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a little of france - a lot of western switzerland - which pass?

Hi all,
We are planning a two week vacation next summer. We will be beginning and ending the vacation in Paris due to cheaper airline flights. Thus, we will be traveling from Paris to Spiez, Switzerland, to Murren, to Lausanne, and then returning by train to Paris. We will not have a car. We will spend 4 days in Paris, 2 in Spiez, 5 in Murren, 2 in Lausanne, and then return to Paris to fly home.

In Lausanne, we are looking at doing a boat tour. In Murren, we will be hiking and using the funiculars, cable cars, and trains for that purpose, including the Schlithorn.

Can you please advise me on what type of rail pass would include coming and going between Paris and Switzerland and then cover the areas of Spiez, Murren, and Lausanne? It will be two adults around 40, so no youth passes unfortunately. :)

Posted by
8889 posts

I don't think there is one railpass that is suitable.
For Paris to Switzerland and vice-versa you can buy cheap advance purchase tickets. The earlier you buy the cheaper, but tickets are not yet available for next summer. See the website of the company running the trains: https://www.tgv-lyria.com/en

While in Switzerland you could either get a Swiss Pass ( https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/travel-in-switzerland/international-guests/swiss-travel-pass.html ), or a local Berner Oberland pass ( http://www.regionalpass-berneroberland.ch/en/ ) as you are spending most of your time in that area.
The Berner Oberland pass has better coverage of the mountain railways in that area, but does not cover Swiss border (Basel) to Spiez nor Spiez to Lausanne, for which you would require additional tickets.

Posted by
3681 posts

The assumption that a train pass automatically saves money in Europe is out-of-date. The only way to test it is to compare point-to-point prices. Keep in mind that your Paris-Switzerland connections, if bought through some pass, will probably require the separate purchase of a seat reservation and in France the number of seat available may be limited. For North Americans, some care is needed in choosing how to search for those prices. Best place to start is advice from the deeply well-informed www.seat61.com
If you are flying trans-Atlantic, I suggest re-examining the fares available, although you can't get exact prices for a year ahead. Often, a North American traveller can fly into one city and out of another on a multi-destination itinerary at the same price as for a simple round trip. For instance, non-stops between the US east coast into Paris and home from Zurich are about the same (this year) as a round trip through Paris. That's assuming you want to visit Paris. If so, this strategy would give you about a day in Switzerland and save the cost of one of the train trips. But you must use a multi-city search function; these are not a set of two one-way tickets. Largest source of info on air fares is matrix.itasoftware.com which is a Google service to airlines. It does not sell tickets but you can see what is available. No site covers every air fare.

Posted by
7205 posts

Train Passes are usually not worth their money...except in Switzerland where train tix can be expensive. The Swiss Half Fare Card usually works out to the biggest savings for the traveler. Because you are spending so many days in Switzerland and you'll want to be traveling around then the HFC covers you all over Switzerland.

Posted by
16883 posts

With a two-country Eurail Select pass, seat reservations on the TGV Lyria directly between Switzerland and Paris are currently quite expensive and coverage in Switzerland is less than with the Swiss Travel Pass. But details could change next year, so check again in January or February, which may also be when TGV tickets go on sale at the best rates for some summer travel dates.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for your responses. I feel like I am learning a new language trying to figure out all the rail passes around Switzerland...add in France and it is really confusing! :)

That being said, it sounds like from the responses that the HFC might work best. Do you adding the Bernese Oberland Pass onto that would be helpful?

As for flying into/out of multiple cities...we were actually hoping to do that. Fly into Paris ( I have family friends I want to visit there) and then out of Geneva since we will end in Lausanne. However, we are going to use some of my husband's airline miles on Delta. The prices of flights were similar when flying out of Paris, Zurich, and, Geneva. That being said, the mileage for flying out of Geneva was SIGNIFICANTLY higher...375,000 for two to fly from USA to Paris and then Geneva to USA. Crazy! If we leave out of Zurich or Paris and fly home, it is more like 120,000-140,000 for two. Anyone know why mileage required on frequent flyer miles would be so much higher out of Geneva? It does not make sense to me, especially since the cost of the flights were about the same...
Maybe it would make more sense to leave Lausanne, catch a train to Zurich airport and fly home from there. ...Just seems odd to cross the country to go to an airport when we are already near Geneva.

Thanks again for your replies. They are very helpful. :)

Posted by
16768 posts

The obvious solution is to take a train from Paris to Lausanne, then work your way to the Berner Oberland, then to Zurich airport to leave. Zurich airport is the main airport for Switzerland. Geneva has fewer flights to North America, less competition, so higher prices and higher airline miles to get a ticket.
Getting a Half Fare Card AND a Berner Oberland Pass would be gilding the lily. Spending more money doesn't necessarily get you a better deal, just an emptier wallet.