17 February 2011

Rail travel in Europe - ideas and deals of the month

Drive-Alive is about more than just driving in Europe - we also promote other forms of surface travel (our last post was about cycle trails in Normandy) and this post has some suggestions for getting to a few of Europe's most popular destinations by train.

Disneyland Paris by train from £69 rtn
Eurostar trains run from London St Pancras and Asford International direct to Disneyland Paris. This is a great way to reach this most popular of family destinations, especially with kids. There's plenty of room for them to get up and stretch their legs and what child doesn't enjoy the magic of a train journey?

Florence by train from £131 rtn
Avoid all the hassle of budget flights and airport delays. Catch the Eurostar direct to Paris then change to the overnight sleeper to Florence, waking refreshed and ready to enjoy all the treasures this famous city has to offer.

Paris by train from £69 rtn
Nowadays the only sensible way to get right into the heart of the City of Light, the Eurostar from St Pancras takes just 2 and a quarter hours. Enjoy Paris in springtime.

Geneva by train from £105 rtn
Geneva enjoys a spectacular situation on the shores of Lake Geneva, with the Alps as a magnificent backdrop. With a journey time (not counting transfer in Paris) of just 5 and three quarter hours from St Pancras to the centre of Geneva, you can be booking in to your hotel with time for a stroll along the Lake before dinner.

Rome by train from £131 rtn
Rome needs no introduction, just to say that taking the train is a stress-free way to arrive right in the centre of the Imperial City. The journey takes 17 hours and only one change of train in Paris, from the Eurostar to the comfortable high speed sleeper. And when you arrive, it's only mid-morning!

Nice by train from £119 rtn
The French Riviera still retains the glamour and charm that has attracted visitors over the years. The train journey takes less than 8 hours from St Pancras, excluding the transfer in Paris, and you get to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Cote d'Azur over breakfast!

These are just a few of the great destinations available by modern comfortable high speed trains. We hope you agree, it's time to let the train take the strain!

For more about Trains in Europe click here.

1 February 2011

Cycling in Normandy on Voies Vertes

The authorities in both France and England are looking for feedback regarding the facilities for cyclists at the ferry ports and what they think of the signage, as well as views on the paths themselves. So when you reach the ports you are likely to be handed a questionnaire. Complete this and you will help to shape the cycle newtork of Europe!

The French are well advanced in setting up a nation-wide network of Voies Vertes (Green Ways) for cycling and walking. There are still gaps in this network but some excellent sections have now been completed and some of the best are in Upper Normandy (Haute-Normandie) and Lower Normandie (Basse-Normandie).

Normandy is easily reached by ferry from England. You can either book as a foot passenger and pay a small extra fee for your bike, or, if you want the freedom to try out different routes you might like to take your bikes by car. Just make sure that when you book you complete the section confirming you will be carrying bikes. This is especially important if the bikes are roof-mounted, as you will need to be allocated a high space on the ferry.

Ferry crossings to France from the UK.

The longest of these routes is the Véloroute du littoral en Seine-Maritime which runs for 172 km from Le Tréport to Le Havre along the coast. It's not a true Voie Verte becaus some of it is on quiet roads, hence the title "Véloroute". If you don't take a car you can join this route 40 km south of Le Tréport at Dieppe, which can be reached using Transmanche ferries from Newhaven, and from Le Havre the ferry travels to Portsmouth. Or of course you can travel in the reverse direction.

Or maybe you'd like to try some shorter options. For example there's the Voie Verte de la Seine à l'Eure, a 20 km voie verte south of Rouen, along the banks of the Eure. Or how about a gentle 13 km ride along the Voies Vertes de la Vallée de la Charentonne in central Haute Normandie.

As you can see these Voies Vertes cater for all levels of cycling ability, so they are perfect for a family trip or a good long ride for the more enthusiastic. Normandy is a beautiful region of France and can really be appreciated by bike. It is a region of wooded valleys, forests and rolling hills, dotted with pretty timbered houses in old villages.

For more information on all the Voies Vertes in Upper Normandie.
For more information on all the Voies Vertes in Lower Normandie.

Both the sites are currently only in French, although there are plans to present them in English and German.