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Can I activate Swiss Pass in France, or on route to Switzerland?

Can I activate Swiss Pass in France, or on route to Switzerland?

Jul 25th, 2006, 02:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 38
Can I activate Swiss Pass in France, or on route to Switzerland?

I was wondering if anyone has experience validating/activating one country's pass in another country, or on route to that country.

I am going to take a train from Paris to Berne. I have a Swiss Pass, and wish to apply it to the Swiss leg of the journey. Thus, I want to buy the TGV ticket to a French-Swiss border town, and use my Swiss pass for the rest of the journey to Berne. (Les verrieres is the border crossing, but is not available for purchase on sncf, so the journey I'm interested in is Paris-Neuchatel.)

However, I don't wish to get off the train in Neuchatel to activate my Swiss Pass because of the hassle and extra time to wait for the next train. So my question:

Can I activate the Swiss Pass in France at Gare de Lyon, or on board the train on route to Switzerland? Rick steves says it's possible, but I'm wondering if anyone has done it before. I'd appreciate any advice, and I'm sure other would as well. Thanks.

On Rick Steves' website: "You may validate your country pass before arriving in that country, or en route. Let’s say you’re in Munich with a French railpass, you’re heading to Paris, and you want the French portion of your route to be covered by your French railpass. At the Munich train station, buy a ticket to the French border and have the agent validate your French pass at the same time.

Note: You may be charged $5 to $30 (in local currency) to have your pass validated on the train. Approach the conductor; don’t let him “catch” you with an unvalidated pass (he’ll assume you’re trying to cheat). "

Thanks again!
cali123 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 04:10 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
I once activated three different country passes at the Zoo Station in Berlin without any trouble at all and the person doing the activating spoke no English whatsoever.

Have no idea if this is typical or not.
Dukey is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 04:20 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,273
In Paris, go and attempt to have it done. It should work. (Hint: There are SNCF boutiques - stores away from train stations, often less busy. There is one right next to the Musée d'Orsay, down by the entrance to the RER station!)

If you hit a serious snag (as in, different agent at different time in different place confirms that it cannot be done), simply take the TGV to Geneva. You will enter Switzerland below the arrival platform, in a scenario a bit like that in airports, you will show your passport to the border police, walk by a couple of customs guys who give you inquiring looks and ask one in every so many dozens to submit to a random check...

The Geneva station is technically in Switzerland, but only by a kilometer or two, so your TGV ticket will not mean that you "pay double" - practically none of the journey would have been covered by the Swiss pass.

Then you go to the ticket agents in Geneva and have the pass validated. Trains to Bern are frequent and fast, most are direct, once in a while you get a quicker connection if you take one to Lausanne and change.

So keep your options open, or - if you see one of the insanely cheap trains to Geneva, buy it online (leave the pick-up country as France, do not enter a mailing address, do not enter anything to do with the US, and in France go show the same credit card you used on-line to a ticket agent at any station or boutique, with a print-out of the email confirmation, to retrieve your actual ticket).

WallyKringen is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 10:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 38
WK and Dukey,

Thanks for the tips.

It is good to know that this can be done. I will definitely pick up my ticket to Bern from the SNCF office outside the musee d'orsay. Very convenient, since I planned on going there anyway. Having my Swiss Pass validated ahead of time will save me from having to get off the train and wait for the next in Neuchatel.

cali123 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 10:17 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 91
Tagging on Cali123's post, is it possible to validate my Swiss Pass at Frankfurt Main station? Or should I wait until I get to Basel, get the pass validated and change to Swiss Rail bound for Bern? Thank you, Swiss experts out there!
jbtan is offline  
Jul 30th, 2006, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,273
Again, ask in Frankfurt. In any case, chances are that you need to switch trains in Basel SBB, there are far fewer direct ones all the way to Bern than there are connections where you make that (quick and painless) change in Basel. So if Frankfurt didn't work, do it in Basel.
WallyKringen is offline  

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