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Help with preliminary planning

Olathe, Kansas
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Help with preliminary planning

My husband and I are planning a 10 day trip to France in the Fall of 2014 to visit family in Troyes. Neither of us has travelled in Europe before and we have many, many questions. I've gathered a lot of info from online souces but there is so much it's hard to sort through. Ideally, we will be flying into Paris and travelling by train to Troyes. We plan to make Troyes our base and take short day trips by train/bus/automobile from there. At some point, we'd like to spend a few days in the south of France - Marseilles or Nice. But our first question is:

How much should we budget for the trip? We are not looking for luxury, just clean, safe accomdations (we will not be staying in residence with the family we are visiting) and simple meals. We have no idea how to account for intra-country travel (train, bus, fuel for auto) or how much to expect to pay for food per day.

Any suggestions on budget or itinerary would be truly appreciated. Thank you for your responses!!


England, United...
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1. Re: Help with preliminary planning

First of all, look at flying "open jaw" into Paris and out of a town in the south of France. Unless, that is, you particularly want to return to Paris or fly out of another airport.

www.voyages-sncf.en is the website for all train travel within France, including the high speed TGV trains. You can make a reservation on TGV but not for the local rail network (TER) for which tickets are best bought on the day.

Depending on whether you want to stay in a Chambre d'hote type accommodation (B&B in a private house - literally the room of the host) or whether you will be staying in hotels, will have a bearing on the cost of your accommodation. Note: Most hotels do not include breakfast in their room rate and this can be anywhere from 8 to 20 euros, according to the grade of hotel. It is not uncommon for hotel guests to buy breakfast at a local café. Usually, a chambre d'hote will include breakfast. I would say on average a double room rate for a 3* hotel will be in the region of 100-130 euros per night while a chambre d'hote tariff would be 25-35 euros cheaper.

As for food, a general rule of thumb (in my opinion) would be 10-20 euros p.p for lunch and 25-45 euros for an evening meal. Again, this depends on how much wine/beer will be consumed! A little tip for cutting down on prices would be to ask for the house wine (which is usually very good quality) and not to buy bottled water with your meal. The tap water is perfectly palatable. Simply ask for a carafe of water.

Transport prices (train and fuel) will depend on how many miles you travel. The road system in France is usually very good and you can avoid motorway toll charges by taking the alternative D roads that often run parallel to the motorway for some of the way. If you are not in a hurry, this can be a very pleasant way to see towns and villages that would otherwise be by-passed on the motorway system.

I refer back to the train website. You can do a "dummy" run by typing in some details based on when you think you will be travelling. You will then be able to see a timetable and ticket price list.

A rough calculation for a 10-day trip = $2000-$3000 but I'm sure our American cousins will soon correct me if I am way off track.

Edited: 06 February 2014, 18:39
Paris, France
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2. Re: Help with preliminary planning

I'll second pamjo's suggestion to fly open-jaws, into one city and home from another. For a first-time trip I'd suggest that you spend your time in Southern France in Nice, due to the excellent public transportation that is available in that region. How many days will you be staying in Troyes?

Your budget is really up to you. I think the estimates above are good. But you can easily spend less and not feel deprived.The biggest part will be your airfare. Train tickets can be very cheap if purchased in advance. A rental car can be a bit expensive since gas is about twice the price as in the US. You can check for some pricing on www.autoeurope.com

I'd also suggest borrowing some guidebooks from your local library. I think that Rick Steve's does a good job of introducing people to Europe. I'd look at his France book as well as Europe Through the Back Door.

3. Re: Help with preliminary planning

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