France Itinerary

Old Dec 31st, 2020, 08:27 AM
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France Itinerary

I'm planning a possible trip for Summer 2022 (at which point we'll hopefully be past COVID). We (husband and I and 7 year old) will be coming from the United States, and ultimately want to end up in Colmar region of France, where we're planning to stay for a few weeks. Meanwhile, I want to spend two weeks making my way there. I think first stop will be London for a few days, and then around France, ending in Colmar. We've already been to Paris a few times, so don't need to spend much time there. I've also already spent time in French Riviera, so don't need to go there. The biggest hurdle is we strongly prefer not to rent a car, so we'd be using trains primarily, and I'm finding it tricky to come up with an efficient train route that hits on nice places to visit. Any suggestions?
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Old Dec 31st, 2020, 04:29 PM
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The problem with not having a car is that outside the cities, public transportation is not always readily available. I think that you could take a train from the UK to Lille. I suspect that from Lille you could visit Arras


and Amiens


From Lille I believe that there is a TGV that by-passes Paris, so that Dijon would be accessible. I believe that Dijon, Auxerre, Sens can be done by train. But small towns like Noyers-sur-Serein


and Montréal


are more difficult to reach by public transportation.
From Dijon there probably is a train connection to Colmar.
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Old Dec 31st, 2020, 05:14 PM
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There are heaps and heaps of places which you could easily visit using public transport so it would be helpful to know which areas of France appeal to you the most, other than Alsace. Certainly the area around Dijon would be great and you could easily take a train London to Lyon (5hrs) if you wanted to include somewhere larger. Maybe include a stop in Basel enroute to Colmar? Maybe not so relevant but I once planned a journey loosely Geneva to Basel to Colmar (but ended up changing plans entirely so never made it) - but it sounded great from the research I did. Chambery and Annecy would also be good. Also check buses to get to places off the train lines.
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Old Dec 31st, 2020, 07:25 PM
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We had a five week trip in France a couple of years ago and only used public transport. It took a bit of time initially to figure out timetables and tickets and what the different trains meant (local, long distance etc) but it worked fine. Also we've travelled in the past from London to Lille on Eurostar and also London to Paris and on to Strasbourg via TGV train. That was all pretty easy and cost effective. You might enjoy Lille for a few days. If you want to try a different country, parts of Switzerland are quite close to Colmar. Or you could travel by Eurostar from London to Brussels and spend some time there. We loved Brugge and Ghent, all easily accessible by train.

Here are a couple of links that might help -

https://www.seat61.com/train-travel-in-france.htm For train maps and loads of good info.

https://www.sncf.com/en/network-expe...u/network-maps The French train network
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 01:14 AM
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There are (resp will be again) direct Eurostar, TGV and ICE trains f
London - Lille - Brussels - Liege - Aachen - Cologne
Lille - Gare Lorraine (Nancy, Metz) - Strasbourg
Lille - Dijon - Besancon - Mulhouse
Cologne - Frankfurt
Frankfurt - Mannheim - Strasbourg - Colmar - Mulhouse;
Rhine rover boats
Cologne - Koblenz - Ruedesheim - Mainz;
IC trains
Mainz - Mannhein.
You may include the Louvre museum at Lens (close to Lille), Brugge, Han-sur-Lessse, Luxemburg , Trier, Mosel River boats,
resp all the gems of Burgundy and the Swiss Jura with the lakes of Neuchatel, Bienne as well as the city of Basel
and will have stuff for more than 2 weeks.

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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 02:32 AM
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I agree that you should try to add Annecy to the itinerary! You could also consider the Loire Valley if you like wine and castles

Last edited by Fleur_de_Lis; Jan 1st, 2021 at 02:35 AM.
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 02:38 AM
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I use either/both Trainline.com and bahn.de to check to see what kinds of connections are available between cities in Europe. They tell how long the journey is, how many stops to switch trains are involved and how long you have to make the switch. We try to center in a larger city which serves as a hub and then do day trips from there. I just wish that the US had even half the wonderful rail systems that Europe does.
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 06:56 AM
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Thanks all. I was playing around with train maps yesterday, and I think I could do:
London (4 nights) - Paris (2 nights) - Tours (2 nights) - Bordeaux (2 nights) - Marseille (2 nights) - Lyon (2 nights) - Colmar.

That's a little more hectic than I'd usually like to be, but those seem to be pretty quick train trips, except Bordeaux to Marseille, which is 6 hours. I was thinking maybe could stop somewhere en route (Carcassonne maybe?) mid day to break it up. I hadn't considered Lille before. Maybe I could do that instead of Paris. Annency looks lovely, but doesn't seem easily accessed. That seat61 site is great, thanks for that! Brussels and Dijon are also good ideas, if I want to play around with different routes. We like a little bit of everything.
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 09:10 AM
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London (4 nights) - Paris (2 nights) - Tours (2 nights) - Bordeaux (2 nights) - Marseille (2 nights) - Lyon (2 nights) - Colmar.is the perfect itinerary if you like to spend as much time as possible in trains and to bypass as many gems as possible.
Annecy can be reached by direct TGV from Paris as well as by almost hourly trains and buses from Geneva; but it's far away from a London - Strasbourg itinerary.
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 10:14 AM
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Tours is waaaaaaay down on my list of interesting cities to visit in France. I'm not a big fan of Lille either - too much of it was destroyed in various wars.. My two favorites (after Paris) are Toulouse & Dijon - which are not on your itinerary. Toulouse is between Bordeaux & Marseille.

Agree with neckervd - you plan is a train trip - not a city trip
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 10:40 AM
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Tours is a base to go around Loire valley. Could also do Blois or Amboise or something else in that area. I would prefer less stops en route, but I'm having a hard time finding efficient ways to get across the country without hitting lots of stops. The trains all seem to route back through Paris, which requires longer on the train. These train trips are mostly 1-2 hours. I don't want to go through Germany because I've already been to many of those cities, and also plan to do a separate side trip(s) to Black Forest area / Switzerland when settled in Colmar. This trip I'd hoped to focus on France.
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 10:42 AM
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I could include Toulouse, but I'd heard mixed things about it, and it would add yet another stop.
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Amicita View Post
I could include Toulouse, but I'd heard mixed things about it, and it would add yet another stop.
We had a trip planned for last March Toulouse-Narbonne-Beaune all by train. I had heard great things about Toulouse, not sure what bad press you have seen...
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Amicita View Post
Thanks all. I was playing around with train maps yesterday, and I think I could do:
London (4 nights) - Paris (2 nights) - Tours (2 nights) - Bordeaux (2 nights) - Marseille (2 nights) - Lyon (2 nights) - Colmar.

That's a little more hectic than I'd usually like to be, but those seem to be pretty quick train trips, except Bordeaux to Marseille, which is 6 hours. I was thinking maybe could stop somewhere en route (Carcassonne maybe?) mid day to break it up. I hadn't considered Lille before. Maybe I could do that instead of Paris. Annency looks lovely, but doesn't seem easily accessed. That seat61 site is great, thanks for that! Brussels and Dijon are also good ideas, if I want to play around with different routes. We like a little bit of everything.
Essentially two nights mean one day in each city because of the travel time between cities. Will your 7 year old (now or then?) hold up under the pace, or will he get cranky?

I push for one hub in the Hauts-de-France area, and another in Burgundy. Side trips by train or bus. Would your child be interested in this?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gu%C3%A9delon_Castle

Last edited by Michael; Jan 1st, 2021 at 11:47 AM.
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 12:19 PM
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I think if you base anywhere in the Loire and then try to visit some chateaux by bus, private driver, or organized tour - you will only be able to visit 3 chateaux for the 1 1/2 days you will be there. That's not much reward for all that travel & time spent "getting there" (instead of "being there"). Plus, you likely hit a major chateau around mid-day when everyone else will be there. We've spent around 8 weeks visiting the Loire chateaux, and we get to the "biggies" like Chambord & Chenonceau when they open at 9 so we can avoid the huge crowds.

Pick cities that are not far apart by train (Tours, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Colmar are far apart). Perhaps for your 8 nights between Paris & Colmar, do:
- 2 nights Dijon
- 3 nights Lyon
- 3 nights Marseille or Aix en Provence (we prefer Aix) or both
- Take the 9:45 TGV from Marseille (stop in Aix) to Colmar. that arrives at 3:26

All easy access with 0 train changes.

See attached Lyon itinerary

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 06:47 PM
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I hear you all that itinerary is a lot of moving place to place. I was trying to follow the path of the fast trains, so each train trip was a far distance, but not long in time. However, its still a lot of packing and unpacking and schlepping luggage around, which I don't enjoy. What about London (4 nights) - Paris (1 night) - Tours (3 nights) - Lyon (3 nights) - Dijon (3 nights) - Colmar.
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 07:35 PM
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Why Paris for one night? That's a hassle so I'd consider pushing on to Tours. I'm sure Tours is lovely (never been there myself) but it's in the wrong direction a bit. You have to weigh up how much you want to visit there against the extra travel time (which isn't huge I suppose).
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Old Jan 1st, 2021, 10:40 PM
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Hi Amicita,

Sorry I don't have any input for your itinerary, though I prefer the second one that you posted for its ease and flexibility.

Just wanted to let you know that, among all of the quarantined you-tube travel I've been doing, I've really enjoyed France with Vero ones. She recently did one from Tours, and it looks very interesting and pretty. This lady has tons of info. No relation or connection to her personally.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Jan 2nd, 2021, 05:24 AM
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Paris for one night because the train from Paris to Tours leaves from a different station than the train from London to Paris, so we'd have to schlep across town with our luggage and wait for the next train in any case. I'd rather get out, spend the afternoon in Paris, and continue on the next day.

I'll check out France by Vero, thanks.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2021, 06:36 AM
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"Paris for one night because the train from Paris to Tours leaves from a different station"
you may also change at Lille Europe and Marne-la-Vallée
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