Ask Karen

Ask Karen

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Dear Sam:

How lucky you are to be able to spend an extended period of time in France.

As for French drivers, I can relate. They are not always the most polite, especially when you’re on the autoroute and
a car is trying to pass you at 200 kilometers per hour.  Plus,
there are the trucks and the traffic jams that leave you
feeling frazzled.

If I were you, I would consider buying a
RAIL EUROPE pass where you have so many days of train travel along with
a specified number of days of rental car use.  It’s called the
Rail and Drive Pass. 

Please access Rail Europe to see which program is right for you and your needs.

Don’t overlook the fact that discounts are given for couples traveling together and “seniors.” 

Start
your planning by getting a map of France to decide where you want to
visit (bien sur with the help of Bonjour Paris and its many
articles).  After you have made the decision, factoring in your
train and car day needs, order the pass (it includes a map with the
train and TGV routes and schedules). Please note that the pass must be
validated within six months of the purchase date.

Take the train
to your preferred destination. If it’s a town, spend the first day
there without using the rental car as more frequently than not, it’s a
nuisance to park.  When you’re ready to explore the region, pick
up the car and off you go. 

This is the best and easiest
way to enjoy the best of both worlds. Some of the most interesting
areas of France require a car in order to explore its back roads and
villages.

Some travelers are comfortable not having hotel reservations and stopping wherever.
I
happen not to be among them and like knowing where I am going to spend
the night. It also allows the option of reserving dinner at a
restaurant where you might not find a table waiting were you to walk in
off the street.

Here are two hotel booking services that we recommend:

http://www.bookings.org

Another excellent site is Exclusive Hotels, which offers excellent hotels in many parts of France.

One
of the pleasures of travel is in the planning. This will give you a LOT
to do during the summer to insure this is a trip that you’ll
always remember.
 

Hope this advice helps and is a good solution for you.

Best,

Karen

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