France & Italy

Sep 5th, 2003, 06:02 AM
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France & Italy


I am going to Europe for the first time in September. I do not have any set plans yet. Only to fly to Paris and spend about 5 or 6 days in Paris and then take the Eurorail to Florence and later off to Rome. First, I would like any advice for a first-timer to Paris and Italy. In addition, I am clueless of how the Eurorail works. I will be in Europe for 2 weeks. Do I have time to travel to Switzerland on my way to Italy? Any help is greatly appreciated. In addition, I will not spend much time in my hotel room so I am looking to stay somewhere central in Paris, Florence and Rome. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

henryluke is offline  
Sep 5th, 2003, 06:13 AM
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Welcome to the forum, henryluke!

I'll address train travel. There is no "Eurorail", all the counties rails are separate entities. You are probably referring to Eurail railpasses. You can get a good idea of how trains work from reading a booklet you can download from Rick Steves site:
elberko is offline  
Sep 5th, 2003, 06:55 AM
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I can only offer a tiny bit of advise.

The Fodors info on 3 days in Paris is actually quite good. I just read it this morning and it matches very closely what I did when travelling with someone who had been to Paris a number of times and they were showing me around. With one major acception, I really enjoyed seeing Sacre Coeur - with 5 days, you'll have time to see it. It'a a nice visit and the day we went there was a toursity-type fair in the plaza nearby.

Sorry, but my trip was too long ago for me to remember or advise on hotels, except to say that we found a reasonable place around the corner from the Eiffel Tower - the savings was nice compared to something more centrally located and the subway system is good enough to quickly get you anywhere.

I only have one comment on trains. We've used the regular rail line and the TGV (high speed train). The TGV was nice, but the 5 hours we had to wait for the train was aweful (it doesn't run as often as the other trains). I won't use it again.

Good luck and enjoy your trip.
Fallen_Murk is offline  
Sep 5th, 2003, 07:23 AM
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If your only rail journeys are from Paris to Roma, then it's not worth getting a pass - just get a one-way ticket. There is a good overnight train from Paris to Firenze ("Florence") but there are countless ways of doing such a journey, stopping for a few hours or overnight in France, Switzerland or Italy. Look at a map and work out where you want to go, then check train connections on
I don't understand the previous respondent who had to wait five hours for a TGV. Is he/she saying his/her TGV was five hours late or that he/she got to the station five hours early ? The first case would be exceptionally rare, and the second stupid.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Sep 5th, 2003, 08:14 AM
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Hi henry,

You can actually purchase your Paris/Florence ticket online if you wish.

You want the electronic ticket in France. You will get a confirmation number which you bring with the same charge card that you used to book the ticket.

Upon arrival in Florence, you can buy your ticket to Rome. Italy train schedules are at
ira is offline  
Sep 5th, 2003, 11:38 AM
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To: GeoffHamer

Why do you have to use words that start a flame? You came close to calling me stupid. It's OK though cause this is my first time visiting this site and I don't think I'll come back.

The tickets were purchased ahead of time. The departure times between the arrival flight and the departing TGV were that different. If things are very different now, then my reference is out of date (about 6 years ago).
Fallen_Murk is offline  
Sep 5th, 2003, 11:54 AM
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Be sure you check the museum open times & dates, since they're not open every day of the week. I can't recall how anymore (perhaps do a search on the site) but you can get a museum pass that is less expensive and you will be able to avoid the lines.

This isn't something you can control, but you should check's international section or local news (if you can find it in English) before leaving to find out if any strikes are planned while you are there. Occasionally certain occupations will strike for a few days at a time (the museum workers were striking while I was there last time, and I believe the cab drivers striked right after we left which meant the Metro was packed).

Other advice, try to learn a little of each language before you leave, even if it's just please, thank you and I don't understand. Although most people speak English in the cities you're visiting, it's usually appreciated if you try.

Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and the bell tower of Notre Dame. You have enough time to spend a day at the Louvre (if you like art). If you have 2 weeks, I personally would spend only five days in Paris, then five in Rome with the remainder for traveling and Florence.
hlphillips2 is offline  
Sep 5th, 2003, 11:58 AM
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Fallen_Murk: This forum is a wonderful source of invaluable information from seasoned and not-so-seasoned travelers.

Try not to be offended by the previous comments. Sometimes it's just the way it is written, and the intent is not necessarily to be rude. My experience here is that most people are usually friendly and really do want to help out.

Lorac1127 is offline  
Sep 5th, 2003, 12:06 PM
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Do you September 2003? While not absolutely necessary to go, the more of the language you can learn, the more fun you'll have. 5-6 days in PAris is perfect. There are many neighborhoods that are equally central in Paris. Which you choose depends on your taste. Just make sure that it has a high percentage of residential areas. After that, I would suggest 2 days in Florence and the remainder in Rome (SO much to see/do). In Rome, look for a place close to the Pantheon,Piazza Navona, or Campo di Fiori and you'll be able to easily walk anywhere. All of central Paris is walkable.
bardo is offline  
Sep 6th, 2003, 02:33 PM
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Thank you to everyone for your responses. I am psyched up for my trip. If you have ANY other advise you would like to pass along regarding sights, transportation, safety, shopping, whatever, please feel free to do so. All is appreciated!
henryluke is offline  
Sep 6th, 2003, 03:53 PM
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henryluke, have you investigated the idea of flying Paris-Rome? The discussion here centered on train travel, which I've not done - nor have I flown - but I've taken note from this board that European inter-city flights are convenient and inexpensive. It'll save some time, won't it?
TuckH is offline  
Sep 7th, 2003, 05:52 AM
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I'm sure the flight would save time but I'd like to enjoy the scenery if there is any...I'm clueless to be quite honest. I thought about taking the train and possibly stopping in Switzerland if time permits. Not sure how I want to do it, but I appreciate the options you spoke about.
henryluke is offline  
Sep 7th, 2003, 06:01 AM
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Hi Henry,

>Do I have time to travel to Switzerland on my way to Italy?<

How long are you planning on being in Europe?
ira is offline  
Sep 7th, 2003, 06:09 AM
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I think henryluke made it clear in his first question that he will be in Europe for 2 weeks.

I'd say the 5 or 6 days in Paris is fine. A couple days in Florence is plenty for me -- but it would be nice to see a little of the Tuscan countryside while there before going to Rome where you should do at least four or five days. So, no, I don't really think you have time to visit Switzerland. Save that for the next trip.

My only other suggestion might be to look at a cheap flight from Paris to Venice. Stay in Venice two nights, then head off by train to Florence, and then to Rome. I think it might be a shame to miss seeing Venice for your first trip to Italy -- nothing else is quite like it.
Patrick is offline  
Sep 7th, 2003, 06:13 AM
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Thank you, Patrick.

I think I read his first question 3 times before I posted.
ira is offline  
Sep 7th, 2003, 02:34 PM
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All great ideas. Okay, I'll take the suggestion to pass up Switzerland this time around. However, I'm a bit confused whether to take a train to plane to FLorence. Now, let me tell you that I am going to FLorence, Venice and Rome...I agree that I need to stop in Venice at least for a day or 2. However, I'm really lost as to how I attempt this, again by train? Also, in what order...Start in Paris then to Florence or Venice then down to Rome??? I depart from Rome on the 8th. I have about 7 days in Italy. Thanks
henryluke is offline  
Sep 7th, 2003, 02:49 PM
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I'd suggest you do Paris, Venice, Florence and then Rome, but I guess it depends on which train schedules work best for you (and I do think you would enjoy the scenery quite a bit) because Paris, Florence, Venice then Rome is equally "doable." You could plan for 2 nights in each of the Italian cities, knowing that you will barely scratch the surface of Rome. That's what second trips are for I think you've hit on a really wonderful 1st trip to Europe and you will enjoy it a great deal.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Sep 7th, 2003, 08:39 PM
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Thanks Uhoh Busted. I greatly appreciate your suggestions and I will take them!

If you don't mind, could you recommend some of the sights in Rome. I know you said I could spend 5 days in Rome alone, but what are the biggest attractions...The Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Treve Fountain. Thanks again.
henryluke is offline  

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