Your First Trip to Paris June 6 -13, 2016

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6 Days 7 Nights

$2999 Single - Land Only
$2499 Double - Land Only

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Taking the TGV for Americans

Let me see if I can give you a few tips on doing this. For many travelers, the train seems so magical and easy and carefree. Well I don't mean to burst your bubble, but it's still a lot of work! Other than this visit, I have taken trains before, and I think I have come to ascertain that although the French use these constantly, I don't think it's really for traveling the way we have in mind. First, and foremost, in traveling is PACKING LIGHT. Easier said than done, so mind you, you will be hauling these suitcases during your travels. You will need to get your suitcase onto the train, over the gap, and up a couple of stairs in a narrow passage. (This is from the platform, you still might have to actually drag these suitcases up and down stairs, as there are not always elevators or escalators to use.) This last trip we had a system. There were four of us. Two of us inside the train, trying to squeeze them into the luggage area, and re-arranging the luggage area to get all our bags in. There will also be room over your seats. Another thing you need to know that you should print out boarding passes from the kiosk. This makes life a lot simpler when the conductor comes around and you can't speak French. Fortunately, I speak enough French to apologize and had someone show me how to use the machine. I believe you can make it in English. I bought our tickets of the SNCF site, and printed them out. There is also one of those square new barcodes on it that the conductor can us, but the problem with the printed out versions are that American paper is shorter than the European paper, and your seat number gets cut off. Yes, your seat number is important! Mind you, there were four of us ladies traveling, and it was much nicer to have the seats facing each other with a table between us, and there aren't that many. If you're buying a group of four like this, it automatically seats you in one of these sections (if available). Problem being that everyone loves these tables, and will just set themselves down at one, hoping no one asks them to move. When you have your boarding pass with seat number, there is no problem asking them to move, with a "Pardonnez Moi", and showing them your ticket. Also, remember, the further away from Paris you get, the less likely you will be able to communicate in English. Have your phrases ready, your Dictionaire Anglais-Francais and/or translator, and make sure you know how to ask, sweetly, if they speak a little bit of English. "Parlez Anglais un peu?" They will do their darndest to practice their High School English with you most of the time. But please, make sure you ask them first in French. Some stations do have a place that you validate your ticket first by running it through a machine, but I've only seen that at Gare du Nord. Very Important: There are quite a few train stations in Paris. Each station serves a different direction or area of France. Doublecheck that before you leave. Another very wonderful thing I discovered this last trip, was using a driver. You can ask your concierge, etc., if they have a recommendation. Much more convenient than a cab, our driver Patrick, would actually wait for us at the platform to help with luggage, plus being full of useful information.

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