French National Railroads and Avis are introducing a seven- or 15-day France rail and drive passes as of Jan. 1 that will enable travelers to mix both forms of travel on a non-consecutive day basis.
The new pass is based on two people traveling together in second-class by train and with a category A Avis car, such as an Opel Corsa, Ford Fiesta, etc.
The seven-day pass allows you four days of train travel and three days of using the car within a 15-day period. Neither the four train days or three rental-car days have to be on consecutive days.
You can, for example, take a train for one day, stay at a destination for a second day without that time counting as part of your pass, then use the car for another of your seven days, spend another day at a destination, and then choose another train day.
Similarly, under the 15-day program you get nine days of train travel and six days of a car rental to be used within one month.
The seven-day pass costs $129 per person, with the tab $219 per traveler for the 15-day version.
Both passes, which have to be bought in the United States, are valid for six months from date of issue. The passes also include unlimited mileage on the car rental as well as the value added tax.
You can upgrade the train portion to first-class by paying an extra $20 for the seven-day pass and $40 for the 15-day pass.
It's advisable, according to Avis, to make reservations for your car rentals a week in advance from the United States and at least 24 hours beforehand in France. Avis has more than 230 outlets at or near railroad stations in France.
The cars can be returned at any Avis outlet without a drop-off charge. You can pick up the car in Paris and drop it off in Nice at no extra cost.
French Railroads also is continuing its four-, nine- and 16-day passes in 1988. These passes also are on a non-consecutive day basis.
The four-day pass, which has to be used within a 15-day period, costs $110 first-class and $85 second-class. The nine- and 16-day passes have to be used within a one-month period. A nine-day pass will cost $190 first-class, $140 second-class; a 16-day pass, $250 first-class and $180 second-class.
You also get bonuses with these passes (except the new rail and drive pass), including free round-trip airport/Paris transfers on the Metro, unlimited travel on the Paris Metro (one day on the four-day pass, two days on the nine-day and 16-day passes), free admission to the Pompidou Museum, car rental discounts and a 50% discount on the bateau mouches on the Seine River.
Information: French National Railroads at (213) 272-7967.