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Kelley May 8th, 2000 02:47 PM

France: Coach or Rail
I plan to spend a week in France this Fall...then my husband will join me to tour part of France. Driving is out...and I know the disadvantages of some motorcoach companies. Rick Steeves is great, but visiting Europe for three weeks with one tiny carryon won't do. My husband is a spry 78, I'm a young 62. Does anyone have info of a company that does smaller tours...about 25 people vs the almost 50 that the major coach companies carry...OR, would we be better off trying to visit a few places by rail...on our own. We are not accustomed to getting around Europe on our own. Would really appreciate advice from experienced traveller's.

elvira May 8th, 2000 03:11 PM

Dragging suitcases on and off trains is tres icky, so might I suggest you base yourself in one spot, then take day trips via rail or public bus? Then, a do-it-yourself trip is not overwhelming. <BR>Example: Bordeaux - day tours via coach (wine tours), organized through the tourist office; trains to St Emilion, Tour, Bayonne. Or Nice, and most of Provence is day-trippable, as well as parts of Italy. Or Lyon, or Perpignan.... Then, if you want to do an overnight at another city, leave your gigundo bags at the original hotel and just take an overnight bag (you can either keep your hotel room, and pay for a night's lodging you won't be using, or pack up and leave everything with the concierge to be moved back into a room the following night). <BR> <BR>

Russ May 8th, 2000 03:19 PM

Sounds like you're able to get yourselves around, say, by train, independently; but if you intend to exceed Steves' "carry-on limit", this will likely be more trouble for you than you'd like (I travel his way and can't imagine carrying much more, and I'm about 20 years your junior.) <BR> <BR>You might consider Untours. ( They do 2-week stays in vacation apartments and help you arrange train transportation with rail passes (without luggage -- hooray!) on day-trips to interesting places. They have a stay in Paris and a stay in Provence in their current offerings. You really get to know a place this way and have the freedom to go where you want whenever you feel like it.

Kelley May 8th, 2000 04:21 PM

Thank you so much for your good responses. This is just the kind of info I am searching for. Kelley

Rex May 8th, 2000 06:41 PM

I organize small group tours (10-12 people) - - and I would very much like to add a September or October itinerary to France (Provence plus one other region, or Provence plus some of Northern Italy). <BR> <BR>I would be delighted to talk with you further, if you care to write to me directly. <BR> <BR>Rex Bickers <BR>Westerville, Ohio

adina May 8th, 2000 06:48 PM

I travelled in Europe a few years ago with my parents-- very active early 60's and early 70's (my dad jogs 4 miles a day). I'm in my early 20's. We rented a car in England but did France, Switzerland and Italy by train. We each had a nice sized suitcase-- definitely not carry-on-- plus a knapsack and getting on and off the trains and running to change trains was hard. It's probably best to base yourself in a few places and explore the town and surrounding countryside on day trips. You could certainly do that for the Loire Valley and I'm sure other regions as well. Enjoy!

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