Train vs. Plane: Short distance hops in Europe

Q. We hope to spend some time in the spring of 2010 in France and Switzerland.  What’s the cheapest way to get from Avignon to Geneva or Zurich?  What is the fastest way for the same trip? There will be four senior adults traveling together.  All suggestions will be appreciated.

A. Your best bet is to take the train rather than flying. Avignon to Geneva by high speed rail takes about 3 1/2 hours, and flying would probably take longer when you consider travel time between the city centers and the airport, plus security check in times.  There are all kinds of discounts available for rail travel, and you’re better off buying directly online using the French rail system’s web site at They offer online specials as well as senior discounts. In general, even though there are many discount airlines in Europe, when you’re traveling a relatively short distance rail travel is the way to go. It’s more convenient than air travel and if you work the discounts and factor in transportation costs to and from the airport, prices are often comparable. You might also consider a rail pass from if you’ll be traveling a lot by train. Again, there are senior discounts for these.