I found that flying from JFK gets you the most options and travel times to get to really any city in Western Europe, however to get from STL to JFK isn’t quite as convenient. All in all, I found that booking a flight directly from JFK and then booking an additional one to get me to JFK only saved about $100/person and either left us with an annoying large amount of time or annoying little. Not enough to go out and do anything in New York, but enough to be bored off our arses at the airport. (Although, after seeing The Terminal, there is evidently a whole life one can have at JFK.) For a moment I thought, well, maybe we could just stay overnight in New York, see a few things, etc. But then I thought realistically, I’d rather spend every available moment in Europe, so I scratched that idea.
I looked at flights to Frankfurt, Geneva, Belgium, etc (from all the above locations) and pretty much found yes, a bit cheaper than Paris, but right now significantly to make a difference in the fact I’d then have to get a multi-country Eurorail pass and deal with losing some time traveling. (once again, maybe only $100 cheaper per person)
Don’t get me wrong, I like saving $100. I like winning $100. Really, I just like $100 in any way I can get it. But, after pouring over flight times, total duration time of flights, and taking travel time into account, we determined an extra half day in Europe is worth $200 total. Now, that might change, once we hammer out where we’re actually going. I think I might've found a cheaper way to get there, but I don't want to jinx it yet so I'll keep it a secret until I get closer to booking.
For where, we talked about it and currently the Rhone (specifically Chateauneuf Du Pape) and Burgundy are on the list. They are (relatively) close to each other and connected by the train system. While we both would LOVE to go to Bordeaux, as you can see in this map of the France Train system, it’s a bit out of the way without a direct way and would mean ½-3/4 day of traveling. (It appears that its about 6.5-7.5 hours on the train based on what I can decipher from the timetable) Then we’d have to also spend time getting back to Paris and it’s a bit farther away from Paris than the other regions.
So, do we want to waste basically an entire day of our trip traveling? (The area we're thinking about is basically Dijon through Avignon.) We've determined we'd like minimum 2 days with no travel in each city. So, 2 days in Beaune and 2 days in Macon, and 2 days in Valence/Avignon area, plus 2 days for travel within France....that's 8 days. (We are shooting for 9 full days, not counting arrival/departure days.)
We’ll see. Of course, nothing I have said is set in stone. Heck, the trip isn’t even in stone with this economy.