Paris to Zermatt - I need the easiest round-trip

Paris to Zermatt - I need the easiest round-trip

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randess
randess
6 posts
new member
Jan 4, 2017 - 7:10 PM

My husband and I are traveling from Paris to Zermatt Feb. 9, 2017, and returning to Paris on Feb. 14, 2017. The train options are confusing. Should we get a 2-country rail pass? Should we just buy point-to-point tickets? The chat session with the RailEurope agent didn't make the selection clear, other than to say that the best route for our dates of travel is Paris to Lausanne to Visp to Zermatt. I just need to be told what to buy and to keep it simple. Thanks for helping!

Arno
Arno
10757 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 4, 2017 - 8:33 PM in reply to randess

Hi randess,

Welcome to MySwissAlps! Will you just stay in Zermatt and make a few cableway rides during those days?

randess
randess
6 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2017 - 7:03 AM in reply to Arno

Yes. We'll probably do the Glacier Express and whatever other activities there might be - except for skiing, but we do not plan to go elsewhere, other than to return to Paris at the end of our Zermatt stay.

Arno
Arno
10757 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 5, 2017 - 8:45 AM

Hi randess,

A 2-country Eurail Select Pass is not a good option as it does not provide any discounts on the lifts around Zermatt. I'd rather suggest this:

  • a return ticket from Paris to the Swiss border (usually Basel, or Vallorbe if you travel via Lausanne);
  • a Swiss Half Fare Card (which gets you 50% off on almost all public transport in Switzerland).

Note that the full Glacier Express route takes an entire day, best combined with a night stay in St. Moritz before traveling back.

The above links lead to lots of further details. The ticket to the Swiss border is best purchased as soon as possible in order to get the best price.

Last modified on Jan 5, 2017 - 8:46 AM by Arno
randess
randess
6 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2017 - 4:10 PM in reply to Arno

Hi! Thank you for keeping it simple! So we'll take a train from Paris to Basel. Is there a recommended route from Basel to Zermatt? We would prefer to return to Zermatt instead of spending the night in St. Moritz, UNLESS St. Moritz is so amazing that the extra accommodation cost is really worth it or it makes return travel to Paris less expensive or easier. If we don't need to go to St. Moritz, how far should we go on the Glacier Express so we can return to Zermatt the same day?

Arno
Arno
10757 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 5, 2017 - 7:22 PM

You're welcome! The standard route is to Visp (direct or with a change in Bern), where you change to Zermatt. There is a more scenic route if you are willing to spend more time on taking the local train between Spiez and Brig, where you can change to Zermatt as well. The timetable provides all schedules.

You can check the timetable and also the Glacier Express page I linked to before to see whether you prefer just part of the route as a day trip or do it all. You could spend your last two days on this if you want: take the Glacier Express to St. Moritz, then the next day travel to Basel and Paris from there, without returning to Zermatt. Personally I think the Andermatt to St. Moritz leg is more impressive than the Zermatt to Andermatt leg.

The Swiss Half Fare Card can be printed at home through visit www.swissrailways.com/ en. After filling out your address, they will show the delivery options. Pick "Online Ticket" from the bottom of the list. They will e-mail the pass (no delivery fees) within 3 working days. The discounted tickets you are entitled to with that card can be purchased at any train station, or online in advance.

Last modified on May 17, 2018 - 11:42 AM by Arno
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4737 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2017 - 1:18 AM in reply to randess

Hi Randess-

This map may help you:

map.search.ch/Zermatt-Station-Stop?pos=644736,178560&z=1& poi=default

Zoom in to see rail lines.

If you go into the menus, under Points of Interest/Traffic you can turn on public transport stops on a map overlay.

<<"UNLESS St. Moritz is so amazing that the extra accommodation cost is really worth it">>

What is "worth it" "or "so amazing" is a matter of personal opinion, and certainly has to be balanced against your own personal preferences and options.

St Moritz is a nice town, but to really appreciate it, you likely would want to do more than walk around the town itelf. Probably, you would want to spend enough time to go up on one of the cableways or funiculars, which does take a bit of time.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 6, 2017 - 1:55 AM by Slowpoke
randess
randess
6 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2017 - 2:16 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Dear Arno and Slowpoke,

The first thing I must point out is that this is certainly the most helpful forum I've ever seen. Your replies are not only immediate (I can barely keep up, and I'm the one asking for the help!), but the substance is superb.

I will be spending 9 days working in Paris and am looking forward to a relaxing vacation to extend our trip. Though we are not skiers, the excellent information from Arno and the outstanding map and advice from Slowpoke suggest we would be extremely happy spending our time in and around Zermatt itself, without the need to do the Glacier Express on this trip. There seems to be countless cable trips to enjoy what I'm sure are spectacular sights in this area.

Slowpoke, you reached my heart with that map. I love maps, and the overlays are amazing.

Finally, thank you for keeping it simple. Now I just have to get those train tickets and maybe tickets to fly back to Paris. Frankly, that itinerary seems to be the most complicated part of this trip. But based on Arno's advice, I'll just take the train to Basel, order the Swiss Half Fare Card for online delivery, and buy train tickets to and from Zermatt.

I think I almost have this together. Thank you!!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4737 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2017 - 2:25 AM in reply to randess

Hi Randess-

<<"Finally, thank you for keeping it simple. Now I just have to get those train tickets and maybe tickets to fly back to Paris. Frankly, that itinerary seems to be the most complicated part of this trip. But based on Arno's advice, I'll just take the train to Basel, order the Swiss Half Fare Card for online delivery, and buy train tickets to and from Zermatt.">

Thanks. We try to help.

Sounds good to me.

You will find that rail travel in Switzerland is focused on making it easy for the traveler. Excellent signage, plenty of English. Only problem is too many options...for example, your tickets are good for the route for that day, so if you miss a connection, just catch the next one. The timetable will show you just how frequent the trains are.

<<"Now I just have to get those train tickets and maybe tickets to fly back to Paris.">>

Arno and Annika recommend (and I agree enthusiastically) that rail travel from Switzerland to Paris is simpler and more comfortable than plane travel, and not all that different in time spent, once allowance is made for early arrival at the airport, and transport from the airport in Paris.

At the risk of moving away from Simplicity, I shall introduce you to SwissTopo, the "Mother of All Maps" of Switzerland, published by the Federal Land Office.. Infinite combinations of detail, including things only needed by geologists or geographers. Addictive:

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=ech&lang=en&bgLa yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev,ch.swisstopo.swiss tlm3d-wanderwege&layers_visi bility=false,true

Home page has products- paper maps, Smart Phone App- free....

www.swisstopo.admin.ch /

Slowpoke

randess
randess
6 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2017 - 3:18 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Will enjoy this tonight. Despite my map obsession, I could have benefited from better navigational preparation on last weekend's 38-mile turned 45-mile (72k) run in the mountains overnight in the fog and rain....

The maps are much better than simplicity. Thank you!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4737 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2017 - 10:26 AM in reply to randess

Hi Randess- On the Swistopo map with hiking trails turned on, you will note color coding of trails in yellow, red and blue.

Blue are technical climbing. May require crampons, ice axes, etc.

Red or "Mountain Trails" require boots and hiking staffs.

Yellow are supposedly OK in regular - sturdy - shoes.

www.alpenwild.com/stat icpage/trail-signs-in-the-swiss-alps/

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 6, 2017 - 10:27 AM by Slowpoke
randess
randess
6 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2017 - 9:17 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Such useful information! I really can't wait to check out the winter hiking, even snowshoeing (which I've never done before)! I see that warm clothing can be rented in many places, but as one who usually wears trail running shoes when others where super-supportive boots, I am wondering what is the essential footwear to bring for this 5-day visit? The difference is that we don't spend much time in the snow, and we want to travel as lightly as possible, given all the train travel.

You all are the BEST resource!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4737 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2017 - 10:09 PM in reply to randess

<<"but as one who usually wears trail running shoes when others where super-supportive boots, I am wondering what is the essential footwear to bring for this 5-day visit? The difference is that we don't spend much time in the snow, and we want to travel as lightly as possible, given all the train travel.">>

'Fraid that I cannot help you much there.

I find boots with ankle support and lugged soles absolutely necessary on trails traversing slopes on scree...common..... or gravel on down hill stretches. And, you have the issue of snow/cold/wet feet if your gear is not water proof.

Perhaps others who are more serious runners or hikers than I can offer an opinion.

I will comment that my Swiss friends routinely wear their boots for any kind of walk. That is the ordinary approach.

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
10757 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 7, 2017 - 9:15 AM in reply to randess

If you plan to spend a couple of hours in the snow you will need solid water proof shoes. When on holiday I often wear them in the cities as well. Running shoes will be wet in no-time unfortunate. You can probably rent shoes as well; I have never done so myself.

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