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jinz Apr 15th, 2015 10:29 PM

which mountain for snow experience for non skier - first visit to France
 
Hello, We are beginning our planning of our first holiday in France from 4 April 2016. Before we begin exploring other areas of France we would very much like to visit a town in the Alps where we can enjoy snow. I have tried to research but most of the information seems to be for skiers. We do not do snow sports (except for trying out gentle slope sledding!) but we really enjoy going up mountains on cable cars, trains and gondalas and seeing beautiful views, experiencing snow and having a meal at the top. We also enjoy strolling around pretty villages and towns and enjoying good local food. We won't have a car and will need to rely on public transport. Our arrival airport is Zurich and we will catch a train to wherever local experts suggest for our mountain visit stop. We are able to spend four days there (more if recommended). We are fortunate that cost is not a factor but would like to experience beautiful scenery. Many thanks from Auckland.

swandav2000 Apr 16th, 2015 01:16 AM

Hi jinz,

You may want to include your entire itinerary here so folks can see all that you'll be doing on this trip. The first question I would ask is -- since you're landing in Zürich, why not go to a Swiss mountaintop? But I think I remember that you'll be going to the Engadin Valley later in your trip -- ? So, anyway, it might be helpful if folks could see your whole trip.

Have fun as you plan!

s

jinz Apr 16th, 2015 01:37 AM

Hi Swandiv,

Sorry if my info was confusing. We are definitely still going to Switzerland and are following all your really helpful suggestions and spending a week in Engadin. I moved our arrival into Europe back a week so we have more time. After our stay in Switzerland we have to go back to Zurich to meet a friend and then we want to go to France to visit another friend who lives in a little village in the middle of France. Because of our love for snowy mountains we hoped to visit a French one before we start our trip around France. Then we are off to Austria where we are staying in St Gilgen as per your recommendation. It is a lot of criss crossing but it can't be helped and we plan to make it part of the fun. Have you any suggestions? thank you for responding.

jinz Apr 16th, 2015 01:48 AM

I am presently recovering from an op and am stuck in bed for some long, long weeks so planning this trip is keeping me sane and my mind off being stuck! Hence it is being planned a year ahead. The reason we are going to Switzerland first is because we want to get the most snow. I think it would be so much easier to do France first and then move across the countries and end up in Austria? My friend lives in Serilhac and we have to fly into Zurich. We can fly out any major European city. We are not really interested in Spain and have done a lot of Italy.

swandav2000 Apr 16th, 2015 01:54 AM

Thanks so much for the information! I know it'll be helpful as others advise you.

Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the French Alps, but I know lots of others will.

Sorry to hear about your op -- but SO agree that travel planning is fun & restorative, lol.

Get better!

s

jinz Apr 16th, 2015 02:45 AM

Thank you, Swandiv. I really hope someone who is an expert on France replies to my post. I am now going back to my maps!

neckervd Apr 17th, 2015 04:16 AM

Do you want to do all by train? I suppose you know that there are actually low cost flights Basel - Toulouse for about 60 USD. A train ride from Geneva to Brive would last about 10 hrs.
Brive to Chamonix lasts about 12 hrs by train.

As to the alpine places, many French resorts are used to close after Easter (first week of April 2016). The cableways of Chamonix will continue to run, however.

In order to give you some ideas, please find below a list of all alpine mountain railway and cableway stations higher than 9200 ft:

Alpine "tops" of easy reach by public trainsport:

01. Kleinmatterhorn (Zermatt): gondola station 12525 ft, path to 12740 ft
02. Aiguille du Midi (Chamonix): gondola station 12605 ft
03. Testa Grigia (Breuil-Cervinia): gondola station 11415 ft
04. Mittelalallin (Saas Fee): cablecar station 11345 ft
05. Jungfrau (Interlaken): railway station 11333 ft
06. Hinterer Brunnenkogel (Pitztal): gondola station 11285 ft
07. La Grande Motte (Tignes): gondola station 11200 ft
08. Dôme de Puy Salié (Les Deux Alpes): cablecar station, 11100 ft
09. Rifugio Torino (Courmayeur): gondola station 11060 ft
10. Schwarze Schneide (Soelden): gondola station 11000 ft
11. Mont Fort (Verbier): gondola station 10925 ft
12. Pic Blanc (Alpe d’Huez): gondola station, 10900 ft
13. Corvatsch (St. Moritz): gondola station 10820 ft
14. Les Grands Montets (Argentiere): gondola station 10810 ft
15. Punta Indren (Alagna Valsesia): gondola station 10750 ft
16, Hintereis (Schnals/Senales): chairlift station 10700 ft
17 Wildspitz (Stubaital): gondola station 10540 ft
18. Monte Livrio (Stelvio), gondola station 10410 ft
19. Punta Rocca (Canazai): gondola station 10710 ft
20. Schwarze Schneide (Soelden): gondola station 10670 ft
21. Tiefenbachkogel (Soelden): gondola station 10660 ft
22. Pointe Bouchet (St-Michel-de-Maurienne): chair lift station 10640 ft
23. Cima Tofana (Cortina d’Ampezzo): gondola station 10630 ft
24. Aiguille Rouge (Les Arcs): gondola station 10590 ft
25. Gefrorene Wand (Hintertux): gondola station 10560 ft
26. Ruillans (La Grave): gondola station 10500 ft
27. Cime de Caron (Val Thorens): gondola station 10480 ft
28. Col de Thorens (Val Thorens): chair lift station, 10480 ft
29. Unterrothorn (Zermatt): gondola station 10200 ft path to 11200 ft
30. Hohsaas (Saas Grund): 10175 ft, footpath up to 10500 ft
31. Eisjoch (Stubaital): gondola station 10400 ft
32. Karlesspitze (Kaunertal): gondola station 10180 ft
33. Gornergrat (Zermatt): railway station 10140 ft, footpath up to 10750 ft
34. Hockenhorngrat (Loetschental): chair lift station 10120 ft
35. Herpié (Alpe d’Huez): gondola station 10040 ft
36. Gaislachkogel (Soelden): gondola station 9950 ft
37. La Leisse (Tignes): cablecar station 9950 ft
38. Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun): gondola station 9940 ft
39. Piz Nair (St. Moritz): gondola station 9920 ft
40. Schwarzkogel (Soelden): gondola station 9900 ft
41. Cima Bianca (Bormio): gondola station 9840 ft
42. Peio3000 (Val di Sole): gondola station 9850 ft
43. Rettenbachjoch (Soelden): gondola station 9810 ft
44. Glacier de la Chiaupe: gondola station 9810 ft
45. Col de Caron (St-Michel-de-Maurienne): chairlift station 9780 ft
46. Diavolezza (Pontresina): gondola station 9750 ft
47. Schilthorn (Muerren): gondola station 9745 ft
48. Gemsstock (Andermatt): gondola station 9720 m
49. Eibsee (Garmisch): gondola station 9680 ft
50. Glacier 3000 (Gstaad): gondola station 9650 ft
51. Glacier de Péclet (Val Thorens): cablecar station 9630 ft
52. Rifugio Lorenzi (Cortina d’Ampezzo): kettlelift station 9620 ft
53. Pointe de la Plaine Morte (Crans-Montana), gondola station 9450 ft
54. Pizzo Groppera (Madesimo): gondola station 9440 ft
55. Eggishorn (Brig): gondola station 9410 ft
56. Pitztaler Stollenbahn (Pitztal): cablecar station 9320 ft
57. Mont de la Chambre (Val Thorens): gondola station 9320 ft
58. Monte Moro (Macugnaga): gondola station 9220 ft
59. Weissfluh (Davos): gondola station 9200 ft
60. Eisseehaus (Obervellach): gondola station 9200 ft

BTW: It's a pity that you have obviously not the possibility to do your trip in a logic geographical order:
Central France - Toulouse - low cost flight - Geneva - bus - Chamonix - bus - Milan - train - Chiavenna - bus - St. Moritz - train Scuol - bus - Landeck - train - Salzburg

PalenQ Apr 17th, 2015 06:03 AM

a mountain in France would be in the Chamonix area - Mt Blanc - mountain train goes up there - and a thrilling gondola ride from Chamonix itself to the Aguille de Midi then a very long thrilling to some terrifying to others small cable car ride to Pointe Heilbrunner in Italy - the cars stop st times for loading on either ends leaving you dangling high above a sea of ice - very eery but if you want thrilling gondola rides this is it and Mont Blanc is as thrilling as any Swiss mountain.

To get to Chamonix from Zurich take a train to Visp and change to a train to Martigny - then take the awesomely scenic Martigny-Chamonix narrow-gauge mountain railway to Chamonix - to me one of the most scenic in Europe - its initial climb along for some an all-too narrow ledge over the Rhone Valley far below can also be unnerving.

For Swiss train details and the train to Chamonix check these sources: www.budgeteuropetravel.com - their free online European Planning & Rail Guide has sections on both the Chamonix gondolas and the Martigny-Chamonix train; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

jinz Apr 17th, 2015 08:00 PM

Thank you so much for your help. Neckervd, the mountain list is amazing and is my new bucket list. Unfortunately, I do not fly very well so land it has to be. I am trying to see if I can rearrange things with our friends so it is more logical but we are trying to make sure we get to the snow before it melts too much. I have come up with the following plan and would appreciate your thoughts. Fly into Zurich - train to the Engadin Valley - train to Chamonix (Mont Blanc Express along the way?) - travel to Sereilhac exploring on the way (we need to get to Brive la Gaillarde and our friend will collect us there) or we could hire a car somewhere along the way. Once I have this part figured out I can work out where to next. Thank you again for all the help. I hope I can return the kindness one day. From a really wet Auckland today.

jinz Apr 17th, 2015 08:14 PM

Sorry not sure if I needed to say that the above plan would mean we would travel to Chamonix on 4 or 5 April 2016.

neckervd Apr 18th, 2015 03:01 AM

Some timetable datas:

ZRH (Zch airport) - Upper Engadine (St. Moritz, Pontresina, Sils, Samedan, Celerina, etc.):
trains (and connecting buses) every 30-60 min from 6am until 6 or 7pm (3 1/2 - 4 hrs journey).

ZRH - Lower Engadine (Scuol, Zernez, etc):
trains (and connecting buses) every hr from 6am until 7pm (3 hrs journey).


St. Moritz etc. - Chamonix via Glacier Express:
St. Moritz dp 9.02 - Brig 15.40/16.28 - Martigny 17.17/17.43 - Chamonix ar 19.10

St. Moritz etc. - Chamonix via Lake Como - Milan (all by bus except the Chiavenna - Lampugnano leg):
St. Moritz dp 7.25 - Chiavenna 8.58/9.26 - Milano Centrale 11.40 - metro - Milano Lampugnano 13.00 - Aosta 15.30/15.45 - Courmayeur 16.45/17.00 - Chamonix ar 17.45

St. Moritz etc. - Chamonix via Zurich (most boring itinerary):
St. Moritz dp 8.46 - Landquart 10.36/10.49 - Zurich 11.53/12.02 - Visp 14.08/14.35 - Martigny 15.17/15.43 - Chamonix ar 17.10

PalenQ Apr 18th, 2015 05:19 AM

There is nothing in the Engadine that you will not find in the Jungfrau Region around Switzerland - to me and many the asbolute highlight of Switzerland and in Chamonix' vicinity - why take a huge detour to see what you can see even better of IME than in the St Moritz area?

It's way way out of your way - adding a day of travel just to get back to central Switzerland.

PalenQ Apr 18th, 2015 06:32 AM

4 days can be lovely in the Jungfrau Region - if not on a tight budget then head for a place like Wengen or Grindelwald -

and then on one day take the train to the Jungfraujoch station, the highest train station in Europe - and perpetual ice and snow - walk thru ice grottoes and to the nearby tip of the Aletsch Glacier.

https://www.google.com/search?q=jung...=1600&bih=1075

another day go via Lauterbrunnen to Murren and then take the long aerial cableway to the Schilthorn/Piz Gloria - an icy outpost on a spit of rock in the middle of nowhere - the revolving restaurant here was a venue in the filming of James Bond's On Her Majesty's Secret Service-

https://www.google.com/search?q=schi...=1600&bih=1075

another day go down to Interlaken and take a boat ride on Lake Brienz or Lake Thun - both lakes have several interesting places to get on and off the boats.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lake...=1600&bih=1075

https://www.google.com/search?q=lake...=1600&bih=1075

day 4 take the scenic route to Chamonix and onto France or go via Geneva to France.

a 4-day consecutive Swiss Pass may be a great deal for that itinerary - check www.swisstravelsystem.com for details.

the Engadine takes a lot longer than the few hours from Zurich Airport to the Jungfrau Region and does not offer the sheer variety of things to do IME - easily done too in the Jungfrau Region - nor does Staad or Zermatt.

The Jungfrau Region - to me and many the absolute highlight of a first-timers Swiss visit:

https://www.google.com/search?q=jung...=1600&bih=1075

swandav2000 Apr 18th, 2015 06:46 AM

Pal,

The OP has already done the Jungfrau area:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-this-trip.cfm

s

neckervd Apr 18th, 2015 07:49 AM

"There is nothing in the Engadine that you will not find in the Jungfrau Region around Switzerland - to me and many the asbolute highlight of Switzerland and in Chamonix' vicinity"

Palen:
I usually appreciate your posts. But here, you are completely wrong.

neckervd Apr 18th, 2015 08:21 AM

Snow in April:
You will find snow for sure in the Engadin Valley. Have a look at the following webcams and see how it looks today:
http://www.bernina-hospiz.ch/index.p...1&i=1462887214
http://www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/winte.../live_webcams/
http://elparadiso.roundshot.com/
http://sils.roundshot.com/
and around Chamonix:
http://www.chamonix.net/english/webc...-du-midi-ridge

PalenQ Apr 18th, 2015 09:33 AM

I usually appreciate your posts. But here, you are completely wrong.>

enlighten me about the Alpine experience or any neat experience found in the Engadine that you can not find in the Berner Oberland or Chamonix-Mont-Blanc area?

neckervd Apr 19th, 2015 01:05 AM

Many Engadine villages (of course not St. Moritz or Pontresina) are real gems, with beautiful several hundred years old stone houses and a real village center. Have a look at Guarda, Scuol, Poschiavo, Soglio, etc but also at less compact villages like Cinuos-chel, Zuoz, Madulain......)

There is nothing similar in the Jungfrau area; most villages are just a addition of different houses, some ugly, some historic 19th century hotels, put into the nature without any plan, with no real center. You don't go in these villages for the pleasure to be in the village, but just for seeing some mountains...

Engadin offers easy access to glacier walks and the possiblity to do round trips (you must not backtrack along the same itinerary):
from Corvatsch gondola station to Roseg glacier (Coaz hut) or over the glacier to Piz Murtel,
from the end of the Roseg horse buggey line to Tschierva glacier or to Roseg glacier,
from Morteratsch railway station to Morteratsch glacier (Boval hut),
from Diavolezza over Morteratsch glacier to Morteratsch railway station (short guided tour, many daily departures).

It's not impossible to hike to glaciers from the Jungfrau area villages, but you have to climb about 1500 m (Stechelberg to Schmadri hut or Grindelwald to Schreckhorn hut) and you have to go back exactly along the same itinerary.
And even if you go to Jungfraujoch, you have only 1 possible hike up to Moenchsjoch and back.

The lakes in the Engadin are real gems and many of them like Lej da Segl (with scheduled boat traffic), Lej da Silvaplauna, Lej da Champfer, Lag da Cavloc, Lag da Bitabergh, Lag da l'Albigna, Lej Sgrisusch, Lejs da Furtschellas (5 lakes), Lej da Fuorcla Surlej, Lej da Vadret, Lej Marsch, Lej da Staz, Lej Suvretta, Lej Alv da Schlattain, Lai da Palpuogna, Lej da Diavolezza, Lej Pitschen da BErnina, Lej Alv da Bernina, Lej Nair da Bernina, Lag de la Crusetta, Lej Minor, Lagh da Braita, Lagh da Saoseo, Lagh da Scispadus, Laghs dal Dugural (5 lakes), Lai da la Scotta, Lai da Tarasp, Lai Nair da Tarasp, Lai da Schlivera, Lai nair da Danuder, Lai da Ova Spin, Lej dal Guglia, Leg Grevasalvas ..... are of extremely easy reach by public transport.

There is nothing similar in the Jungfrau area: only Bachalpsee, Grauseeli and the tiny Burgseeli are of easy reach, followed by Sulsseeli and Hagelseeli.

Good hikers can easily hike from The Engadin Valley to other cultural spaces like Italian speaking Val Bregaglia, Val Poschiavo, Val Malenco, Val Livigno, Val Viola Bormina,
Alemanic German speaking Averstal, Vermunttal,
Tyrolian German speaking Val Paznaun, Obervinschgau, Schlinigertal, Trafoiertal, Oberinntal.
And they must not go back the same way: there are tons of altervative itineraries.
Other cultural space means: other language, other architecture, other food... a real enrichment.

jinz Apr 19th, 2015 03:45 AM

Hello, Neckervd, thank you so much for the webcam links. I had such fun today looking at them (I have kept my ward mates entertained with them too). After reading the above post I am wondering if I will have enough time in the valley! Swandiv is correct that I have been lucky enough to visit all the other areas mentioned a few times so I am really excited about exploring a new part of Switzerland. I put this thread on to ask about France because I need to go and see my friend in Sereilhac so thought it was a great chance to get in some more mountains. At the end of our Chamonix stay I am thinking we will start our trip to Sereilhac with Annecy. Thank you for your help everyone.

neckervd Apr 19th, 2015 05:52 AM

Actually, there is a direct (San Sebastian bound) bus from Geneva city bus terminal dp 14.30 to Brive Cafeteria Carrefour ar 23.30.
But things may change until next year.


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