30+ Days Alps & Wine Explorer - Paris-Lausanne, Lausanne-Chamonix, Chamonix-Zermatt, Zermatt-Appenzell via the Glacier Express, Appenzell-Murren, Murren-Wengen, Colmar, the Champagne region, & then return to the Paris CDG Airport

Need evaluation of my best option for a rail pass on this complicated journey:Days 1-4 Near Paris using rental carDay 4 travel to Lausanne via TGV deal (already purchased),Day 6 - Train to ChamonixDay 10 Glacier Express train to Zermatt. Day 13 Zermatt to Appenzell via Glacier Express, Day 16 Appenzell to Murren, Day 20 Murren to Wengen, Day 23 - 24 Murten, then train to Colmar, FRDay 24 - 28 Colmar/Alsace Region, FRDay 28 - 32 Champagne RegionDay 32 - Return to CDGAt first I thought a Swiss travel flexi pass made sense, or perhaps a half-fare card, but now I'm thinking a Eurail 2 country pass might be the best option.Help!
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) June 07, 2017 19:55
    Hi Sherrie,

    For the itinerary you laid out, your best option would be to purchase the 2 country option of the Eurail Select Pass to include France and Switzerland. For the Eurail Select Pass, you would click here: https://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/eurail-select-pass/index.html.

    Paris to Lausanne

    As per your post, this segment was already purchased.

    Lausanne to Chamonix

    A connection from Lausanne to Chamonix takes just under 2.5 hours in duration and involves 2 train changes along the way; once in Martigny and then once in Vallorcine. The segments from Martigny to Vallorcine and Vallorcine to Chamonix represent the famed Mont Blanc Express scenic route.

    None of the trains comprising of this connection accept reservations, so the rail pass is all you would need to board. For planning purposes, you can view schedules for this route by doing a search on the homepage of our website, www.raileurope.com. For the trip from Lausanne to Chamonix, you would just break up the search in Martigny. Therefore, you would do one search for trains from Lausanne to Martigny and then another search from Martigny to Chamonix. Generally, when just searching for schedules for non-reservable trains, you would have to be sure the 'No' option is checked where it asks you 'Are you traveling with a rail pass?'.

    Chamonix to Zermatt

    A connection from Chamonix to Zermatt takes about 4 hours in duration and involves 3 train changes along the way; once in Vallorcine, once in Martigny, and then once in Visp. From Chamonix to Martigny, you would be backtracking over the Mont Blanc Express route. The train from Visp to Zermatt follow along a stretch of the Glacier Express scenic route.

    Reservations are not accepted on any of these segments either, so the rail pass is all you would need to board. For planning purposes, schedules from Chamonix to Martigny and Visp to Zermatt can be viewed by doing a search on our website. Schedules from Martigny to Visp are not able to be viewed on our website; however, these trains depart 4 times every hour throughout the day, and the ride from Martigny to Visp takes 40-60 minutes.

    Zermatt to Appenzell via the Glacier Express

    A connection from Zermatt to Appenzell via the Glacier Express route would take more than double the amount of time than the normal connections between these destinations. To go by way of the Glacier Express scenic route, the connection would take 13.5 hours in duration and involves 3 train changes along the way; once in St Moritz, once in Chur, and then once in St Gallen. The segment from Zermatt to St Moritz is the Glacier Express. The segment from St Moritz to Chur runs over the scenic Albula Railway of the famed Bernina Express scenic route.

    The Glacier Express from Zermatt to St Moritz requires reservations as a supplement to a rail pass.

    In contrast, reservations are not accepted on the trains from St Moritz to Chur, Chur to St Gallen, and St Gallen to Appenzell. Therefore, the rail pass is all you would need to board.

    For travel with a rail pass, you would purchase reservations from Zermatt to St Moritz by clicking the 'Seat Reservations' tab on our homepage (www.raileurope.com), entering the route, and indicating the type of rail pass with which you'll be traveling (i.e. a 'Eurail Two Country Select Pass'). If nothing displays when you do this search, you can try calling us to verify availability. We can be reached at 1-800-622-8600.

    For planning purposes, schedules for the segments from St Moritz to Chur and Chur to St Gallen can be viewed by viewed on our website. In contrast, schedules from St Gallen to Appenzell are not able to be viewed on our website; however, these trains depart twice every hour throughout the day, and the ride from St Gallen to Appenzell only takes about 45 minutes.

    Appenzell to Mürren

    The most feasible connections from Appenzell to Mürren take around 5 to 5.5 hours in duration and involve at least 5 changes along the way; once in St Gallen, once in Bern, once in Interlaken, once in Lauterbrunnen, and then once in Grütschalp. However, the Eurail Select Pass does not cover beyond Interlaken on the way to Mürren. Therefore, you would purchase tickets locally for the segments from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen (Bernese Oberland Railway), Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp (Grütschalpbahn cable car), and Grütschalp to Mürren (Mürrenbahn). By purchasing these tickets locally, the Eurail Select Pass should enable you to receive a discount of about 25%.

    You can also get from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren by taking a bus to the village of Stechelberg and then the Schilthornbahn cable cars from Stechelberg to Mürren (via Gimmelwald). For the Lauterbrunnen-Stechelberg bus and the Schilthornbahn cable cars from Stechelberg to Mürren, you would also have to purchase the tickets locally, and the Eurail Select Pass should enable you to receive a discount of about 25%.

    If one day you plan to go up to Schilthorn while you’re in Mürren, you can receive a discount of about 25% by purchasing the ‘1 Day Round-Trip Journey From Murren - For Use Only With Eurail Pass Which Includes Switzerland’ option of a pass called the ‘Schilthorn-Piz Gloria’, which you can purchase here: https://www.raileurope.com/activities/schilthorn-piz-gloria/index.html.

    Schedules from Appenzell to St Gallen are not able to be viewed on our website; however, these trains depart twice every hour throughout the day, and the ride from Appenzell to St Gallen only takes about 45 minutes. For planning purposes, schedules for the segments from St Gallen to Bern and Bern to Interlaken can be viewed by viewed on our website. Trains from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen are also not able to be viewed on our website; however, these trains depart twice every hour throughout the day, and the ride only takes 20 minutes. The Grütschalpbahn cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp operates twice every hour, taking only 4 minutes. The Mürrenbahn from Grütschalp to Mürren departs 4 times every hour throughout the day, and the ride only takes 14 minutes. Reservations are not necessary or possible on any of these trains, so the rail pass is all you would need to board.

    If you don’t mind adding about an hour to your total journey time, you can take a different route between Appenzell and Interlaken that involves following along a segment of the famed GoldenPass scenic route. This option would take something more like 6 hours in duration and involves at least 6 changes along the way; once in Gossau, once in Zurich, once in Lucerne, once in Interlaken, once in Lauterbrunnen, and then once in Grütschalp. The segment from Lucerne to Interlaken represents a segment of the GoldenPass scenic route. For this specific option, you can view schedules from Appenzell to Interlaken by breaking up your search in Zurich and then Lucerne. Therefore, you would do one search from Appenzell to Zurich, another search for connecting trains from Zurich to Lucerne, and then another search for connecting trains from Lucerne to Interlaken. Once again, reservations would not be necessary or possible on any of these trains, so the rail pass is all you would need to board. The remaining part of the connection (between Interlaken and Mürren) would be the same as what I described above for the shorter options from Appenzell to Mürren that go via Bern.

    Mürren to Wengen

    To get from Mürren to Wengen, you would take the Mürrenbahn from Mürren back to Grütschalp, the Grütschalpbahn cable car from Grütschalp back to Lauterbrunnen, and then a very short train on the Wengernalp Railway from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen. The Eurail Select Pass would not cover any of this, but still should enable you to receive a discount of about 25% when purchased locally.

    Since it appears you’ll be in the area of Wengen for a period of days, you might want to consider purchasing the Jungfrau Travel Pass. The Jungfrau Travel Pass covers most of the trains beyond Interlaken, which as I mentioned, are not covered by the Eurail Select Pass.

    For the Jungfrau Travel Pass, you would click here: https://www.raileurope.com/activities/jungfrau-vip-pass/index.html.

    Colmar

    I’m not sure I’m clear on where you’re leaving from on your way to Colmar. From Wengen or Mürren, you would go back through Interlaken, and the connection from Interlaken to Colmar would involve changing trains once in Basel along the way. On the trains from Interlaken to Basel and Basel to Colmar, reservations are not necessary, so the rail pass is all you would need to board. For planning purposes, schedules from Interlaken to Colmar are able to be viewed by doing a search on our website.

    Colmar to the Champagne region

    There are rail stations throughout the Champagne region. The main hubs would be Reims, Épernay, Troyes, or Châlons-en-Champagne. Connections from Colmar would typically involve 2 train changes along the way; once in Strasbourg and then once in Champagne-Ardenne. Trains from Strasbourg to Champagne-Ardenne are TGV trains on which reservations would be required as a supplement to a rail pass. For the other segments, there are regional trains (TER trains) on which reservations are not even accepted, so the rail pass is all you would need to board.

    For travel with a rail pass, you would purchase reservations from Strasbourg to Champagne-Ardenne by clicking the 'Seat Reservations' tab on our homepage (www.raileurope.com), entering the route, and indicating the type of rail pass with which you'll be traveling (i.e. a 'Eurail Two Country Select Pass').

    Champagne region to Paris CDG

    Getting to Paris CDG would involve going through the city of Paris. From the city of Paris, you would take a local RER commuter train up to the airport. As of 2017, Eurail Passes that include France are no longer valid on the RER trains to the airport. Therefore, for this short trip, you would just have to pay locally upon arrival. RER trains depart once every 7-15 minutes throughout the day, and the ride takes about 30-35 minutes between the Nord station and the airport.

    Depending on where you leave from in Champagne, you may end up taking a TGV train to get to Paris, which will require reservations as a supplement to the rail pass.
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