We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

Which Paris hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Saratoga Springs, NY
Level Contributor
5,110 posts
138 reviews
Save Topic
Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

I would be grateful for a little advice please :-)

We are coming back to Paris in August, and the dates are rock solid because my husband has a week long conference, and my son's school year starts a few days after the conference ends. We would like to spend a week before our time in Paris touring the countryside in the north/west. The two things we really want to see are Mont St Michel and Dinan. If it's convenient we may throw Giverney in this trip because we haven't done it as a day trip yet.

What I am having trouble deciding right now is whether to take a train from CDG to somewhere after we get off the flight (it looks like the TGV train will take us directly to cities like Le Mans or St Pierre des Corps/Tours, but not directly to cities like Rouen or Caen). The con is I'm nervous we'd fall asleep on the train and miss our stop or get our luggage stolen while we aren't paying attention.

The other option is to go directly to Paris, stay the night one night to recover from jet lag, and head out the next morning. The con is that we're not in the countryside seeing something new and we already have 7 nights in Paris where my husband's work will pay for the hotel.

So what would you do? Would you start in Paris or a different city? Side note, we are not renting a car until we are (a) out of Paris and (b) have had a good night's sleep :)

If you have any other suggestions, I am all ears! I read in another post some great tips from Mr. French Mystique. I am going to order some Michelin maps of departments in the area and look for the places Michelin points out. He said this was a great way to plan a drive in the French countryside as the guide books miss most of this stuff.

Thanks so much!

Paris, France
Level Contributor
16,591 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

No question. I'd hop on the train as opposed to wasting a night in Paris. I sleep on trains all of the time, and have never really worried about someone taking my stuff.

Saratoga Springs, NY
Level Contributor
5,110 posts
138 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

Thanks! How obvious is a stop at a place like Le Mans? I'm nervous we'd sleep through the stop too. Also, what's a good amount of padding to add to our schedule? three hours after we land at CDG? or just buy a flexible ticket so we don't have to worry?

Le Mans is vaguely interesting because our son loves fancy cars and they have a car museum.

Edited: 24 October 2013, 16:22
New York City, New...
Level Contributor
2,603 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

I can't advise on the trains from CDG or where is best to start the journey but I would not spend the first night in Paris. You know better than I how your family deals with jet lag but for me, it doesn't kick in until late afternoon and I rarely get any sleep on the flight.

As long as you secure your personal belongings, I wouldn't worry too much about theft. If you're afraid everyone will fall asleep, just set a phone alarm for 10 minutes or so before you are due to arrive.

Saratoga Springs, NY
Level Contributor
5,110 posts
138 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

Oh great idea about the phone alarm - thank you!

We try to get the latest flight possible - like 10 or 11 pm - so we have a greater chance of falling asleep on the plane, but we certainly don't get much sleep, and we land at 11ish in CDG. On our first trip to Europe, both my husband and son fell soundly asleep on one of those hoho buses in London. I was having trouble staying awake myself, but barely managed. This last time, we just avoided public transportation that first day.

Oslo, Norway
Level Contributor
7,332 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

Yes, take the train. I assume you land at CDG some time before noon? Le Mans is IMO not terribly interesting. From CDG you can catch a direct train to Rennes, there are 4 dep/day, it takes 3h, and I believe Rennes is the end station for most of the trains. Rennes is a good starting point for exploring Brittany, after Brittany you can drive beck to Paris via Normandy.

Paris, France
Level Contributor
16,591 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

I would schedule the train 3-4 hours after arrival. If the price difference isn't huge a flexible ticket may be a good idea. I was going to suggest the phone alarm too.

Loire Valley
Level Contributor
6,856 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

I always stay in Paris the night I arrive. The last thing you want to be doing is sitting on a delayed plane worrying about catching a train. The other advantage of doing it that way is that you will have a lot more trains to chose from.

Your only alternative is to book a train that gives you 4 hours at the airport before it leaves. Although you can buy tickets that allow you to change trains (in case your plane arrives late) you have to make yourself understood (usually in French) at a ticket window to exchange tickets -you can't just get on the next train to your destination.

Paris, France
Level Contributor
10,992 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

When you decide where you want to go you know I'll be happy to give you some tips Tracie. :)

Paris, France
Level Contributor
25,245 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

Take a train from CDG immediately since you don't need to go to Paris when you arrive. It is hard to give advice because some people get an energy burst when they arrive whether or not they have slept at all on the plane (I am one of those people) and other people arrive totally exhausted and unable even to take the RER (as evidenced by all of the "take a taxi" advice, or else "don't try to drive" upon arrival).

So I would say to just choose a city which is served by the TGV from CDG -- as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't really matter which one as long as it is a place that is convenient for your plans the next day. From what you have written, I assume that you are going to be driving after that, so just be certain that you go to a city where you can pick up a car near the station around 8 or 9 a.m. the next morning. Obviously, by taking the TGV, you will find that just about every single city where it stops qualifies for that.

I am actually going to Mont Saint Michel in two weeks, but after taking a train from Paris to Brest and exploring a little bit of Brittany. I'll be getting a car in Brest (after spending a night there) and driving back to Paris via the Mont. Due to some convenient free vouchers, I'll be staying at the Mercure Mont Saint Michel (which is on the mainland) so it will be of considerable interest to me how the new shuttle system works since you can't drive to the Mont anymore. There have been a huge number of complaints about the distances that people have to walk now, but also news of improvements that have been made. If you are not aware of the situation, the old causeway is being removed and will be replaced by a bridge to prevent Mont Saint Michel from becoming landlocked. It is a project over a number of years, so the transitional period appears to be rather complicated.

In any case, I will post a full report by mid-November on the Mont Saint Michel branch (assuming that it exists) and maybe there will be some information that is useful to you.

Paris, France
Level Contributor
10,992 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Jetlag and trains from CDG - need help planning trip!

^^ I thought Brittany didn't interest you? ;)

On your way to MSM try to make a stop at The Great Cairn of Barnenez:

http://barnenez.monuments-nationaux.fr/fr/