For anyone going to Paris but interested in a quick and easy break in another French city or town, Rail Europe announces the availability through December 31 of a special France Rail Day Pass good for one day of travel throughout France, priced at $129 US/$168 CAD (1st class) or $90 US/$117 CAD (2nd class). Or fly straight to another French city and make Paris a daytrip.
This product is available only from Rail Europe and must be purchased before departure from North America. Travel can take place up to 6 months after purchase, so the Day Pass can be used as late as June of 2007.
The special Day Pass plus France's extensive, high-speed rail network of TGVs* make it easy and affordable to travel back and forth from the broad boulevards, glamour and excitement of Paris to a completely different place in a short time. Consider the following daytrip destinations, all offering frequent, rapid train service:
-- Lyon -- go for the unique hearty cuisine of Lyon's typical "bouchon" restaurants and the charm of Vieux Lyon -- the home to Italian silk merchants in Renaissance times and today a magnificent textile museum. The trip to Lyon takes 2 hours from Paris, with over 30 trains running daily in each direction. -- Lille -- head north to this city whose medieval Flemish heritage is alive and well. The birthplace of Charles de Gaulle, Lille charms with the cobblestone squares, colorful architecture, narrow, winding streets of the Old Town, flea markets and Musée des Beaux Arts, second largest museum in France after the Louvre. The trip to Lille takes just 1 hour from Paris with 25 daily departures in each direction. -- Dijon -- The capital of Burgundy, which in medieval times was a Dukedom that controlled Flanders and was far more powerful than the then- puny kingdom of France. Known for its mustard, Flemish style architecture and the Pinot Noir grape grown in surrounding vineyards. 1 hour 20 minutes from Paris with 15 trains departing daily in each direction. -- Nantes -- the former capital of Brittany, Nantes is also the birthplace of Jules Vernes. See both the medieval Old Town (Chateau des Ducs with its ramparts and water-filled moat) and the 19th century town (most notably the elegant Passage Pommeraye with shops on several levels, mentioned by Flaubert). The trip from Paris takes just 2 hours, with 15 departures daily in either direction. -- Tours -- in the heart of the scenic Loire Valley and its many sumptuous chateaux, Tours is a fascinating town itself. See the atmospheric pedestrian Place Plumereau, half-timbered houses, Romanesque Tour Charlemagne (all that remains of a 4th c. church). Rent a car or take a bus to see the chateaux. Tours is 1 hour 10 mins from Paris (TGVs go to St.Pierre-des-Corps -- with shuttles going to Tours), and 18 trains depart daily in each direction. -- Reims -- visit the capital of the Champagne region and its magnificent cathedral where every French king was crowned. Tour the vineyards or just spend the rest of your day sampling lots of bubbly -- with a train you don't have to worry about a designated driver. It takes just 1 hr 30 min from Paris with 15 departures in each direction daily. -- Avignon -- in just 2 hrs 40 min you can be all the way in Provence, see the ruins of the famous bridge, stroll along extensive medieval city walls and tour the superb Papal Palace that was home to pontiffs, and the richest court in Europe, during the 14th century. Buy something made from colorful Provencal fabrics to take home. 9 trains depart daily in each direction.
Add another daytrip to London or Brussels
For those who fancy a short break from France altogether during their Paris vacation, Rail Europe also offers economical daytrip fares to London, via the high-speed Eurostar train, and to Brussels, via the high-speed Thalys train.
The Brussels of divine chocolate, beer, mussels and the first Art Nouveau buildings is just 85 minutes from Paris on Thalys. Thalys roundtrip fares from Paris start at $96 US/$110 CAD (2nd class). There are 25 Thalys trains departing daily in each direction between Paris and Brussels.
Or take an early morning Eurostar train from Paris Gare du Nord for as little as $96 US/$110 CAD daytrip (standard/2nd class) and spend a very proper English day in London, returning back to Paris for a late night Cognac. In 1st class you can start the day with an English breakfast onboard the train (or a Continental breakfast if you prefer) -- both come with champagne to celebrate your getaway. Once in London, there is a vast array of sightseeing/shopping/cultural and dining possibilities, such as Big Ben, Parliament, Harrods, Covent Gardens, the Tate Modern, the British Museum or Buckingham Palace. Stay for high tea and take the train back to Paris. The trip to London takes just 2 hrs, 35 min -- but going to London you gain an hour because of the time difference. Eurostar has 14 departures daily in each direction.
Owned in part by the French National Railroads (SNCF), Rail Europe is the leading North American distributor of European railpasses and tickets for travel in more than 30 countries. More than 1 million North Americans, including both independent and group travelers, see Europe using Rail Europe products.
For more information about this special France Rail Day Pass, Eurostar, Thalys or any other train in Europe and the U.K., consult a travel agent or log on to www.raileurope.com (U.S.) or www.raileurope.ca (Canada) or call 1-888-382-7245 (U.S.) or 1-800-361-7245 (Canada).
Photos: high-resolution photos of European trains may be downloaded by the media at www.raileurope.com/presspix
* Note: TGV (Trains à grande vitesse) -- France's high-speed trains, traveling at 186 mph.
A.J. Lazarus Associates, Inc.