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Trains in Europe – Get those tickets to ride

Child on the train
    Have fun – at some point while you're traveling around Europe, take the train. European trains take you to destinations in all shapes and sizes, stopping at great city centers or little towns, winding along the Alps, zipping through the scenic countryside, even crossing the great divider, the English Channel. In Europe, there are significant discounts for people traveling with children under 12 years old. In some cases, you only get these price reductions if you are traveling with a child, one more great reason to go with your kids.
    Going from London to Paris or vice versa, the Eurostar is your best bet. Driving a car or taking the plane is just more work. Get on St. Pancras Station in central London, and get off at the Gare du Nord in the heart of Paris. It takes less than three hours, plus the high speed train goes underneath the English Channel, although kids won't get an underwater view, outside the window it's pretty black during that part of the trip through the Channel Tunnel. First class tickets include champagne for parents and real-food meals (not that awful airplane-style stuff).
    Looking for a scenic train trips? In Switzerland, the mountains are spectacular, and trains go where there are no roads. A great trip for kids is the GoldenPass Panoramic train that goes from Lucerne to Interlaken, up over the Brunig Pass (train has has a special locomotive to go over this steep pass). For a longer trip, the Glacier Express is a narrow gauge rail that goes from Zermatt to St. Moritz, crosses 291 bridges and goes through 91 tunnels. A Swiss Pass for 4, 8, 15, 22 consecutive travel days, includes lake steamers and city transporation, and along with the pass you can ask for the Swiss Family Card, which allows free travel for kids under 16 traveling with their parents.
      Headed for Provence? If you're flying into Paris, the best and fastest way to get to Provence is the TGV high speed train from Paris to Avignon (arrive in less than 3 hours). You can purchase point to point tickets or if you buy a France Saverpass, for two or more people, the pass is good for travel on the TGV (you will need to make reservations), kids 4-11 are half the adult fare, children under 4 are free.
    One of our favorite train trips is London to Inverness. Looking out from a train, the glens of Scotland never looked more magical. A BritRail Consecutive Pass lets you travel anywhere in England, Scotland or Wales. With the pass, kids under 5 travel free, one child ages 5-15 travels free with one paying adult, along with the complimentary BritRail Family Pass (just request it when you purchases your BritRail Consecutive Pass). So, if there's four people in your family, two adults, two children, you would only pay for the two adult passes (this is a big savings over point to point tickets on British Rail).

Germany is a pretty big country, but the trains are speedy, so you can easily get from north to south in less than a day. You can take the train from Berlin to Munich and arrive in under 6 hours, or Berlin to Frankfurt in 4 hours on the ICE high speed trains. The German Rail Pass is available for half price for children under ages 6 -12, children under 6 ride free. The pass is also good for boat rides on the Rhine, from Cologne to Mainz, and steamers on Lake Constance. And the rail passes will be cheaper than individual point to point fares.

renfe trains
  In Spain , we've had a great time using the trains to get around. Staying Madrid? It's an easy day trip to Toledo or Segovia by train. The high speed AVE trains are quick and easy to zip up to Barcelona (first class includes a tasty lunch) or down to Seville and Andalusia.
  There are several flavors of Eurail Pass these days, including the Eurail Selectpass, EurailDrive Pass, which allow travel throughout Europe, as well as country-specific passes, and multiple countries (e.g. the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany). The Eurail Selectpass Saver is for two or more people traveling together, perfect for families. All these passes have a 50% price reduction for children ages 4 through 11, children under 4 are free.
  Tip: When you're planning your trip, compare point to point rail tickets vs. the rail pass, to see if there are cost savings. Also depending on which trains you take, even with a pass, some trains, such as the Eurostar or TGV, require reservations.
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