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Zurich to Amsterdam to Paris by train in July

Zurich to Amsterdam to Paris by train in July

Old Jun 21st, 2009, 01:49 PM
  #1  
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Zurich to Amsterdam to Paris by train in July

I fly into Zurich and would like to take the train to Amsterdam. Does anyone know if I need a reservation for this? I am wondering if it would save money to just pick up a ticket when I get there, and if there is any trouble getting around without a reservation.
From Amsterdam I plan to take the train to Paris. I have the same questions about that leg of the journey.
Thank you~
heatherNpablo is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2009, 02:38 PM
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For Zurich to Amsterdam you will probably need to change trains in Basel. Some trains from Zurich to Basel are high speed TGV which require a reservation and payment of a supplement. Basel to Amsterdam has ICE high speed trains which do not require a reservation but may require payment of a supplement.

For Amsterdam to Paris you have two choices. The Thalys from Amsterdam is the high speed train to Paris, but not until you reach Brussels. High speed track has not yet been installed in Holland but still you pay as if it has been. Thalys requires a reservation and is expensive. The alternative is to take the International Express from Amsterdam to Brussels Midi/Zuid station and then the Thalys from Midi/Zuid to Paris Nord station. Thalys has a monopoly on train service from Brussels to Paris but you still have the option of the lower cost International Express from Amsterdam to Brussels.

The Amsterdam to Paris route offers the opportunity for stopovers in Antwerp, Brussels, and Brugge. A great day trip from Amstersdam is Haarlem.

I suggest you consider buying a rail pass. Some kind of a Flexipass (there are many types) might save you money on this itinerary. Also, a pass saves you the time and trouble of standing in line to buy tickets. Call Budget Europe Travel Service at 1-800-441-2387 and talk with Byron or Linda. They are both very experienced, helpful, and patient, and sell rail passes.
spaarne is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 05:28 AM
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>For Zurich to Amsterdam you will probably need to change trains in Basel. Some trains from Zurich to Basel are high speed TGV which require a reservation and payment of a supplement.

Sorry, this is wrong. Whatever kind of train it is (including TGV), within Switzerland it is treated as anormal intercity train. No mandatory reservations, no supplement etc.

>Basel to Amsterdam has ICE high speed trains which do not require a reservation but may require payment of a supplement.

The ICE tickets are more expensive than for a connection without ICE, but there are no non-ICE direct connections to Amsterdam anyway. There is no special supplement though.

>For Amsterdam to Paris you have two choices. The Thalys from Amsterdam is the high speed train to Paris, but not until you reach Brussels. High speed track has not yet been installed in Holland but still you pay as if it has been. Thalys requires a reservation and is expensive.

But if you book well in advance you can get a ticket that is _much_ cheaper. Thalys pricing is similar to airlines.

>The alternative is to take the International Express from Amsterdam to Brussels Midi/Zuid station and then the Thalys from Midi/Zuid to Paris Nord station. Thalys has a monopoly on train service from Brussels to Paris but you still have the option of the lower cost International Express from Amsterdam to Brussels.

Correct, only that it isn´t called "international Express". It´s a normal InterCity train.

>The Amsterdam to Paris route offers the opportunity for stopovers in Antwerp, Brussels, and Brugge. A great day trip from Amstersdam is Haarlem.

Den Haag is also worth visiting. And if you like modern architecture, Rotterdam is a good destination (as long as you don´t expect the stereotypic Dutch "quaintness")

>I suggest you consider buying a rail pass. Some kind of a Flexipass (there are many types) might save you money on this itinerary.

I doubt it very much.

>Also, a pass saves you the time and trouble of standing in line to buy tickets.

This is one of the strangest arguments that always crop up on this forum. Why do you need to stand in line? Just buy the single tickets online before travelling, or from the ticke tmachine within 2-3 minutes.

>Call Budget Europe Travel Service at 1-800-441-2387 and talk with Byron or Linda. They are both very experienced, helpful, and patient, and sell rail passes.

...and need a provision.
altamiro is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 07:57 AM
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I don't know what to believe now!
heatherNpablo is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 09:32 AM
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Altamiro raised some technicalities and opinions of dubious worth. Just call BETS to sort it out.
spaarne is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 09:51 AM
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If you don't want the night train, for which a reservation is compulsory, then there is possible to do the trip with just one change in Basel, rather than several changes along the way. There is an extra fee because it is an ICE and you are recommended to book it as it is a very popular/crowded train.
There is also a train to Frankfurt and then on to Amsterdam. Again reservations are recommended and you pay extra for the ICE train.
Note that these trains are not quicker than routes involving several changes, and can even be slower by some hours, just are easier to do.
From AMS to Paris if you don't want to change then take the Thalys from AMS. Whether you take the intercity to Brussels or get on it in Amsterdam sooner or later you have to get on the Thalys to go to Paris, and need to book as far ahead as you can to get a cheap ticket.
hetismij is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 11:17 AM
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I took Thalys from Amsterdam to Paris on June 9. I bought the tickets online for 25€ each in 2nd class. We didn't have a problem with second class on this train, although we usually go 1st class. With the low price. I chose to try 2nd class and no problems.
scatcat is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 11:28 AM
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Note that the 25 euro fares are NOT always available and must be booked far in advance. For folks wishing flexibility this is not an option and a pass can be used on any train, subject to the reservation fee, which alas is nearly 25 euros i think.

If you can nab the 25 euro fares (Rail Europe in the U.S. i believe has currently a 50% off normal fare - though it may have expired?) then that makes a railpass mute. But if you want to hop any train Zurich to Amsterdam that fare alone may go a long way to making a pass pay off. (see www.bahn.de for sample fares Amsterdam to Zurich though you may have to price it zurich-Stuttgart and Stuttgart-amsterdam and add the fares together
Palenque is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 01:53 PM
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>Altamiro raised some technicalities and opinions of dubious worth.

Sorry for these opinions of dubious worth, spaarne, what do I know? I only sit in the ICEs on this route every couple of weeks.
altamiro is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2009, 02:35 PM
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altamiro,

With your expertise you should be able to help heatherNpablo rather than picking nits with my response and confusing them gloriously.

As for Just buy the single tickets online before travelling, or from the ticket machine within 2-3 minutes, have you read the threads on Fodor's about the difficulty of buying international (5 countries in this case) tickets on line without a European address? Or the fact that American credit cards do not work in European train ticket machines?

And if you like modern architecture, Rotterdam is a good destination (as long as you don´t expect the stereotypic Dutch "quaintness") To each his own. Rotterdam is an architectural wasteland. They'll never build another Amsterdam or Haarlem. Snoot stereotypic Dutch "quaintness" all you want. I love it.
spaarne is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2009, 12:00 AM
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"Also, a pass saves you the time and trouble of standing in line to buy tickets".

Sadly, this was true in the 1980s, but it's no longer true in the 21st century. If anything, the world has been turned on its head:

It's now the point-to-point ticketholder who finds a cheap deal online for a few euros, prints out their own ticket and breezes ono the train... Whilst the railpass traveller finds that almost EVERY SINGLE decent long distance train in France, Italy or Spain, and between Paris and Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Amsterdam now requires a surcharge and compulsory reservation so has to queue up (sorry, I mean stand in line, must remember to translate into American!) at the ticket office before every trip.

In this case, look for a 49 euro ticket including couchette from Zurich to Amsterdam on the City Night Line overnight train at www.bahn.de, and yes it WILL accept US credit cards (you'd pay a 20 euro couchette supplement with a pass, so your expensive pass only saves 29 euro, about $39 on this trip). So will www.voyages-sncf.com for tickets within and out of France (but leave it in French with 'France' selected so you can pick up tickets in Paris). Try www.thalys.com for Amsterdam-Paris.

Sadly, the more I do the maths, the less any railpass makes sense for a known itinerary, with the exception of Swiss passes where reservations are almost never required and cheap deals almost non-existent on normal tickets.

For anywhere else, the burden of proof has reversed:

ASSUME POINT-TO-POINT WILL BE CHEAPER THAN ANY RAILPASS UNLESS YOU CAN PROVE OTHERWISE
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2009, 03:46 AM
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Well said, Man in seat 61!
Another exception may be the German rail pass - with a few long-distance trips it may pay off against single tickets. But this is less clear-cut than in case of Switzerland.
But in France, Spain, Italy etc. a pass is mostly a source of frustration and wasted time.
altamiro is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2009, 06:42 AM
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Whilst the railpass traveller finds that almost EVERY SINGLE decent long distance train in France, Italy or Spain, and between Paris and Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Amsterdam now requires a surcharge and compulsory reservation so has to queue up (sorry, I mean stand in line, must remember to translate into American!) at the ticket office before every trip>

It's not always a surcharge and a reservation fee - always in these countries a seat reservation but in the case of France it is mainly still just a 3 euro seat reservation fee - no supplements i think. Some Italian trains - ICplus trains are the same - as is the Talgo from Barcelona to France - simple seat reservation fee. And as you can make all your required seat reservations at any train station in that country you need not always have to stand in lines in every station - do them all at once.

But no doubt the flexibility of a pass to use any train anytime in Italy, Spain and France is lost - but in most other countries you can just hop on any train anytime - if flexibility is key then a pass in those countries will still be a good deal - compared to ordinary walk up fares. But for the traveler who knows exactly when they want to take a train then the online specials are a great deal.
Palenque is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2009, 07:20 AM
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Or the fact that American credit cards do not work in European train ticket machines?

Boy, that sure is a shock! Because I routinely buy tickets from the Swiss machines with American credit cards - AMEX, no less.
travelgourmet is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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Now that you are totally confused here's another possibility:

take a TGV Lyria service from Zurich TO PARIS...FIRST...that takes 4.5 hours and yes you do need a seat reservation...great scenery along the way.

Then take the Thalys from Paris to Amsterdam....shorter rides both segments than the Zurich-Amsterdam idea and NO changes....
Dukey is offline  
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