Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Questions about Euro Railways Trains ( Paris, Barcelona, Nice)

Questions about Euro Railways Trains ( Paris, Barcelona, Nice)

Old Sep 20th, 2010, 12:41 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 4
Questions about Euro Railways Trains ( Paris, Barcelona, Nice)

Hi everyone, I am new to this site, and I am in the process of planning a trip in October 2011 to Paris, Barcelona, Nice, Rome, Venice with a group of 7. I am trying to get your expert opinions of the best way to travel around. I was on live chat with an Euro Railways agent today. I am trying to determine if getting the 3 country saver pass is the best option for us. I am wondering if we can do this on our own or do you guys recommend consulting a travel agency ( although I think it would be a waste of $$$) Below is our rough itinerary, please give your opinion concerning us getting the saver pass. The agent told me that the overnight trains are included in the saver pass, and that I had to get the reservations as well ( additional cost) and I just wanted your personal experiences if this was correct because I am certain that the conversation we had via live chat was auto-generated.

Saturday night- Take Euro railways overnight train from Paris to Barcelona
Sunday night- Take overnight train back to Paris
Monday night- Take overnight train from Paris to Nice
Wednesday night- Take train from Monaco to Rome ( via www.raileurope.com trains)
Saturday Morning- Take Transitalia train to Venice for the day
Saturday Evening- Take euro railways train back to Paris

Also do you know of another way to get to Nice from Barcelona instead of having to go back to Paris?
Last thing, what are the gran class double cabins like? Can it accommodate 4 people
(2 people per bed)?

I really appreciate any light anyone can shed on these questions.
ewhite08 is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 01:02 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Yes if you are doing all those trains then a Eurail Select Pass for 3 countries to me would make great sense - the pass is first class so when comparing fares keep in mind that the cheapest fares are 2nd class - the alternative would be to go to sites like www.voyages-sncf.com and scour it for discount online fares for the trains to Barcelona and back and from Venice to Paris - check the discounted fares but note that they must be booked weeks in advance and often cannot be changed nor refunded.

For overnight trains the pass covers the train fare but not the extra sleeping options - for which you must pay depending on the quality of sleeping option you want - private compartments for four people or private doubles, private singles, etc. And with a first-class pass you can book a 4-person compartment and a three-person compartment on the overnight trains.

Anyway you sould like a novice European train traveler (there are no 'Euro Railways' trains but rather a Eurailpass is valid on nearly all regular trains in Europe - so with the pass you can ride on any of the zillions of trains as Europeans do - but there are no special Euro Railways trains. Anyway scour these fantastic sites that will ahelp answer questions like you pose - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com. I would think you may want to reconsider hopping a night train down to Barcelona and the next night hopping one back to Paris - for one thing you can take an overnight train link from Barcelona to Nice (changing at the French border to an overnight train to Nice - negating going back to Paris - are you sure all 7 folks are up to sleeping on overnight trains? I have taken zillions of overnight trains in my four decades of European train travel and i sleep well on them but everybody does not and it is no fun to wake up in say Barcelona after a sleepless night and then the next night face a potentially sleepless night to Paris. If they all sleep well with some inevitable noise then perhaps fine.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 01:31 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
This doesn't all sound right. For a start, Raileurope is an agency co-owned by the Swiss and French railway systems, there to market and sell tickets to North American travellers. They mark up tickets and tell you only about a selected few trains when you can look up many more and often much better connections. Don't trust them!

Secondly, there is no such thing as Euro railways. Each country still runs its own trains, and some quasi-governmental/slash/private companies like Thalys run trains across several countries, but Euro as in Eurail passes is not a train company. It is a conglomerate of those separate country systems that come together to hash out the passes that allow you to travel on their systems.

My first question though is this: How much time did you allow for this trip? It covers great distances, takes you to cities that demand spending several days in each <i>at least</i> to make those distances worthwhile, and all in all a minimum of 18 days should be what you have - <i>as a minimum</i> or you need to cut back.

Another thing that worries me: Why go back all the way to Paris at the end of your trip? If you book the flights as multi-city tickets, you can fly home from Italy. You should then go from France to Venice first, then to Rome, because you have more choices of flights from Rome, and flying out from Venice involves very inconvenient early-morning departures.

So it should be Home - Paris, and Rome-Home. Not roundtrip, not two one-way tickets, but Multi-City tickets (sometimes called "open-jaw"). They often cost no more than a return ticket, or if it costs a bit more you still save by not having to go back all the way to Paris -just to catch a plane.

Look up trains (not for cost yet, just for possibilities, connections, travel times and routings) at www.bahn.de - it is the German train website but can supply info for trains well beyond Germany.

Then also look at http://plannerint.b-rail.be/bin/quer...ld=IA&L=profi& and - especially for info about night trains - at www.seat61.com.

Also go to www.ricksteves.com - he explains Eurail passes and other kinds of passes as well or better than anyone. He has a ready-reckoner that lets you estimate costs so you can see if a pass makes sense.

Also check www.railsaver.com to do the same, then you know what you're up against.

You should also consider flying some of these long distances. If you can keep your luggge to a sensible mimimum, like no more than a carry-on-legal rollaway and a small daypack each, then you might find cheap flights at www.skyscanner.com and www.whichbudget.com and www.etn.nl/lcosteur.htm that could save you time and money.

The stretch from Barcelona to Nice is not very well served, no superfast trains, it takes at least about ten hours - and only if you take the 08:45 departure from Barcelona Estacio de Franca that gets to Nice at 18:33.

All others take longer. But I don't see why you would want to go via Paris, <i>that makes no sense</i> - it takes at least 16 hours!

Monaco/Monte Carlo - Venice takes just about as long as Monaco - Rome, a good eight hours.

Venice - Rome takes as little as 3:28.

So see if you can figure out a combination of trains and maybe flights, start out in Paris and don't go back there, fly home from Rome. When you have all that figured out, then it is time to use the above resources to work out if a pass is right for you, and which one.

My hunch is that the three-country (France-Spain-Italy) Selectpass Saver (two people who travel together) might be the one, if any. But look things up, it's fun, you soon get the hang of it.

Then nobody can tell you tall tales about routes that make no sense.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 02:50 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,129
I'm a fan of overnight trains, but I would not want to travel that way on consecutive nights. You will not sleep as well as in a hotel bed, and washing facilities are limited (the Gran Clase compartments have rather cramped bathrooms).
The Gran Clase compartments have two bunk beds, each just big enough for one person. You could not possibly fit more than two people in one of these compartments, even if the railways allowed it.
The Paris-Nice train, like other overnight trains within France, has no sleeping cars. There are only couchettes which are simpler compartments with four or six bunks, and shared washing facilities along the corridor.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 03:00 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 48,143
I hope these are not consecutive days and that you're planning at least a 2- or 3-week trip, because if this is all consecutive, it's a killer, you'll have no time to see anything, and you'll be exhausted.
StCirq is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 03:09 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 7,553
You really need to start over because most of it doesn't make much sense or work.

Just to reinforce prior recommendations. RailEurope is a travel agency that offers no discount tickets but sells limited tickets at a decent markup to North Americans.

Rome/Venice/Rome -- while could be done as a day trip it is about seven hours of train travel for a few hours on the ground. Either go for at least an overnight or skip it.

Here is my rough recommendation Fly into Paris, fly to Barcelona via a discount airline, Fly to Rome - discount, train to Florence, to Venice and come home from either Venice or spend a day in Milan and return from Milan. I skip Nice and Monaco simply because of the travel logistics. Nice and the hill towns behind Nice are very nice but Monaco has little to offer other than say you have been there.

A night train to Nice makes no sense since it is only about 4 hr trip via TGV.

Absolutely use an open jaw ticket as it makes no sense to do that much backtracking and it is expensive to do so.
fmpden is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 03:40 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 410
I'm not quite sure why all the naysayers suggest this is a bad idea. This may be a great example of when a Eurail pass is a better idea than point to point tickets.

There are direct overnight trains on most of these routes, so no need to book a hotel when you can sleep on a plane - beds, showers & hotels are all overrated anyway.

Sure, you'll only have 10-11 hrs on the ground in many places, less if you do the 4hr each way round trip Rome to Venice & back, but you'll be able to tell all your friends you've "done Europe."
ipod_robbie is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 05:24 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
For Trenhotel nighttrains

Paris-Barcelona and
Barcelona-Paris and
Barcelona-Milano (saves you going back via Paris)

see www.elipsos.com
DalaiLlama is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 05:33 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I think there is a major misunderstanding here. Overnight trains do not have beds at all. they have bunks (smaller than a twin bed and not long enough if you are over 6' tall. they are very tiny and cramped - nothing like a room - and there is little space for luggage.

This may be OK for one night - but I would never do it. But for multiple nights - never. Where would you shower? Where would you ever be able to stretch out fully? They are better than flying in coach overnight - but in an airline with beds in first class - they are bigger than the bunks in an overnight train.

Separately, your schedule makes no sense at all - you will simply be taking a tour of the train stations of europe - and have practically no time to actually see any sights.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 06:50 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 4
Thank you all for your expert views. we are trying the train method instead of taking a Mediterranean cruise, because we wanted to see more desirable locations.
@ PalenQ, yes this is my first time going to all of those countries, I have been to the UK but never to any of the countries I listed. And I only did the cube in London and we flew back to the USA. I thought the Euro railways were a company, but you helped me understand that better. I will check those sites. This is a 10-day trip for us ( Friday to Sunday) in the 1st week of October 2011. Shortly after I posted this, I found an itinerary on the www.eurorailways.com website and noticed that I could go directly from Barcelona to Nice by departing from Nice, at about 8:30am Monday morning via train ( this will be about a 9 hour trip, that has a train connection in Montpellier-St. Roch Station, but the people I'm with sleep like rocks so they wont know the difference.) Thanks so much for your insight!

@DalaiLlama: Yes, this is a very tight timeline, but we just want to move around quickly to see what cities we like the most for our next trip. We return to Paris because that is where we catch our flight back to the USA, and that is where we originally start the trip. Thank you so much for the helpful sites, I will DEFINATELY go check them out. I knew there had to be other options but I just got started researching so know I will be on the right track! Thanks so much Thanks for that tip about the Elipsos train!

@GeoffHamer:We will be going to each city and staying in a hotel for 1-2 nights before heading to a new city. Below is the rough itinerary I drafted after I posted this thread so it can be understood better. Thank you so much for your help, I'm glad I don't have to do the Paris-Nice train now, I can go from Barcelona to Nice:

Paris
( Pay for 1 night in hotel {Friday} in Paris)
-We will arrive in Paris from USA about noon on Friday
-Hang out on Friday & Saturday in Paris
-Leave Saturday evening from Paris Bercy Station for Barcelona via Hotel Train Joan Miro - Elipsos (Talgo Night) @8:30’ishpm

Barcelona
( Pay for 1 night in hotel {Sunday }in Barcelona)
-Arrive in Barcelona Sunday about 9am @Barcelona Estacio de Franca
-Hang out in Barcelona all day Sunday
-Depart for Nice, France at about 8:30am Monday morning via train ( this will be about a 9 hour trip, that has a train connection in Montpellier-St. Roch Station  )

Nice
(Pay for 2 nights in hotel { Monday & Tuesday} in Monaco
-Arrive @ Nice Ville Station about 6:30pm, Head to Monaco (30 minute trip, tickets are $12-15.00 per person)
-Hang out in Monaco Monday Evening, Tuesday & Wednesday morning
-Leave from Monaco about 2:00pm ( about a 5 hour train ride)to head to Rome

Rome
(Pay for 2 nights [ Wednesday, Thursday } in hotel in Rome)
-Arrive in Rome about 6:45pm, check into hotel
-Hang out Wednesday evening, Thursday, and depart Friday afternoon @ about 2:30pm from Roma (Tutte Le Stazioni )via the Trenitalia train

Venice
(Pay for 1 night{ Friday} in hotel in Venice)
-Arrive in Venice at about 6:30pm, check into hotel, Spend Friday night and Saturday in Venice
-Depart Venice on Saturday night from Venice St. Lucia Station @ 8:04pm to head to Paris


Paris ( return flight)
-Arrive in Paris on Sunday morning at 8:30am Sunday
- Catch flight back to US arrive in US on Sunday Night US time

@StCirq : yeah it is back to back, but we are just going to see what all we like. We thrive on adventure! lol

@fmpden- we will be in Rome for 2 nights and in Venice for one night and one day. I was wondering about how much there is to do down there other than just for the sake of saying you visited the French Riveria! lol Fly to Barcelona, I was reading on some other sites and on here about that, since you recommended it, I am definitely going to look into it. whatever cuts off time, with the same pricing has my attention. TGV? Had not heard of that. I will look at that option too. Thank you so much for the help. Clearly I need all I can get!

@ ipod_robbie: Thats kind of the idea of this travel intense itinerary. We want to move around, yet see all the major attractions so we can narrow things down for the next trip. Thanks so much, you gave me hope that we are not crazy for going to all these places so fast!

@Nytraveler: I thought so, they only have a couple of pictures on the site, and you cant determine what they are for. Thank you for clearing that bunk bed thing up for me. Yes, the post I first made was not fully explanatory but above I posted the detailed rough itinerary for a better understanding. We will be staying in hotels 7 of the 10 nights during the trip. Wow, glad to know its smaller than the airline beds in 1st class Thank you so much for you feedback!

Thank you all so much, you have truly helped me understand this better. If you have better suggestions for the updated itinerary, PLEASE let me know!
ewhite08 is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 08:19 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
Hold on, nytraveler is in error here, that is simply not true.

Elipsos Trenhotels have beds, others do too. Showers, even.

Only if it says couchette - that is bunks in shared compartments - 4 or 6 people

But sleepers and roomettes and other terms mean fold-down beds with bedsheets etc., often with toilette and washing facility inside.

Look at the pictures on

http://www.grandesguiaseuropeas.com/...paris/tren.htm

http://www.railselect.com/Default.as...e=ck8c6jw1s86m

www.seat61.com also has lots of pix of sleeper cabin interiors
DalaiLlama is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 09:44 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,217
You have scheduled one night each in Barcelona and Venice, but two nights in Monaco? New York's Central Park is bigger than Monaco. With so little time in any one place, why so long in Monaco?

Have you booked your flights roundtrip to Paris already? If not, I encourage you to do as DalaiLlama mentioned and explore multi-city flights. There is absolutely no reason to waste the train time and money to return to Paris after Venice just to fly home. Find a flight plan for Home-Paris and then Venice-Home.
ellenem is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 09:52 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 22,066
Monaco is worth a 4-hour visit at most.
kerouac is online now  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 10:26 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 437
Where do you see a 5 hour train ride to Rome from Monaco? From Nice Ville it is a minimum of 9 hours with 2 changes.

The train from Nice to Monaco is about 3.40€, not 12-15.

I would also not plan on arriving on Paris on an overnight train the same day as your trip home, too many things can go wrong there.

I understand wanting to see a lot, but you are only spending 1-1.5 day each in 5 different major cities, sorry but this is crazy. I am impressed though that you found 6 other people to go along with this plan.
kellyee21 is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2010, 10:38 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
I'm beginning to think that ewhite08 and his friends must be trainspotters or some other kind of train buffs.

Who else would put up with the sore behinds and crooked backs that come from too much sitting up in trains, with upset stomachs from lack of regular nutrition, with craned necks and cranky moods from not seeing anything out the window because it's dark outside?

Not to mention the funky feeling that comes from lack of decent sleep for a few nights in a row...

How do they expect to see the essence of a city in the few waking hours they'll be there, when they'll be in no fit state to appreciate what they'll have paid the big big bucks to see?

So if it's about the trains, then, as the Romans knew, de gustibus...
DalaiLlama is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2010, 07:37 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
ewhite08 - Keep in mind the 7pm rule of railpasses when hopping on overnight trains - if you board after 7pm the following day is your unlimited travel day - thus you travel from 7pm to the following day midnight and use just one day on a flexipass.

Thus you could do the Paris to Nice overnight train and once in Nice travel the whole next day - well down into Italy and only use one day on a flexipass. Thus the minimum 5-day Eurail Select Pass may be the ticket.

I have ridden literally hundreds and hundreds of overnight trains - many times back to back days or even more - i sleep well - i put my bags in a station locker in the morning and retrieve them at night to hop the next night train - i save lots on hotels and relocated over wide distances while i sleep. And whilst this may be anathema to some folks it is only that they do not travel like that and cannot fathom why anyone would. But some do and actually enjoy it.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2010, 07:45 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 4
My friends and I talked last night,and we think we will narrow this down to only Paris, Barcelona, Nice, and Rome. We will cut Venice out, maybe even Nice too.

@EllenM, that's what we figured out last night. One of the people in my group has been to Venice and is like its not worth the travel time. We are kind of up in the air about Nice/Monaco. So if you are saying that its not worth the time, I am definitely reconsidering it. This was not a final plan, it was just our 1st rough itinerary so we could work through it to find the best options. We haven't booked the flight yet because the fare calendars only go to August 2011 right now, we will probably be getting them between January and early February 2011. No we are not trainspotters, (that was a bit rude) we are a group of friends (men & women) going on vacation, but just trying to see different parts of Europe like anyone else. Thank you so much for your help though.

@DalaiLlama, we just want to sightsee a bit, but it appears that we need to narrow things down a bit, so that is definitely what we plan on doing. I
ewhite08 is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2010, 07:52 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 4
@PalenQ: Thanks for that 7pm tip! In your opinion do you think its worth visiting Nice/Monaco, or should we just tack these extra days onto Spain or Rome? Thank you so much for your insight

@DalaiLlama: No we are not trainspotters (that's a rude comment), we are just a group of friends who decided not to take a cruise, but to see these parts of Europe our way instead of cruiseline's plan. That's why I am on this forum to find out if this is too much, and apparently it is, so we will be narrowing things down a bit. But thank you very much for all the helpful sites.
ewhite08 is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2010, 08:08 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
Sorry if to you a trainspotter is subpar - I meant no offense, they're a bit like birders - pursuing a specialized hobby that causes them to put up with inconveniences most of us try to avoid. To each his own. Happy trails.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Old Sep 21st, 2010, 10:14 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
ewhite08 - Thank God for DalaiLlama as he/she has given so so much great advice and has shown an uncanny knowledge of European trains - so pardon any perceived slight IMO

Though i love the Nice area i think i would just take the overnight train to Paris then the overnight train to Rome and use the two days you have for Nice either in Rome or especially in Venice where with extra day could allow you to see some of the off-the-path parts of Venice that are its real charm IMO - like a boat trip to nearby islands like Burano or Murano, etc. If you are frightened of steep hotel costs in Venice then get a place on the Lido - the beach part of Venice where hotels can be had at that time of season for 35-40 euros a person or less - a fraction of what a hotel in Venice proper would cost. The Lido has frequent boats links to Venice, just across the lagoon.

Yes i think axing Nice would simplify your trip and relax the rather hectic pace a bit.

And yes i am a proud train spotter - sans anorak however.
PalenQ is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO