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Christmas - France & Switzerland?

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Jul 7th, 2016, 08:52 AM
  #1
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Christmas - France & Switzerland?

Flying in and out of Paris for 9 days ending on Xmas day. Don't necessarily want to spend all 9 days in Paris. Considering heading to Strasbourg and then Lucerne, but (1) not sure if those are the best two cities to visit (2) if we should rent a car or take trains - we are a family of 5 so it may be cheaper to drive and (3) how many days would be best in each city? I feel we need at least 4 full days in Paris so are we biting off more than we should?
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Jul 7th, 2016, 09:22 AM
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If you need 4 full days in Paris, that means 5 nights. That doesn't leave you a lot of time for another city. How many nights total do you have on the ground in Europe? If you actually have 9 full days in Europe (10 nights) you could add another city. If you have less than that, I'd recommend all of your time in Paris with a day trip or two.

You certainly don't have time for two more cities if you want to see/do/experience anything of places you are visiting. Each time you change locations eats up at least half a day. And since you are flying out of Paris, you'll have to get back to Paris, eating up another half a day or more.
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Jul 7th, 2016, 09:45 AM
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Strasbourg has a great Christmas market, and you can get there and back quickly via the TGV.
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Jul 7th, 2016, 10:03 AM
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You don't need a car in Paris, as you probably know. I would take the train to Strasbourg for a few days, cheap fares will show on the SNCF website 3 months, sometimes earlier, before your travel date.

Restaurants are open Christmas Eve, many with special set menus. You won't have to book casual places.
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Jul 7th, 2016, 10:07 AM
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I would stay in Paris and take an overnight trip to Strasbourg on the TGV. A car might be cheaper, but weather conditions that time of year can be unpleasant. I've driven a rental car around the Strasbourg area several times at Christmastime and twice had such horrible fog I couldn't see headlights or brakelights of other cars until I was practically on top of them. Days are really short, which cuts down on your touring time. The Christmas market in Strasbourg makes for a nice visit. Train tickets are cheapest about 3 months (92 days to be precise) out from your days of travel.
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Jul 7th, 2016, 10:15 AM
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You should get out of Paris. Renting a car is great if you want freedom to explore and don't want to be stuck in cities. For example, I would consider smaller towns like Colmar and nearby villages Riquewihr, Mittelbergheim, Hunawihr, and Eguisheim.

Here is a website dedicated to Christmas tourism in Alsace:

http://noel.tourisme-alsace.com/en
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Jul 7th, 2016, 11:38 AM
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We went to Strasbourg as a day trip from Paris a few years ago ( a few days before Christmas). We wish that we had spent at least one night there. It was nice but busy and we didn't feel like we did it justice by spending only 6-7 hours there. The traffic at dusk was bad so I would not drive...it's an easy town to walk around in and there is a tram, as well.
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Jul 7th, 2016, 12:26 PM
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How are you counting days?
9 days including arrival and the departure days?
If this is the case, you have 8 nights, 7 full days.

You allocated 4 full days to Paris, leaving 3 full days.

www.viamichelin.com says Paris-Luzern is 7 hrs without stopping. You drive there and back consuming two full days, that leaves 1 full day in Luzern.

Is this what you want to do?

When you say car is cheaper, are you comparing only the car rental vs. train fare?

Car cost = car rental + gas + highway tolls + parking + vignette if driving in Switzerland + (allowance for speed camera fines.)

Car travel time = rental paper work + gas stop time + rest stop + park and retrieve car + traffic jam overhead + weather related slow down + rental return paper work time
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Jul 7th, 2016, 12:39 PM
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You can score some cheap TGV fares if you book far in advance and if kids are under a certain age maybe even cheaper or free.

a day trip could be nice - no packing up and unpacking, relocating often takes, especially with family, lots of time - if you keep the room for the night you are away then that would cost too.

Go to www.voyages-sncf.com - official site of French Railways (SNCF) or www.capitainetrain.com - same trains same fares but different booking engine. check www.seat61.com for good advice on discounted tickets and for general info on French and or Swiss trains (best way to Switzerland is also via TGV - book discounted ducats at same sites mentioned)- check www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

London is neat anytime of the year and is but just over two hours away via train and a day trip there could be sweet -check www.eurostar.com for day return fares.

Driving can yes be dicey at that time of year- and tolls on autoroutes can add up and gas at $5/gal or more too plus short-term car rental can be expensive as well.

Absolutely no need for car in Strasbourg or any similar sized city.
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