Railpass for France & Switzerland

We will be travelling by train for 2 weeks thru France & Switzerland with the following itinerary: -Paris to Beaune -Beaune to Chamonix (with a stopover in Annecy) -Chamonix to Murren
-Murren to Zurich (with a stopover in Luzerne) While in Murren we plan on going to Shilthorn, Grindelwald, and possibly Wengen/Kleine Scheidegg). Comparing individual train tickets and railpasses, it appears that a 4-day France-Switzerland Eurail Pass - 1st Class Saver (2 people) would be the best deal ($376/person) vs a 3-day France 1st Class Saver ($245/person) and a 2-day Swiss 1st Class FlexiPass Off Peak (we are travelling to Murren on Sept 1) ($329/person). Is the 4-day France-Switzerland Pass best once you take into account the trains/cable cars while we are in Murren? Also, is Paris - Beaune the only ticket we need reservations for? Thanks!

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1427 posts

Standard rail advice for anywhere: www.seat61.com
I take the opposite attitude, assuming that point-to-point tickets will usually add up to a lower cost than passes unless the itinerary involves constant rail travel. Also be alert to the changes in French rail policy which have taken that system out of some of the pass schemes.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6890 posts

Rich, I would suggest that $376/person is not all you are going to pay for the places you will be traveling by train or gondola. First, if you are on the TGV from Paris to Dijon to get to Beaune, there will be a 9Euro seat reservation fee for a Eurail pass holder. Also, France limits seats to Eurail passholders so be sure to get your reservations in advance. Second, once in the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland, your Eurail pass decreases in value once past Interlaken Ost. No free transport. Your Eurail pass will only get you a 25% discount on the Jungfraubahn and Schilthornbahn railways. Round trip fares to the Schilthorn from Lauterbrunnen are $105. About $180 to the Jungfraujoch. There's a bunch of $$$ that you need to add on to the cost of your Eurail pass. For point-to-point, I can see fares from Paris to Beaune, Beaune to Annecy and Annecy to Chamonix-Mt. Blanc for about 90Euro. All of this is on the French www.voyages-sncf.com train website. You have to do a bit of homework but it's all there. If you need more assistance, let us know. The Chamonix-Mt. Blanc train station is one of about 4 places outside of Switzerland where you can buy a Swiss Pass or Card. My suggestion is to walk in, buy a Swiss 1/2 fare card for 120CHF or equivalent in Euros. Then, begin buying your Swiss train and gondola tickets using the card. All fares will be 1/2 fare including the trips to the Schilthorn and Jungfrauhjoch

Posted by Rich
7 posts

Thanks for the info Larry. I had forgotten about the Swiss Half-Fare Card when I was looking at point-to-point costs. Now that I have that figured in, I'm going with point-to-point tickets. Now my question is that on the en.voyages-sncf.com site, when I the tickets, I don't have an option for e-tickets. Also, how do I get the reservation for the Paris-Beaune trip? I have also looked at RailEurope and it looks like I can order from there for approx. the same costs. Do you have any experience with this site? It also appears that the Paris-Beaune reservation is included in the booking. Another problem I have is how do I book Chamonix to Murren on Sep 1? Both sites say that it's not an available option. Is it because of the border crossing? Can I just book it once we get to France? Thanks for your help!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6890 posts

Rich, for your Chamonix-Muerren tickets, the easiest thing to do is to buy your tickets when you arrive in Chamonix-Mt. Blanc from Annecy. You are looking at a 4.5-5.0hr train/bus/gondola ride for this journey. 7 transportation changes including the gondola ride up to Grutshalp to get to Muerren. The French will not sell you a ticket that you can print out and neither will the Swiss. Just buy the tickets when you arrive in Chamonix. The trains are all regional-type trains. Note that RailEurope is a ticket broker and not a real train website. They get their information from the French, Swiss and other train systems.