Train V Car

Jun 21st, 2012, 08:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5
Train V Car

My Friend and I are so excited about going to France and Italy. We have only booked our flights Perth (WA) to Paris, Rome to Dubai, Dubai to Perth.
We only have three weeks and would love to see Paris down to Nice, Monaco, across to Venice, Florence, Bologna, Rimini, Bari, Sicily, Amalfi Coast to Rome.
What are your thoughts? Should we drive or Train it? I fancy driving from Paris to Nice to enjoy the countryside. I have been told driving out of Paris is a nightmare. I don't mind driving. Has anyone done this?
jharro is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 09:15 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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I didn't feel confident about driving out of Paris, though I've driven in many other European capitals, so we took the train to Rouen, where we picked up the car.

We enjoyed driving in France, though there were a couple of times when the street on which we drove was only a few inches wider than the car. That was rare, though.

How about taking a train for part of the trip, and driving for part of it.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 09:36 PM
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Pegontheroad - I know exactly how you feel. I've driven into many cities in Europe, but won't do Rome. I think they're crazy there. Driving into London is not what you'd call a piece of cake, what with the driving 'on the wrong side'. One has to lose the instincts. I imagine Aussies have a similar problem.

jharro - check your potential rental contracts carefully. I once had a Mercedes and said that all insurance was voided if I went to Italy.

Also the dropoff fees for going to a different country is atrocious. Keep your rentals in-country.

Try flying from Nice to an airport near the Amalfi coast and training up from there. Buy an open jaw ticket that takes you out of Venice.

You enjoy the countryside much better if you don't have to drive. Besides, you can strike up conversations with other travelers. Just hold up a book in English and they will talk in English to you.

Use this website to calculate petrol, time and toll costs.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 09:42 PM
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I disagree about enjoying the countryside more if you don't have to drive. I find that driving is the best way to see the countryside, but planes and trains are best between cities.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jun 21st, 2012, 11:10 PM
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How about driving through Italy or are the trains good there?
jharro is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 02:19 AM
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For Aussies looking at a map of Europe it seems small but the distances you are covering will actually take a long time and you are visiting a lot of places (too many for my taste but that's a personal thing). My personal choice would be that if I were travelling from town to town as you are I would use trains, especially in Italy. Cars in Europe come into their own in rural areas, especially France which has a limited transport network off the main lines.

I strongly suggest you map out a plan of your days, remembering that one full day requires two nights, and work out how long it will take to travel between places (and then double it because you'll want to stop along the way).

Train timetables can be found at and My personal choice is to always use public transport if it's available as I find it more relaxing.
dreamon is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 03:51 AM
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Hi jh,

>We only have three weeks and would love to see Paris down to Nice, Monaco, across to Venice, Florence, Bologna, Rimini, Bari, Sicily, Amalfi Coast to Rome.<

You have enough time to enjoy Paris and vicinity (9 days) and Italy
Venice - 3 days,
Florence, Siena, Pisa - 4 days and
Rome, Orvieto, Ostia Antica - 4 days

Plot your driving route using or and for the Italian trains. Add a couple of hours to get settled into a new hotel.

As currently planned, you are going to lose about 6 days of your three weeks just getting from point to point.

I realize that it is a long, expensive trip from Oz to Europe and that you would like to fill your time as much as possible, but there is a difference between visiting a place and bringing home memories vs bringing home a blurred memory and a lot of film.

ira is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 03:55 AM
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>Should we drive or Train it?<

If you stay with your current plan, you could drive the Italian portion, but getting to/from Sicily will be a bit of a chore.

You don't want to pick up a car in France and drop it off in Italy - very high drop-off fees.
ira is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 07:37 AM
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Driving out of Paris is a piece of cake as far as I'm concerned, but one simply does not drive from Paris to Nice to "enjoy the countryside." It's autoroute with wide lanes, tons of huge trucks, and the sun in your face the whole way. Unless you took back roads and 4-5 days, there'd be no countryside to enjoy at all. Fly or take the TGV and be done with it.

Don't rent a car in France and drop it off in Italy unless you have money to throw away. Figure out a way to drop the car in France (if you have one - if all you're doing is going to Nice and the Riviera, you can take trains to get around there), get over the border to Italy, and pick up another.

Monaco is worth maybe 2 hours, if that. It's just a rock with a load of insanely rich people scrambling around it.

Sicily is a bit of a stretch in the time allotted and given all the other places in Italy you want to see.
StCirq is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2012, 09:27 AM
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Driving long distances on European motorways is tiring and boring - any scenery you see beyond the expanse of tarmac has been tainted by having a motorway driver through it.

Cars are a liability in cities such as Florence or Rome, don't take them there.

I'd also mention that the Cote d'Azur can be a nightmare by car in summer. We gave up trying to get into St Tropez (a lovely town) after being stuck in traffic for two hours trying to get in. The roads are choked.

I'd use train for the long distances, so you can chat, relax, drink a glass of wine and watch the (unspoilt) scenery.

Then use a car to get out into the countryside on the little roads to little places.
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2012, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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My husband has driven in Paris, Rome and London, all in the centre, but believe me it is not easy unless you are experienced in driving in Europe, very easy to go wrong way, and there there would be restricted roads or one-ways, lots of traffic, dead ends, etc and unless you are very careful, you can very easily get a fine, which you might receive even a whole year after your vacation. Having said that, he only once got a fine in Rome when he drove through a lane restricted for buses (another fine was revoked when we were given a fine in Florence in area reserved for the disabled, but gave evidence that we had our Blue sticker and disabled daughter was with us. But he is always so edgy when in centre of cities, not relaxing at all for him. Then there is the parking problem. Even we find it hard to park, having the blue sticker for reserved parking for the disabled. And even with that card, sometimes we go round and round trying to find a parking place, it happened last December in Padova, over an hour going round and round the centre of the city to find parking place. We always try to go as close to the centre as possible. But an alternative, if you really want to drive everywhere, is to park on the outskirts, then take bus, underground, tram etc to the centre.

I would definitely skip Sicily, you already have too many stops.
Anna_Galea is offline  

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