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Switzerland, Paris Itinerary Help, Please!

Switzerland, Paris Itinerary Help, Please!

Old May 13th, 2012, 08:22 PM
  #1  
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Switzerland, Paris Itinerary Help, Please!

My husband and I are going to be in London for about a week with his doctoral program cohorts and then we have about five days to explore somewhere else. I know it's not ideal but we have chosen to see Interlaken for two days and then Paris for two days. We don't know if we'll ever make it back to Europe so we just want to see these two places. My question is this: do we fly so we won't spend so much time on the train? I need some concrete ideas for our itinerary from London to Interlaken, Interlaken to Paris and then Paris back to London. Here is our schedule:

June 22 to June 30 - London/Oxford
July 1 & July 2 - Interlaken, Switzerland
July 3 & July 4 - Paris, France
July 5 - Back to London
July 6 - Fly home

So, any suggestions and help will be very much appreciated!
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Old May 13th, 2012, 09:59 PM
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First thing is to see if you can change your flight tickets so your flight home starts in Paris. This removes the need to be back in London in time for your flight & gives you another day for your mainland Europe portion of your trip. If you can't then the Eurostar is the best way of returning for your final night (book NOW unless you fancy paying last minute prices)

If you are in Oxford then it makes sense to fly from Heathrow - BA have flights to Basel which is the nearest airport to Interlaken. There is a coach service from Oxford to Heathrow

I'll leave others to tell you how to get from Basel to Interlaken to Paris
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Old May 13th, 2012, 10:17 PM
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Hi stephmont,

I think that lots of folks who live in the UK fly into Switzerland for their holidays, so you should be able to find some cheaper one-way flights.

Basel would be a good choice for arrival -- you'd have to take a bus to the train station, then a train onward to Interlaken.

Are you *sure* you want to stay in Interlaken, which in July will be wall-wall with tour busses and the off-loaded day-trippers?? You may want to consider staying in one of the car-free villages actually perched in the mountains, such as Wengen or Mürren. Information on them at

www.myjungfrau.ch

Then from Interlaken take the high-speed train to Paris. The train will take about 5h with one change in Basel. If you buy your tickets 90 days in advance, you can snag one of the discount fares. You can get your tickets at

www.voyages-sncf.fr (if you can manage in French)
www.tgv-europe.com

Just make sure you indicate that you want to continue on the TGV site and do not get bumped to Raileurope, where fares are higher.

Then take the Channel tunnel train from Paris to London.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old May 14th, 2012, 07:36 AM
  #4  
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We cannot change our ticket to fly home from London. However, we might look into taking the Eurostar back early morning from Paris to fly home.

I'm so overwhelmed! Is there a site that you know of that can help me narrow down my choices? Like whether it's cheaper/more convenient to fly or just take the train? I am guessing it would be fun to see the scenery on the train.

Thank you for your help!
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Old May 15th, 2012, 06:46 AM
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So, what site would I use to find bus fares from Oxford to Gatwick (where I booked our flight to Basel from) and from Basel to the train to Interlaken?

Is railsaver.com a good place to buy train tickets?
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Old May 15th, 2012, 08:35 AM
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Hi again,

Nope. Use each country's train site to get the best deals and the most accurate train schedules.

For Switzerland, it's

www.rail.ch

For the train to Paris, use the sites I gave you above.

For a great overview of the European train system, see

www.seat61.com

s
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Old May 15th, 2012, 04:14 PM
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Thank you so much! It's the train system that is currently confusing me!
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Old May 15th, 2012, 06:39 PM
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for budget flights go to

www.whichbudget.com

or www.skyscanner.net

If you book early enough I cannot imagine a flight is going to be more expensive than rail even with the various luggage restrictions.

Easyjet flies into Basel and you look at that website: www.easyjet/en
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Old May 15th, 2012, 06:39 PM
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sorry..that should be www.easyjet.com/en
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Old May 16th, 2012, 08:41 AM
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Thank you so much! I will check those out!
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Old May 16th, 2012, 09:14 AM
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I would never stay in Interlaken in July.

The town will be filled with Contiki-type young people hanging out at the Hooters on the main road (Yes, there is a Hooters in Interlaken) and tour groups hanging out of the windows of big tour buses parked at the curb across from the Hotel Victoria.

I would stay in Wengen or Murren.

Interlaken is an OK place to stay in the off season.

Tschuss,
Pepper
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Old May 16th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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You are going to be doing a lot of traveling! I understand why you are doing it but I recommend that if possible, you focus on most convenient and time efficient routings even if costs a bit more. No sense saving on discount airlines/rail fares if it costs you the small time you have to see paris and switzerland!

You asked about bus fares from Oxford to Gatwick. If I understand correctly, you need to get from Oxford to Gatwick as you've booked a flight from Gatwick to Basel. I would take the train vs bus as is more enjoyable and reliable. Go to nationalrail.co.uk and use the journey planner - you will see that you can get a train from oxford to gatwick in just under 2 hours. You want the one that goes to Reading and then you transfer to a train from Reading direct to Gatwick. This is the fastest and avoids you having to go into London (Paddington).

On your return from Paris to London. I make the trip often as I live near London and for me, flying is just as fast and often around the same price as the Eurostar because I live near Heathrow. It depends on where you are staying that night before you depart the next day - in London? If so, then Eurostar is by far the best as you can conveniently leave Paris at Gare du Nord and arrive in London without having to travel to airports on each side. If rather, you are going planning to return to London the same day you are flying out, then by all means take an early flight that morning from Paris to Heathrow (assuming you are departing Heathrow) and DON'T take Eurostar as you'll have to get from central London all the way to Heathrow.

I can't help but comment on the previous poster regarding the Hooters in Interlaken. For whatever reason, many posters on this site have made Interlaken sound like hell on earth. My first time in Interlaken (end of July) after reading all the posts I was ready to fight my way through "wall to wall" and heaving throngs of tourists only to be faced with a 30 foot high screaming neon Hooters sign flashing at me like Las Vegas. Heavens!

The reality, Interlaken is like any other busy mountain tourist town and in fact, in late July/early August, my family and I enjoyed strolling down the sidewalks and amazingly, did not get stampeded. We also walked all the way down to the park area where you can see all the paragliders landing (my 2 year was fascinated by this)and finally saw the big bad Hooters. It was a one story low lying building with yes, a "Hooters" sign that was not oversized nor glowing neon. In fact, I barely even noticed it was a "hooters" vs any other restaurant. So, yes, Hooters is not my choice of restaurant and yes, there were some significant tour buses at the end of the town near the Hotel Victoria. However, staying at the other end of the town closer to the Interlaken West train station was very nice and peaceful even in July.

With that said, I certainly don't debate that staying in one of the villages such as Murren or Wengen is lovely and recommend IF you want to spend most of your time up in the mountains which many people do. However, we have just as happily stayed in Interlaken as a great base camp when we were also interested in exploring the lake towns and other areas and having the convenience of not being up in the mountains. It depends on where you plan to spend your time...
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Old May 16th, 2012, 11:56 AM
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This is so easy. If you want to see Paris; I would just take the Eurostar from London to Paris. I would never consider Interlaken as a destination. Interlaken is not a destination it is a gateway; gateway to the Swiss Alps. Then I would return by Eurostar to London for the flight home. Flying home from Paris would of course be much better.

A second option would be to stay in the UK and maybe do Edinburgh, Scotland. Easily one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe.
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Old May 16th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Thank you so much. I am learning a lot from you; I very much appreciate your help.

Now where is the best/cheapest site to buy my train tickets? I understand I need a TGV ticket from Basel to Paris and then a Eurostar ticket for the Chunnel train from Paris to London? We are staying overnight near Heathrow for our return flight home.
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Old May 17th, 2012, 05:32 AM
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I think you are at risk of over-complicating the train tix! You're not going to find any sites that give particularly good deals. For Basel/paris - just go to one of the sites that the above posters mention. For Eurostar - it works almost like buying a plane ticket so just go to Eurostar.com.
Also, still not sure how you're planning to manage all the travel between locations but you say you are staying near Heathrow the night before you fly out? Are you flying in the morning or could you spend the night in Paris to maximize your time there and get to London early the am of the 6th via a flight from CDG to Heathrow and fly straight out? Just so you know, the price of a one-way Eurostar ticket vs a flight (typically cheapest will be BA from CDG to LHR - don't even think about flying into gatwick or luton on this leg) are going to be about the same - prob between $110-150+ depending on time of day etc. So, you really should consider what is the best option given your schedule and what is most time efficient. Eurostar is about 2.2 hrs vs flying of 1.1 hrs but of course you have to factor airport security and travel time point to point which is why I ask about your timing of your heathrow flight. You could start by going to Kayak.com to check basic options as it gives both Eurostar and airlines but keep it mind it may not show all of the flights/trains available so still go back to Eurostar.com or British airways to check all available options.
good luck working it all out!
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