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Train or Car in France

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Jul 3rd, 2012, 01:12 PM
  #1
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Train or Car in France

Hi. My family of four will be staying at the Paris Disneyland Resort for 5 days. I can't decide between a rail pass or renting a car at the airport. We are hoping to go to the D-Day beaches one day and to the champagne region another day. Would it be best to get a 5 day rail pass or rent a car knowing we need to get back and forth from the airport - CDG? Seems like a lot of driving and a lot of gas to buy. Thanks
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 01:21 PM
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car for sure.. allows total flexibility esp. in normandy--train would not help there at all.

you might want a car at disney too to get away from the park to eat..
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 01:26 PM
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Well, first off, you don't want a pass of any kind. You want RER/métro tickets to get into and back from the city, and you want point-to-point tickets from Paris to Normandy and then to Reims or thereabouts. That's if you opt for the train. Which I probably would, but that assumes you're going to be hanging out at Disneyland the rest of the time (it's a small place from what I've read, so 3 days might well be overkill).

It's a long, long, long day trip to the Normandy beaches.

You don't need a car to get back and forth to the airport.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 01:34 PM
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You really can;t do Normandy by train. Either you need to rent a car - or you need to take a train to Caen or Bayeux and get a tour van there (but early in the am). Normandy is on the other side of paris and will be a very long day trip.

You also need a car to do the champagne "region". You can get to Reims by train - but to tour the countryside you need a car.

And frankly, I don;t see the point of staying at Disney (quite and awful one I understand) - unless you have already seen all of the sights of Paris.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 03:46 PM
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Thanks for the help. What are RER/metro tickets and do I get them prior to my trip or when I'm there? I'm trying to figure what's most cost effective/convenient. A rental car is about $400, but I need to figure in gas and extra time to drive. A 5-day rail pass for four of us runs about $900 from what I can tell.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 03:56 PM
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Just a note about EuroDisney - not sure if you are American, but if so you may be quite disappointed with the European version. 5 days is MUCH more than required IMO. The park is much smaller than the ones in the US and many American friends that have been to the ones in American are disappointed and dont spend more than a day.

Are you sold on spending the whole 5 days at the Disney Park? Perhaps you would consider spending the nights in central Paris and spending a day trip at Disney? That way you may save on the transit...
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 04:39 PM
  #7
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Thanks for the advice. We're staying at the resort because we are a Marriott timeshare owner, so got a good deal. We aren't planning on visiting Disneyland at all. Just using it as home base.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 05:55 PM
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A free stay at a place you don't want to be.....what a bargain!

Well, not free....you probably had to pay a swap fee.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 06:07 PM
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Yes - but it's not putting you near where you need to be to get to most places. You'll do a lot of extra commuting to get anywhere from there.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 06:07 PM
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If you decide to rent a car in France (we did last year, and I know we would again in the future), use this great website that helps you plan your trips. It will even calculate your cost, based on tolls and average fuel consumption.

http://www.viamichelin.com/
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 06:29 PM
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Please reconsider your hotel choice and head to Paris or somewhere nearby as a base.
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 11:42 PM
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That is a false economy...the amount of time/money you will spend trying to get places will outweigh the costsbofbjustbrenting an affordable apartment or hotel in central paris where you can walk places and easily take the train to other towns. I highly recommend rethinking you accommodations!
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 11:49 PM
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That should read cost of just renting...
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Jul 4th, 2012, 06:34 AM
  #14
 
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The train is very straightforward if you use Paris as your base otherwise there is a lot of backtracking to the city centre. As others have said, I think it may be a false economy when you consider the cost of fuel and time.

Trains are economical but again its not a pass you'll need but point to point tickets. Depending on how young your kids are they may go free.

Lastly Normandy beaches are possible as others have said if you go by train to Caen first (this is where a lot of tours depart) but it is a very long return trip.

I am a rail fan and would suggest to use the train if possible. You don't mention when you're going but best to book high speed long distance trains in advance and get local regional trains on the day of travel
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Jul 4th, 2012, 07:38 AM
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If you waste half a day coming and going to a superficially cheap but badly located hotel, its effective price is doubled since your actual useful vacation time is halved. You are contemplating a foolish economy.
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Jul 4th, 2012, 09:34 AM
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Oh boy. What a waste of a trip to France, staying at Disneyland when Paris is just down the road and you have to pay in cash and vacation time to get there. Can't you just forget the time share and plan a normal trip to France and enjoy it? And please do forget that absurdly expensive rail pass, which you do not need. You're spending all kinds of money foolishly.

The RER is the Parisian commuter train system. The métro is of course the subway system. The SNCF is the national rail system.

Please rethink this absurd plan. Get a reasonably priced hotel in Paris - the city is full of them - take the train to Caen and rent a car for two days and visit the WWII sites in Normandy. Another day, take the train to Reims and join a tour or just walk around. Spend the rest of your time enjoying the myriad pleasures of Paris.
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Jul 5th, 2012, 12:13 PM
  #17
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Great to see that this board has lots of activity and opinions. One thing I haven't mentioned is that the 5 days we're staying at the Disneyland resort is after spending 3 days in a Paris hotel. We thought the resort (other than being free for us) would be a good spot to see the countryside from and also go to Normandy and Reims. Just trying to decide on train vs car to Normandy but sounds like train is best bet. Now just need to figure out what train to get on.
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Jul 5th, 2012, 01:06 PM
  #18
 
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You'll not find a shortage of opinions here. Aside from the strong reaction to Disneyland (which I'll not go into), part of the challenge of your plan is that Disneyland is actually 40 km outside of Paris, in the other direction from Normandy. It does get you closer to Reims, of course. Seeing the countryside, and obviously getting food, would seem to require a car, if you don't intend to go to Disneyland. The trips would be fine to do by train, though being out in Cressy adds time and complication to the Normandy trip as mentioned. It looks like you'd need to take one train back into Paris, and then another to Caen. And you'd need do this early in the morning to actually have enough time at your destination (and repeat at the end of a long day).

It feels a little like your requirements and your accommodations don't mesh well. If you're set on the accommodations, then perhaps focus your day trips to the east, rather than Normandy. And regardless, a car may be necessary just to enjoy the time you have there...
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Jul 5th, 2012, 02:31 PM
  #19
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Thanks for the info. What is the best train to take from Paris to Caen and do I need to book it before I get there or after I've arrived?
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Jul 6th, 2012, 11:25 AM
  #20
 
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gramos14 - you can figure out your train itinerary by going to sncf.com. You'll be taking a train from Paris St. Lazare to Caen. It will take about 2 hours 15 min one way. The cost looks to be from 15 - 30 Euro, for second class, the difference being whether you want to have a ticket that's exchangeable.

Another web site you may find helpful is parisbytrain.com. It will have an overview of the St. Lazare station, and will have info on how to use the RER out to Disneyland. (It doesn't cover the national rail system though.) Lastly, there are any number of helpful posts here on fodors that will give you a sense of how all this will work, answering similar questions. Reading these will help get you prepped and allow you to know better what add'l questions you have.
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