I will be wrapping up a barge canal trip in Dijon next July and would like to go over to the Bernese Alps afterwards to do some hiking. Was thinking of Murren or Wengen as a base. Is that doable by train from Dijon without too much trouble? Would I be wise to take a couple days, say a night in Basel en route, or do it in one day?
Its a 4 1/2 to 6 hour journey with several connections. Its up to you.
I'd only stop if there was someplace I wanted to see enroute. Colmar is nice, but does not get you very much closer.
To find train connections, use the Bahn website, following Rick's tutorial: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/db_tips.htm Note that under "Destination" there is an option to "Enter stopovers," if you'd like to do that. The Bahn will not sell these tickets or even show prices for them, since they're completely outside Germany. For that, you'll need French or Swiss rail. French rail is http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/; choose France as your ticket collection country. Swiss rail is http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html. Be aware that Swiss rail default prices are with a half-fare card, so you have to go further in the booking to see the real price without the card (of course, if you're going to be in Switzerland for a few days, the half fare card may be a good idea).
Should I take the train to Basel or Zurich then rent a car and drive around the Bernese Alps and central Switzerland a little more? Rather than stay in one spot and hike out daily? Maybe dropping off the car in Zurich and flying home from there. I'll have about a week after the barge tour.
The train service in Switzerland is so good, a car would be an impediment. I only rent a car if its the only way to get somewhere I want to be that has no train or bus service. In Switzerland, that is almost nowhere.
John, I wouldn't bother spending a night en route (unless there's something you want to see), as it's a relatively short trip from Dijon to Interlaken Ost, where you'll connect to the Berner Oberland. In the same situation, I'd use a train departing Dijon Ville at 10:01, arriving Interlaken Ost at 13:28 (time 3H:27M, one change in Basel). When you arrive at Interlaken, you'll transfer to the local train for the short trip to Lauterbrunnen and then either Wengen or Mürren. Depending on which hikes you're planning, you could also stay in Lauterbrunnen as it's a good central location for reaching both sides of the valley. I wouldn't bother renting a car, as it will likely sit gathering dust while you're in the Berner Oberland. The public transportation in Switzerland is excellent. Happy travels!
I would suggest car-free Mürren not Wengen !
Ok, tain it is! Would I be better off to go Dijon-Basel-Interlaken, or Dijon Geneva- Interlaken?
To follow up on the above, be aware that many, if not most, alpine villages are car free, your car simply will gather dust while you pay to both rent and park it and take the required transport. You can park in Grindelwald, but Wengen, Muerren, Gimmelwald and everything above them are forbidden to cars. The Rick Steves Switzerland guidebook has a two page spread showing the transportation and many walking trails in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and above. It is easy and fun. If you drive you can park in a multistory car park across from the station in Lauterbrunnen, or in an open lot below the cablecar in Stechelberg to Gimmelwald, Muerren and Schilthorn. The trains are part of the fun. If you ride several of them, including between Luzern and Interlaken via Brunig, and the train from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen, and up beyond towards Jungfraujoch, you will be on a cog railway where the train climbs hand over hand up and down the mountains; there are cable cars and gondolas with fabulous views.
Nigel, sorry, but I disagree with your choice of words. Only a handful of Swiss alpine villages are car-free. You can count them on your hand, actually. Many have pedestrianized areas, but you can still drive a car. Car-free places like Wengen or Zermatt are far and few.
John, Use whichever route provides the quickest travel times with the fewest changes. The train route I suggested earlier travels via Basel and only has one change, so that's the one I'd recommend. Use the bahn.de or sbb.ch websites to research your rail journeys. I tend to prefer departing after about 10:00, so I have time to enjoy the breakfast that I've paid for. Also, if arriving in the next location too early, the hotel rooms might not be serviced yet. While that's not a huge problem, I'd prefer to go directly to my room instead of storing my kit and then having to wait for a few hours until I can get into my room. Cheers!