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Train from Colmar to Lucerne or Zurich

Virginia
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37 posts
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Train from Colmar to Lucerne or Zurich

Hi there -

We plan to take a train from Colmar to either Lucerne or Zurich in early June (still not sure where). I looked at the TGV train schedule from Colmar station to both cities (change train in Basel), is TGV the only option or there are alternatives? 2-2.5 hour ride is fine with us but prefer not longer than that. I think I was a bit confused when I see another schedule on the swiss rail website. I wasn't sure if it's actually the same train/schedule or it's a different train. This is my very first time traveling to both France and Swiss so please bear with me!

Also, do I need to pre-book the tickets (2) right now (prices go up, no seat)? Although, I have the departure time in mind but just in case plan changes.

Lastly, is this ride a scenic route (to either Lucerne or Zurich)? I plan to leave Colmar after 5pm but could leave earlier if the ride is pretty. We will have about 7-8 hours to spend in Colmar (came from Strasbourg in the morning), or I should enjoy Colmar until end of day?

Thanks so much!

Alsace, France
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1. Re: Train from Colmar to Lucerne or Zurich

Your post seems very easy in terms of what you're asking, but it's really subjective!! I'll try to answer based on the fact that I know both Colmar and Lucerne well, but Zurich less so .... so bear with me too!

1. The TGV service really does not apply. This is a French train that usually stops at Colmar on its way to Paris or Mulhouse. You need to take the regular train service ... normally called the TER (Train Express Régional) which is quick and comfortable ... to Basel, then change onto the ongoing service to Zurich or Lucerne (written Luzern in Swiss German). It's probably worth taking the train connection that only requires one stop, rather than two. As regards train timetabling, my preference is to use German Railways for all my European railtravel .. www.deutschebahn.de because I find it the least confusing.

The French trains between Colmar and Basel are usually quite brisk (avoid the puddlejumpers that appear from time to time) and Swiss railways reputation for fast services and accurate timings are completely justified!

As for routes, well, Mulhouse and Basel both have suburbs, but outside these areas the journey has pleasant scenery, not dramatic mountain crags and is relaxing and enjoyable. However I'd not like to say when you should leave Colmar just based on this .. in June it is still light until at least 7 pm if not later (depending on the cloud cover!). I think you could easily stay in Colmar till 5 pm!

As regards purchasing tickets, I don't think there is any advantage in pre-booking as regards ticket prices. You are not travelling on a TGV or other service that works on a yield management pricing basis, and are taking basic regular trains. The price does not vary. However if you think that you will be doing a lot of international rail travel, you might want to consider a rail pass ... but your post doesn't suggest this.

I would go to Colmar station the day before you are due to travel, accepting that it may take some time for your ticket to be processed depending on the queue at the ticket counter, and book then. You might find it helpful to write down the times of your trains, the train numbers (very clear on Deutschebahn), how many people will be travelling, and also whether you want a single 'aller' or a return ('aller et retour' ) ticket.

Remember to validate your ticket by punching it in the yellow or orange box either in the station hall or on the platform before boarding your train each time!

The transfer in Basel is VERY easy ... you may be required to show your passport, but since Switzerland joined the European Economic Area a few years ago, there are far fewer controls at Basel railway station. You then walk down a shop-laden corridor (approx 100 m) into the main and busy station hall. Look for your platform for your connecting train on one of the screens and take the escalator on your right up to the next level - a shop-laden footbridge that connects with every platform and simply find your platform. Max 10 mins on foot.

As you say it's your first time, might I gently remind you that France has Euros, and they speak French, but Basel, Zurich and Lucerne being in Switzerland, you'll need Swiss Francs and they speak Swiss German. You cannot use one currency in both countries even if you are near the border, and you will have no problems communicating in English with the Swiss railway staff!

Please do post again if you need more advice, but have a lovely trip.

Edited: 18 March 2013, 19:19
Virginia
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37 posts
13 reviews
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2. Re: Train from Colmar to Lucerne or Zurich

Wow, thank you very much for the detail. This is extremely helpful. Much appreciated!

I think in our case, we would buy the tickets the morning we arrive at Colmar. Just to back track a little bit, we'll be coming from Paris, and spend a night in Strasbourg. Then catch a train to Colmar the next morning and leave to Switzerland later in afternoon/evening. We already booked the ticket from Paris to Strasbourg but likely to use Swiss Pass in Swiss.

I actually have a general question for Strasbourg and Colmar but I'll open a new thread for that.

Thanks again for your help!

Melbourne, Australia
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179 posts
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3. Re: Train from Colmar to Lucerne or Zurich

Hi sbme .....and Alsacian again!

I was just wondering how you went with this train travel? I have also taken lots of valuable advice on board from Alsacian too.

We are visiting Colmar this August before heading to Lake Como and I have referred to www.deutschebahn.de/ many times to work out the train route we will need to take.

I believe the train from Colmar to Basel is a 'regional' train....does this mean that we cannot reserve a seat? Or is there a train that I should be booking ahead of time being this will be peak season?

I also see that the train from Basel to Arth-Goldau is an 'inter regional' train and reservations are suggested....but I'm unsure what sight to book this through?

The same with the Art Goldau to Como leg. This is a 'Eurocity' train which has compulsory reservations....but what website can I book this with?

Thanks so much in advance!!

Alsace, France
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4. Re: Train from Colmar to Lucerne or Zurich

No need to reserve on the Colmar-Basel leg ... just the regular train service! I have taken the train to Como before but have never needed to reserve seats, but I suppose things change. I would have thought that reservations would be included in the ticket prices ...

I'm not sure which site to use for booking ... I have always written out my itinerary including the train times and train numbers and spent time at Colmar station's ticket office. Sometimes frustrating, but I always came away with the tickets I wanted/needed.

Have you asked 'The Man in Seat Sixty One' www.seat61.com?

Melbourne, Australia
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179 posts
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5. Re: Train from Colmar to Lucerne or Zurich

Thanks....I've actually been given all the information that I need now. Oh how I love Trip Advisor! :-)

6. Re: Train from Colmar to Lucerne or Zurich

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