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5 or 7 day train passes for Fr. Switz. and It.

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Apr 16th, 2013, 05:58 PM
  #1
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5 or 7 day train passes for Fr. Switz. and It.

I am currently planning to take a group of 30 - 40 travellers (mostly students) to Europe in March 2014. We fly into Paris, travel to Geneva, connect directly to Venice, then Florence and fly home to Canada from Milan. I know that we will be backtracking to Milan after passing through it on our leg from Geneva to Venice. I know the trip from Geneva to Venice is about 7 hours long (by train). After bandying about several versions of travel paths, we believe our interests are best met using this routing. We will stay several days at each of our stops.

My question: is there a train pass (Eurail type pass) that will allow us access to France, Switzerland and Italy? We need the passes to be valid for 5 days only (if we use it for the Paris - Geneva - Venice - Florence legs). We would need 7 day passes if they were to be used for Paris - Geneva - Venice - Florence - Milan.

I believe we can work around the train scheduling. I am unsure if there is a cost-saving train pass that we can access.
tC
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Apr 16th, 2013, 06:10 PM
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Can't help you but so happy to see you posting and traveling with a group! We're mulling over a Toronto GTG in the summer. Hope to see you. Do you have the old email coordinates? Best. Liz
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Apr 16th, 2013, 06:33 PM
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Are you traveling around any by train in Switzerland?

For Venice/Florence/Milan, it would probably be cheapest to book a group rate through Trenitalia. I assume something similar would be possible on the French site for Paris/Geneva and on the Swiss site for Geneva/Venice. I'm sure it's much too far in advance to book these as they don't even have fares established for summer yet. It may be late November or early December before Trenitalia releases winter fares/schedules.

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...003f16f90aRCRD

Is there a reason for the stop in Geneva? If not, I would book the overnight Thello train from Paris to Venice. I'm sure group rates are available for couchettes on Thello.

https://www.thello.com/?iLangID=3
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Apr 16th, 2013, 06:37 PM
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Hello Liz
It's nice to be back. Thank you for your welcome. I am working on the trip reports from a while ago. Yes, I am back on the "travel wheel" again. Full of anticipation and looking forward to adding more questions and reports to this wonderful forum.

A chance to meet up with you and others at a GTG sounds divine. The email address found on the old list should still be valid. I will certainly do what I can to assist planning the next meeting.
tC
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Apr 16th, 2013, 06:55 PM
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kybourbon - so good to see your voice again! Thank you for responding. I still owe you deeply for previous advice from a few years ago.

Yes, you are right - we know we can't book fares yet, but we are trying to get a handle on fares so we know how much to charge our travellers. On our original plan we were hoping for a stop in Lucerne for a few days after a visit in the Black Forest. Our costs were becoming unmanageable, so we have deleted that section, but still want to offer our young travellers some exposure to Switzerland - hence our stop in Geneva. We have been told there is a lovely spa in the mountains near Geneva (I like spas) which we plan to visit. Also, my niece and her husband lived in Geneva for years while working for the U.N. and I would like to visit where they lived.

We have done an overnight train (couchettes) from Paris to Florence (2011) on Trenitalia and while I thought it was a great experience, most of the travellers on that trip gave it the "thumbs down".

Our earlier travel plans for this trip involved using a charter coach, but this was changed due to the prohibitive costs associated with the coach - now all our intercity travel will be by train. That is why I am exploring any cost savings that might be available to us.
tC
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Apr 16th, 2013, 07:35 PM
  #6
 
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>>>We have done an overnight train (couchettes) from Paris to Florence (2011) on Trenitalia and while I thought it was a great experience, most of the travellers on that trip gave it the "thumbs down".<<<

Not the same. Thello has taken it over now with new trains, etc.

Switzerland is very expensive. You will find it much more expensive than the Black Forest.

I would reverse this trip for several reasons. I like to get my longest travel out of the way as you are jet lagged on arrival anyway. Additionally, it will be warmer in Italy earlier so start south and work your way north.

Look at flights into Venice, Florence, Pisa, Genoa, Bologna, Milan, or Verona. Fly home from Paris.

Keep in mind that a pass doesn't cover seats (mandatory) on any of the faster trains in Italy. France restricts the number of passholders allowed to travel on some trains in addition to supplements. Most trains between countries will require a supplement. This will give you an idea of the supplements you will need to pay in addition to the cost of the pass.

http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/pdfs/reservations.pdf

You might also consider starting in Italy, flying to Paris on a budget flight, train to Geneva and fly home from there. I find flights from my area cheaper to Switzerland than the other two countries with Zurich usually the cheapest. If you put Switzerland at the end, it may be a tad warmer.

Easy Jet flies Venice to Paris Orly (about 2 hours) for usually around 50€. Strict carry on rules and luggage weight.
http://www.easyjet.com/en
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Apr 17th, 2013, 02:21 AM
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"We have been told there is a lovely spa in the mountains near Geneva (I like spas) which we plan to visit."

There are spas near Geneva, but not ion the mountains (Yverdon and the French gambling Casino towns Divonne and Evian)and there are spas in the mountains but not near Geneva (Lavey, Saillon, Ovronnaz, Leukerbad ...)
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Apr 17th, 2013, 06:19 PM
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neckervd - kudos to you, egg on my face. I took our agent at her word when she said "spa in the mountains near Geneva". The spa that has been suggested is "les bains de Lavey", which, now identified, I find to be about 90 minutes drive from Geneva. Also, I find that, while fairly highly recommended on various websites, it does not appear to have steam rooms or saunas generally available.

Since I know very little about the Geneva area we may just go with her suggestion - unless we hear from others!
tC
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Apr 17th, 2013, 09:28 PM
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kybourbon - thank you for your detailed response. We will re-examine the possibility of a night train with Thello. We are now revisiting the idea of skipping Switzerland as a destination - possibly just a "pass through" will meet our needs. We have purposefully chosen a north to south route to travel into warmer (we hope) weather as the trip progresses. I understand your reasoning and see the value in your suggestion.

Thank you for the links to Rick Steves and Easy Jet. I spent a bit of time examining them both and I feel better educated because of that. Thank you.
tC
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