Mr. Athena and I are going to be in France for about 3 weeks in late September/early October.
We’ve mapped out the basic region where we want to go - pretty much northeast France. Paris/Champagne/Alsace/Burgundy.
We’re trying to decide whether it makes more sense to rent a car in Paris and drive everywhere, or to take the train from one major town to the next and rent a car for use while we’re there. From the research I’ve done so far, I don’t think we can go everywhere we want using public transportation - there’s a lot of little wineries and such that we’d like to go to that require a car.
From what I can tell, train travel between the smaller cities that are not serviced by the TGV aren’t really that much faster than driving. Given that we’d have to turn in the car, get on the train, get off the train at our destination and rent a car again, I’m thinking the trains don’t make sense. Or am I wrong?
Another related question for those of you who know France: we’re getting conflicting information about having to reserve hotel rooms beforehand. Certainly in Paris it’s necessary, but when we’re out in the country we’d love a bit of flexiblity as far as how long we stay in each place. On the other hand, flexibility isn’t fun if it’s difficult or impossible to find a room. Does anyone have any direct experience with this? In the US/Canada, we wouldn’t hesitate to zip around from town to town and easily find places to stay… on the other hand, neither of us speak French well (but we both speak it badly! and we’re practicing to try to get better) and I’m not sure it’s smart to assume it will be easy.
Also… any general advice about those areas? Any particular towns/sights we should see? We’ve pretty much put the trip together around the wines we want to check out, so we know about the chateaux and such. Unfortunately we can’t spend ALL our time drinking wine, so any other info would be nice.