You can take a train from Paris to Irun without no change. It takes about 8 h 30 min. The trains leave from Gare Austerlitz or Gare Montparnasse. Costs from 49 Euro and more. The train takes you through very beautiful landscape in France to Irun in Spain. http://www.tgv.com/FR/
And French trains are great - and all tickets sold have a seat number, none are random as in the uk, and you automatically get a discount if you are a senior (you don't have to buy a senior railcard).
The earlier you book the cheaper the tickets.
sncf site will translate into English on most pages but also visit the man in seat 61 for all train info anywhere! http://www.seat61.com/
Thanks to you all for the info which will be very helpful in planning the trip. You sure will still hear a lot from me over the next 11 months. I am already getting a lot of info off the forum. Thanks again.