent nonetheless. Can be combined with a visit to Compiègne):
http://www.pierrefonds.monuments-nationaux.fr/
http://www.pierrefonds-tourisme.net/
http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/Le-...errefonds.html
Take train to Compiegne (see above). There are shuttle buses from Compiegne to Pierrefonds but they are infrequent. Use www.oise-mobilite.fr for bus info. Easiest means of access is taxi from Compiegne to Pierrefonds. The tourist office in Compiegne will assist with taxi service.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Troyes (lovely small medieval city):
http://www.tourisme-troyes.com/
Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Auxerre (lovely small medieval city):
http://www.ot-auxerre.fr/
http://www.burgundy-tourism.com/page...erre-1034.html
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Laon (medieval hilltop town with a spectacular cathedral): http://www.laon-tourism.co.uk/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Crépy-en-Valois (charming little medieval town with 12th century châteaux, abbey ruin, quaint streets, nice park)
http://www.valois-tourisme.fr/ot_cre...nglish_version
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Crécy-la-Chapelle (small charming renowned artists village): http://www.cc-payscrecois.fr/Crecy-la-Chapelle,203.html Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Transfer at Esbly to the next train for Crécy. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ __________________________
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Moret-sur-Loing (charming walled medieval village/artists village):
http://www.msl-tourisme.fr/index.php/francais/accueil
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive at Moret-Veneux-les-Sablons. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Auvers-sur-Oise (Van Gogh and other impressionist art history):
http://www.auvers-sur-oise.com/heading/heading899.html
Trains depart from either Gare Saint-Lazare or Gare du Nord. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Rueil-Malmaison (château of the Empress Josephine and a nice old downtown. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Saint-Germain-en-Laye):
http://www.chateau-malmaison.fr/en
http://www.rueil-tourisme.com/EN/
Take RER A to La Défense and then bus 258 to Château de Malmaison. Also possible to take RER A to Rueil-Malmaison and then walk 1.5km to 2km to old downtown and then to château. Bus number 144 also available from RER station to get to downtown then walk to château. Use www.ratp.fr for transport info.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Saint-Germain-en-Laye (former royal town with a wonderful château now home to the national museum of archaeology. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Malmaison):
http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/
http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/...of-archeology/
http://musee-archeologienationale.fr/
Take RER A from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.
__________________________________________________ __________________________

Barbizon (famous artists village, can be combined with Fontainebleau):
http://www.barbizon-tourisme.fr/
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Fontainebleau-Avon. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5. It is necessary to take a taxi from Fontainebleau to Barbizon.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

IMPORTANT NOTE: When using the http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ website here are a few tips. When entering Paris as your arrival or departure point you will notice a drop down menu appears when you start to type the word ''paris''. Select ''Paris (all stations – FR)'' and this will automatically bring up the correct train station in Paris for your journey. Be sure to uncheck the box marked ''Direct Trains'' to see all options.

If you are redirected to the RailEurope then try again and select ''Antarctic'' as your ticket collection country to avoid being redirected to the RailEurope website. The RailEurope website usually doesn't show all the trains and shows higher ticket prices. Be sure to also look at other ticket purchase options. If you are having troubles with the SNCF website you can try using a new ticket selling website called www.capitainetrain.com. You can also use the German rail site www.bahn.de for schedules but it will not give train ticket prices.

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.

You'll need to take a train from Paris to do these day trips. For info on trains in Paris and the nearby suburbs (métro and RER trains and those TER trains that operate within zone 5) use the website www.ratp.fr. Use the interactive map on this website to plan your trip: http://www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php?lang=uk. Parts of this website are in French so you can use an English language companion site www.vianavigo.com. You can also use www.transilien.com for métro and RER trains and those TER trains that are part of the Transilien network. Some TER trains on the Transilien network go beyond zone zone 5. It's a personal choice as to whether you prefer using the RATP or Transilien website.

A great website to learn about the Paris métro/bus/RER network is www.parisbytrain.com.

For trains that go further beyond the Île-de-France and/or outside of the Transilien network use the website http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ A great website to learn about trains in France (and Europe) is www.seat61.com if you have any train questions/problems.

Paris and many of the places nearby in Île-de-France are divided into zones, numbered 1 through 5. Paris is in zone 1 and areas outside Paris are in zones 2 through 5. Some of the destinations I mentioned are in zone 5 (Provins, Fontainebleau, Moret-sur-Loing, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Crécy-la-Chapelle, Barbizon). If you have purchased the Navigo Découverte Pass then it will cover your travel within all 5 zones. The Paris Visite Pass for zones 1 to 5 will also cover these destinations. If you do not have these passes then for these journeys it will be more cost effective to buy a one day Mobilis pass for 16.60€ for zones 1 through 5. This will be cheaper than the point to point tickets round trip. Plus, this pass is good for unlimited travel on all public trains and buses for one day in zones 1-5. Buy it first thing in the morning before your first métro ride and it gets you to your train station, your round trip tickets, any buses you need to use at your destination and any traveling you'll do in Paris when you return. Before you use the ticket make sure to write your name and the date on the ticket. You can buy these passes from the ticket machines in métro/RER stations. The machines have an English language option. If so, look for the one day Mobilis pass option. When you get to the screen that lists your zones to choose from press zone 1 and then press zone 5. You can also buy them at any ticket counter. You can buy these in advance of your journey since it's not valid until you write your name and date on it and validate the ticket on your first métro/RER trip or at the train station. If you buy the ticket at a main line train station then before boarding a train be sure to stick it in the machine that validates tickets and it will punch your ticket. Click on the following link to see a photo of the composting machine for Mobilis Passes and other Île-de-France tickets: http://parisbytrain.com/paris-trainm...ationpunching/
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