Train from Vienna to Paris

My wife and I are planning a train trip from Vienna to Paris in mid-May and we have a number of questions about doing so. We are choosing between the following two routes: (A) ICE train #28 from Vienna to Frankfurt and then transfer to TGV train #9552 to Paris; and (B) Railjet #162 from Vienna to Zurich and then change to TGV #9230 to Paris. Both of these routes start in the morning and will be mostly daylight. 1. We understand that the Zurich route is much more scenic, especially through western Austria. What's your opinion of that, please? 2. The ion of trains through Zurich has a 7 minute change time there. It is on the DB site. I'm assuming that this is not a realistic change time for two seniors – even though we get around quite well. True? If so, should we just leave Vienna 2 hours earlier and accept a 2 hour 7 minute layover in Zurich? If we made a reservation on the earlier train (with the 2+ hour layover) but arrived in time for a 7 minute change to the Zurich-Paris train, is there much chance of being able to take it and get to Paris earlier? Or is the reservation simply not acceptable for any other train? 3. I gather from this Helpline that we will not be able to pay for the TGV leg on the DB site or the OBB site. Am I correct? If so, can/should we buy the reservations from the TGV site and print them out before leaving for Europe? Thank you

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1961 posts

In most cases, I'd suggest you fly to Paris on a budget European air carrier, but none are running Vienna-Paris. Your trip is almost 800 miles. Have you considered breaking your trip up and spending the night somewhere in the middle of your odyssey? You don't want to cut transfers down to a few minutes in a train station. And Western Austria has breathtaking scenery.

Posted by Nick
Budapest
18 posts

From my experience ICE trains are much more comfortable for long journeys (if compared with Railjet), although agree that route through western Austria is marvelous and obviously wins in comparison with the one via Germany Regarding 7 minute change in Zurich - imho, too risky, especially when you don't have a through ticket guaranteeing the change. The thing with discounted tickets (assume you intend to buy those) is that they issued for specific train and specific date, so you aren't able to use them for any other train. And even with standard full ticket you need a compulsory reservation for TGV trains to France (whether it will be the one from Zurich or Frankfurt), so I'm afraid trick with boarding earlier train won't work in any case You can buy tickets for TGV trains either from http://tgv-europe.com, DB website (Munich or Frankfurt to Paris) or Swiss rail website (Zurich to Paris)

Posted by George
Canada
822 posts

Bets, the City Night Line runs out of Munich to Paris - so they'd have to RailJet from Vienna to Munich. I didn't check on the DB website but I would suspect all the good sleeper deals are long gone for May. Without the CNL, it makes for quite the long trip. I'm with Bets - check into Air Berlin fares!

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

If you choose to go by train, I suggest that you take RJ 160 from Vienna to Zuerich, departing at 07:36. During your long layover stretch your legs by exploring the area around the train station on foot. Take TGV 9230 to Paris, departing at 17:27. If you book now on the Austrian Rail site you may stlll be able to get a SparSchiene discount fare as low as €39 for Vienna-Zurich. If you book now on the Swiss Rail site, you still may be able to get a discount fare as low as 50 CHF for Zurich-Paris.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2693 posts

Hi, I've done this route a number of times, in both directions and once by night. You can tailor your route. All of them take pretty much the whole day on the train and involve an early dep; it's a matter of timing as to which train you ride. The following are day suggestions. The most direct: 1. Wien Westbahnhof-Frankfurt Hbf on the ICE that gets you in at noon so that you change to the ICE dep 1301 to Paris Est. 2. Wien Westbahnhof-Munich Hbf by Railjet, Take ICE direct to Frankfurt Hbf., then the TGV to Paris Est. arr. ca 2100. Each of the two suggestions gives you ample to transfer and some lunch time at the station. No need at all to go through Zürich, unless you want to. I wouldn't.

Posted by Steve
Seattle
3 posts

I want to thank you all for your many helpful replies. We are train lovers and view lovers, so we think we'll go through Zurich, but with a 2+ hour layover. We're looking forward to it. We've survived the Amtrak Coast Starlight from CA Central Coast to Seattle. How bad can this trip be in one day?

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

I, too, am a train lover. I've survived a 36-hour trip on Amtrak in a reclining seat between Minneapolis and Wenatchee. Personally, I would pick the most scenic route and sit back and enjoy the all-day ride.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2693 posts

Hi, With this 2 hour layover in Zürich, when do you arrive in Paris?

Posted by Steve
Seattle
3 posts

We leave Vienna at 7:36 AM and arrive at Gare de Lyon at 9:37 PM. At the risk of restarting the Air vs. Train debate, I will say that the 2nd class non-refundable train fares were surprisingly low. In the same range as Air Berlin with a 6+ hour stopover in Berlin and much cheaper than the flights with plane changes in Oslo,Dublin, or Heathrow. We are retired and time spent having interesting experiences is a plus.