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Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

Los Angeles
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Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

Hi All,

I will be taking my first trip to Paris at the beginning of April for 9 days. We have a tentative Itinerary. We will be spending the bulk of the time within Paris, but also, would like to take a trip to Brussles for a day and Avignon for another day. I'm not sure what is best and cheapest way to get to these places and travel within Paris. Should I get a weekly metro pass to travel within Paris and also tickets for the EuroStar? Or will the Eurail (Regional Pass) be the best and allow me to do all the activities? Or is another way?

Thank you in advance for your help!!

Florida
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1. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

Train tickets would be best, in my opinion... try the Thalys.com site for Brussels and the TGV for Avignon. Note that there 'were' 2 stations at Avignon, so not sure which one you'd need.

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

The best way of travelling in France is by train. If you know when you will be travelling, you can get substantial discounts by booking in advance. Tickets go on sale 90 days before travel, and the cheapest tickets often sell out quickly, so act fast.

You can get French train times and costs, and make bookings, in English at www.tgv-europe.com/en but say you are from Great Britain. If you say you are from USA, you get another site that has much higher prices and does not list all the trains. At Avignon, you will arrive at Avignon TGV station.

For travel to Brussels, www.thalys.com

Eurostar runs the trains through the Channel Tunnel. If you will be taking one of these journeys, book at www.eurostar.com

Paris, France
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3. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

You need to do a bit more planning.

Avignon at 3 hours each direction is not a reasonable day trip from Paris. (The TGV has a special station, you will need to take a shuttle to the old train station which is located near the old city walls.)

A more practical choice for 9 days would be 4-5 days in Paris followed by a 4-5 day car trip to Normandy, Burgundy, or Alsace.

Ohio, USA
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4. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

You would need Avignon Cente if you were going to visit Avignon but Avignon TGV is only a few minutes from the town. There is a shuttle bus linking the two.

At 3 hours one way Avignon is too far from Paris for a day trip. Brussels at 90 minutes is more doable but there are dozens of places within an hour of Paris that make great day trip destinations

If you wan to research timetables and fares www.thalys.com is the place to go for travel to Brussels, selecting France and English as your default location and language. www.tgv-europe.com is the place to look for trains to Avignon. Use Great Britain, NOT the US as your "home" country. Eurostar is the brand name of the trains that use the Channel tunnel to link France and Belgium with England. Read the excellent info on www.seat61.com before you try to book.

Locan and long distance transportation are two completely separate systems and there is no single pass or ticket that covers both. Whether a pass would be good buy for your transport in Paris depends both on which days you will be visiting and how much you anticipate using the métro and/or buses. The Navigo Découverte pass that runs from Monday morning to the following Sunday night is a good choice for many visitors. Other passes such as the Paris Visite pass are usually not a cost-effective product for most people.

Los Angeles
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5. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

Thank you everyone for your advice!!! I will definitely look into Belgium on the Thalys. Avignon is tentative since the main purpose it to visit family.

Perth
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6. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

sweetkisses, Brussels is a good option (she says, she hopes). We've booked for a day trip. It's only 1 hour 20 minutes on the Thalys train, which looks like a lovely train, and we got two return tickets for 100 euro, so were very pleased with that. We can then use those train tickets in Brussels to get from the station where the Paris train pulls in into the centre of town, and then pick up a hop on hop off bus. Got to be worth it just for the chocolate, the waffles and the Belgian beer.

Edited: 19 March 2010, 05:44
Ohio, USA
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7. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

>>>Got to be worth it just for the chocolate, the waffles and the Belgian beer.<<<

Not all to be combined in one meal, I hope...

Brussels is definitely worth a day trip. Antwerp and Ghent are also worth a visit.

BTW, you left out the best thing to eat in Brussels, the moules-frites. try to avoid the really touristy places though. They're not all bad but they are mostly not good value for money.

Perth
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8. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

No, IrishRovr, not all together. I read wonderful reports of the frites also, but I'm not a moules person.

Edited: 20 March 2010, 03:06
Florida
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9. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

My husband and I are also going to be in Paris soon and will be taking a day trip to Bruges, can someone suggest a non touristy place for moulefrites? Also waffles, Thank you.

Perth, Western...
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10. Re: Traveling throughout France and to Belgium

<<We can then use those train tickets in Brussels to get from the station where the Paris train pulls in into the centre of town, and then pick up a hop on hop off bus.>>

Hi Geebee2 - I presume you're planning to take a train from the Gare du Midi to the Gare Centrale. It's really a very short walk from there to the Grande Place and other places of interest - check it out on Google maps.

I lived in Brussels for 4 years, and although it's a long time ago, some things haven't changed a lot (others have, as I discovered when I was there a couple of years ago). As we're both in Perth, feel free to send me a private message if you'd like any info.

Those are very good prices - I paid €80 one way - but I did leave it till just a few days before to book.