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10 yr anniversary trip - Just France or Switzerland, too?

My husband and I will be celebrating our 10 yr wedding anniversary and can't quite decide on what all we want to do. We thought it would be helpful to get advice from all of of you! Last fall, we traveled through Europe for the first time and had the most amazing experience! We hit the major cities - London, Paris, Rome and a few other random places like Normandy, Capri and Kraków, Poland. It was great, since we had never seen any of the major monuments (but, a little chaotic.) So, this time around, we would like to explore more of France and possibly Switzerland.

We'll have around 2 wks to travel and don't want to overdo things (e.g. Change cities every 2 days). Originally, we were planning on flying into Paris, spending a few days there and then taking the train out to Eastern France to visit Annecy. We would spend a little time there before heading down to Provence and the French Riviera. But, since we're trying to make the most of the time we'll have and keep things on a budget, we were considering flying into Geneva and exploring that area of Switzerland, before heading into Eastern and Southern France. Flying into Geneva would mean that we wouldn't get to return to Paris. Which, for me, is a little disappointing, but I love the idea of getting to see Switzerland since we have never been. (We're just concerned about the cost of traveling in Switzerland...)

Does anyone have suggestions on things or places we must see? Suggestions on where to fly into? Is it best to fly in and out of the same city or fly into one and fly back out of southern France? On our last trip, we discovered that our favorite parts were just exploring the nooks and crannies of random towns - especially if they were more historic vs. industrialized. We usually keep things fairly budget friendly - we utilize airbnb, cook at home when we can, go to free and cheap events/museums etc. Originally, we were planning on going in September, but I've had a job change and we're considering leaving in about a month since I will already have the time off between jobs. (This way, I won't have to take off unpaid leave from work, but flights are pricier.) Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

Posted by
6451 posts

Congratulations on your 10th anniversary!

We have been going to Europe for 2-3 weeks for the last several years, and our trip that included Switzerland was definitely more expensive. We especially noticed the higher costs for trains & food. But, we absolutely loved our time back in Wengen, Switzerland. If you enjoy hiking & breath-taking views, you won't want to miss that area. For us, it was faster to fly into Zurich. Afterwards, we took the train into northern Italy to Stresa & beyond.

We've always flown into one airport and out another to maximize our time.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks so much for your input! I think we have decided that Switzerland is a must - Hiking is my favorite form of exercise and to be able to take in those views will be quite the treat! We're looking at flying into Geneva since it's so close to France - hoping that it will make travel between the two countries less stressful.

Posted by
7175 posts

Fly in to Zurich
Berner Oberland - 4 nts
Montreux - 3 nts
Annecy - 3 nts
Provence - 4 nts
Fly out of Marseille

With more time you could add Luzern first up.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you so much - that itinerary is quite helpful! To shorten our travel time, I think we're going to fly into Geneva and just explore that region of Switzerland before heading into France. Flying out of Marseille is perfect as it will save so much travel time - thank you!

Posted by
11 posts

We've decided to focus most of our trip in Switzerland - it's unlike any place we've ever been and we are looking forward to seeing the amazing countryside. We will more than likely fly into Geneva, spend a few days in Annecy area then work our way up through Switzerland to fly out of Zurich. Any suggestions on must see places in Switzerland?

Posted by
57 posts

HIGHLY recommend Berner Oberland area (Murren, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen) - incredibly gorgeous and unforgettable. We loved the trip to the top of the Jungfrau and will be making it again next month with our two children. Also loved Luzern - great old town. Additionally we enjoyed car-free Zermatt and spent several days there. You will love it!

We are going to Annecy as well and will likely take a day to check out Chamonix (another fantastic mountain location).


Posted by
243 posts

We did a trip that involved the Murren in The BO, Chamonix, and Annecy before finishing up with wine tasting at Vaison la Romaine.
Great time hiking in the mountains. Loved Chamonix, but if I was only going one place, it would be Murren.
I would plan on spending several days there in case of fog or rain is there for a day or so.
Annecy is wonderful and the one day and night we had was not enough.

Posted by
11294 posts

My trip to Switzerland was 10 nights. I flew into Zurich then went immediately to Luzern (only one hour, train leaves direct from the Zurich airport) for 3 nights. Then I spent 4 nights in Mürren, then 3 nights in Lausanne. The morning of my departure, I took a train direct from Lausanne to the Geneva airport.

This was a great trip. Since you have two weeks and want to fly into Geneva and out of Zurich, just reverse it, and add some time in one more location (or extra nights in the ones you have, particularly Berner Oberland). Definitely stay in Mürren if you can; if not, Wengen or Lauterbrunnen or Gimmelwald are good alternatives (not Interlaken). More nights in the Berner Oberland are better, as a hedge against the weather.

I'm not sure if I'd stay in Lausanne or Montreux next time; if you like an even smaller place, look into Vevey. All the towns along Lake Geneva are connected by frequent trains, so you only need one base in this area.

Luzern is great for a few days (it's a small city, but very nice). the trip to Mt. Rigi by boat and rack railway and cable car is very nice, although it may be a bit anti-climactic after the Berner Oberland.

Rick's Switzerland book has lots of details on these places, and should help you plan how many days you want to spend in each area, or give you ideas for another place to see (Italian Switzerland? Zermatt and the Matterhorn? Appenzal? These are all on my list potentially for next time).

Do plan on spending lots of money in Switzerland. But I do have some money-saving tips:

1) When booking hotels, be sure to e-mail them directly. Website booking (even with the hotel's own website) had higher prices and less availability, and with some places I got a Rick Steves discount by using direct e-mail and mentioning that I found their hotel through the book.

2) When you can, eat at Manora. It's the "cafeteria" inside Manor department stores, with freshly made and delicious food at half the price of a restaurant. The only problems are that they're always mobbed (the Swiss know they're the best deal around), and they're only open department store hours, which means relatively early dinner M-F, no dinner on Saturday, and no meals at all on Sundays.

3) When Manora is closed, you can go to Tibits in the train station in Luzern (and some other cities like Bern). In Luzern, it's on the top floor of the train station, not on the bottom floor like the other eateries. They serve a vegetarian buffet sold by weight (not expensive).

4) For quick and cheap meals, get things like sandwiches, trail mix, and hard-boiled eggs from supermarkets (Coop and Migros are the two most prominent). This is much cheaper than restaurant food, and if you're out on a hike, you'll need food with you anyway. Even in the tiny villages in the Berner Oberland, Wengen, Mürren, and Lauterbrunnen all have Coop branches.

5) Do a spreadsheet to see if a Swiss Pass or Half-Fare Card will save you money on transportation. On a two week trip, one or the other is probably a good deal.

Posted by
7175 posts

Classic circular route ...

Arrive Zurich
Interlaken (Berner Oberland)
via Bern to Lausanne / Montreux
Annecy / Chamonix
via Geneva to Zermatt
via Glacier Express to St Moritz
Depart Zurich

Posted by
385 posts

Lots of good suggestions here! I'd add that we started in Paris, and took the train to Basel then Luzern. We spent three nights in Luzern, two nights in Engelberg including an unforgettable trip to Mt. Titlis and SNOW!!, and flew home from Zurich. We didn't have the time to get to the Berner Oberland area - but hope to some day.

Coop stores were great for food choices for the five of us.
The most elaborate meals we had were the abundant breakfasts provided with our hotel stays - we economized for the other meals except for one special dinner meal at our hotel in Engelberg. Even though we'd heard it many times, we were still a little shocked at the prices in Switzerland. Traveling with two hungry boys made us more aware of the importance of stocking up on snacks, drinks, and picnic meals at the Coop!
Manora sounded great but we missed the chance - check for their cafeteria hours to enjoy that dining option.
A lake cruise on a paddlewheel steamer was a highlight for us - Luzern to Weggis for lunch and back to Luzern. Serene and wonderful.

Have a wonderful time!! Happy anniversary!

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you so, so much to all of you who have taken the time to respond to my post and questions! You have been most helpful. So, as mentioned in my most recent post, we're flying into Geneva, visiting the Annecy area for a few days and then making our way through Switzerland to fly out of Zurich. This is our rough itinerary and I would love any further insight you might have.

Annecy: 3-4 nights

Berner Oberland region: 4-5 nights based on how long we stay in Annecy - can't decide exactly which town we wish to be based out of in this area. Interlaken looks to be a bit more affordable than Lauterbrunnen Valley, but possibly not as nice of an experience? Also, on our way from Annecy to Berner Oberland, we plan to take a train. Am I correct that it's fairly easy to get off at Montreux, explore for a couple of hours and then hop back on and head to Berner?

Lucerne: 3 nights

Zurich: 2 nights

Posted by
5158 posts

Congratulations on your anniversary!

It sounds like you've already made up your mind about spending most of your time in Switzerland.
My daughter & I just returned from our France trip a month ago & we had a wonderful time visiting Chamonix, Annecy, various places in Provence, Amboise in the Loire Valley & Paris.

I had originally planned to travel to both France & Switzerland, but after checking some of the hotel & train prices in Switzerland, I opted to spend our 3 weeks in France :-)

You mention that you plan to travel next month, so you need to book your accommodations ASAP :-)

Annecy is lovely, I'd live there if I could!

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
848 posts

Congrats! My husband and I just celebrated 42 years and spent 15 days in France. It was wonderful!
We spent 8 days in Switzerland 2 years ago and I thought that I would add a few suggestions. We flew into Zurich.....easy fly-in and fly-out for the best prices. We did a diagonal across Switzerland....Zurich, Luzern, Interlaken, Lauterbrunen, Bern, Lausanne and then flew out of Geneva. We were told by friends and family that Interlaken was a must but we found it to be way too we were very happy that our plans included Lauterbrunen. We absolutely loved Wengen, Murren and Lauterbrunnen....those villages up in the alps. We were disappointed that the clouds did not lift for us to see the 3 peaks like we wanted at the Jungfrau but hiked anyway and are ready to go back ASAP. We rented a car as we found the train prices to be so high....and our car was great to have. We definitely liked Luzern, the Berner Oberland and Zurich better than the area around Geneva.....seems as we drove closer to Geneva the towns got less interesting. We were trying to watch our $ as well and found the best chocolates and food in the Swiss groceries.
Our trip to France last month was delightful. If you spend any time in France I would suggest checking THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN FRANCE website. We did and were able to visit 4 or 5 of them as we drove from one destination to the next.....they made our trip so special. We had apple crepes in a charming village called Beuvron-En-Auge and would never have known to go there if we had not seen the website.....a dear memory!