Traveling from Paris
There are endless possibilities for interesting regional travel destinations that are easily accessible from Paris. This includes numerous French cities as well as locations in nearby countries. Begin researching these options by looking at travel guides or on travel blogs. Ask friends and family who have traveled before about places they enjoyed the most. Read through site-specific guide books like Lonely Planet, Let’s Go, Rough Guide, Rick Steves, or Frommers to get ideas of locations that may be particularly appealing for your interests.
However, we advise that you take advantage of this unique opportunity to live as a real Parisian, and NOT spend every single weekend traveling to a new destination. Europe can be compact, and from Paris by train and airplane you can go far on a three hour trip, but that travel time also means less time to interact with people and places. Use your free time and weekends to discover Paris and other parts of France! Students who travel too frequently outside of Paris often regret not having spent more time in Paris at the end of the semester.
It is strongly suggested that students wait until after the first week of classes before booking personal weekend trips as there may be mandatory excursions for your classes in addition to weekend trips with the entire group.
Traveling on your own
- We ask that you always inform the PICA director of your travels outside Paris.
- Make sure you have more than one source of money (e.g. cash and a credit card, or two credit cards)
- Make a copy of your passport and a credit card and pack these to bring along with you.
- Bring printed email confirmations of all reservations and arrangements you have made.
- Write down the address of your destination to show to a local if you need help. Also, print out directions of how to get to that location.
Making travel plans:
- Fly early in the morning or late at night for cheaper flights.
- Fly in low season (spring and autumn).
- Make use of sales which sometimes appear 3 to 5 weeks before the flight.
Things to remember about discount airlines:
- Sometimes the fee you first see is only part of what you’ll pay. You will also be charged for baggage that is stowed under the plane. You may pay when you use a credit card or to print your ticket or to get a meal or drink on the plane, etc., etc.
- Most discount airlines use smaller and more distant airports so you will most likely have to pay for additional ground transport to and from the city you are visiting.
- Discount airlines are not flexible. If you are late by even a minute, airport officials will not let you check in. In these circumstances you will most likely not get a refund and have to pay for a new ticket.
Visit Voyages-sncf.com to research prices and schedules for trains in France (and some going to foreign countries). TGV trains are very fast (up to 200 mph) and can bring you from Paris to Marseille in the South in less than four hours. It is best to book in advance and to look for “PREMS” tickets which are the lowest priced (but offer no refund if you need to change plans).
Lists all your train options and information about the trains for all the different European countries.
If you are planning on traveling (especially after your semester) you may find the Eurail pass a good option. It is a train pass that gives you train travel within 18 European Countries. Also options to choose a smaller number of countries to visit for lower prices.
For travel within France and throughout Europe, you may be interested in purchasing a ticket through Eurolines.
Busabout is designed for back-packers which makes it a great way to meet people, and a cheap way to get around.Traveling by bus is slower than by plane so keep this in mind when planning your travels.
Slower travel but much cheaper than train and plane options. Oui Bus has a wide range of destinations including within France and in foreign countries.
Travel by bus within France to save 50% or more on train tickets. A little slower but a chance to meet other young travelers.
Other PICA pages which may interest you:
- Check out our page on Cultural Activities.
- Check out the PICA Day Trips Page.
- Learn more about PICA Weekend Trips.
- Health and Safety Tips for your time in Paris.
- Learn about French Culture & Customs.
- Managing your Culture Shock when first arriving in Paris.
- Where to find Art & Photo Supplies in Paris?
- How to get ready to go back home (and avoid the worst of Reverse Culture Shock)!