Lease Car or Train?

Old Jan 19th, 2024, 08:24 AM
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Lease Car or Train?

Worked in Brussels for years and stationed in Livorno and Heidelberg. Traveled extensively in western Europe by car. But, that was 15+ years ago. I’m 82 and in good condition for that age but hikes are not an item for my wife or me. Walking in a town is great.

We want to do a 30–45 day circle tour in Sept/Oct this year: Brussels, Amsterdam, Koln and Rhine +, Switzerland, Venice, Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, Nice, Normandy, Paris. We'll fly from Washington Dulles or Charlotte NC. Probably arrive at BRU or AMS (depending on fares) and return via CDG. I know that if I went Lease we'd probably have to fly in/out from CDG.

I was intrigued with a car lease in order to see more small towns but turned off by the challenge of getting environmental stickers for the bigger cities or parking somewhere out of the zone. Plus the car is useless in the bigger areas. Now I’m thinking about trains. We like trains and like the idea of flexibility an Eurail pass would offer. It seems trains would be a little cheaper than a Lease? Maybe rent a car for a day or 2 to see small towns.

This first post is to get ideas on Lease or Train. Once I decide that I can get to work on an itinerary. Also, for planning purposes, what’s a good daily budget number for lodging? We don’t need fancy, just a clean, safe place. Thanks! Steve

Last edited by Moderator1; Jan 19th, 2024 at 09:24 AM. Reason: removed bold
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 09:38 AM
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As most people will tell you: big cities/ cars bad. Countryside/ cars good.

It's easy enough to list cities as focal points, so the question is if these are mainly your interest or just a route idea? Normandy and Provence will be infinitely better with a car. Rome and Venice, no.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 09:55 AM
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Thanks. Main purpose of this trip is to show wife Europe since she has never been. My late wife was Belgian. The cities are, as you said, a route idea. But, since these are what people have heard about and want to see. We would check that block and also use them as base camps for seeing the smaller towns in the area by bus or local trains. In some cases, like Normandy, I think we would rent a car for a few days. I've been there and want to show her the great small towns in the area.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 10:16 AM
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Check out how your age may limit renting a car, and maybe even leasing.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 10:29 AM
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It wasn't a problem on my check a few days ago but good reminder to follow up. We're full time REES and drive a 40' diesel motorhome all over the US and Mexico...but, I know thats an insurance rule. Thanks.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 10:42 AM
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if you give us a list of the towns (not areas) you plan to visit, we can tell you how to reach thme by public transport.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 11:21 AM
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I dislike the idea of using Nice as a base for car travel. And you will miss out on a lot of great things to see without a car. So I recommend staying in a smaller town or village in Provence.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 11:46 AM
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Welcome, stephenjohnson5012. My late hub and I took trains whenever possible. If no train, then a local bus. We once hired a driver, and occasionally took one-day tours (Paris to Bruges, Three chateaux in Loire Valley, and Paris by night that included dinner in the Eiffel Tower). We also got great van tours out of Nice and Aix. As we aged, we preferred it when someone else did all the schlepping for tickets and transport.

​​​​Click on my name if you want to look at any trip reports by train. Also, look for the airplane icon for other TRs.

I envy your years in Europe. Know how special this trip will be. Let someone else drive while you enjoy life!
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 11:56 AM
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You have listed eight major cities: assuming three nights minimum in each (and probably more in Paris) train woild be a better option.
A lot of small towns are easily accesible by local trains from Brussels, Paris, or Nice.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 03:07 PM
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It's not just the cities. There are whole countries and regions. IMHO it's a big list even for 45 days. Especially if you figure the OP will lose at least a travel day between each stop.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 06:56 PM
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We have leased a car several times, most recently for ten weeks last year, and it suits us very well. But we spend all our time in country France. We do not stay or go into cities and did not go anywhere that needed a Crit'air sticker. Indications are that it is difficult to get one for a lease car despite you, in theory, being the owner. It is not an issue for as as we do not want to go to into cities.

That is a lot of driving you are planning through different countries, and not just France, that all have different requirements for drivers - crit'air, vignettes, cities with restrictions etc. You seem to be planning cities and having a car will be more of a nuisance what with traffic, parking etc. Cities are also not good as bases to explore the countryside and pretty villages. So to me, it seems trains and public transport is the best option, with perhaps a car in Normandy and somewhere else where you wish to be out of a city for a change.

I do not have any experience with trains, but for France, I have read that the Eurail pass is not great. You still have to reserve seats, and pay extra, for TGV trips, and apparently they limit the number of seats for pass holders. You are better booking in advance when tickets become available. But someone with more experience with that can advise better than I can.

Good luck with your planning.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 06:22 AM
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My husband has a perfect driving record, but once he hit age 80, renting a car became virtually impossible. It has also become very difficult to get travel insurance.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 07:21 AM
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Thanks all. I'll respond here rather than clutter the thread with many responses to the nice posts.

Exactly what I was seeking. I now think train is the way to go and will proceed with planning based on that. This is when I'll be able to see if this is doable or what to cut. Re cities: I'm citing cities because this is the first European trip for my wife and seeing the famous cities that you've read about is a good place to start. I've been in all of them several times but she has not. I doubt we will spend a lot of time in them: just a day or two and then explore the country side. That's what we do when we RV travel in the US and Mexico. We're not big museum/gallery people. We'd rather have a coffee and watch the world go by in the countryside. Depending on the city, we'd use it as a base camp for day trips by bus or rent a car (esp in Normandy) for a few days. For instance I think I would train/bus over to Pisa from Florence for a day trip. Maybe the same for Buges and Brussels. Shelemm mentioned Nice. Amen. Its just a place on the map for me. My late in-laws lived in Antibes so that is more likely or up the mountains over it. Did that a lot over the years and have never been in Nice except the airport or drive through. Thanks Neckervd for the suggestion to check back when I refine the real itinerary.

Re age and rental cars: I checked again on the Sixt and Europcar sites make no mention of max age, only young. This was in the restrictions section. But, I'll keep it in mind when we start making reservations.

Thanks. You'll hear from me again as planning gets more detailed.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 07:32 AM
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Hi,
You should lease a car to free travel everywhere that you like to go
It 's a bit tired rather than have seat on the train
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by vietnamdulich
Hi,
You should lease a car to free travel everywhere that you like to go
It 's a bit tired rather than have seat on the train
you lost me here
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 09:27 AM
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Amsterdam, Paris, Bruges are day trips from Brussels, Koln an overnight.
Rome, Florence, Venice is another bunch.

If it was my trip I would bunch the cities and enjoy the country side in between.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 12:38 PM
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Here's AutoEurope's information on Rental Car Age Requirements for European countries:
https://www.autoeurope.com/travel-ti...-requirements/

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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 02:42 PM
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Amsterdam, Paris, Bruges are day trips from Brussels

Unless one is familiar with the day trip destination and has a well defined goal such as a special exhibit, I do not think that large cities like Amsterdam and Paris are good one day trips.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael
Amsterdam, Paris, Bruges are day trips from Brussels

Unless one is familiar with the day trip destination and has a well defined goal such as a special exhibit, I do not think that large cities like Amsterdam and Paris are good one day trips.
For someone whio is not interested in the artsy stuff or statues of some guy on a horse, Paris is a perfect day trip from Brussels.
In by 09:30 , have a coffee walk around, have lunch, back in Brussels by 18:00.

Last edited by cdnyul; Jan 20th, 2024 at 03:22 PM.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by cdnyul
For someone whio is not interested in the artsy stuff or statues of some guy on a horse, Paris is a perfect day trip from Brussels.
In by 09:30 , have a coffee walk around, have lunch, back in Brussels by 18:00.
If that's all he's doing, he could just stay where he is and save the train fare.
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