Train from Paris to Geneva

Old Jul 26th, 2011, 07:18 PM
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Train from Paris to Geneva

Hello again. Having organised most of our accommodation, my wife and I are now planning the inter-country travelling phase.

Our first major train trip will be from Paris to Geneva. I have heard so many differing view on how best to accomplish this:

Cost: Anywhere from 20 euro to 200 euro
Travel time: Anywhere from 3.5 hours to 7 hours
Best place to purchase ticket: Wait until you are in Paris/on the internet/from Australia.
Class: Second class if good enough (but others suggest that there is no room for suitcases unless you are in 1st class).

Can anyone please narrow down the points above on the best and cheapest way to arrange a train from Paris to Geneva?

Also, while on the subject of trains and Switzerland. Our plan is to be in Switzerland for 12 days. We will have home bases in:

Vevey for 3 nights (taking day trips to Geneva, Lausanne and Montreaux)

Brienz for 7 nights (taking day trips to Bern, Lucerne, Kleine Scheidegg, Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Murren, Jungrau Region, Schilthorn, Grindelwald and Thun - unless other places can be suggested.

And finally, 2 nights in Zermatt - we are unsure what day trips - if any - we will be taking from here. We are then travelling to Milan, Italy.

My question is: Given our proposed itinerary, would purchasing a 15-day Swiss Pass still be the best and cheapest option for us? I am told that it covers all trains, buses, ferries and has 50 per cent discounts on Gondalas. The only real issue is that we are there fro 12 nights and the closest Day Pass is 15. We are not sure if that is the best way to go or should we buy an 8-day pass and travel independently for the remainder?

Any help will be gratefully received. Thanks in advance,

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Old Jul 26th, 2011, 08:15 PM
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For Paris-Geneve prices, you can find it out on your own for the days of interest for example at

I wouldn't wait beyond 90 days (when you can start buying online tickets for this section) if your travel plan is firm. Here are sample prices as of 7/26. You can easily see the price creeps up if you wait until the last minutes.

25EU - 10/26 departure, PICCOLISSIMO
36EU - 10/19 departure, PICCOLO (PICCOLISSIMO sold out)
56EU - 9/14 departure, PICCOLO
66EU - 8/31 departure, PICCOLO
86EU - 7/28 departure, FLEXI (PICCOLO sold out)

8-days vs. 15-days vs. point-to-point can be compared by using to get point-to-point prices. To find out exactly where the Swiss Pass is valid, look at the synoptic map
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Old Jul 26th, 2011, 09:04 PM
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Hi steve_Australia,

Yes, you need to compare the costs of point-point tickets against the various passes and discount cards to see which one will work best for you.

I used to have to do a spreadsheet to keep track of all the possible combinations and options. Every time I did this, the Half Fare Card came out to be the best option.

The HFC costs 110 chf and gives you half off of practically everything that moves in Switzerland for one month.

These days, I just get the HFC and save myself the trouble of doing the math!

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Old Jul 26th, 2011, 09:07 PM
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Sorry for the double post --

I'd also like to suggest that you look into buying a ticket from Paris to Basel. Then from Basel you could travel to Brienz for your stay there, and onward to Vevey, and finally to Zermatt just before you leave for Italy. This way, your travel in Switzerland will be in one direction, south, instead of zig-zagging from south to north and south again.

Have fun as you plan!

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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 12:17 AM
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When we went to Switzerland we also did the maths. For us the Half Fare Card was a winner.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 12:25 AM
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It's true that my Swiss friends often use the Paris-Basel route because it often has the deepest discounts (Basel being considered a French station). Of course, they have permanent rail passes for Switzerland also, so they don't need to pay anything extra the moment they cross the Swiss border. But they don't mind changing trains in Basel, even though they could get direct trains to Zürich or Lausanne from Paris if they wanted.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 05:16 AM
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Paris to Geneva:

9 TGV Lyria high-speed trains per day each way.

Journey time 3 hours 10 minutes or so. This was shortened from 3 hours 25 minutes last December, when the Haut-Bugey line was opened, as this scenic section shortens the distance.

Fares operate like air fares. From 25 euros if you pre-book, no refunds, no changes to travel plans, up to 86 euros for a fully-flexible buy-on-the-day ticket.

Both classes have loads of room for luggage on rachs at the end of the car and above your head. 2nd class is 'normal', the way most of us Europeans travel when our Company isn't paying. 1st class is for business travellers and upmarket tourists.

Indeed, I'd say both classes have the SAME luggage room, it's probably the fewer people competing for it that make the difference, if any. But it's not a decider, the price is!
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 06:09 PM
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Thank you very much for all your replies. They are greatly appreciated.

Man_in_seat_61 - thanks for the overview. I was 90% sure we would be travelling second class, but now it is definite!

Thanks again - and keep it coming if you think of any other helpful advice. Regards,

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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 06:20 PM
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If this hasn't been mentioned before: travel light, travel light, travel light.

Not only are there racks overhead for luggage, but there are sometimes spaces between two back-to-back opposite facing seats, near the door, and even special luggage racks near the wagon door.

Travelling light allows you to deposit your luggage on the overhead rack.
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Old Jul 27th, 2011, 07:29 PM
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Any pass that reduces transportation costs in half is definitely worthwhile. A ride from Luzern to Winterthur costs 30CHF for what is essentially a commute ride with a change in Zurich.

I would check the point-to-point prices for the travels that you list and see what would happen if you cut the cost in half and add 100CHF for the cost of a pass.
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Old Jul 28th, 2011, 03:36 AM
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Are TGV tickets already on sale for the date you need to travel from Paris to Geneva? If not, you can sign up for an 'Alerte Résa' from SNCF. You provide your departure and arrival cities, the date you wish to travel and your email address. You will receive an email alert the day before tickets are available for sale.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 06:41 PM
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This is fantastic info. My husband and I are also travelling to Geneva from Paris and were wondering the same thing. Even though it's now 2013 Hope you had a good time Steve. And thanks Man in seat 61.
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 08:07 PM
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Hi Tracey - YES, we had a great time! It's kind of funny looking back on this post now after having completed the trip. This post was our introduction to train travel through Europe and obviously we were a little intimidated.

I can tell you now that travelling by train was the smartest move we ever made. By the time we left Australia we had the entire 8 weeks (major city to city) tickets already booked and paid for complete with seat allocation.

We didn't have so much as a hiccup the entire 8 week trip.

BTW - if you are planning to travel through Italy, I can recommend travelling 1st class. The trains are great (that is the "Freccia" (arrow) type ones at least) and the difference in price between 1st and 2nd class is minimal.

Have a great trip!
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