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Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

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New York City, New...
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Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

Hi - We'd love your insights on train travel... We are a family of four (two young children) and are planning to take the train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence at the beginning of August. Could you advise on (i) which train station? I notice on the TGV there is the "Aix-en-Provence TGV" station and the "Aix-en-Provence Centre" station. Is one station more convenient for travel from Paris?

We are also planning to travel with all our luggage from the US - 3 large suitcases. We will be in Paris for 6 wks prior to our trip to southern France (first Aix-en-Provence then Nice).

Will bringing large suitcases be difficult on the trains? Transporting btw train stations and the hotels? Do you suggest we simply find a place to house our suitcases in Paris during our trip to Southern France?

Thank you all so much!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

I assume that you will be travelling by TGV. Large suitcases can easily be stored at the ends of the cars. Any particular reason for choosing AIx?

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

The TGV trains to Paris use the TGV station, which is well outside the town.

For the best prices, book direct with the train operator as far ahead as possible. Tickets go on sale 3 months before travel, and the cheapest tickets often sell out quickly. The discounted prices keep going up as the travel date gets closer.

You can get train times and costs, and make bookings, in English at www.tgv-europe.com/en but use Antarctic as the "Ticket collection country" in the first screen to avoid being transferred to RailEurope, which usually has higher prices and does not list all the trains. For notes on online booking, see www.nickbooth.id.au/Tips/FrenchTrain.htm

If you have problems buying from tgv-europe, www.capitainetrain.com is a private website which links directly to the SNCF ticketing system. It is only in French, but translate.google.com would probably allow you to follow it. www.loco2.com is a UK site, so there is a small conversion cost from € to £, but it is in English and has French prices.

When travelling by train, it is essential that you do not have more luggage than you can *comfortably* handle by yourselves. There is nobody to help you at the stations, there may be stairs to the platforms, and there are always a few steep steps up into the train.

San Mateo Ca
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3. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

Large suitcases are a pain on the train. Not only cumbersome but awkward to get on and off. The TGV does have racks at the end of the cars not above your head as in regular trains. The TGV is the only train from Paris directly to Aix but the staion is not in town. The central station has a train only from Marseille or Gap. You would want the TGV. Buying tickets is a problem on line. The previous advice is right about Rail Europe prices being higher. How about going to the SNCF in Paris first thing? Another problem we found (just back from both Aix and Nice but took the bus) is our US credit cards don't have the "chip" needed to buy tickets from a machine but a real SNCF person took ours. Maybe that is why online with SNCF is so hard--I tried the above methods with no luck. Leave your bags in Paris and take small ones south. A train to Nice goes by way of Marseille, however, so you must change there.

Le Bugue, France
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4. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

<< How about going to the SNCF in Paris first thing?>> Because you'll pay absolutely top dollar for that. The cheapest fares start coming out 3 months ahead of your travel date and should be booked online.

The chip&pin issue has nothing to do with any problems encountered buying tickets on line. The only issue that sometimes occurs for Americans is that non-chip&pin cards can't be used at unmanned toll booths, gas stations, and some automatic ticket machines. You do have to let your bank know ahead of time that you'll be making a foreign transaction so they don't block the payment as fraudulent.

Large, heavy luggage can be a big pain on trains. There's limited space to store a lot of big bags in the compartments at the end of each car, and the overhead racks aren't big enough to accommodate more than a small suitcase or backpack. The steps up to the cars are steep.Also, train stops happen quickly and you need to be prepared to move along without assistance.

San Mateo Ca
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5. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

Have you seen this website for info on arrival in Aix for the TGV?

bit.ly/fKsYBd

Saw it on another forum.

Dallas, Texas
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6. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

We just made this trip. My best advice is to not bring large suitcases. They won't fit in your car, in your room, in the elevators (if you are lucky enough to have one). Everything is smaller in Europe. You will not regret this decision. Pack a roll up duffel bag and check your things on the way home. Wash your clothes on your trip. Bring the bare minimum! No one cares what you look like....except when you are dragging around large suitcases. A friend told me this 2 days before we left and I changed everything....so glad we did!

The Aix TGV is outside of Aix. We rented a car. It was more stressful than I expected but we did manage. The parking lots and garages are TINY!!!!!!!! You can always get a cab. Aix is a very easy town to walk in. We LOVED AIX!

Marietta, Georgia
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7. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

I will need to take this TGV train also but will need a large suitcase as we won't be returning to Paris. Are there any other suggestions on how to deal with a large suitcase? Also, how best to get into central Aix from the TGV station? Thank you

California
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8. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

In Paris you'll be leaving from the Gare de Lyon, the primary station for journeys to the south. You can take a shuttle or a taxi from the TGV station into central Aix.

We dealt with large suitcases by putting them in the racks at the end of the car. Just be sure to take the suitcases out about 10 minutes before your destination.

Marietta, Georgia
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9. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

I appreciate your response. Can you tell me whether there are places to keep the luggage closer by Ann 1st class? What are the benefits of buying first class TGV? Thank you again.

Marietta, Georgia
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10. Re: Travel by train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence

That is in first class, not Ann. Thanks.