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driving out of paris vs. taking the train

driving out of paris vs. taking the train

May 21st, 2010, 04:34 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 8
driving out of paris vs. taking the train

We are planning to stay in paris for 4 nights and then driving to the loire valley and staying in Amboise for 2 nights. Would you recommend that we rent a car in paris or take the train from Paris to Tours and renting the car in Tours? What would be the quickest, most efficient choice?
Dianita is offline  
May 21st, 2010, 05:29 PM
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We always drive out of Paris. Stories about traffic are totally overblown. Just pick a rental agency near the peripherique and you will be out of town in no time. And won;t have to deal with luggage on a train - and making sure you arrive when the rental office is open and has cars available.

Caveat: We're from NYC. If you're not used to city driving and/or are a timid driver it might be a little confusing.
nytraveler is offline  
May 21st, 2010, 06:10 PM
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There was another thread about this not too long ago so you might search for it. I think that you will find opinions split. Like nytraveler, we also drive from Paris, but we know Paris well and aren't timid drivers (even in cities don't know well). We also have found with 2 people that it is generally more cost effective than the train car combo. But really I think it mostly depends on how at ease you are driving the "city part".
jpie is offline  
May 21st, 2010, 06:42 PM
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I've never had an issue with driving in or around Paris, so it wouldn't be a big deal for me to drive to the Loire Valley. That said, taking the train is fun and relatively painless, and if you're at all skittish about driving out of Paris, a good alternative.
StCirq is offline  
May 21st, 2010, 06:59 PM
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O.K., The opposing view. Easy to take the regional train to Amboise, and rent a car there. Or take the TGV to the Tours (St.Pauls de Corps) station. Rent the car and drive to Amboise (about 20 minutes - easy drive) The train is simple and easy, not to mention scenic.
leuk2 is offline  
May 21st, 2010, 07:49 PM
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Check the prices of the train because if there are 3 or 4 of you it can be cheaper to just rent the car. That is what we found in April when my kids and I went down to Lyon,Dijon,etc.
dutyfree is offline  
May 21st, 2010, 10:56 PM
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We started out doing the train-car combo (p/u in Versailles, Chartres, Rennes) and then progressed to just p/u from an agency on the périphérique in the direction we were heading to from there.

Schlepping all the luggage onto/off of the train and getting to the car agency has ended up being more of a challenge as we've gotten older (or is that wiser?).

Paris wasn't as bad as we thought--ok, so we've been honked at a couple of times, but who hasn't? Sunday mornings is our preferred time, as the traffic is quite light then, but we can manage any time really.
klondike is offline  
May 21st, 2010, 11:53 PM
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I've driven Paris to Loire valley many times (100+)*, and the route out of Paris is flat and uninteresting by car or train.

I guess it comes down to cost since you will need a car in the Loire anyway.

Another option is TGV to Vendome which may reduce the train cost.


* Not pleasure trips but visiting my inlaws who live in Loire valley, and I used to live North of Paris.
mpprh is offline  
May 22nd, 2010, 03:02 AM
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The road out of Paris can be very interesting if you don't use the autoroute. Since Amboise really isn't all that far, you don't really need to rush there.

Using the train just ensures that you will miss some things which could have turned out to be the highlight of your trip.
kerouac is offline  
May 22nd, 2010, 03:07 AM
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Oh, if you do take the train out of Paris to rent a car, pay very close attention to the opening hours and days of the rental agency. Also the provincial agencies are extremely provincial about what constitutes a scratch or a rub. The big train station car rental agencies in Paris do not give a second thought to such things because so many cars return with little souvenirs of parking problems. Out in the country, though, they don't have much to do so they love to pull out their magnifying glass.
kerouac is offline  
Sep 5th, 2010, 07:14 PM
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The biggest (and only) nightmare of our trip to Paris and the Loire Valley was driving in and out of Paris. Driving out was only bad because of the hellish traffic. We got to see someone get off his car and pee right there in the middle of the freeway!! Anyway, diving back into Paris was literally one of the worst experiences of our lives. You make one wrong turn and there is no going back. We had a gps, we were as careful as could be, but the signs are terrible and incredibly confusing and there are split second decisions that you have to make and if you make one wrong move, it's over!!! You will essentially have to re-route your whole trip back to the city. What should have taken 3 hours took us almost 7. By that time, the rental agency had closed, so we had to find another one that was open and figure out how to get there, etc, etc.... Save yourself a lot of hardship: NEVER rent a car in Paris unless you really, really know exactly what you're doing, where you're going and how to get there AND you're willing to drive in disgusting traffic - no matter what time of the day. What a horrible experience! No amount of money saved was worth what we went through.
Dianita is offline  
Sep 5th, 2010, 07:24 PM
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I TOTALLY disagree with this. Signage in France is excellent, about 300% better than anywhere in the USA.

Sorry you had a bad experience, but plenty of us do this with some regularity and do NOT experience these issues. Maybe you should have used maps and common sense instead of GPS. The ONLY time I ever got lost in France was using GPS, which kept landing me in farmers' driveways (but that was before GPS systems got sophisticated).
StCirq is offline  
Sep 5th, 2010, 09:22 PM
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Well, I got us 'turned around' when passing thru Tours to the car agency, so I can imagine a less-experienced city driver feeling pressured and confused on Paris autoroute. My hometown pop. is still < a million, and traffic is very spread out.
Note: not much in the way of rental agencies in Amboise back in 2004 - we used Avis at the St Pierre des Corps train station.
Travelnut is offline  
Sep 5th, 2010, 09:34 PM
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I drove out of Paris - from Gare de L'est - to the Loire Valley. I think as long as you have a GPS you'll be fine. Bear in mind that the traffic is on the other side of the road to what I'm used to but I just didn't really have any difficulties at all. There was 4 of us and this was a very economical option for us. I went online to viamichelin before I left and printed out the route I was going to travel and paid particular attention to the route out of Paris itself hoping to familiarise myself. I don't know if it helped much because we did get off track but the GPS just recalculates and gets you back on track.

We just looked at it as all part of the adventure. The traffic on the freeways in France are extremely polite compared to Downunder. Oh I must say I had the devil of a time returning the car back to the correct Terminal at Charles de Gaulle - that got a bit ugly and stressy - but we did get there in the end.
stormbird is offline  
Sep 6th, 2010, 04:16 AM
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It's a shame that Dianita did not have a good experience, but it certainly does not correspond to what happens to most other people. The signage is indeed excellent in Paris and on French roads in general. All I can imagine is that the driving was done on one of 'red' or 'black' days such as August 28-29 when half of Europe is on the road.
kerouac is offline  
Sep 6th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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I think the problem is GPS. Many are flawed - and I have never seen one completely reliable. What you need are maps - so you know where you're going and what routes you will have to take BEFORE they jump up in front of you. If the route is planned out in your head then there's no way it can be confusing.

Also agree that road signs in France - and Europe in general - are much clearer than in the US.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 6th, 2010, 12:26 PM
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Most roadworks in Paris are done during the summer, so streets can be unexpectedly closed or change direction temporarily. No GPS can keep up with that, but the road signs always indicate what to do to get where you are going in such cases. (Temporary signs are yellow.)
kerouac is offline  
Sep 6th, 2010, 01:22 PM
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Dianita, thanks for confirming what I've always been afraid of! I've often debated picking up car at CDG versus taking the train, but so far have opted to train to wherever I was going, then pick up car. The train ride is a great way to relax and unwind after a long overnight flight. And reliable in getting one back to Paris
for the flight home (unless of course there's a strike!). Anyway, I love the French trains.
Sue4 is offline  

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