River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

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Horsefly
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River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Horsefly »

Wanting to pick the brains of the experienced travelers here. We are doing a river cruise next year from Avignon France to Lyon France. Looking at the best ways to get there from the states, I'm considering flying into Paris and taking trains to Avignon and from Lyon back to Paris. Does that make sense?

Thanks in advance!
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ResearchMed
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by ResearchMed »

Horsefly wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:39 pm Wanting to pick the brains of the experienced travelers here. We are doing a river cruise next year from Avignon France to Lyon France. Looking at the best ways to get there from the states, I'm considering flying into Paris and taking trains to Avignon and from Lyon back to Paris. Does that make sense?

Thanks in advance!
Take a look at www.CruiseCritic.com

There is a section on River Cruising, and perhaps a separate section for your particular river cruise line.

Also note the "Air Travel" section, which would be a good place to ask this.

And don't forget to browse through the TOC (table of contents) for other topics of interest, e.g., First Time Cruisers, Travel Insurance, Ports of Call (France especially), etc.

Enjoy!

RM
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Horsefly
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Horsefly »

You know, I use cruise critic all the time but hadn't even thought about using it after I was booked. Thanks for that!
GuyInFL
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by GuyInFL »

Norwegian Air has great rates to Paris. Also consider flying in to Paris and out of another European location.
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Horsefly
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Horsefly »

GuyInFL wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:35 pm Norwegian Air has great rates to Paris. Also consider flying in to Paris and out of another European location.
Just to be clear, I'm asking mostly about how to get from Paris to Avignon and from Lyon to Paris. I can figure out how to get to Paris from the states.
Mickey7
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Mickey7 »

You are correct in choosing the trains. If you have done so look up the schedules on Eurorail.

Enjoy.
Mapmaker
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Mapmaker »

We cruised to Provence with Avalon and Uniworld. They were both wonderful trips.
This website was very helpful figuring out trains in Europe:
https://www.seat61.com/
SueG5123
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by SueG5123 »

We’ve done this same cruise with Viking twice now, really enjoyed. Both times, we flew into Lyon, very nice airport.

Enjoy the cruise! We liked it so much we did it a second time.
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GerryL
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by GerryL »

Lyon to Paris is easy. About 2 hours on TGV. I've done it a couple of times. I think that Avignon is on the same route that goes Paris to Marseille via Lyon. In 2015 I did a 15-day program called Provence to Paris that started in Aix-en-Provence. It included ~10 days cruising on the Rhone and Saone. With stops in Avignon and Lyon. (Fell in love with Lyon and have gone back twice for longer stays.) Someone suggested that the next time I visit Lyon I should look into flying in and out of Geneva instead of Paris.

You might want to look into flying into Marseille and taking the train to Avignon. (I flew Portland to Amsterdam -- one of the few direct international flights out of PDX -- and from there to Marseille.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Gnirk »

Horsefly wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:39 pm Wanting to pick the brains of the experienced travelers here. We are doing a river cruise next year from Avignon France to Lyon France. Looking at the best ways to get there from the states, I'm considering flying into Paris and taking trains to Avignon and from Lyon back to Paris. Does that make sense?

Thanks in advance!
Yes, that sounds like a good plan. I spent two weeks in Avignon 2 years ago. We flew to Paris, and stayed there for three days. Then took the fast train from Paris to Avignon, and return. We did stay in a hotel near the airport the night before our flight home.
The train stopped in Lyon. One of my traveling companions purchased our train tickets on line ( the fares seem to change often) then we had to take the printed voucher and exchange it for tickets at the train stations.

BTW, my family and I are taking the Viking cruise from Avignon to Lyon this September. However, we are flying into Marseilles -taking a hired car to Avignon, then flying out of Lyon. I’d do like you and take the trains, but I’m trying to keep it simple for my DH.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by jminv »

Take the train. Charles de Gaulle airport has a tgv stop. Use the site oui.sncf to book as they include the discounted fares there (oui go). You can get to Avignon tgv for 13 euros. Little more to Avignon center station.

If you’re arriving at orly airport, go to the station Marne-la-Vallée which is the Disney Paris stop and where the discounted tickets from sncf (French train company) start. Much more expensive from central Paris. You can get to this stop by public transport or by taking the disney Paris shuttle from the airport there which runs regularly.

From Lyon to Paris, take tgv to Charles de Gaulle airport or tgv to Marne la vallée and public transport or Disney shuttle to orly.

If you’re spending time in Paris, get a paris transit pass or buy a book of ten tickets. FYI, Charles de Gaulle airport and Marne la vallée are in zone 5.

I wouldn’t take excessively large luggage on the tgv. Try to take bags you can fit over your seat instead of having to put them at the ends (ends often full and there is a theft risk).
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Horsefly
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Horsefly »

Lots of excellent replies! Thanks for all of them!

We haven't decided yet how much time we want to spend in Paris, but if we are flying all the way there we certainly will want to stay a few days.
jminv wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:17 am I wouldn’t take excessively large luggage on the tgv. Try to take bags you can fit over your seat instead of having to put them at the ends (ends often full and there is a theft risk).
I hadn't thought about this! Telling the DW to "pack light" has never worked, and depending on what else we do on this trip besides the cruise, I may have quite a bit of stuff too. Certainly fitting over the seat seems unlikely. Is the "end" a separate luggage car? This seems to argue against taking the train?
autolycus
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by autolycus »

If you’re starting in Avignon, consider flying into Marseilles, renting a car, spending a night or two in Aix-en-Provence and then drive yourself to Avignon. That’s what we did and it was very easy. Aix-en-Provence was really nice and IIRC less than an hour drive from the Marseilles airport.
dpm321
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by dpm321 »

Horsefly wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:07 pm You know, I use cruise critic all the time but hadn't even thought about using it after I was booked. Thanks for that!
You should also get on your cruise's Rollcall on CC. This will allow you to "meet" others on your cruise and discuss plans and ideas. It's a great way to find others to join any private tours you may set up for the cruise or to share transportation to or from the ship.
dpm321
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by dpm321 »

Be very careful when booking online. There are a number of sites that try to look like "official" rail line sites, but are actually travel agencies or aggregators. On a recent train trip from Barcelona to Paris, these look-alike sites were charging around $250 for a second class ticket. I bought 1st class seats on the rail line site for €135.
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GerryL
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by GerryL »

Horsefly wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:01 am Lots of excellent replies! Thanks for all of them!

We haven't decided yet how much time we want to spend in Paris, but if we are flying all the way there we certainly will want to stay a few days.
jminv wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:17 am I wouldn’t take excessively large luggage on the tgv. Try to take bags you can fit over your seat instead of having to put them at the ends (ends often full and there is a theft risk).
I hadn't thought about this! Telling the DW to "pack light" has never worked, and depending on what else we do on this trip besides the cruise, I may have quite a bit of stuff too. Certainly fitting over the seat seems unlikely. Is the "end" a separate luggage car? This seems to argue against taking the train?
I (female) have been doing 1-month trips to Europe with a carryon-size suitcase. (I took the challenge from Anne McAlpin, who does packing seminars for AAA.) Last year I got one with two big wheels rather than the little spinners. It is easier to move around on cobbled European streets and has a bit more capacity than the comparable spinner model. But even that doesn't fit in the overhead on the TGV trains I have ridden -- if I could lift it that high. You can get a little travel lock with cable if you are worried about theft. Just get up well before your stop to un-cable your luggage. Stops are brief. Or, if you can, book a seat facing the luggage rack.
TrustButVerifying
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by TrustButVerifying »

Your planned trip brought back fond memories of the river cruise from Lyon to Avignon we did a couple of years ago. After the cruise, we rented a car, stayed in Provence for a few days then took the TGV from Avignon to Paris and stayed there for a few days.

If I were doing your trip, I would definitely consider flying into Marseilles, renting a car, staying staying somewhere in Provence for a few days before heading to your ship in Avignon. I would also consider taking the TGV from Lyon to Paris because it takes you right into central Paris.

Something to consider about renting a car. The car rental place in Central Avignon is only open limited hours of the day. Make sure the car rental place is manned when you return the car. We dropped the keys into the lock box and they tried to charge us for damage to the car. Driving in France is fine but there are Rotaries to get through and the country roads are narrow and can be a bit challenging.

We did have some concerns about our luggage on the TGV because the luggage racks are located next to the door when you board and we sat with our backs to the door. What did happen was that our luggage was at the bottom and it would be very difficult for someone to get at them easily. In retrospect, I don't think baggage theft is a big concern.
dsmclone
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by dsmclone »

I just went this fall to Avignon. My rail was like this:

Rail - AEROPORT CDG2 TGV to NIMES
10am-1:39pm

Rail - NIMES to AVIGNON CENTRE
1:51pm-2:22pm

REGINA HOTEL Avignon

No complaints

The way back

Rail - Avignon TGV to Paris Gare de Lyon

10:43am-1:23pm

Book early and you can get first class seats cheap.
expat
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by expat »

For really cheap train tickets to and from Paris.


https://www.ouigo.com/
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Will do good
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Will do good »

Check the river level, up to the winter of 2019 much of the European rivers was almost ran dry, some river cruises were replaced by buses. Hope our Rhine river cruise in September will be ok, so far so good.
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Ged
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Ged »

Horsefly wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:20 pm
GuyInFL wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:35 pm Norwegian Air has great rates to Paris. Also consider flying in to Paris and out of another European location.
Just to be clear, I'm asking mostly about how to get from Paris to Avignon and from Lyon to Paris. I can figure out how to get to Paris from the states.
I don't know about Avignon but I've traveled between Paris and Lyon by TGV and found it convenient. The only trouble encountered was once a trip was marred by a strike which delayed the train by 90 min.
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Horsefly
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Horsefly »

You guys are awesome! Combining some of the thoughts expressed in your replies:
  • Fly into Marseille
  • Hang out in Aix-en-Provence (or other places in Provence) for a few days (I'll probably post a request for specific things to do in a new thread as we get closer)
  • Rent a car and drive up to Avignon. Need to check the operating hours of the car return location. I think I'll take lots of photos of the car when I turn it in to prove it was in perfect condition.
  • After we disembark in Lyon, take TGV (first class if I can get it) up to Paris.
  • Hang out in Paris for several days taking in the sites there before flying back to the states.
If I do get 1st class on TGV, does that lessen the issue with luggage?

Some specifics in case anyone cares: Our cruise is on AmaWaterways, but is a chartered cruise, so it won't be on CC Rollcall. It's actually a Jazz Cruise, and not sold through Ama or any of the travel agents.

Funny fact: Telling my wife about the BH feedback I'm getting, she's now scared of either losing our luggage or having trouble returning the car. Good thing I'm starting early on this, so I can talk her off the ledge!
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GerryL
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by GerryL »

A little tip about taking the train in France:
The track where you will board your train is not announced (i.e., posted on the reader screen) until 20 minutes before departure. You will see groups (mobs?) of people standing around staring up at tv screens waiting for the track # (or letter) to appear. Doesn't do any good to get to the station super early except if you want to scope out the place*, but be prepared to trot to the track entrance as soon as the information is posted.

* Larger stations like Lyon's Part-Dieux and Gare de Lyon in Paris can be quite crowded and confusing, so you may want to arrive early. Just don't expect to be able to hover near the track like you would at an airline gate.

And don't over think the luggage issue.
https://www.sncf.com/en/passenger-offer ... gv/luggage
dsmclone
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by dsmclone »

I also had issues with car rental return in Avignon train station. I went through Hertz and it was a complete cluster. What should have taken 5 minutes took everyone in line almost an hour. Just leave yourself a lot of time between when they open and when your train leaves.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by autolycus »

FWIW, we dropped our car off at the Avignon train station after taking all of our luggage to the boat. It’s on the edge of town, so we had planned to take a cab back to the boat. Once we found the specific rental company’s office, the drop off was very easy and quick. Unfortunately we were there right as a train had come through and there was a festival in town, so there was a long line for a cab. Cab ride was 5-10 minutes and reasonably cheap.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by david_that_guy »

On the TGV the overhead space is too small for a suitcase, even a carry-on. Even in first class, there's not enough space overhead. There are some luggage spaces in the middle of the car, not just at the ends.

Be aware that the "traditional" TGV has been rebranded. The "traditional" TGV is being phased out but is still in service this year. So, you will see 3 names for TGV: TGV (traditional), inOUI, and Ouigo. TGV has first and second class. inOUI has guaranteed wifi and some other services. In most cases, it's just a TGV train that's been repainted, but they are gradually adding new, larger train cars for inOUI. Finally, Ouigo is the budget version. It's only available on busy lines, but that includes Paris-Lyon.

You can book all these from the oui.sncf and the oui smartphone app. SNCF uses dynamic pricing like the airlines, so every time you check, you'll see a different price. There is a discount for booking in advance. There is a 10% discount for people over 60 without a special card (carte de réduction). The discount is not available if you buy tickets the same day. There's a 25% discount with the card, but the card costs 60€ per person.

I find the smartphone app really useful because you can get notifications and updates about your train and you can keep your tickets on the app instead of using paper tickets. As with airlines, you can print tickets at the station at a ticket machine if you want (using the reservation code you get when you bought the tickets). Edit: I think you need to be online to use the app, so you need international data (or wifi) to use the app in France.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by cherijoh »

Horsefly wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:39 pm Wanting to pick the brains of the experienced travelers here. We are doing a river cruise next year from Avignon France to Lyon France. Looking at the best ways to get there from the states, I'm considering flying into Paris and taking trains to Avignon and from Lyon back to Paris. Does that make sense?

Thanks in advance!
I'll be in Avignon in two weeks to start a barge cruise in Provence. :happy I'm flying in early and am spending a few days in Aix-en-Provence. So I'm flying in to Marseille (via Madrid). My cruise finishes up near Nimes so I'm going out via Paris. (Connections to Marseille were sub-optimal based on our drop off time). But I'm probably the only one not flying into Paris and taking the train from there. The TGV(?) trains are very convenient. I took one from Paris to Nancy for a previous barge cruise in Alsace-Lorraine. It was far more comfortable than a regional jet.

Would you spend a night or two in Paris, before your cruise? If so, I'd recommend buying your train ticket in advance and getting a reserved seat for the high speed train. But that is hard to schedule on the same day as arrival - you either wait around the train station if you book the train allowing for potential delays at the airport or you risk missing the earlier train if you do get delayed.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Nearly A Moose »

Probably not the first to say it’s easy to take the TGV from Paris to Avignon. Decent scenery. Give yourself a couple days to explore Avignon on the front before the cruise if you can, it’s a neat town. You might also consider the 30 minute train ride to Arles. Beautiful medieval town center, van gohe stuff, and it has a preserved Roman coliseum.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by banhbao »

It is easy to take a train from Paris to Avignon, and then from Lyon back to Paris. Check out the Rail Europe website:
https://www.raileurope.com/

A few points for your consideration if you plan to use the train:
  • I don't belive there is a direct route from CDG to Avignon, you'll have to make a connection. Did you plan to visit the city of Paris? If yes, you take the metro from CDG airport, spend a day or 2 in the city, and then you can depart from Paris Gare Lyon station and have a direct route to Avignon.
  • There are (3) train stations around Lyon: Perrache and Part Dieu right in the city, and you also have LYS at the Lyon airport which is about 20 minutes from the city center. If you are trying to go directly to CDG airport, you will probably have better luck departing from Part Dieu. The Lyon metro is easy to navigate and you can get to Part Dieu from anywhere in the city.
  • TGV is the "bullet" train, TER is the slower one. Depending on what you are interested in you may prefer one over the other.
  • If you buy your ticket from the Raileurope link posted above, you just need to have your confirmation number ready, and you can print your ticket from a kiosk at the train station. Just remember that the ticket is not validated immediately, you have to go to a "validation" machine to stamp it. I never really understood the reason for this extra step (why doesn't the kiosk ask you if you want to validate your ticket immediately?) but it is super easy to do so...
I have another question for you, have you considered flying into CDG and then departing directly from Lyon (LYS)? There are almost hourly flights from LYS to both Paris and Amsterdam, where you can then connect back to the USA. Just search for a "multi-city" flight on Delta.com or whatever is your preferred airline. You may find that the cost is negligible and in fact saves money once you factor in the train ticket back to Paris.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by caffeperfavore »

GerryL wrote: Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:26 pm * Larger stations like Lyon's Part-Dieux and Gare de Lyon in Paris can be quite crowded and confusing, so you may want to arrive early. Just don't expect to be able to hover near the track like you would at an airline gate.
Good tip.

Freaking Montparnasse in Paris has a few tracks that are a long and bewildering walk from the main entry area. I don't think you'll need to take it as I believe most of its trains all head west, not south, but wherever you're at just plan to spend a few minutes to look over a station map so you're ready to roll when the track is announced...and aren't surprised as I was there. Gare de Lyon (in Paris, but heads to Lyon) is pretty straightforward. So is Gare de Nord if you're heading to/from CDG Airport.
Last edited by caffeperfavore on Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
miamivice
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by miamivice »

Horsefly wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:39 pm Wanting to pick the brains of the experienced travelers here. We are doing a river cruise next year from Avignon France to Lyon France. Looking at the best ways to get there from the states, I'm considering flying into Paris and taking trains to Avignon and from Lyon back to Paris. Does that make sense?

Thanks in advance!
I have heard that, at times, river cruises get turned into bus tours because the rivers are low.

The thing is, sometimes the rivers are low for months. Yet the river cruise companies don't give their customers an opportunity to cancel before they arrive.

YMMV
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by Horsefly »

miamivice wrote: Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:45 pm I have heard that, at times, river cruises get turned into bus tours because the rivers are low.

The thing is, sometimes the rivers are low for months. Yet the river cruise companies don't give their customers an opportunity to cancel before they arrive.

YMMV
YEah, I've heard that too. We've done lots of ocean cruises, but this will be our first river cruise. So it's all new to us.

I've read that among the remedies the river cruise operators provide are things like paying for hotels and bussing people along the route the ship would have taken. Since this is a jazz cruise, I kinda doubt that would work. Virtually all the passengers will be there to hear the performances, and the river cruise and associated sites are just add on enjoyment. My guess is that we would opt to just sit on the stationary ship for seven days. That may sound strange to people not into such themed cruises.
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by miamivice »

If you like jazz, there is a famous jazz club in Paris, near the Notre Dame. It's called the Le Caveau de la Huchette, and it's in a cave under the streets. Please consider going there if you like what's playing. Maybe 10 euro cover charge? Something to consider.
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GerryL
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by GerryL »

banhbao wrote: Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:25 pm It is easy to take a train from Paris to Avignon, and then from Lyon back to Paris. Check out the Rail Europe website:
https://www.raileurope.com/

  • There are (3) train stations around Lyon: Perrache and Part Dieu right in the city, and you also have LYS at the Lyon airport which is about 20 minutes from the city center. If you are trying to go directly to CDG airport, you will probably have better luck departing from Part Dieu. The Lyon metro is easy to navigate and you can get to Part Dieu from anywhere in the city.
Many of the TGVs that travel through Lyon to/from Paris also stop at Perrache. When possible, I prefer to use the Perrache station since it is smaller and less crowded -- especially on a weekend. So check the route/schedule and you may find that Perrache is a good option, depending on where you will be staying.
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WestUniversity
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by WestUniversity »

Horsefly wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:20 pm
GuyInFL wrote: Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:35 pm Norwegian Air has great rates to Paris. Also consider flying in to Paris and out of another European location.
Just to be clear, I'm asking mostly about how to get from Paris to Avignon and from Lyon to Paris. I can figure out how to get to Paris from the states.
Not sure about between París and Avignon but between Paris and Lyon take the train. The TGV travels at something like 175 MPH and covers the distance in a couple of hours.

I’ve been on it and its a great trip. You can buy the tickets in the states through the Eurail website.

Surely there is at least a regional train between Paris and Avignon...
caffeperfavore
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by caffeperfavore »

WestUniversity wrote: Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:18 pm
I’ve been on it and its a great trip. You can buy the tickets in the states through the Eurail website.

Surely there is at least a regional train between Paris and Avignon...
I think it's easier to just book directly with the French railways, SNCF. You can even use their "Oui" app to store and use electronic train tickets. I've found that not all routes and options show up on Eurail. I haven't used it in a while, but I'm pretty sure I've also changed tickets on the fly with the app.

https://en.oui.sncf/en/

According to the Oui SNCF site, there's a direct TGV train from Gare de Lyon station in Paris to Avignon. When you search, be sure to select either Gare de Lyon (again, in Paris not Lyon) specifically or Paris - All Stations.
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banhbao
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Re: River cruise, Avignon to Lyon, France

Post by banhbao »

caffeperfavore wrote: Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:47 pm
WestUniversity wrote: Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:18 pm
I’ve been on it and its a great trip. You can buy the tickets in the states through the Eurail website.

Surely there is at least a regional train between Paris and Avignon...
I think it's easier to just book directly with the French railways, SNCF. You can even use their "Oui" app to store and use electronic train tickets. I've found that not all routes and options show up on Eurail. I haven't used it in a while, but I'm pretty sure I've also changed tickets on the fly with the app.

https://en.oui.sncf/en/

According to the Oui SNCF site, there's a direct TGV train from Gare de Lyon station in Paris to Avignon. When you search, be sure to select either Gare de Lyon (again, in Paris not Lyon) specifically or Paris - All Stations.
While it is true that there is a direct route from Gare de Lyon station in Paris to Avignon, the OP is flying into Paris.

OP should have a plan to get from CDG or Orly to Gare de Lyon. You need to familiarize yourself with the Paris map.
http://metromap.fr/en

If flying into CDG:
Probably the easiest route is to take the RER B (the blue line) to Gare du Nord, then transfer to the RER D (the green line) to Gare de Lyon.
Or, take the RER B to Chatelet Les Halles, then either the RER D (green) or RER A (red) to Gare de Lyon.

The Paris metro is not difficult to navigate but just keep in mind you may have some legwork to do to get to your train station.

Unless you planned to stay in Paris for a night or more, it could make more sense to take a train directly from CDG with 1 stop before arrival in Avignon.

EDIT: I just realized that there is a direct route from CDG TGV to Avignon TGV. That would probably be the best option by far.
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