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Itinerary Insights

Aloha from Honolulu! I'm planning a 2022 multi-gen family trip (with both active older adults and young children in tow), thinking August or early September.

First of all, do you know when we will be able to make bookings at hotels/inns for this timeframe? I guess it depends on the place, but I'm trying to do it asap as I know there will be pent-up demand and even in normal years, I like to book a year in advance for the best accommodations especially.

Below is our basic itinerary, and any insight is welcome, especially around transportation and ease. We are looking to enjoy nature, culture and food/wine. My father-in-law wants to see Lucerne, Zermatt and Grindelwald, so I'm planning with that in mind.
-Fly into Paris, stay 3 nights
-Drive or train (?) to Beaune in Burgandy region, stay 2 nights
-Train to Zermatt via Geneva? Stay 3 nights, possible day-trip to Sion
-Train to Lucerne, stay 4-5 nights, day trip to Grindelwald
-Fly out of Zurich

Posted by
6493 posts

Looking at August 2022, in your case I would try to book around August 2021. Book the flight first and then the lodging.

Posted by
36 posts

Hi,

Due to Covid, I don't know if you'll be able to make any reservations this far out. We're all playing it by ear, including the folks overseas. Whatever you book, make sure you are clear on the cancellation and refund policies/procedures, as well as "CFAR" Insurance (cancel for any reason).

As for Paris, if you like culture, be sure to hit two of, if not all of, the Lourve, the Musee d'Orsay and L'Orangerie art museums. All three are mind blowing, but if I were forced to chose just two, I would go with the latter two as I'm a huge Impressionist fan. While the Lourve is absolutely amazing (and possibly a "must"), there are times I feel it can be too crowded and that the exterior is just as impressive as the interior. Whatever museums you see, make sure you confirm schedules as some are closed Monday and others closed on Tuesday. Buy your tix in ADVANCE as the entrance lines to the Lourve can be outrageously long. There's also a great Picasso museum, a great Rodin museum (just around the corner from the Hospital d' Invalides), the Cluny Museum, the Musee Monmartton Monet and a small, but decent Delacroix museum (French only wall descriptions). There is so much to do and see in Paris, three nights won't be enough to satisfy you. The city and the architecture are museums in and of themselves.

I'm a huge wine fan myself, and if you're planning on being in Beaune for just two nights, you can probably get away with no car. The train from Paris is slightly over 3 hours, so take an early morning train from Gare d' Lyon so you'll have a full afternoon in the vineyards if you choose. If you arrive after twelve noon, by the time you get checked in, you may consider spending two hours at the Hospice de Beaune (the only must tourist attraction, other than the wine/food) and then hitting some wine tasting rooms/cellars in town. Beaune is a beautiful, cozy and very walkable city. And if you and your family are active and enjoy nature, you may want to look into renting bikes for two days and pedaling through the vineyards. You can go south thru Chassagne, Pulginy and Montrachet one day, and north to Aloxe-Corton, Cote d'Nuits, etc, the next day. Plus, you won't have to worry about parking the car. There's a bike rental place not far from the front door of the train station, or you can have your hotel rent them for you (I was last there in 2018). The vineyards are just a ten minute bike ride from downtown and if you check out RS' guide book, or with your concierge, you'll find excellent, easy to read bike maps. The bike trails themselves are easy to follow and well marked, and you can make reservations in advance or just pop into "caves" or vineyards for tastings. Again, check schedules. If you insist on a car rental, there are rental companies in Beaune.

I haven't been to Switzerland, so I can't offer any advice. Best of luck and enjoy!

Posted by
6088 posts

Grindelwald for a week with a day trip or a few days in Lucerne.

Posted by
193 posts

I think that you are short-changing Paris. If you and the others in your party have never been there, I think that you would need 4 nights minimum. Paris was the first "big city" that I saw in Europe and even with going there on three different trips, I still have missed a lot. I've never been to Switzerland, so can't give you an opinion with that. As someone else mentioned, the hotels/inns almost certainly aren't taking reservations this far in advance. In my experience, usually twelve months is the earliest for advance bookings.

Posted by
11890 posts

How many people in all? And how old are the3 small children?

I think 3 nights is enough for Paris, especially with small children. It will give you a taste, and people can return another time if they wish. I see Switzerland as the main focus of this trip, and it is a great destination for multi-generation groups. We took my son’s family, with 6-year-old twin boys, to Switzerland in 2018 and we all loved it. We spent all our Swiss time in small villages (3 nights Bettmeralp and 5 nights in Muerren), and did not stop in Luzern or other cities at all. But that is our style. Maybe you prefer to have more time in a city, . . . Or maybe you should consider 3-4 nights in a village like Muerren (car-free, unlike Grindelwald) and only 2 in Luzern. You can reach the Zurich airport in just over an hour from Luzern, so there is no need to spend a night in Zurich unless you have an early morning flight.

Paris to Beaune would best be done by train, as it sounds like you have more people than will fit in one rental car. And if the children are young, they would need car seats that conform to the French requirements, whatever those are. You will be using trains in Switzerland, so why not start with them right away?

The fastest journey from Beaune to Zermatt takes 5 hours 45 minutes, with changes in Dijon, Basel, Bern, and Visp. There is an alternate route with only 3 changes, but it takes almost an hour longer. It is up to you, but I will say that we have traveled around Switzerland in family groups ranging from 6 to 10 people, taking train journeys that involved 3-5 changes, and have never missed a connection.

I double hotels will be taking reservations for 2022 until sometime this summer, but you could start researching now and build a wish list. But are you sure you want hotels in Switzerland? Apartments or vacation houses (Ferienwohnung in German) are widely available and a better value. Also they offer more room and the ability to make some of your own meals.

When we first started vacationing in Switzerland (20 years ago) the apartments were generally rented out on a weekly basis only, Saturday to Saturday, but that has changed. For our recent trip I found lovely apartments for our 3-night and 5-night stays. And even in 2007 I found a 2-bedroom apartment in a fantastic Zermatt location for our 3-night stay, because we were there before the start of high season (we arrived July and the high season rules and prices began July 5).

As for August versus September, there are trades-offs. You might find shoulder-season pricing and policies in place in September, and perhaps a fall festival to see. But I don’t know for sure, as we have not been in Switzerland in September. We visit the Dolomites in September, and hotel prices there generally drop at the end of August when the kids go back to school.

August will likely be more crowded, and possibly more expensive, but there might be more festivals on offer. We have enjoyed the little Dorffest (village festival) in Muerren on 3 occasions now, and I actually plan our trips around that (first weekend in August). The cow parade is a highlight of Rick’s older TV show on Switzerland (I don’t know if it still appears in his new Swiss Alps show, filmed in 2019).