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We are leaving for Europe next week. Currently our plan is to go from Paris to Switzerland but I'm not sure where to go in Switzerland? We will be going to Brussels from Switz. We will be there for 3 days and 2 nights. We are thinking of going to Geneva. Does anyone have any suggestions? Should we skip Geneva and go some place else? If Geneva, then, what are some good hotels and things to do. Thanks a lot for your suggestions and help!!

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    Molly,
    First, I apologize for second-guessing your itinerary, but I wonder why you are travelling south approx. 300 miles for a few days and then moving north approx. 350 miles to continue your journey? Why not go Paris-Brussels-Switzerland, and if that is the end of your trip, fly out of Zurich.

    Anyway, Lake Geneva is MY favorite part of Switzerland, but many other folks here find it underwhelming. I do admit that the area does not resemble the typical picturesque village we think of as Swiss. For that, you would be better off in Luzern (if you prefer cities) or Wengen, Grindelwald, or Muerren (if you prefer to be in the mountains). You can get a great overview of these destinations doing a text search here or going to www.twenj.com and surfing around in the Switzerland pages. You can also go to www.lucerne.org, www.lakelucerne.ch, www.wengen.com, www.grindelwald.ch, or www.muerren.ch. You can also check out www.rail.ch (click on "Travel/Timetables" for rail schedules for your trip.

    OK, but if you decide to go to Lake Geneva, stay in one of the smaller cities around the lake -- unless you just like big cities. I love Montreux. Here are a few ideas of what I enjoy there:

    Spend a morning walking along the 11km lakeside promenade from Clarins to Villeneuve, passing the Chateau Chillon along the way; there are plenty of cafes to stop and have a coffee & snack along the way to replenish your strength. Top it off with a wonderful pizza & beer lunch at a lakeside café in Villeneuve, then take the ferry back to Montreux (I think the ferry stops in late Sep/Oct).

    Spend the morning in Vevey hunting down the antiques shops in the old town. Then have lunch at the Hostellerie de Geneve on the Pl. Marche (reviewed -- sort of-- in NY Times Travel section. Go to www.nytimes.com, then to the archives of "What's Doing," then find "What's Doing in Vevey" from summer '99).

    Take the train from Vevey to Puidoux/Chexbres, then spend a morning walking the vineyards down to the lake, hitting Rivaz & St. Saphorin. For lunch, find the Auberge du Rivaz with a terrace lake view or see if any of the cellars are having a cheese/wine tasting.

    Cully (esp. the Auberge du Raisin) and Lutry's well-posted tour of ancient sites are worth a trip as well.

    Spend a day in the mountains, taking the train to the resort of Gstaad. On the way back, stop at Chateaux d'Oex, where the only successful round-the-world-by-hot-air-balloon trip was launched. Or stop at Glion for lunch at the Hotel Victoria with its panoramic views of the lake; then walk the rest of the way down to Montreux on a stair-step path through the forest (or take the train or the funicular to Territet).

    Spend an afternoon in the medieval village of Gruyeres, making sure to sample the berries in creme-double.

    Spend an afteroon in Nyon at the Roman museum and the Caesar's columns nearby.

    Spend a morning walking up to Montreux's old city & the museum & the old church. Fantastic views from the old church (can't remember the name -- but it's prominent in the old city). Have lunch at the restaurant at the museum.

    Here are the websites:
    www.montreux.ch (find their picture gallery)
    www.vevey.ch
    www.lake-geneva-region.ch
    www.gruyeres.ch
    www.nyon.ch
    www. lutry.ch
    www.concierge.com (type in "Switzerland" as a
    destination, then go to "Lausanne & the Alps").
    www.myswitzerland.com

    Have fun researching!

    s

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    Good evening, Molly My choice would
    1st Luzern and 2nd the Berneroberland if
    I had three days to spend in CH.
    If you like the mountains, these are
    two good places to visit.
    Richard of LaGrange Park,Il..

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    We were just in Paris and took the TGV to Lasaunne, stayed 1 night in Montreux(at the Hotel Eden au Lac - try someplace else), then took the Panoramic train to Lucerne via Interlaken. Stayed 3 nights in Lucerne, but you could do it in 2. The Panoramic train was a blast - I'll bet you could take it from Montreux to Gstaad, and return later in the day. Montreux and Lausanne are pretty dreary at this time of year - you may not like them. Lucerne is more of a sure thing - it's a beautiful, approachable town with enough to keep you interested for 3 days. It's a bit of a hike from Paris,however.

    Anyway, if you go to Montreux, there's great, reasonable place for dinner called the ... I can't remember. The back room is an old wine cellar - it doesn't look like much from the street. it's at the corner of Rue du Marche & Rue Industrialle(sp?). Great fun, mostly local(at least at this time of year). BTW the entrecote of cheval is a horse steak). The Castle de Chillon is impressive and worthwhile. We walked down to it, ate at a good enough cafe across the road from it, and took the bus back in. I wouldn't count on too many lakefront cafes being open just yet.

    We enjoyed Lucerne more, stayed at Hotel Des Balances, a nice, clean, friendly hotel(highly recommended by some people on this site). The rooms are a shade sterile but I think that's swiss thing. It's got a nice formal restaurant and a very nice breakfast buffet(except for the O.J). It's also perfectly located.

    Lucerne has fun shopping and is a great "walking about" town. We were moved by the Lion Monument more than we thought we'd be(read the story behind it before you see it). The transportation museum would be fantastic for boys or train buffs. The Swiss House restaurant we felt was a bit too much - too touristy, too expensive, and wow, they use a LOT of butter in the Weinershnitzel(They cook it at the table - I'll guess it's about a pound of butter per serving). They nail you on the wine. I'd go to another one of the good restaurants in town instead. There are 2 nice italian restaurants across the street from each other right in the middle of things - we ate at each for lunch.
    The swans are neat, and at least one of the old towers was open when we went. We had unusually miserable weather even for Switzerland in April, so we didn't make it up to the top of Mt. Riga or Pilatus.

    Make sure you don't spend your whole vacation getting from one place to the next. I think it's a bit more rewarding to be mildly immersed in a place. Oh, and I'm going to disagree with just about everyone here and say that the first class train tickets are worth it, especially after being folded up in United Airlines on the way over. More importantly, if you're going to be spending a fair amount of time traveling you may as well be happy instead of content. It's nicer, cleaner, quieter, emptier.

    Last thing: the TGV has pretty Amtrak-ish food. Buy a great sandwich and a bottle of wine(swiss army knife required!) and water for the trip. Much pleasanter than waiting in the galley, for the microwave to catch up to the orders.

    Last Last thing: really, really try to get at least one leg of your swiss train trip on one of the scenic trains. There are a few different ones and they are just unimaginably spectacular.

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