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Train travel in Europe including France

Des Moines IA
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Train travel in Europe including France

Because France is no longer part of the Eurail Select Pass, I would appreciate your help in determining the options available for my rail travel in Europe in September 2013.

Here is my itinerary from country-to-country plus some anticipated rail travel within those countries.

Sept. 17: travel from Amsterdam to Paris with a brief stop in Brussels

Sept. 18-20: travel within France (day trips returning to Paris), e.g., Versailles, Burgundy Region, Loire Valley

Sept. 21: travel from Paris to Arona, Italy via Dijon and Basel, Switzerland

Sept. 22-23: travel within Italy and Switzerland (day trips returning to Arona), e.g., Lake Maggorie Express and Centovalli Railway

Sept. 24: travel from Arona to Venice

Sept. 27: travel from Venice to Milan

Would a Eurail Global Pass be the best option?

Would multiple regional passes be better?

Or should I buy point-to-point tickets for each portion of my itinerary?

I would like to compare the flexibility and price for these options. My wife and I qualify for the Senior rate, will travel first class, and prefer the high speed trains.

Adelaide
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1. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

The best option would be not to buy any sort of Eurail pass at all. Eurail is a very expensive reseller of services that are provided by national rail companies at much cheaper prices. Also a Eurail pass does not include the compulsory seat reservations on the high speed trains you prefer to use. These reservation costs can sometimes be more expensive than point to point tickets.

You're in a unique position here; you know the date of your travel well ahead of time. So point to point tickets, bought as far in advance as possible, makes good financial sense. Buy from the national carrier of your departure point. For most of Europe tickets go on sale around 3 months before travel. For Italy it's 120 days, and tickets can be as low as 9 euro when bought well in advance.

Also, don't be put off second class travel. For much of Europe it's very comfortable and a lot cheaper. On many trains there's very little difference between first and second, except in price.

Have a look on the man in seat 61 site: www.seat61.com. Plenty of great info and tips there, particularly on passes. Also browse through this forum for even more info on passes and how to buy your tickets, and differences between classes.

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

Further to the excellent advice given above, it needs to be pointed out that if you travel in France, not only it is mandatory to obtain reservation (at a significant additional cost on top of what you already paid for your pass), but there is that chance that you may not get a seat at all, due to the presence of quotas for passholders in that country. (search this forum for real life account on this problem)

See the paragraph titled "Railpasses - a warning about quotas..." in the following link:

seat61.com/….UQsyC73ilOU

Sydney, Australia
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for Train Travel
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3. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

SNCF has withdrawn from the Eurail pass scheme, effective from 1 January. Passes bought before then will be accepted (subject to the quota mentioned by hadiwi), but no new passes can be sold.

Des Moines IA
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4. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

The responses to my inquiry have all been helpful, especially the warning about eurail passes, the trick on how to avoid being redirected to the RailEurope site, and the suggestion to consider 2nd class service. Thank you.

I am glad that I am planning my trip well in advance because I am finding there is a great deal to learn and a lot of money to be saved by planning and buying in advance.

> The Amsterdam Central to Paris Nord leg of the trip seems fairly straight forward. Thalys seems like the best, or maybe the only, option. Is this correct?

> The Paris Gare de Lyon to Arona, Italy leg is more problematic because we want to travel through Switzerland and because we want end up in Arona without having to back-track from Milan. Any suggestions, especially for the Basel to Arona leg? TGV Lyria to Basel looks good, but I'm not sure about Basel to Arona.

Thanks again.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

Amsterdam Centraal to Paris is fairly straightforward. You are correct, for high speed trains, the only option is the Thalys (fares start at € 35 depending on departure time). For all the other options with train changes, you can check and book with www.nshispeed.nl (Dutch train administration)

For Paris to Arona, if you want to travel via Switzerland, you may have to book to Basel (www.tgv-europe.com) as you indicated, and book Basel to Arona separately with www.sbb.ch (there are probably different routes, via Domodosolla or via Stressa)

A good tip is to use www.dbahn.com for checking routes (not necessarily for booking, because some cross border journeys cannot be booked with the Germans)

Imperia, Italy
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6. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

There are three direct trains a day from Basel to Italy, two of which call at Stresa which is the best place to change trains. The morning train doesn't - you must change at Domodossola, still very easy. As sbb.ch will show you, there are also additional connections with an additional change.

For journeys within italy, use http://trenitalia.it/ - booking starts 120 days in advance and is cheapest then. For short journeys such as you are doing, first class gives you 2+1 rather than 2+ 2 seating on the Milan-Venice trains but little else. There is no first class accommodation on most of the local Regional trains on the Domodossola-Stresa-Arona-Milan line. And there is no Seniors discount in Italy.

Los Angeles...
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7. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

Thank you, extremely helpful

London, United...
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8. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

Why stopping by Brussels for a short time only? The city deserves a couple days or at least whole day. If you intend to continue your journey you might need to buy a new ticket, unless you find a better connection suitable for you.

9. Re: Train travel in Europe including France

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