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Driving from Lauterbrunnen to Paris?

This fall my husband and I will be hiking in Lauterbrunnen. We love Paris and are thinking of driving from Switzerland to Paris after a week in Lauterbrunnen. Any ideas of routes to drive? Last year we toured the Amboise area and castles and thought of going back through that area again since the Seine flood kept us from going to Chambord. Does it make sense to try and do that again? We also missed staying a night in Le Cep at Beaune because some of the roads were under water. I would love advice on this route we are putting together. Are there towns on that route that we should make certain we don't miss? Thank you.

Posted by
15643 posts

The first thought that jumps out is the huge drop-off fee usually imposed when you return a rental car in another country. Do you want to spend a few days driving in Switzerland or is your focus mainly on France? You may want to take trains to France. How many nights do you have for this drive?

Have you spent time in Burgundy? Alsace?

Posted by
32241 posts

Jane,

It would be a more efficient use of valuable holiday time to use the high speed trains to Paris. Take the train from Lauterbrunnen to Basel SBB and then connect with the high speed TGV, which travels at up to 300 km/h.

Keep in mind that for driving in France, you will need either an I.D.P. or a notarized translation in French of the terms of your home D.L. There's also the issue of hefty drop fees that usually apply for renting a car in one country and dropping in another.

Posted by
7209 posts

Red Flags Popping up here - Lauterbrunnen is in the middle of the stunning car-free alpine villages (no driving there). Paris is a nightmare for drivers who cars and parking. Why on earth would you drive when the high speed zips you there into the city center?

Posted by
884 posts

The trains do sound great but hubby and I love driving through the countryside at our own pace......we love seeing the villages, etc. that you miss traveling on a train. I will check on the renting in one country and dropping off in another. We are aware that France has designated some villages as THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN FRANCE......we were hoping to drive through some of those on our way to Paris, ( we have done this before last summer on our way from Mont St Michel to Amboise ), get rid of the car in Paris as we have done before and enjoy walking through Paris. Just curious to see if anyone has taken this route before and how they liked it. Thank you!

Posted by
265 posts

Perhaps taking the train to Chamonix France (or any other easy train stop destination in France...Basel????) to rent a car might solve the problem of the large drop off fee. Otherwise it sound like a lovely drive whichever route you might take.

Posted by
1443 posts

Sounds like a great plan. Cars let you see a lot more than trains. Just be prepared for a large fee for dropping your car in a different country from where you picked it up. $500 would not be surprising.

Posted by
10289 posts

If you arrive in the Geneva airport, you have the possibility to rent a "French" vehicle and avoid the drop off fee.

Posted by
194 posts

One option would be to take a train from Lauterbrunnen to just over the border into France. Mulhouse might be a good place, as the train stops there and it should be big enough to offer some options for car rentals. Then rent a car there and tour the areas of France that you want to see by car.

If you haven't been there, you might want to check out the wine country of Alsace, basing your stay around Colmar. Some of the best wine in the world and most beautiful villages in France are in that area (Hunawihr has both). Then drive to the outskirts of Paris and drop off your car.

Posted by
7209 posts

"Cars let you see a lot more than trains..." sorry, I have to laugh whenever I read vague things like that. Cars definitely do let you see more tail lights, traffic jams, road maps, toll booths, dents, wrecks, break-ins...and of course high deductibles, expensive petrol, ZTL fines, exorbitant cross border drop fees, and lots of other things.

I've done my share of driving and training, and Training is definitely for me if at all possible.

Posted by
1443 posts

If all you want to do is go from A to B as efficiently as possible, then the train is the way to go. If you'd like to explore the curious marking on the Michelin map key, or pull over to peek at that market, or stop to see 20 dalmatians put on a clinic at an agility trial, or do any other real exploring, then you are going to need a car. Jane specifically said she and her husband enjoy such serendipitous exploration.

Posted by
15643 posts

Again, how many nights on the road? There are lots of small towns and villages, chateaux and abbeys, and more, everywhere in France. Where you start and end depends a lot on how much time you allocate to the road trip part of your plan. With 3-4 nights, I'd say either Burgundy or Alsace and then fast train to Paris from Dijon or Strasbourg. If you have twice that, see both.

Posted by
884 posts

Thank you all for your help.
I looked at the Mulhouse route and looks like an idea. We have not traveled the Alsace area in France yet and would like to see it.
I have looked at the BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES map of France and would like to get through as many of those as we can to enjoy on our route to Paris if possible.
I appreciate all of the input.

Posted by
4528 posts

Don't bother with a car until you're done in Swizterland. Take the TGV from Lausanne to, perhaps, Dijon and get your car. You can start with the wine district outside Dijon and Beane (Rick covers it quite well).