France by train
babybouncer · 17/01/2020 17:00
Planning our summer holiday and wondering about trying to travel by train. I know it’s easy to get to St Pancras (where Eurostar goes from) from where we live and quite fancy getting a train possibly to somewhere quite far south and maybe hiring a car while there. Kids are 8 and 11 and we’ve previously only driven to Normandy, Devon or Wales (they were fun, but we fancy something a bit more adventurous).
Anyone done this? Is it easy? Any tips or suggestions?
LilyPond2 · 17/01/2020 21:34
The Man in Seat 61 www.seat61.com is a very useful website with lots of info about travelling by train abroad.
FionaCorkesWardrobebyKamizole · 19/01/2020 14:48
We travel to either Marseille or Avignon every summer on the Eurostar, kids love the adventure of travelling by train rather than flying, and I far prefer it too, more to look at, and it's easier to relax. We then hire a car to get to wherever we've booked to stay. One word of warning, on the return leg, it's usually a nightmare going through security on the train as you have to get off at Lille with all your bags, get hoarded around into small security areas, and then back onto the train, and it takes ages. We now finish our holiday off by getting a TGV to Paris for a night there before getting the Eurostar home, much less stressful.
Sandrine1982 · 19/01/2020 21:03
Last year we took the Eurostar from St Pancras all the way to Marseille (one direct train per day at 7am ) and spent a couple of days there, absolutely LOVED IT, then continued on the train to Barcelona (direct train from Marseille at 8am) then flew back to London. But if you have time you can just continue on the train exploring Spanish and French cities all the way back. I wish I could do it again - now we have a 7-month old so we have to wait a while :-p
myrtleWilson · 19/01/2020 21:06
second the man in seat 61 website... A couple of years ago we went from northern England to St Pancras, to Paris and then on to Nice via TGV trains. All good, seats are reserved, clear signage etc. Do it Op!
CardinalSin · 20/01/2020 15:00
I second what FionaCorkes says upthread. We've often taken the direct Eurostar to the South of France, which is a lovely relaxed journey (except for getting to St Pancras early!), but we now never take the direct train back, we always come via Paris for a couple of days (never a chore), because the situation at Lille where everyone has to leave the train with all their luggage to go through security and passport control is dreadfully organised.
HolidayBaby · 21/01/2020 19:42
Yes! Train to Aivignon or Marseilles. Wonderful way to travel!
We chose Marseilles and had 3 wonderful days there looking at the city and going to Les Calanques which the kids would love. We then caught the train along the sound coast to Nice where we based ourselves for the rest of the trip. From there the trains go quickly and easy to various stunning places like Cagnes sur mer, Villefranche sur mer, Cap D'antibes and of course Monaco and Cannes if you fancy it. All day trips less than 45 mins from Nice. Super easy. Also worth a visit via bus from Nice is the stunning village of Eze.
sanitygirl · 23/01/2020 12:53
Eurostar direct from St Pancras to Marseille - really easy. Done it 3 times with the kids now. Hired a car at Marseille St Charles station and headed to a campsite on the coast
sanitygirl · 23/01/2020 12:56
This is the campsite - we love it www.lapascalinette.com/
And we loved the beach a bit further along just after Le Lavandou La Fossette.
We also stayed inland in a little town called Salernes with a swimming spot in the river and did some trips up to the Gorges du Verdon/ Lac de Ste Croix. The village up there Moustiers Ste Marie is gorgeous. You can take a pedalo from a lake up the river canyon which is amazing
chocolatviennois · 26/01/2020 08:22
I think getting the train is a great idea. However we have found the alps more enjoyable than the south of France in the summer. High end self catering apartments with shared pool at reasonable prices, away from the crowds and plenty to do. You could get the train to Annecy or Geneva and hire a car. I recommend Peak Retreats for accommodation. They have some nice properties in Samoens for example.
ChippyMinton · 26/01/2020 08:36
I’ve done it a couple of times with DC. Early train from home to St Pancras, Eurostar to Paris, change stations (DC learnt the route in advance from seat61.com), TGV to Marseille, doubledecker train along the coast, then local bus to campsite in time for a swim and dinner. Great adventure!
Book a through ticket so you are covered for missed connections, including from home to St Pancras.
Plan your luggage so everyone carries/wheels a manageable size/weight bag.
Take a cool bag with picnic food if you have limited time between connections.
Plan an I spy competition for the journey eg you may spot the Eiffel Tower whilst passing through Paris,
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