If you want to have a multi-destination trip in Europe, travelling by coach can be a flexible, comfortable and low cost option. I checked out some coach trips on the iDBUS site, which was launched in July 2012 as part of the French National Railway group of companies.
I priced a trip; London (UK) – Lille (France) - Brussels (Belgium) – Paris (France) – Lyon (France) – Turin (Italy) with iDBUS. The total cost for these journeys was under 150 Euro (around £130).
An iDBUS coach
If you want to change your plans, you can re-book your ticket upon payment of a £5 admin fee, as long as you do so 12 hours before your departure time and there is availability of seats on the route. If the ticket price is higher, you’ll need to pay the difference.
One big advantage is that the coaches offer free WiFi, so you can stay online without having to pay any roaming charges when travelling outside the UK. The coaches offer electrical sockets and an on-board toilet. Some routes have an overnight travel option, so that would save you money on accommodation.
Here are my tips for things to do in each of the stops on my itinerary.
Vieux Lillie, the old town, has a good selection of boutique and independent shops. The five sided Citadel de Lille was built as a fortress on the town walls. The former municipal 1920s Art Deco swimming pool building is now home of the Robaix-Lapiscine Museum. Lillie’s Palais de Beaux-Arts is considered to be one of the best museums in France with a vast collection of 19th century European paintings.
Art Deco style shopfront in Lille by Claude Fabry
I’m a big fan of Brussels. I was there in December, when there was an impressive light show every evening in the Grand Place. Although I’m not much of an art buff, I really enjoyed the Magritte Museum with its surrealist pieces. Brussels has lots of Art Nouveau buildings including the Museum of Musical Instruments. The food in Brussels is really good; I had my first taste of Brazilian food there.
Grand Place in Brussels
Paris is one of my favourite European cities. Europe a la Carte Paris favourites include the Pere Lachasie Cemetery, the towers at Notre Dame, a walk around movie locations and some Paris museums including Musee Rodin and Musee d’Orsay. Our son made use of the Velib city bicycle hire when he visited; I’m a bit too chicken for that. It’s free to use a bike for the first 30 minutes. Don’t believe the nonsense about the Parisians being unfriendly and rude. I do try to speak some French (very badly) and usually receive a reply in English.
The Louvre in Paris
Lyon, in the south east of France, is the second largest city in France. It was an important city during the Roman Empire, as it was on one of the main routes to northern and western Europe. The Roman amphitheatre is pretty well preserved. Lyon was known as the “Capital of the Resistance” during WW2. The Museum of the Resistance relates the fight against the Nazi occupation.
Roman amphitheatre in Lyon by Ana Rey
Turin was the capital of Italy for four years between 1860 – 1864. Mole Antonelliana was built as a Jewish synagogue during this period. Since 2000 it’s been home to The National Museum of Cinema. The Shroud of Turin, claimed to have been used as Jesus’ burial cloth after his crucifixion, is stored in a climate controlled environment in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin. You can see a replica in the Museum of the Shroud. However, you can occasionally see the original shroud; it was last on public display in 2010. If you want to spend some time outdoors, Parco del Valentino is located along the western bank of the River Po. It was Italy’s first public garden when it opened in 1856.
National Museum of Cinema in Turin by Jean-Pierre Dalbera
There are lots of possible itineraries to explore Europe by coach on the iDBUS network. Keep an eye out for iDBUS promotions; they recently ran a two for one ticket offer for passengers aged 55 and over.
Click here for more information on IDBUS coach travel.