My 3 country rail pass won't include France, so is there a good bus connection from Heidelburg to Strasbourg, and return?
Your railpass isn't valid there - but you can still take the train. Regular fare is around 90€ RT on the fast trains. If you have a railpass day in Germany to use, then you need only pay for the French portion of your travel. You can use any train you like to reach Offenburg, then change to a regional train for Strasbourg, and buy only the 6-Euro Europass 24 hr mini ticket (see below) for the French part - good there and back. If you schedule yourself on the fast trains where you change in Karlsruhe and go directly through France to Strasbourg, you can buy a regular ticket in H'berg - but it won't be quite so cheap. So at the German railway site below, schedule a stopover in Offenburg for the best price. If you need a ticket for H'berg - Strasbourg - H'berg, then it can cost you just 27€ round trip if you do it right... The Baden-Württemberg Single ticket is a daypass that's valid on the regional trains between Heidelberg and Kehl, the border town; get one at a DB ticket machine in H'berg. The Europass 24 hr. mini ticket is 6€ - it gets you from Kehl to Strasbourg and back. You can't get this ticket in H'berg, I don't think, but you should be able to buy one from a ticket machine when you change trains in Offenburg, which you must do if taking the regional trains, if there's enough time; otherwise, you can probably buy it on the train to Kehl, which continues on to Strasbourg, from a conductor. http://www.ortenaulinie.de/tgo_html/main.php4?bereich=36 (in German) You'll need to ride the regional trains all the way for this price. Find them at http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query2.exe/en by clicking on "only local transport" under "means of transport."
BTW, Heidelberg has no "u" when you enter it at the scheduling site I gave you.
Thanks for your help.
Every express train (TGV, ICE, etc) that goes from Germany across the river to Strasbourg must go through Offenburg (actually, they could take a short cut at Appenweier, but, according to the schedule board for 8 AM to 8 PM, none of them stop in Offenburg.
With a pass that includes Germany, you can go all the way to Kehl, right on the river across from Strasbourg. The fare from there to Strasbourg is €3,90. But you should buy your ticket from Kehl to Strasbourg at the counter in Heidelberg so you don't have to get off in Kehl and wait an hour +/- for the next train to Strasbourg. I would advise the same instead of buying your ticket (€7,90) in Offenburg as you might not have time between trains. And if you are on an express train from Heidelberg to Offenburg that goes on to Strasbourg, get off in Offenburg. The express trains don't usually stop in Kehl and I don't think you can buy an express train ticket from Kehl to Strasbourg because the express train doesn't stop there.
"I don't think you can buy an express train ticket from Kehl to Strasbourg because the express train doesn't stop there." I recall being in this situation once on my way into the Netherlands. As I recall, IF YOU HAVE A RAILPASS that covers you to the border, then it's good to the border, and DB will not charge you extra for travel between the last stop in Germany and the border. They will sell you a ticket from the border onward to Strasbourg, no matter the train you're on, no matter where it stops or doesn't stop prior to the border. The ticket will specify the "station" name "Kehl (Gr.)", or if you pass through Karlsruhe, "Berg (Gr.)" the first name being the closest town, the Gr. being the German abbreviation for "border". I suspect that in the case of Offenburg, the price for any IC, ICE, EC (express) train from Kehl Gr. onward will be more than the Europass mini (6€ round trip) or the regional train fare between Kehl Gr. and Strasbourg. But if you want to get there on the fastest trains, it'll cost a little more. In the case of the Karlsruhe routing, because of the distance you will travel through France, you'll pay quite a bit for Berg Gr. onward. But you don't have to pay for Karlsruhe to Berg Gr. also just because your train doesn't stop there. For an Offenburg routing, I don't think that there are any express trains from the north that do not stop in Offenburg, so you will have to get off there if you route yourself that way in any case. Your best and maybe only bet from there on is a regional train. But if there are TGV or IC etc. trains from Offenburg to Strasbourg, and if you use one, you'll pay an express train fare from Kehl Gr. onward as the Europass mini fare doesn't apply on those trains.
All trains from Karlsruhe to Strasbourg branch at Appenweier from the Rheintalbahn onto the Appenweier–Strasbourg railway; there is no other way to cross the Rhine until Freiburg. If they continued on to Offenburg they would need to reverse direction, which they do not do. Changing from ICE to OSB at Offenburg is a good strategy if the Kehl-Strasbourg ticket can be bought in advance. If you need to buy it in Offenburg, though, it will be difficult to do in 7 minutes and you will need to wait 30 minutes (usually) for the next train. At that point it would actually be faster to take a RE or IRE from Karlsruhe to Appenweier and buy the Kehl-Strasbourg ticket there during a 20 minute transfer.
well if you don't care about a bit of hectic travel through bus, this bus service sets apart the pricing compared to any other service out there. 1. http://www.deinbus.de/ Also following throughout germany is very useful: 2. mitfahrgelegenheit.de