I'm planning on taking a three week trip in the summer with my boyfriend. We're on a tight budget (students!) and I was wondering if anyone can help.
Thinking about buying a one zone interrail pass for France, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, and would like to start in Amsterdam as can get cheap flights and finish in Paris and go back to London on eurostar.
In between would love to get to NBrussels, Charmonix-Mont Blanc, Cote d'azur and provence (Nice as a base), perhaps toulouse or bordeaux and then to tours and loire valley before Paris. What does anyone think?
If you want to come to the UK don't get Eurostar. Better to fly from Paris with easyjet.com
Better to fly from Paris with easyjet.com
It comes down to personal preference. Centre to centre it's much quicker to go by Eurostar, whilst if you book far enough in advace, or can get discounted tickets (i.e as a youth), it doesn't work out much more expensive (if at all), especially when you add getting to and from the airport costs. Some prefer to fly.
In between would love to get to NBrussels, Charmonix-Mont Blanc, Cote d'azur and provence (Nice as a base), perhaps toulouse or bordeaux and then to tours and loire valley before Paris.
In Belgium, Brugge and/or Gent are certainly worth adding to your trip. Many people don't like Bruxelles at all (i do), but the two northern cities are lovely. I also like Antwerpen. It seems a shame to miss out on Luxembourg, although time constraints could play a part.
I think Lyon is very underrated and worth visiting, and as its the main gateway to the alps, you'll probably have to pass through at least once anyway. Toulouse is a big student city and good fun, although there's not a huge amount of actual tourist stuff to see/do. Montpellier isn't bad, ditto Sete, Narbonne and Carcassone - There's a string of old cities along the south, at least one of which would be worth seeing. If you can add Avignon, you are unlikely to regret it. Bordeaux is pleasant without being stunningly amazing. Bayonne (near Biarritz) is an option in the SW.
Play wth train timetables a bit. The French really don't like provincial travllers, and with maybe only 2 exceptions, everything is based around journeys to/from Paris. Avoiding it (i.e. on your way from Benelux to the alps) isn't always as easy as it should be, as connections are generally hopeless if they even exist at all.
There are a number of night trains which could be useful to you and will save time and accom prices, although the network (again, many of teh provincials have gone or been rendered unhelpful) has been decreasing quite rapidly in recent years. If you go straight from Brussels to the alps, look at direct TGVs to Lyon or nearby, or going via Lille (a recent Euopean cultural capital) and direct from there instead of having to plough through Paris.
Hope some of that helps.
use this link for looking at train times all over europe.