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Paris to Berner Oberland (Muerren): Timing of Train Question

Hello,

I have secured lodging in Muerren for a late July trip for my family of 5. We'll be travelling from Paris.

Now that our dates are set and lodging booked, I'm moving on to transportation that I should book in advance. It looks like people recommend purchasing the Paris to Basel SBB portion of our travel in advance. It sounds like the rest of our travel will be purchased "day of." Please correct me if I'm wrong. I still have to price out whether a rail pass (Half Fare, Berner Oberland, etc) is worth it and which one to purchase if so. I won't ask that question right now, as I know there are loads of forum posts on those.

Based on what I'm seeing online right now, we only have two "direct" option trains from Paris to Basel on the date we want to travel: One leaves at 07:22 a.m. (difficult with teens, but we can do it if we have to) arriving in Basel at 10:30 am. The other leaves at 12:22 pm and is about $200 cheaper (about 35-40 per ticket), but doesn't arrive in Basel until 15:26. There are other non-direct options with one stop, but most of them have only a 10-minute change between trains, and that seems tight. They are also mostly more expensive than the direct ones. 15:26 seems late to arrive in Basel, given that we still have half the journey to go. I looked at Swiss timetables (at least projected for that date), and it looks like if we made a 30-minute connection to Interlaken Ost, the earliest we'd arrive in Muerren is around 19:00. If we miss the 15:56 train, then we're arriving more like 20:00. If we're buying point-to-point tickets, this just makes me slightly nervous.

However, I have no idea how busy these stations or trains get, and maybe we'd be fine on the later itinerary. However, we're travelling in the peak of summer, over a Swiss national holiday (we arrive on July 31, and it seemed like most accommodations were already booked as of 2-3 weeks ago), and I guess my question is: What would you do?

I'm leaning towards early travel and accepting the extra $200 for peace of mind, but maybe the rest of you have insights into Swiss rail travel that I don't.

Posted by
7007 posts

I would definitely save those 200 dollars. 30 minutes is plenty of time to make a connection in Basel, you'll have time to buy snacks even. In July, 7 PM or even 8 is still daylight in Mürren.

Swiss tickets, if you need them (you don't need them with a Swiss Travel Pass), are easily bought on a smartphone (you can do it beforehand), and don't forget the Swiss Family Card if there are under-16s in your party. Swiss tickets (excluding "supersavers") are valid on any train on the chosen route for a given day, so missed connections do not matter.

If they are cheaper, do not shy away from the Paris-Basel trains with a connection in Strasbourg. It takes a few minutes longer but the extra connection is no big deal and it offers more flexibility on timing. Plus, depending on your starting point in Paris, Gare de l'Est (for Strasbourg) could be more convenient than Gare de Lyon.

Posted by
33140 posts

I agree with balso and really suggest using the SBB app. It will make buying tickets on the fly so much easier.

Posted by
20336 posts

The train from Paris will arrive on Track 4, which is the station side track. You will go inside and immediately up the escalator to the cross-over bridge to all the other Tracks, at 7-8 you go down the escalator to Track 8 which is where the train to Interlaken Ost leaves from. Should take about 5 minutes.

This Youtube video shows a quick guide Basel SBB station. Skip the first 2 minutes about all the wonderful shopping and start at 2:14. It will show you walking in from Track 4 and you see the escalator banks in front of you. 2:40 shows the view as you ride the escalator up to the cross-over bridge. 3:06 you will see the sign for Tracks 7&8 and the escalator below the sign.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNBT-9bFKR8

Posted by
1999 posts

There are trains from Paris to Basel every two hours. July is ages away when it comes to train travel. The railways do not expect you to want to book that early. So most of the trains may not yet be loaded in the system yet. (The #1 reason for people from outside of Europe to get confused is trying to book too early. Train travel is not like air travel)

What is the date you are travelling? There should also be a train around 10:20, and that ought to be perfect.

Note that 10 minutes to change trains is generous. From Basel to Mürren you will have several changes that are shorter. Also note that Swiss tickets are flexible. If you miss the 15:56 you just take the 16:28, and you're in Wengen half an hour later.

Posted by
11 posts

I have the same question about best way to get to Paris to Murren. I was looking at either Geneva or Bern train. Looks like Basel is the way to go. Five of us are going on May 28, 2023. I checked high speed trains and there is not a lot of availability. Made me worried. So is train from Paris to Basel a High speed? Thanks in advance for any help!
Cindy Maclean

Posted by
1999 posts

Where are you trying to book? Currently all trains are still bookable on that day. It would be extremely unusual if trains were already sold out. That does not normally happen. I travel that route regularly and have never had an issue getting a ticket even on the day itself.

Best to book this all the way on www.sbb.ch
Let the trip planner figure out the best route for you...

Posted by
2 posts

With teens I would just cross that morning train off the list. Better to arrive later then have hours on a train with grumpy teens. Plus more time to load up at a patisserie for train snacks. I suggest downloading the SBB app, or better yet have a teen do it too. It is very impressive and gives step by step guidance from one train to the next in the station as well as where to stand on the platform. The Swiss system is designed to have short efficient changes between trains and five to ten minutes seems typical!