We are planning a trip to France and Switzerland and plan to visit few cities using the train. We were wondering what are our options for getting to the hotels from the train station? Taxi? If so how do they charge? I am not sure if it is worth renting the car for a day or two we might be at a given city. Thanks
What cities or towns are we talking about? If your hotel is near a bus, tram or underground station why not take public transport? In other places or if your accommodation is not located conveniently a taxi might do the trick. In Europe you only need to rent a car if you need it for a day trip into the country or any place that's not accessible by train... Taxis charge a base fee (usually around USD 3) plus a couple of cents per km and minute. That's very different from place to place. Of course a taxi ride in Zürich can end up costing more than the daily rate of a rental car... But driver and gas would be included ;-)
When we travel by train we look for an Ibis hotel near the train station. If there is one it is usually close enough to the station to make walking an option. You will have to do an internet search to find Ibis hotels.
Jay,, its impossible to answer this question without more infor. I have easily walked to train stations, or used public transport to get to them. Train stations, unless airports are usually in the city , so you have alot of options. Which cities . Renting a car for city sightseeing is a complete waste of money and time, you will spend more of both of those dealing with parking then makes it worth it.
Thanks for the replies and suggestion on Ibis hotel. I will look into it. We are planning to visit Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Lyon and Nice. We are open to suggestions, but this is our initial thinking. Does this info help?
All those cities have dense and efficient public transport systems, at least in the central area. Can't give any recommendations for travel unless you mention a specific hotel. (The only complication is that Paris has several major city-centre stations serving different parts of the country, and Lyon has two. If you're looking for a hotel near the station make sure you know which station you'll be using.)
You've gotten some good advice. Last May, we went to several countries and traveled by train. I got reservations at hotels near the train stations and wrote each address on a page of my small notebook. When I got to the train station, I just handed the note to the taxi driver. At Milan, he looked at the address and said "walk". The hotel was two blocks away.
Apart from Zurich, where the train station is well-located, we prefer not to book a hotel close to the train station; often it is not the best part of the city. We take a cab from the station to the hotel, usually for 10 euros or less. Then we walk everywhere from there.
I strongly recommend you look at (or even, gasp, buy) the Rick Steves books for France and Switzerland. He addresses the issue of getting from the train station to hotels in each city, in very good detail. As others have said, it depends on: 1. How far your hotel is from the station (and as previously said, you don't always want to be right at the station). 2. How many of you there are. Cabs charge per car rather than per person, so for several people they are not so much more expensive than mass transit. I usually travel alone, so the price difference is more significant. 3. How heavily laden you are. With large or heavy bags, or with children, or with people who have any mobility impairment, a cab becomes much more worthwhile. 4. How complex the non-taxi option is. If you have to take a metro then a tram, for example, you may prefer a cab. 5. Personal preference. I like to avoid cabs whenever possible; others wouldn't consider any other way.
6. Comfort. Many people prefer to take a cab when arriving in a new city, when they don't know where they're going. Upon departure, when they have the "lay of the land," mass transit is much easier. continued...
As for how cabs charge, it's slightly different in each city. But they have a "drop charge" (the amount that the meter starts with), then charge a certain amount per fraction of a kilometer. There's usually a charge for each minute spent not moving. They often have charges for each item placed in the trunk. The charges are usually outlined on a placard in the taxi. There can also be a surcharge for a taxi picked up at a train station or airport. Finally, in France (I've never been to Switzerland), if you telephone for a taxi, the meter starts when the driver gets your call. And in France, you can't hail a cab on the street; you either call for one, or go to a taxi rank. There's a reliable taxi rank outside each train station. If you're taking a taxi, have your hotel name, address, and phone number written down to show the driver. They may not understand your pronunciation, or may have to call the hotel to get specific directions. I've also found it helpful to have printed out the map from the hotel's website. In large cities, the cabbies can't know the locations of all the hotels. For the cities you've mentioned, YOU DO NOT WANT TO RENT A CAR! Is that clear? Of course, if you're going outside the cities, that's different, but if you think cab fares are high, wait till you see what parking in cities costs. That's not to mention the traffic hassles. They all have extensive mass transit and are also walkable in the centers (again, I've only been to Paris, Nice, and Lyon).
Jay, I find Taxi's to be a good option for getting from the station to the Hotel. I normally use a Taxi when first arriving in a new city, as I'm hauling my gear and also not familiar with the location. Once I "learn the layout", I often walk back to the station when I'm leaving. The majority of the Taxi's in France and Switzerland will likely be metered, so that's how they charge. There may be surcharges if you have lots of luggage, or if you use their service at night (ie: the fares will be in a different rate group). I'd suggest having a small piece of paper with the name and address of your Hotel written on it (preferably written the same way the Hotel shows on their website). I've found that not all of the Taxi Drivers are able to function in English, so that should avoid any confusion. NO, it's not worth it to rent a car in those circumstances!!! Happy travels!
I agree with the comments about walking or taking public transportation from the train stations in those cities, with one caveat. If it's Paris and you have heavy baggage, the Metro can be a problem, especially if you have to transfer. We recently did that, and sometimes the transfer seemed like we walked the entire city, with numerous stairs up and down.
When we have stayed twice in Paris, the hotel arranged for a particular taxi to meet us at the train station/airport. We were told ahead of time by the hotel (Le Littre) what the charge would be. There were no surprises at either end. We paid the driver directly. He met us right after we picked up our luggage. He had us follow him to his car, which was a short distance. He took care of the luggage. We always try to have our particular hotel make the taxi or shuttle arrangements.