We know that travel can be both an exciting adventure and at times a stressful challenge. But since we both love to travel and love the idea of you coming to celebrate with us, we wanted to provide details here on how to best go about making your travel plans to France with as little stress as possible. Should you have a question that is not covered here please feel free to email us at email@example.com
There are three cities you can fly into: Paris (CDG/ORY), Geneva (GVA), and Lyon (LYS), as well as one domestic airport: Chambery (CMF). See details below about getting to the chateau from these cities. Most major US cities offer non-stop flights to Paris. While Geneva and Lyon will require one connection usually in Paris, London, Madrid, or Frankfurt. And don’t forget to check multi-city routes. For example you might land a great deal flying into Geneva and out of Paris, which would allow for more travel adventures without backtracking to the city you originally arrived at.
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If you fly into Paris you would undoubtedly want a few days or even a week to explore the city. To get to the chateau from Paris you have two options: train or plane. We recommend the TGV speed train, which will take 2hr50min from Paris to Chambery and tickets start at $33 each way if booked in advance. Make sure to book at least 60days in advance as tickets go up to $125 each way if you wait until the week of. The speed trains in Europe are amazing and much more spacious than a plane. Plus you get to see the beautiful French countryside along the way. When you get off the train at Chambery you can rent a car at the station or take a taxi to the chateau that is 25min away. Alternately, you can take a train to St Pierre d'Albigny, which is only a 6min drive to the chateau. However this is a local train and takes longer. Just search for both cities to see what route is best for you. See the train section below for info on where to book in advance and car hire/rental links as well. If you are not interested in the train option then you will want to look online for flights from CDG to LYS, GVA, or CMF. Tip: Search for flights going to both CDG and ORY as you might find a better deal going through ORY.
If you’re looking to get straight to the chateau without stopping off in Paris first, book your flight all the way to Geneva. This airport is right on the France/Swiss border. All of the major US airlines can get you here through their travel alliance partners. For instance, we are traveling to London on American Airlines and then on British Airways to Geneva. The Geneva airport is only 1hr12min by car to the chateau and you will be driving through the picturesque foothills to the French alps. For car rentals at GVA, make sure to book with the France sector (since the airport is in both France and Switzerland); scroll to the bottom half of the page this link goes to for five options including Avis, Hertz, and National: http://bit.ly/tQ8F6X
Lyon is simply another airport option to check out and mostly we are including it here for those of you who choose to stop off in Paris and then fly to the chateau instead of taking a train. It is a short non-stop flight on Air France for around $100 each way to/from Paris. The chateau is 1hr13min by car from Lyon.
Our advice would be to start tracking fares on http://kayak.com and http://farecompare.com as they will send you alerts on fare changes or even daily emails on the fares/days you are tracking. To give you a benchmark, a really good fare round trip including taxes would be anything less than $1000 and a great fare would be $850 or less.
This is what we did. Please note that you can get better deals and better routes by calling the AA Advantage desk at 1-800-882-8880. They are open 24hrs a day and are very helpful. Just say “award travel” when the auto attendant picks up and then say “representative” to bypass the computer. They charge $25 per person to book on the phone but we got a much better multi-city itinerary (going into GVA and out of CDG) with business class seats for less miles than the AA website was showing for coach round trip through CDG. Do note that if you connect through London the taxes are a little higher than other cities. Also if they do not have the exact itinerary you are looking for you should try calling back. This is because anyone can move/cancel award travel for free so these seats change up frequently. So call back a few times over the next month or two.
You can research and purchase train tickets in advance on http://www.raileurope.com Please note that most trains cannot be booked more than 90 days in advance. To get an approximate idea of schedules, try an earlier date that is the same day of the week. The two nearest train stations to the chateau are: Chambery 32 km, about 25 minutes, and St Pierre d'Albigny 3 km, about 6 minutes.
Car rentals in Europe work just the same as in the US, and the French drive on the same side of the road as we do. All you need is your current drivers license and a credit card for deposit. You can take your pick between a variety of small extremely gas efficient European cars with either manual or automatic transmissions (usually for the same price). Just be sure to add the GPS option and to request an English programed GPS so that you do not get lost in the Alps with a French speaking computer voice trying to tell you where to go.
Below are links to rental company options. We have used Europcar numerous times and find they have the best prices.
Chambery train station http://bit.ly/u4iEUf
Geneva Airport http://bit.ly/tQ8F6X
Car Hire Express http://bit.ly/tn36dg
Please contact Avis at 1-800-331-1600 and refer to AWD - D787878 to reserve your car at a special discounted rate.