German, France and Swiss Train Travel

Apr 29th, 2008, 01:15 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2
German, France and Swiss Train Travel

Hi all!

My husband and I are going to Europe for 14 days Sept 14-27. Our itinarary includes that listed below. I have tried to compare the different rail passes (we'd prefer to use them just so we don't have to bother with buying tickets for every trip) and have come up with two solutions. I would appreciate on any opinion of one verses the other.

Option 1: Germany/France flexipass Saver for 8days 2nd class and Swiss Pass for 4 days(also Saver)and 2nd class. Cost of $1260

Option 2: Global Eurail Pass Saver 1st class for 15 days $1260

Itinarary:

Sept 15- Fly into and spend night in Frankfurt
Sept 16 - Frankfurt to Paris
Sept 16-18 Stay in Paris
Sept 18- Paris to Colmar
Sept 19- Colmar to Lucerne
Sept 19-22 Lucerne (Stay in Rigi Kaltbad, trips to Titlis and Lucerne) We plan on using the boats and mountain railways/cables frequently
Sept 22 - Lucerne to Ulm
Sept 23 - Ulm to Munich
Sept 23-25 Stay in Munich
Sept 25 Munich to Rothenburg ODT
Sept 26 RODT to Frankfurt
Sept 27 Frankfurt Main to Airport (Fly out at 12:45)

As I said, any opinions are appreciated (the Itinerary is pretty much set in stone except for the night between Lucerne and Munich, so any ideas for neat place to stay about halfway between these cities is also appreciated) Thanks again!

JLC

jellychurch is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 02:20 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,542
Hi Jellychurch

Interesting itinerary... which I do feel the urge to tweak:

1) Upon arrival in Frankfurt, I would get right on the fast ICE train to Cologne (less than an hour!). Stay somewhere right by the station, which happens to be next to the city's amazing gothic cathedral and 2 world class museums. You can explore all of this the next morning before catching the Thalys train to Paris (just under 4 hours)

2) I would skip Colmar and fly EasyJet from Paris Orly to Geneva on Sept. 19th. There are hourly train connections from Geneva airport to Luzern (just under 3 hours travel time). This gives you an extra day in Paris.

Regarding tickets: if your itinerary is set in advance, you are generally far better off purchasing cheap point to point tickets linked to a particular train - do a search on this site for tips. One exception to this rule would be for Switzerland, where ordering a Swiss Card in advance makes sense - if possible, do so before May 1st as prices in USD are set to rise then:
http://www.swisstravelsystem.ch/file...w_homepage.pdf

There might also be a locally available pass in Germany that is interesting for your itinerary, if so I am sure someone else will chime in.

Hope this helps,
Andre
Andre is offline  
Apr 29th, 2008, 02:48 PM
  #3  
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2
Andre,

Thanks for the info. Cologne sounds more interesting to us then Frankfurt since we don't like "revisiting" places or routes we've already taken.

The purpose of us getting the passes is to avoid having to purchase p2p tickets in europe. When comparing the prices, they seem to be pretty much even except for the discounts with the passes. Thanks again!

JLC
jellychurch is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 09:49 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,542
Hi Jellychurch,

You're very welcome!

I forgot about the new TGV line from Paris to Strasbourg - Your routing to Luzern actually makes perfect sense. On the other hand, I would still skip Colmar in favour of more time in Paris, but that's just me. The Paris-Luzern trip takes just under 5 hours with only 1 change in Basel.

Re: purchasing tickets in advance: I priced Paris-Colmar on raileurope.com, a restricted 2nd class ticket starts at USD 57.

For the short hop from Colmar to Basel, you can buy a ticket on Rail Europe as well for USD 20, but it's most logical to just buy a ticket at the station for this short segment, at a cost of EUR 11,40.

Your onward travel from Basel to Lucerne would be covered by your Swiss Card.

The Thalys trip from Cologne to Paris prices out as low as USD 41 per person on raileurope.com for a restricted 2nd class ticket.

Now for the German part of your trip, where Rail Europe is not competitive at all: for the short hop from Franfurt Airport to Cologne, you really should just purchase a fully flexible ticket at EUR 58 per person - very expensive, I know. Although there is a discounted advance booking fare of EUR 29 available on bahn.de, it is non-changeable, so you would lose your money in case of a flight delay.

For Lucerne to Ulm, I priced out the journey via Memmingen, departing Lucerne at 8:10. You would need a ticket from St. Margrethen (Swiss border station) to Ulm, which costs EUR 19 if you get the cheapest restricted fare. The portion from Lucerne to St. Margrethen is covered by your Swiss Card.

For each of the following routes, a discounted restricted ticket costs EUR 29 on bahn.de:
- Ulm to Munich
- Munich to Rothenburg
- Rothenburg to Frankfurt

All of the tickets purchased on bahn.de can be printed out at the time of booking/payment and the site is fully available in english:
http://www.bahn.de/international/view/en/index.shtml

The Swiss Card will cost you USD 159 in 2nd class from Rail Europe and entitles you to the same discount on the Titlis cablecar as a Swiss Pass.

At the rate of 1.6 USD to 1 EUR, all of these tickets total out to USD 540 per person in 2nd class, so less than half of the pass cost you quoted! You still have all your tickets in hand before leaving home, you are however bound to a specific train for each journey, except from Colmar to Basel, within Switzerland and on the Frankfurt to Cologne portion.

Finally, you should note that tickets for your travel dates are not yet available. They generally go on sale 3 months in advance, so I would book in late June / early July. Rail Europe will e-mail you when tickets go on sale if you leave them your address when attempting a booking too far out.

Hope this helps,
Andre

Andre is offline  
Apr 30th, 2008, 10:26 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9,311
>Sept 19- Colmar to Lucerne
Sept 19-22 Lucerne (Stay in Rigi Kaltbad, trips to Titlis and Lucerne) We plan on using the boats and mountain railways/cables frequently
Sept 22 - Lucerne to Ulm <

That leaves you two full days in Switzerland.

Sept. 20: Do the Rigi. Visit Rigi Kulm and Rigi Scheidegg. Personally, I wouldn't leave the mountain. Instead, I'd try the Cafe Zwetchgens in various huts and restaurants and the huge meringues in the Unterstetten restaurant (an insider tip!)

September 21: Take the boat to Lucerne and go to Titlis. You'll have to keep an eye on your timetables. Use sbb.ch. Walk around Lucerne that evening. Take the boat back.

In Weggis, the ferry landing is about a ten minute walk from the cable car. It's a bit of an uphill walk but it's all paved.

In Vitznau, the Vitznauer Rigi Bahn is right next to the ferry landing.
kleeblatt is offline  

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