Taking the trains

Old Feb 2nd, 2003, 03:08 PM
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Taking the trains


we're looking at travelling around France, Spain and Italy over 5 or 6 weeks. We would like to go from Paris to Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, then back into south of France and through to Italy.

Would you recommend taking the trains, and getting a Eurail pass or would it be better renting a car for some parts of the trip?

Gavin_Ng is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2003, 05:31 PM
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I recommend taking the trains. For Paris to Madrid I suggest sleepers, and perhaps from Italy to Paris. To avoid packing suitcases more than need be I suggest that in some places such as Nice and Florence you settle in a good hotel near the ain station, and make some visits as day trips, o the Riviera, for example, or to Tuscany. From such centres, too, you can visit countryside and villages, if you choose.

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ben_haines_london is offline  
Old Feb 2nd, 2003, 05:52 PM
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It depends on how many are traveling with you whether it is better (i.e. more economical) to rent a car vs. taking the train. You might want to get a flexi/saver pass for the trains, if traveling two or more together at the same time. If you're planning on seeing a good deal of the French riviera/provence area, a car comes in really handy for areas that are not serviced by the train.

In 2000, we used the flexi saver pass for a group of 4 of us when we visited Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, then Paris. We didn't bother to get a car.

However, in 1998, when we rented a place in the south of France, we used a train only once (the TGV) to complete our trip in Paris. We rented a car in Cannes, and used it extensively to travel the area, from Menton to St. Tropez, and up in the more hilly areas like St. Paul de Vence, Grasse, etc. There are little towns in the south of France that you will miss unless you have a car or some other mode of transportation.

Sounds like a great trip!
HuisClos is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2003, 04:29 AM
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I tend towards trains, but as HuisClos
notes, there are many variables to consider.

Try you itinerary at www.railsaver.com for help in deciding on railpasses.
elberko is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2003, 04:54 AM
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I'd like to hear more about your plans -- specifically how many people, and secondly are you planning mainly to visit cities or are you equally concerned about traveling around small towns and villages? How far to you plan to go into Italy and are you flying back from there, or is that question still open?

I balance my trips between car and trains. If you mainly plan to visit the cities you mention and others, then by all means I'd stick to trains which will conveniently deliver you to the centers of each city. But if you want to spend some time daytripping around Provence, or the southern Spain, or Tuscany, then I think you can accomplish a whole lot more with a car.

One thing to consider is doing a lease car from Auto France, over 17 days and you get a great rate including all insurance -- no deductible. This is, assuming you are from outside Europe, as it is only available to non-Europeans.
Patrick is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2003, 02:06 PM
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For 5 or 6 weeks, a car might be a good solution if you enjoy seeing the countryside and stopping in small villages. But you need to take into account the travel time which will be longer than the train. You can drive Paris to the Spanish border in one long day via the autoroute, but it's no fun and expensive. As others indicate, the number of people and the type of sightseeing will suggest the mode of transportation.
Old Feb 4th, 2003, 07:34 AM
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We did a similar itinerary for 8 weeks in 1999. The French car lease program is very cost effective, but I would not get it until Madrid and drop it in Munich or Milan. I do not know how to see the best of Spain, France and Italy without a car unless you limit your destinations based on rail lines.
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