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Paris to Basel train

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Jul 27th, 2006, 01:12 PM
  #1
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Paris to Basel train

fellow travellers,
wanted to get your opinion on taking an overnight train from paris to basel. My wife and I can currently book the tickets on the 10:43 dep train from Paris with the arrival of 4:50 in basel. Options I have are:

- second class seats for 40Eu
- first class seats for 60Eu
- couchettes for 131 Eu
- second class reclining seats 103Eu
- T2 cabin (private cabin with 2 beds) for 205 Eu

What do you guys think of the options? We are travelling on this train so that we can save some time, and get the next day to explore switzerland (we actually are planning on staying in Wengen)...
I haven't heard rave reviews about couchettes...but we were leaning towards that as (we think) we might get good 5 hrs sleep...and not be tired the next day...

what do you guys think..thanks alot.

>bhavin
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Jul 27th, 2006, 01:22 PM
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How about sleeping in Paris and hopping the 7:34 TGV to Berne, getting there about 12:30 and be in Wengen by at least 2pm- won't have to get off train at 5am in Basel where there is nothing to do for a few hours but sit on hard benches. check www.voyages-sncf for PREM fares on this train. Or take the night train from Paris to Zurich, arriving at a bit more reasonable 6:30am and going on to Wengen from there via gorgeous Lucerne and the dramatically scenic Brunig Pass rail route (Golden Pass goes over this route as well).
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Jul 27th, 2006, 01:52 PM
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Hi PalQ,
Well, I wanted to get to Basel early, so that I can get to Wengen by 8 or 9. There is an early train (i think at 5:30) from Basel to Bern to Interlaken to Wengen. This way I'll have a whole day in Wengen.

Also, I'm planning on going to Lucerne from Wengen. I was planning on taking the Golden Pass train from Interlaken to Lucerne and stay there 2 days. After which I'm flying back home from Zurich.


So wanted to get to Wengen at a decent time. I just don't know if I can get a decent sleep on the train.

Thanks.

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Jul 27th, 2006, 02:01 PM
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Gottcha. Sleeping in regular seats means being waken up a lot, by ticket takers and Swiss Customs guys. In couchettes all this is taken care of by the couchette car attendant (who will take your passport and train ticket shortly after boarding and wake you up and give it back to you about 30 mins before your stop - I guess being woken up by Customs wouldn't be a problem as this will happen only near Basel.
But there is always chance of theft from regular seats - couchettes have doors that lock from the inside.
I've ridden hundreds of couchettes and your fellow bunk mates (three bunks on each side of the aisle) and though it is kind of a crap shoot - mainly you're in with decent middle class European types - rarely anyone obnoxious save the loud snorer perhaps. If you have a choic i'd chose the uppermost bunk as there is more room for luggage up there and perhaps a bit about the fray.
Reclinging seats i've had on French night trains were very uncomfortable - rather go in regular 1st class seats.
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Jul 27th, 2006, 02:23 PM
  #5
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Hi PalQ,
Thanks for the info. So there will be somebody to wake me up at 5 is basel? That's awesome that was my biggest fear...since i'm a heavy sleeper...

Also, will the train leaving for Bern in the same station, or will have to get out and change stations?

Thanks.
>bhavin
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Jul 27th, 2006, 02:32 PM
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My eleven-hour ride in a six-bunk couchette on the night train from Nice to Paris was a bit cramped for space because the luggage that wouldn't fit in the racks had to be piled in the center aisle. However, I slept fine.

If the Paris-Basel train had four-bunk couchettes I'd suggest you get one for the added space and comfort. Since it doesn't, I'd say you should choose either the six-bunk couchette or the T2 cabin, but definitely not a reclining seat. In a seat you won't sleep well and your luggage won't be very secure.
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Jul 27th, 2006, 03:26 PM
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bhavin30:

Your train from Paris will stop in the French and the Swiss parts of Basel SBB, as it is going on to Zurich (leaving Basel at 05:14). Ask the conductor to tell you when you will be in the Swiss part.

The train from Paris will come in on platform 7, Your train to Berne and the Bernese Oberland will leave at 05:27 from platform 11. Just take the overpass which is connected by escalators and elevators to the platforms.

Hope this helps, enjoy your trip

Phil
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Jul 28th, 2006, 07:44 AM
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Bhavin - you could be sure that the couchette attendant will take you up and return your ticket and passport to you shortly before Basel - has never failed in the hundreds of couchette trips i've taken. And this train will probably sit in Basel for many minutes, allowing a leisurely departure.
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Jul 28th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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In Basel, the train stops in the French portion and you get out and go through customs before continuing on. The regular 2nd class seats recline a little. I fell alseep on a daytime trip. You probably won't have a great night's sleep no matter which method you chose but you will surely get some sleep
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Jul 28th, 2006, 08:10 AM
  #10
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thanks guys, this definitely helps.
One other thing, do you guys recommend buying the tickets before hand or it should be fine if I buy it from there? Thanks.

>bhavin
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Jul 28th, 2006, 08:40 AM
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I'd buy them beforehand at the prices in your OP if you can't find some PREM fares at www.voyages-sncf.com that could be cheaper. But why wait? They will be no cheaper at the station and trains like this can always be full for some reason (i.e. football match in Zurich, etc. or on Fridays with folks heading for skiing, etc.) - you should be able to print out your own tickets before leaving.
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Jul 28th, 2006, 08:47 AM
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RailEurope has a price of $264 for two adults in a couchette or $132 p.p. - i assume your 130 euros for a couchette is for 2 people but if it's p.p. then you may want to check RailEurope - but first look for PREM fares on sncf site.
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Jul 28th, 2006, 08:53 AM
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On this route you won't be allowed to print either couchette or T2 tickets. On sncf.com leave France as the default country and choose the option of picking up your tickets at a station machine, station window, or SNCF ticket boutique. Note: If the ticket machine has chip & pin technology, your US credit card is unlikely to work. Just go to a ticket window at the station or any SNCF ticket boutique in Paris and present the confirmation number you'll be given plus the credit card used when booking.
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Jul 28th, 2006, 08:59 AM
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PalQ - On the Paris-Basel night trains PREM'S are available for seats but not couchettes or cabins. The REGULAR fare for a couchette is E65.70, half of what RailEurope charges.
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Jul 28th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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Tim: perhaps you could answer the question i've asked and some others and i've never seen the answer-
what does <PREM> mean - Premium? but that would seem oxymoronic for a cheap fare?
Thanks
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Jul 28th, 2006, 09:47 AM
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PalQ - Sorry, I don't know the answer; but I sure like the price <g>.

Here is another SNCF wrinkle. On some routes (probably only international ones), when a PREM'S fare is listed, it says that you can print your own ticket; but when you actually get to the booking step, the printing option disappears and your only choice is to have the PREM'S ticket mailed to an address in France (like your hotel). I recently sent an e-mail to SNCF asking about this. I got a quick and polite reply, but didn't get a direct answer to my question about Paris-Basel and Paris-Munich, the routes about which I was inquiring. The reply did say, however, that SNCF is considering adding the printing option to more routes in the future.
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Jul 28th, 2006, 10:00 AM
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Given that train schedule and the possibility that you won't sleep well on the train and would be too beat to enjoy Wengen your first day there, have you considered taking the day train to Basel instead, spending the night at an inexpensive hotel and then catching an early morning train to Wengen after having a decent night's sleep?
For example, you can catch a train from Paris around 1 pm that gets you into Basel around 6 pm. You could stroll the historic old town, have an inexpensive casual dinner, go to bed at 9 pm, get up at 5 am and make your morning train. There is an inexpensive hotel in Basel less than a 10 minute walk from the station and you'd be perfectly safe walking even that early in the morning.
The total cost would be about the same, you'd get to see some scenery along the way, enjoy a stroll in an interesting town, and be much more likely to get a good night's rest.
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Jul 28th, 2006, 10:00 AM
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<The REGULAR fare for a couchette is E65.70, half of what RailEurope charges>

yes and i was shocked today by a Raileurope epistle that said they were once again raising point-point fares because of exchange rates (actually the dollar's gone up not down since the previous prices were pegged, but...)
and that reservation fees for passholders on ES Italia trains has lept from $20 to $27! (thur Raileurope, about 13 euro in Italy i believe) and other increases are due, such as on Eurostar London-Paris/Brussels this weekend - at least in this case Raileurope is very competitive on week days with their $90 return fares and i guess the increases are only a few dollars - but on most tickets the price differential between here and there, not to mention PREMs on line, is getting more and more out of kilter - maybe soaking the folks who want everything done for them?
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