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Need help in planning Paris and Switzerland trip

Hi,

We will be flying from Los Angeles to India in mid October. We are planning to take a long stopover in Paris/Switzerland. We are in very initial phase of planning. Our rough plan can be like this :

---------First approach-------------

9-Oct : Fly from Los Angeles

10-Oct: Reach Paris at 10:40 AM

11-Oct: Stay in Paris

12-Oct: Leave towards Switzerland with morning train.

13-Oct:
14-Oct:
15-Oct: Take flight to India in morning (from Paris/Zurich/Basel).
--------Second approach-------------
9-Oct : Fly from Los Angeles
10-Oct: Reach Paris at 10:40 AM
11-Oct: After spending time in Paris till 4 PM, leave towards Switzerland with evening train
12-Oct:

13-Oct:

14-Oct:

15-Oct: Take flight to India in morning (from Paris/Zurich/Basel).

Now confusion starts here.

1- We will have 3 big bags (23 kg each)+2 hand baggage. Though there is no restriction on baggage weight and numbers in trains (TGV), but will it be inconvenient to carry so much luggage with us ? If that would be a big problem, I will return to Paris on 14th night and pick luggage from storage.

2- If carrying luggage is ok, I have option to fly back from Zurich or Basel.

3- We are more of nature lovers, and also aware that we have less time. Above plan gives me one and half day for Paris/around and two & half day for Switzerland. I have not booked anything yet, so I am completely flexible in changing places. Should I adjust it with better sequence/break-ups ?

4- How scenic will be train journey between Paris and Switzerland (any base city) ? If I pick above mentioned second approach, will I miss lot of scenic train journey in evening/dark ?

I am good driver with International driving license, so if driving some part of trip will give me better shape, I am ok with that approach as well.
Please suggest and help me to narrow down my confusions.

Regards

Posted by
8889 posts

There are no flights from Basel to India, so you must fly back from Zürich, Paris or Basel. Your choice will also depend on cost. Some airports offer much cheaper flights than others. You need to start researching this.

Train is the way to go from Paris to Switzerland. 300 Km/Hr, there is no way you can drive that fast. The scenery is typical French rural, green, pleasant but not spectacular; the spectacular comes when you reach the Alps, the last ½ to 1 hour of the journey.

1½ days is too short for Paris, but if that is all you have available, so be it.

1 - You don't say how many of you there are. One "big bag" and possibly one piece of hand luggage per person should be OK, but no more.

You now have to decide where to stay in Switzerland. Everybody on this site has their own favourites. For shear "wow" factor in the short time you have, I vote one of the villages past Interlaken in the Berner Oberland, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Mürren. These are all accessible by train, and you can get by train back to either Zürich or Geneva airports on the last day.

If there is any way you can squeeze some more days for this trip, do so.

Posted by
42 posts

I am aware that we have very limited time to see places in both of these areas. Since, we are more into natural/scenic places, so we thought if we can squeeze Paris part a bit and give little more time to Switzerland.
Please let me know, if you need more details from my side.

Posted by
1780 posts

I think you need to choose one or the other. There's nothing "natural" about Paris but the French countryside (e.g., around Dijon and Beaune) is beautiful wine country. But if you want Alps, nothing beats Switzerland. Save Paris for another time, immediately hop a TGV to Zurich or Lausaunne.

Posted by
42 posts

I checked flights and I can see flight from Zurich/Basel/Paris/Geneva to India (by British Airways). Cost-wise, Paris is $100 cheaper than flights from Zurich or Basel.
We are two people. If one piece of luggage per person is allowed on train, then it may be a issue for us. In that case, I need to pick Paris only for next lag of flight.
For this trip, Paris can be considered as a quick stopover. I understand that Paris is not natural, but we would like to see few iconic places. May be we can see something post noon on first day and few places till next day evening (If I pick second approach).
For our interest - Just for comparison, we love national parks in US, visited Banff and Jasper a lot, photogenic places. This can give some idea, what we like.

Posted by
8889 posts

Abhishek,
There are no flights from Basel to India. If British Airways is showing a flight, it is a connection via Zürich. If "Paris is $100 cheaper than flights from Zurich", that just cancels out the cost of getting a train back to Paris. It is simpler just to take a train direct to Zürich airport and fly from there.

You can take as much luggage as you like on a train, but you have to carry it yourself through the station, onto the train and off again at the other end, and carry it from one train to another when you change trains. See this page for more information about luggage on trains.
"3 big bags (23 kg each)+2 hand baggage" is not really manageable by 2 people. Try to cut down your luggage, or send it ahead direct from Los Angeles to India, and only take to Europe what you need for the week.

Posted by
42 posts

I might have not mentioned it clearly about flight fares. Here it is -
Los Angeles to Paris & Paris to Bangalore - $1150
Los Angeles to Paris & Basel to Bangalore - $1253
Los Angeles to Paris & Zurich to Bangalore - $1253
Los Angeles to Zurich & Zurich to Bangalore - $1384

I can see flight depart from Basel on kayak.com and it shows :-
11:55a Thu, Oct 15 BSL Basel, Switzerland

12:35p Thu, Oct 15 LHR London, ENG, United Kingdom
And then next lag is to Bangalore, IN

Posted by
42 posts

I did some more reading and I come up with below plan. I am considering Paris as a quick trip to see main spots only, which is ok for me. Please review this and help me further on this. How should I plan Switzerland part ? Where should I base myself for 3 nights ? Where should I look hotel in Paris ? May be near to airport ?

9-Oct : Fly from Los Angeles

10-Oct: Reach Paris at 10:40 AM. Same day leave for Switzerland in noon or evening. Night stay at hotel in Switzerland.

11-Oct: Switzerland

12-Oct: Switzerland

13-Oct: Switzerland and leave for Paris in evening. Night stay at hotel in Paris.

14-Oct: Full day in Paris. Night stay at hotel in Paris.

15-Oct: Take flight to India in morning from Paris.

Posted by
703 posts

I realise that you would like to visit Switzerland, but is there any particular reason why ? we have been in Switzerland both last year and now again this year, visiting the alps and driving around , we have also done the same in the French, German and Austrian alps and all are spectacular. We loved Switzerland , but it is very expensive. and to be honest, when you are driving around through some of the small back roads, visiting small towns and visiting the alps, glaciers etc, as a tourist from outside Europe they all offer very similar experiences.

Posted by
42 posts

glennlorrainer, I had 8 hours stopover at Paris, which extended to few days so that I can visit these places. Another visit may not be possible for me, so I thought of covering most of it.
Why I want to visit Paris - Because of amazing monuments, architecture and few castles (out of all spread among France). We like architecture, but up to some extent. We are more into non-man-made sceneries. That was the reason I gave less time to Paris.
Why I want to visit Switzerland - Because we love nature, amazing sceneries, picturesque and photographic places.
Please let me know, if I miss to mention anything from my side, which will be helpful to decide places.
I also read few suggestion to visit South of France. But I am still confused on that.

Posted by
433 posts

I think it is brilliant to extend a stop over to see iconic sites in Europe.

In Paris, you could stay at the Hotel du Quai Voltaire, across the river from the Louvre. http://www.quaivoltaire.fr

For Switzerland, Muren or Grindelwald would make a great base for a few nights. You can take a train to The Top of Europe. Go early and spend the day!
http://www.jungfrau.ch/en/tourism/destinations/jungfraujoch-top-of-europe/experiences/

Enjoy the trip!

Posted by
42 posts

Hi again,

I read more posts and about places and tried to prepare rough plan. I know, still there will be scope of improvement. Please review this and add/remove or change sequence on this.

10-Oct: Paris to Lauterbrunnen for night stay.

11-Oct: Trummelbach Falls, Lake Lucerne. Will I have little time to give Weggis, Vitznau, Kastanienbaum and Engelberg before returning to base (Lauterbrunnen) in evening ?

12-Oct: Take the train up to Wengen, walk around, ride the cable car up (straight up) to Manninchen, walk trail to Kleine Scheidegg. Then take the train down to Grindelwald and return to Lauterbrunnen by evening. Any suggestion on this day ?

13-Oct: I can see three options on my last day

a) Leave hotel, Lake Thun, Spiez, Bank of the Rhine, Marktplatz, Basel. Later leave for Paris in evening.

b) Leave early from hotel. I have been reading that if I see Jungfrau, I do not need to see any other mountain. But I am little confused, if it is worth to pay that much to see Jungfrau or should I just see Mt.Titlis or other one. If weather is clear and it is worth, I can go and come back from Mt.Jungfrau and then leave to Paris in evening.

c) Leave early from hotel. Leave for Montreux/Lausanne. Spend some time till evening and then leave for Paris.