We would like to take the heart of France tour and visit either the french alps or the Swiss Alps before or after the tour. Has anyone had any experience doing this. In the Alps we would like to do some hiking and sightseeing. I suspect it would be an easy train ride to Paris from either area.
thank you for your advice, I will have to check that out
Check out Europe through the Backdoor for info about Chamonix and the gondola to Helbronner, Italy over the Mont Blanc glacier. A great way to spend the day!
Also the hike across the valley on the Balcon Sud is awesome.
You can touch Switzerland by riding the chair up and a short hike to a refugia, we took the bus to Le Tour, the last ski area at the end of the valley.
Get the Chamonix Super pass and enjoy the trip!
It is a 5.5 to 6.5 hour train ride from either Chamonix or Lauterbrunnen ( in the Berner Oberland) into Paris, so from that perspective there is no difference. There are Swiss Alp hiking areas that may be closer or further; I did not check those.
We have spent a week hiking in Chamonix and many weeks hiking in various parts of Switzerland. It's all good. Would your rather speak French or German? Eat French food or Swiss? Hike with goats or cows?
One thing to consider is that Chamonix is a good-sized city ( we stayed in nearby Les Prax de Chamonix for that reason). Switzerland offers more in the way of picturesque villages scattered on the mountainside, some with stunning views of the peaks, if that is your vision. Chamonix, on the other hand, has lots of shops and restaurants, an aquatic center for swimmers, and nice mountain huts for lunch stops. Including a lovely flower-bedecked chalet on the Petite Balcon Sud where we had a memorable lunch in the company of hummingbird hawk moths which were working the flowers just a foot or two away.
Chamonixnis probably less expensive, if that is a consideration.
I was coming to ask on behalf of a friend, so thank you, Jim for your question.
May I ask a quick question of Lola?
I visited Kandersteg recently, and was recommending to my friend, but she is interested in Chamonix also. Lola, how does it compare? Are there small villages around, for example like Wengen or Murren? Friend wants to rent an apartment.
Jim, I would be interested in where you choose in the end.
I would go with Switzerland because, without a car, the rail network is much denser in the Swiss alps. You can be in Paris in 4 hours 45 minutes from Luzern or Martigny, and a bit more than 5 hours from Interlaken. Either way, it easier to move around in Switzerland.
A few of the more convenient train departures per day from Paris to Chamonix take 5.5 - 7 hours with 2 connections in France. (Construction makes this route less direct than it used to be.) Paris to Lauterbrunnen is more often 5.5-6 hours, also with 2 connections.