My wife and I plan to be in Paris and Provence for 2 weeks in June. We would appreciate any suggestions on where to go in Switzerland (our first trip there) by train for 2 days and 1 night, or is that too ambitious for a side trip? We are looking for scenery and culture/museums. Thank you in advance.
Given your itinerary and time constraints you might want to consider the French alps--Chamonix for a real Alpine experience, or Annecy or other town in Savoy region.
June of 2008, Switzerland and Austria are co-hosting the European Soccer Championships. It's the third biggest sporting tournament in the world after the World Cup and the Olympics, thus hotel prices will sky high during June. I would recommend putting off a trip to Switzerland for another time, especially if it would mean you could devote more time for it.
If you are going to be there at the end of June and can do an open-jaw flight where you fly out of Zurich, you might consider trying to be in Lucerne the last weekend in June. The National Jodeler Fest is being held there June 26-29.
This is not just a thing for the tourists. This is the real deal. They have clubs for yodelers, alphorn players and flag-throwers--just like we have sailing clubs or dog clubs that hold regattas or dog shows. The yodel clubs, alphorn clubs and flag-throwing clubs hold these festivals in order to perform for ratings similar to our UIL contests for high school bands, choirs, etc. My family was fortunate enough to be in Meiringen in 2001 when the Bern Canton held their Jodelfest there. I have two distant cousins who belong to jodelklubs and not only got to meet them, but got to see them perform. One of the clubs put out a CD and that is a treasured souvenir of that trip.
Actually with the new high-speed train service from Paris to Switzerland you can reach the "interior" (Interlaken) in only 6.5 hours. But there so much to see and do in the Berner Oberland, 2 days and 1 night will barely scratch the surface.
I stand corrected! I thought it was just in Bern and Zürich. So Geneva isn't a good idea either.
From Paris, you could reach Geneva by TGV in 3.5 hours. This area should not be as affected by the soccer fest. There is lots to explore right there---in addition to Geneva, there are lovely towns along the lake (stay in one like Vevey or Morges). Visit Montreux and walk along the lake to Chateau de Chillon, our favorite castle. This would be a very nice sidetrip from Paris. Or from Provence, for that matter---it is also about 3.5 hours from Aix-en-Provence to Geneva (via Lyon). If you want mountain scenery, take the train up and over the mountains, from Montreux to Gstaad.
Geneva is one of the venues of the tournament, and is just effected by high prices and large crowds as all the other major cities are. Turkey, Czech Republic, and Portugal all have matches there and have very passionate fans who will travel to the area in large numbers. As none of these three teams border Switzerland, these fans can't "commute" in for the matches like Italians, French or Germans can. Thus, they will be staying in the area hotels.