With the kids to the South of France | NS International
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Travelling 300 km per hour on Black Saturday to the South of France

Train passenger Maarten travels with Thalys to Southern France

"Why take the train to the South of France and not the car? I can think of 100 reasons!"

Maarten likes to travel south with his wife and three children taking Sun-Thalys. They live in Utrecht, and change trains in Rotterdam, Thalys goes directly to Aix-en-Provence, Avignon and Marseille. There, they take the bus or taxi to a campsite.


Why are you taking the train?

Why would you sit in the car with the children for so long? I leave Utrecht at 8 o'clock in the morning and am in the swimming pool in the Ardèche or Provence by 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It’s so much fun speeding past traffic jams on the Route du Soleil at 300 km/hour in the train. The holiday begins the moment you board the train.

It's fun along the way. We always book a seat with a table and play games. Mum and dad don't have to watch the road. The children have plenty of room to move around and are not tied to their seats. You can always go for a walk or get a sandwich in the bar. On the way back, you travel with Thalys in the evening. The youngest quickly fell asleep on the table.

How do you handle your luggage?

You don't need to take much with you. We both have a backpack. When the youngest was little, we also took a pram, which could carry a lot of bags. And they have shops in France.

When the children are a bit older, they can carry a suitcase or a backpack themselves; they'll like that very much.

Do you rent a car locally?

No, we often take the bus. From Avignon station there's an express bus to the Ardèche, for example to Vallon-Pont-d'Arc. The bus stops in front of the larger campsites.

We always rent a mobile home. You can often hire bikes at campsites and we use local buses for trips. People don't check this out. I know in advance exactly which buses go where. I like to find out, work out all those timetables. And because you save a lot of money by travelling by train, you can easily take a taxi for a tenner or so if you want to go somewhere.

Will you stay at the same campsite for a few weeks?

Often, we're in 3 different places during the 2.5 week holiday. Usually, it'll be a few days in a city, a week at the beach and then a third location. We all have our own favourite destination and so everyone gets what they want.

Taking Thalys again this year?

No, we're staying in the Netherlands. I found booking something abroad too risky.

When I heard the news about the night train, Nightjet, I immediately felt like taking the train to Vienna. From there you can easily reach Zagreb and Split. Croatia is also a very good place to travel by train. And by boat to the islands. Children love that instead of sitting in the back of a car! I'm going to think up a nice itinerary to take the train from Vienna. Maybe next year?