French Trains - Advice Please

Old Aug 22nd, 2001, 04:19 AM
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French Trains - Advice Please

My husband's brother and his wife are flying into Nice to join us part way through our trip. We meet them on Tuesday evening. In order to gain an extra day in Paris we'd like to take a slow overnight train to Nice on Monday night. However, we'd like to leave this open ended in case we decide to go south earlier. How necessary are advance reservations for a slow train on a Monday evening?
Old Aug 22nd, 2001, 08:17 PM
John Bermont
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It has been a number of years since I made a milk run in France. You can pull the seats out and sleep in the older style coaches, but don't expect much comfort. You'll probably be awakened and have to show your tickets or passes several times since the conductors change. Also be prepared (if this is possible) for shoe aroma of other passengers.
If you need rest, take a couchette but you'd better reserve.
John Bermont

Old Aug 23rd, 2001, 01:04 AM
Ben Haines
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I think you can risk it. At the rail desk at the airport on Tuesday evening before your brother and his wife come, or in any rail-linked travel agency on Wednesday morning, you can ask how full the sleepers are getting. Then you'd choose when to commit yourselves.

The reference library of a city near you may have the Thomas Cook European Timetable. Table 360 shows your trains. The Blue Train leaves Paris Austerlitz at 2132 and runs non-stop to 0535: it reaches Nice at 0759. It carries single and double sleepers with washbasins, and 4 berth and 6 berth couchette compoartments (which have washbasins down the corridor). Until 2 September an extra train leaves Paris Austerlitz at 2132 and reaches Nice at 0836.

These trains are slow only in the sense of not being TGVs (High Speed Trains). Which is good: as Mr Bermont says you want a bed for the night, and TGVs have none. But if I may differ a little, I think 2-berth sleepers at a supplement of 50 dollars a bed, not 6 berth couchettes at 15 dollars a berth.

You'll find my note on getting the bst out of sleepers on And please write if I can help further. Welcome to Europe.

Bemn Haines, London
Old Aug 23rd, 2001, 03:48 AM
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I had an entire couchette compartment to myself from Berlin to Paris on the night train the night of August 12-13 from Berlin to Paris (12 hours) because the train was not full. Please note that trains make a lot of noise and wobble a bit. If I slept at all, it wasn't a whole lot. Please be aware that you may be very tired by the time you arrive.

Also, the toilets got kind of crummy by the time we arrived.

You can still do this if you like, of course, but know what you are getting into.

If I had it to to do over again, I would have paid for a first class cabin where the accomodation would have had a tad more luxury, but I don't know how much I would have slept.

If I were you, I would take a train during the daytime. Change at Marseille and get the new TGV. Marseille to Paris is only 3 hours on the TGV. Enjoy the scenery from the train rather than miss it at night!
Old Aug 23rd, 2001, 04:20 AM
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Daniella, I also thought the overnight train would be a good idea. We reserved one through our travel agent from Paris To Lourdes on a Monday night. They were not crowded at all so I would think reservations would not be difficult to get. However, we didn't get much sleep at all. The AC didn't work, it was September and we needed it. They were very loud, the toilets were SCARY and I don't think very sanitary. The overnighters are much nicer here in America.
TGV is the only way to go in my humble opinion.
Hope this helps.

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