Train Travel Between Paris & Rome

We will be on a two-week trip to Europe in April 2013. We would like to take a scenic train from Paris to Basel, then Basel to Venice (changing trains in Zurich and Milan) and then winding our way down to Rome after staying in Venice and Florence for a few nights. It looks like we will have at least 15 to 20 minutes to change trains in Basel, Zurich and Milan. Is this enough time? We plan on going from Paris to Venice in the same day and just want to enjoy the scenery from the train. Any tips or recommendations for this to all go smoothly? I do note that it's recommended to go into Venice's Saint Lucia station. Thanks so much!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10868 posts

Twenty min is a long time for a change of train. The run from Zurich and Milan is very nice. From Milan on it is most farm country. Paris to Venice in one day is long way. Are you sure about the time? You would be hard pressed to get from Milan to Venice in one day.

Posted by Cynthia
Monterey, CA, USA
3 posts

I checked time tables for RailEurope and calculated that it would be at least 13 hours from Paris to Venice (departing Paris at 06:15 and arriving in Venice at 19:40, changing trains in Switzerland. We figured that while the day would be long, it would be nice to just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1585 posts

There are better timetables to use than RailEurope, such as Bahn.de (which has comprehensive schedules) or th eSwiss site rail.ch (same). the actual time on a train i s about 10 hours, but there are some longer change times, bringing the overall time to around 12 hours. Are you sure you want to spend that much time on a train in one day? You won't be looking at the scenery after the first few hours, I'll bet. If I were doing this I would get off the train somewhere in Switzerland along the way, maybe Lugano, to spend the night, instead of going all th eway to Venice and arriving there in the dark, tired from the journey.

Posted by Cynthia
Monterey, CA, USA
3 posts

Sasha: Thanks for the other time table site. I will definitely check that out. Due to time restrictions, we are unable to stay the night in Switzerland, hence, using the entire day to get to Venice. If I'm not oooohing and aaahhhing about what I'm seeing out the window, I'll either be sleeping, running the aisles or pestering my oh-so-patient husband. :)

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1585 posts

OK, at leaast on the train you can get up and walk around! Bring some sandwiches, etc. in case the food on the train isn't what you want to eat.

Posted by Tania
Halton, Ontario, Canada
105 posts

Would a night train (Couchette) through Thello.com be a better use of your time from Paris to Milan direct or Paris to Venice (next stop), rather than waisting an entire day that you could use better by enjoying your trip? Just a thought.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8742 posts

If the train trip is turning from watching scenery to "I'll either be sleeping, running the aisles or pestering my oh-so-patient husband" why not find ways to speed up the ordeal a little? The Paris - Basel - Zurich - Gotthard - Milano - Venezia route doesn't usually involve a change of trains in Basel. The TGV goes all the way to Zurich where the change to the EC train through to Milano is made, ready for the change in Milano. But to really pick up the speed go via Lyon and Turin. The 07:49 Paris Gare de Lyon to Milano Porta Garibaldi (careful) only takes 7 hours to Milano. Even with changing stations in Milano that is considerably faster than the other route.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

I have driven from north of Venice to Paris non-stop in one day, and it's quite a haul. Paris-Venice may be as far as 800 miles. Have you considered flying one of the budget air carriers? Flights are so cheap, and you'll not have to spend a whole day resting after a hard train trip.
See EasyJet.com for how inexpensive the flights really are.