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From PARIS to the BERNER OBERLAND in June...HELP! Paris newbies!

From PARIS to the BERNER OBERLAND in June...HELP! Paris newbies!

Jul 19th, 2014, 10:28 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 3,254
From PARIS to the BERNER OBERLAND in June...HELP! Paris newbies!

Hello, lovers of Paris and the Swiss Alps! I've just begun to plan our 1st exciting trip to Paris for my husband and I, for June. We've never been to Paris. But we love the Berner Oberland area in the Swiss Alps, especially in late June when the flowers are in bloom in the Alps. We'll fly from California (San Diego or LA), and will have 2 or 3 weeks for the trip.

If you have been to both France and Switzerland, please advise me, and feel free to be subjective. I love hearing the reasons for different suggestions!

My husband and I are in our 50's, and have traveled to Europe many times, but have never seen Paris, nor anything in France! I wear custom orthotics, and I have to rest my feet at intervals when walking, and therefore this will slow down our itinerary, as I can't overdo the walking in 1 day. Sometimes city walking on hard pavements is actually tougher on my feet than nature walks.

I'm at the beginning of my research, and I see 3 choices so far:

Choice #1: Paris
Spend the whole trip in Paris.
Pros: We'll see a lot of Paris!
Cons: City walking tends to wear out my feet faster than countryside walks.

Choice #2: Paris & the French Countryside (Provence?)
Pros: We'll see Paris and some of the French countryside.
Cons: Is the French countryside as appealing as the Swiss Alps?

Choice #3: Paris & the Berner Oberland in the Swiss Alps.
Pros: We'll see Paris, and also have nature walks up in the Swiss Alps (Berner Oberland)
Cons: It's more complicated to visit 2 countries.

QUESTION: What's the best way to get from Paris to the Berner Oberland in the Swiss Alps? I think I read there's a direct train from Paris to Bern, Switzerland? I love trains. I hate flying. In the Berner Oberland, we would stay in Murren for sure, and possibly have a few nights in Interlaken.

What should I choose? I just bought a pile of guidebooks, for Paris, France, and 1 for Switzerland! I'm excited!

Who are we? I'm a dreamer and a writer, and I love delicious food made from fresh, local ingredients, that is unique to a region...and wine...and inspiring scenery, and nature walks, and culture, and meeting people. My husband is a biologist, and he loves travel, science museums, scenery, nature, discovering local foods, meeting people. We both enjoy art and history as well.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2014, 10:45 PM
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Hi Melissa5,

It's not at all complicated to visit two countries, really. Here's the important stuff:

Fly open-jaw, that is, into one country (Paris) and out of another (Zürich). It's not two one-way tickets but rather just called open-jaw and is about the same price as a round-trip. You find these schedules & fares under the "multiple destinations" tab at your favorite airline.

Get your train ticket about 120 or 90 days early (I don't use the French rail site often, so I don't know if it's 120 or 90 days early -- you can find out by doing some dummy bookings 120 days early and then 90 days early and seeing which ones work). The fastest way to Switzerland is, yes, the connection to Bern, then you would continue to the Oberland from there.

You can use either of these sites to check the trains:



Whether the French countryside is as appealing as the Swiss Alps is, of course, in the eyes of the beholder. Some folks like meadows more than mountain peaks, some beaches, some rolling hills, etc. I personally prefer the soft, green rolling hills of the Saanenland over the pointy drama of the Jungfrau area.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2014, 11:48 PM
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swandav2000, thanks for your reply! I feel I'm off to a great start! I love the beginning of planning a trip...when you feel like you can go anywhere, because nothing is locked in yet. I'm still reading about Paris and France, so I don't have enough info yet. But I love to hear what other travelers advise and prefer.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 12:51 AM
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Sorry --

I should have said that the connection from Paris to Basel is the fastest way to Switzerland. From Basel you can connect onward to your destination in the Jungfrau region.

Sorry, brain cramp!

swandav2000 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 01:19 AM
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If you pick the one daily Paris Been train you can book at www.capitainetrain.com

Other options involve a change at Basel, either book Paris Basel at capitainetrain and buy a Basel Been tick when you reach Basel or at www.SBB.CH Swiss Railways OR try www.SBB.CH for the whole trip, as long as you get a pint at home option.
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 01:23 AM
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The only comment i have is that i would move hotels between Murren and Interlaken, it's just not worth it, stay in Murren.
tipsygus is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 03:51 AM
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PROS: the Provence countryside is DIFFERENT than the Swiss Alps; whether or not you'll like it better or not as much. How will you know unless you go there?

It is, IMO, not a "con" or difficult to visit these two countries. You can get a fast rail connection from Paris either to Basel or Bern as was mentioned
Dukey1 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 05:27 AM
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If you change at Basel, give yourself a few hours to explore the city. You can store your luggage in lockers or in the attended luggage storage.

Basel has been our home for almost six years now and we'd be happy to help you plan an outing based on what your interests are.
WeisserTee is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 05:57 AM
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I think it would help to mention your background. I was puzzled when you mentioned "have traveled to Europe many times" and "we love the Berner Oberland area." You have already spend 11 nights in Berner Oberland and 3 nights in Luzern in 2010. And it seems you have been to somewhere else in Europe "many times?"

So it seems the key point is how to connect Paris to your revisit of Berner Oberland or Paris and somewhere else giving nature experiences "similar" to Berner Oberland but in France?
greg is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 08:33 AM
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a Swiss Pass is very beneficial if basing in Murren as it covers passage in full to that remote - train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and aerial cable ways from either Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp and connecting train to Murren or via postal bus to Stechleberg and then aerial cable to Murren - so assuming yo will want to come down from Murren (rethink its isolation if wanting to day trip down to other areas)

and a pass also covers many trains in the area and the lake boats on the two lakes bookending Interlaken (wonderful things to do) - or for those not at all unusual rainy wet days in the hills when day tripping to places like Bern (to me one of Switzerland's most unheralded cities or Lucerne,etc.

Well if you have a pass then you book the cheapest TGV to anywhere in Switzerland and then use your pass to connect to Interlaken and also it will be 100% valid all the way to Murren.

Anyway for loads of great info on Swiss trains, passes, etc I always spotlight these superb sources: www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
PalenQ is online now  
Jul 20th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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If you have 2 weeks I would do one week Paris and one week in the BO.

If you have 3 weeks I would 2 one in Paris, one in another part of France and one in the BO.

For the 3rd week you might want to visit the chateaux of the Loire (car rental necessary). Or Alsace (similar). Or Cotes D'Azure (center in Nice and can take a bunch of trips into the hills behind as well as the other towns along the coast).
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 10:20 AM
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I agree with Nytraveller. We loved Alsace! We also went to Loire in 2011. I like to mix familiar with something new...who know, you might fall in love with another area too!

Alsace pics https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...7644953485474/

Loire Valley https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...7637219497403/
jamikins is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 08:10 PM
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THANKS for all the fun and useful suggestions! I was leaning towards PARIS plus a revisit to the BERNER OBERLAND. But now my husband is suggesting we just do PARIS & the French countryside. I'm the trip planner, but of course I always takes his wishes into account.

nytraveler and jamikins: I love your suggestions. I'm going to look up all those places in France which you suggested, if we have a 3rd week.

greg: I'm confused about what you are confused about. Maybe this will clarify. PARIS is the main destination of this trip. The "changeable" part of the trip is where ELSE we will go, besides Paris, on this trip. When I said we have traveled to Europe many times, I meant we have visited many countries in Europe, including some in Eastern Europe. But we have never been to France. Generally, we like to include an exciting city, plus some time in the countryside and in smaller villages, on our trips, when possible.

I will post a new question soon, because now that I have more input from my husband, I'm pretty sure we'll limit this trip to one country...France! A new adventure for us! Currently we are leaning towards combining Paris with the Provence region. But I have a lot of reading to do now!

I didn't know a word of French until yesterday. But just to enrich the trip and to expand my knowledge of languages, I downloaded an ap on my Iphone which teaches languages. It's a fun ap. Of course, in real life, people will speak so fast that I won't understand a word of it, and they won't understand my pronunciation either. But I love learning a little of the language when I visit a new country.
Melissa5 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 11:15 PM
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If you are interested in wine Burgundy is another lovely option! Dijon and Beaune are good places to start your research!
jamikins is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 11:52 AM
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Melissa - bravo to you for trying to learn a little of the language - at least a little goes a long long way, especially in France IME - rather than like some Americans I've seen who just blurt out "Do you speak English" - better to start in a little broken perhaps butchered French and as 'excusez-moi, parlez-vous Anglais?' - the latter often gets a warmer welcome for at least trying a tad in France - it is impossible to become fluent at all in such a short time but a little IME can go a long long way.
PalenQ is online now  
Jul 21st, 2014, 01:40 PM
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But now my husband is suggesting we just do PARIS & the French countryside>

The 'French countryside' is a vague term kind of - anything really in the countryside would be perhaps rather boring except for driving thru it perhaps.

so though all of France outside of Paris can be called the French countryside I'd look for countryside dotted by nice towns, cities, castles (Loire Valley and its famed chateaus) - countryside sounds neat but look for a nice base like Arles or Avignon for the classic Provence and from there take drives through the French countryside to another place of interest.
PalenQ is online now  
Jul 21st, 2014, 05:45 PM
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Check your flight options because I think it will be easier (and possibly cheaper overall) if you stay in France. The airlines that fly LAX-CDG do not fly ZUR-LAX.
Jean is online now  
Oct 6th, 2014, 04:03 PM
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Thanks for the great tips! WE decided to go to France only on this trip, so I'll post a new question soon. WE'll spend at least a week exploring Paris and the Ile de France. Still trying to decide where ELSE to go in France... Will post a new question. Thanks for the help!
Melissa5 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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In June in France it is an ideal time IME for Provence - a month before the horrendous crowds descend on say the Avignon-Arles-Aix-en-Provence area - so so lovely in spring and nicer without mobs of other tourists and traffic.

Great countryside all around this area that to me is my favorite part of France outside of Paris.
PalenQ is online now  
Oct 7th, 2014, 02:57 PM
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PalenQ, I'm intrigued to hear that Provence is your favorite area of France outside of Paris. Also glad to hear Provence is great in June. I believe I've posted a new forum topic on France.
Melissa5 is offline  

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