Rick's recent blog post on Finding Back Doors and another on Gimmelwald present truths that we personally experienced over the last few weeks in Austria and Switzerland. It would be great to collect ideas from this community about other examples in which travelers found off-the-path alternatives to dodging the busloads and busy sidewalks of hot European cities!
But I want to make a distinction here about "home base" type places, ones that have quiet and remoteness, but also ready access to the big cities they are near. I will cite an example where we found a "back door place of the 'home base' kind."
We were just in Interlaken, Switzerland, area. Rick recommends places like Gimmelwald as a "back door" alternative. Yet we also wanted easy access to our rental car for excursions away from our "home base," which is not as easy from Gimmelwald. (Truly, that sweet town is best for staying put and soaking up the wonders it provides!)
Our solution? We found Beatenberg. Our lodging had amazing views, and the streets were quiet. Beatenberg is a 10-minute drive up the hillside to the north of crazy-busy Interlaken, and the town mostly faces south with commanding views over the valley in which Interlaken sits, and of the Jungfrau region beyond. We would drive in to see Lauterbrunnen to ride up the Shilthorn, visit Gimmelwald for a couple hours. But each of the three evenings, after adventures out in the region, we retired to our quiet views in Beatenberg.
I wish we had done the same in other cities like Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich! We were in the thick of busy-ness, crowds, and the heat wave of late June, 2019. We were determined to have a good time, and we did, so our memories are positive (Vienna's opera, palaces; Salzburg's fortress; Munich's history). But if we had done in those cities what we did in Interlaken, I think we'd have enjoyed Europe more by the "back door." (You might ask: why didn't we use Hallstatt for our Salzburg visit, as Rick recommends? -- for the same reason we did not use Gimmelwald for the Interlaken region, that Hallstatt is a bit too far to be a "home base" for venturing back-and-forth to see Salzburg).
What are your stories of "home base" type "back door" locations, that allow relative ease-of-access (i.e. far enough away to be out of the crowds, but easy enough to get in to the big city when you want it)? You can write, for example, "we stay in when we want to see ." It will be great to collect the wisdom of the community this way!
What about Paris? (That's where we go next). What's a good "home base?" A Paris suburb? An outskirts town with access to Paris by rail?