Help Please- Train holiday to France- I am Clueless.(14 Posts)
I am toying with the idea of travelling by train to to the South of France this summer, perhaps with a stop over in Paris.
Where should I head to? Are there cheap train deals? Bearing in mind I am in Scotland- so already a long journey to get to London.
Will this be costly? Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.
Have a look at www.seat61.com - a wealth of information and a great starting point
Seat61 will tell you everything you need. I did train via Lille to Avignon, then via Paris on the way back. Hired car from Avignon and visited Aix, Grenoble, and the coast, stayed a night on the island in the river in Avignon on the way back.
It may well be costly compared to a flight from Scotland, but a sleeper to London and then very early train to France might be cheap - could leave Inverness/Scotland 8pm, arrive London 6am, be on 7am train, possibly, then Paris for lunch?
We do this every year as my DD hates flying . We really enjoy a train to France - this year it's Eurostar to Paris /Lillie down to Avignon or Montpelier and then after a couple of days down to Spain staying in the Costa Brava . I love the TGV in France , their connections are great and it's well run . Get the best deals 4 months ahead. From Scotland look on the virgin east coast website - if you book in advance you can get a good deal in advance and they run sales .
We book straight through TGV in France but I'm going to check out the website mentioned .
Plenty of carhire places if need at the southern France rail stations .
For your uk ticket, go to the station and ask for tickets to london international civ - I this destination is a couple of punds more expensive than the usual train to london, but you are then covered by the international conditions of carriage, so if you miss your booked, advance train because another train is delayed you can still travel. Also, trains to the eurostar are cheaper than tickets just to london at the same time - so you can travel in rush hour/at a time to make your connection without having to pay rush hour prices. This is detailed on seat 61, but i amd not sure it is always obvious that this is the way to do it.
Also, get a family railcard if you are travelling with a child - it gives all adults 30% off the price of tickets and children 60% off - with a journey from scotland, it will probably pay for itself with the first journey. And you can often find an offer for them anyway
various of the supermarket club card vouchers let you pay for train passes with them.
The problem with the trains is that the Caledonian Sleeper doesn't get to Euston until after the Eurostar to the South of France has left (7.19 am for the day I'm looking at), particularly given the need to check in X amount of time beforehand. Going via Paris might be a better option, or a stay overnight in a cheap hotel near Euston (there's an Ibis nearby).
If you do take the direct train, I can't stress enough that I think you should return via Paris. The off- and re-loading at Lille is a catastrophe waiting to happen and we will never travel that route again.
As above, we loved the outward journey, and hired a car at Avignon to go on to a lovely town nearby. We're planning on possibly going back this summer (with a couple of nights in Paris on the way back, obviously!)
Cardinal what do you mean be the reloading at Lille? We had a difficult time at Lille finding the platforms but otherwise ok - what happened to you ?
On the return at Lille you have to do a passport and security check. This means getting everyone and all the luggage off the train, going through passport and all the x-ray machines and then waiting in a holding area that is not big enough to cope with everyone. Then, the whole train had to go back to the platform down a single escalator, which takes you down to the engine end of the train and involves a complete 180 degree turn at the bottom, which is where there are plenty of staff waiting to tell people where to go. Unfortunately, as people stop at the bottom of the escalator to ask where to go, the crowded escalator behind them doesn't stop. I was shouting at people to get out of the way, and had to shove people to stop my DS from being crushed into my back.
I have raised the issue with Eurostar, but they don't seem to be interested. I will not be using that return route again.
We travel regularly on the train to france (limoges) and italy (turin) and we always change trains in paris. I think unless you live in london (or stay the night before) the direct eurostar ti the south of france is not much use, and as such it never even occurs to me to look into it!
I knew lille was annoying, i didn't realise it was so dangerous with that escalator - thanks for the warning!
I did this last summer - worked really well - but travelling from London, not Scotland. We went at the end of August - took the Eurostar direct from St Pancras to Marseille, then hired a car and stayed 4 nights at an Airbnb in a little town inland (walk to river with swimming spot and short drive to Lac St Croix and Gorges du Verdon), then 4 nights at a campsite with pool, waterslides etc near the sea. By the time we got to the campsite it had emptied out as was the last weekend of August and most French had already headed home. I would definitely do it again. The changeover at Lille was a pain, but I would do it again for as the train was so much cheaper than flying (£280 for an adult and two children return).
We did Eurostar to Annecy a couple of years back. Fantastic holiday. Journey was so easy and comfortable and not too silly money. Think we went standard premier and first on TGV. So much simpler than flying. Annecy was very beautiful.
I've got the sleeper train from Paris to perpignan before - lovely, cheap, happy memories of waking in the night and being gently rocked back to sleep! Perpignan is good for local train services to Collioure, Montpellier, the rest of the south coast.
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