The Great Guide to Train Travel | Illustrated

The Great Guide to Train Travel | Illustrated
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The great guide to train travel

Always faster and comfortable, the train brings the cities of Europe closer together. Traveling by train is also about preserving the planet. At the whistle, departure for a weekend or vacation, far from traffic jams!



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The most beautiful lines

The Caledonian Express (Scotland, Great Britain)

From London to the Highlands. This so British train connects London to the Scottish moors in one night. With a typical breakfast: porridge, scrambled eggs and bacon.

Some consider this line to be the most beautiful in Europe, particularly the 260km stretch from Glasgow to Fort William, called the West Highland Line. The lounge where meals are served has leather armchairs, a guaranteed club atmosphere! The train ventures through the Highlands and up to the archipelagos overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, with an arrival at the fishing port of Mallaig.

For whom? Harry Potter lovers.

Where is it? From London to Fort William in one night. Access to London with the Eurostar, Paris-Londres, in the heart of the capital, via the Channel Tunnel: 2 h 30.

What to see? Through the train window, the expanses of green seen in the Harry Potter films and the famous stone bridge, the Glenfinnan Viaduct. In Edinburgh, the castle and, in summer, its fanfare festival, the Tattoo.

When? Every evening except Saturday. From late April to September the Jacobite Steam Train runs the line from Fort William to Mallaig.

How much? Between 50 and 140 fr. depending on the comfort chosen for the London-Fort William journey. For the Eurostar, book as soon as possible, price from 45 fr.

>> Info:, and

Welsh Highland Railway (Wales, Great Britain)

19th century steam train. The Welsh Highland Line is the result of the total reconstruction of an old narrow-gauge line, abandoned for half a century.

The longest historic line in Great Britain allows you to discover the superb landscapes of the north- west Wales aboard steam trains straight out of the 19th century. Joining two ports, climbing from sea level to the foothills of Mount Snowdon, the train has a Pullman car where you can treat yourself, or offer with a voucher, a real afternoon tea for two. The class!

For whom? Historic train enthusiasts, hikers, who can get off at one of the many stops.

Where is it? From Porthmadog to Caernarfon via Snowdonia National Park, 40km, 2h15 journey. Access to London with the Eurostar, then 6 hours by train to Porthmadog.

What to see? Caernarfon and its medieval castle, in which the Princes of Wales are enthroned, the Aberglaslyn valley, one of the most beautiful natural sites in Great Britain, Mount Snowdon, the second highest peak in the British Isles with its 1085 m of 'altitude.

When? In spring or autumn, when the landscapes and the weather are at their best; consult the timetable for the trains, not all serve the entire line. How much? Porthmadog-Caernarfon and return (or vice versa), 55 fr. approx. in 3rd class + 4 fr. by dog ​​or bicycle. Free for children under 3 and for one child under 16 per paying adult. By Pullman car with afternoon tea, Saturdays and Wednesdays: 218 fr. approx. for two.

>> Info:

The Inlandsbanan (Sweden)

Up to the Arctic Circle. The Inlandsbanan travels almost 1300 km between Gällivare and Kristinehamn: ideal for discovering the landscapes of northern Sweden!

Crossing many regions of Sweden to reach Lapland, the Inlandsbanan progresses at a small average speed of 50 km/h which allows you to appreciate the landscape from its charming retro cars, while benefiting from the comments of the guides on board. The route is dotted with stops to discover interesting sites or have something to eat while tasting local specialities.

For whom? Lovers of Nordic landscapes and trains with old-fashioned charm.

Where is it? From Kristinehamn, in the south, to Gällivare, in the far north, different routes are possible. The Inlandsbanan Card allows you to hop on/off at each stop over a period of fourteen days. Three journeys on special 1st class Wilderness trains go as far as the Arctic Circle.

What to see? The midnight sun and the northern lights in Jokkmokk, right on the polar circle, the gastronomic culture of Östersund, named Creative City of Gastronomy by Unesco in 2016, the breathtaking landscapes of Lake Vänern, the largest in Sweden.

When? The line is served from June 7 to August 18, reduced service until the end of September. The 2019 Wilderness trips take place in spring, summer and fall.

How much? The Inlandsbanan Card package costs 215 fr. approx. Organized trips between 2000 and 3000 fr. depending on the season.

>> Info:

The Blue Coast Train (Bouches-du-Rhône, France)

Face-to-face with the Big Blue. A panoramic route in the heart of the calanques with turquoise waters, where viaducts and tunnels follow one another on the side of the Estaque range.

The Train de la Côte Bleue offers wonderful views of the Mediterranean , in particular by crossing the famous creeks rich in creeks. With its 15 stations, the train allows you to venture on hiking trails and discover small ports and seaside resorts or dive to discover the underwater flora and fauna. Extend the escape by boarding in Carry-le-Rouet for a cruise to the island of Erevine, crossing the Côte Bleue marine park, from July to September.

For whom? Lovers of the Big Blue who can take a dip in a creek.

Where is it? From Marseilles to Miramas, 32 km. Access by train and TGV via Lyon.

What to see? Carry-le-Rouet and its beaches, Martigues and its canals, Port-de-Bouc and its fort Vauban, Istres and its old quarters.

When? Every day, ten round trips.

How much? About fifteen francs the journey.

>> Info:

The Yellow Train (Pyrénées-Orientales, France)

A canary in the mountains. Symbol of the Catalan Pyrenees, this train nicknamed "the Canary" climbs the slopes without a cogwheel to the highest station in France and offers a panorama of exceptional landscapes.

To discover the Pyrenees differently, nothing such as this Yellow Train which weaves its way through remote valleys and climbs 1200 vertical meters at low speed to Bolquère, the highest station in France! Tourists and locals love it. Three hours of travel in the Regional Natural Park of the Catalan Pyrenees to soak up raw nature, small villages nestled at the foot of the slopes. To take the train in one of the 20 stations, just wave to the conductor.

For whom? Lovers of retro trains and mountains.

Where is it? From Villefranche-de-Conflent (427 m) to Latour-de-Carol (1232 m), near the Spanish border, a 63 km route. 50 km from Perpignan. Access via Geneva, Lyon, Perpignan, 8:30 am.

What to see? The highest station in France, Bolquère. The only suspension bridge in France, Gisclard. The mountains and fauna of the Pyrenees, more than 240 protected species. Vauban's ramparts of the medieval town of Villefranche-de-Conflent.

When? It runs in all seasons. Does not work until April 5, 2019 for work. In summer, you can enjoy the mountain scenery from the open wagons. No seat reservation, come at least 30 minutes before departure.

How much? Yellow Train ticket: at the terminus stations or with the controllers, about twenty francs for the round trip in summer against 15 fr. approx. in winter.

>> Info:,

The Mont-Blanc Express (Switzerland-France)

At the foot of Mont-Blanc. Panoramic carriages with a view of the highest summit of the Alps.

For more than one hundred and ten years, the Martigny-Châtelard, renamed Mont-Blanc Express in 1991, has linked the Rhône plain to Mont-Blanc, from Martigny to Chamonix, in less than an hour and a half. After crossing a 2.5 km rack section with a 20% gradient between Vernayaz and Salvan, travelers discover the spectacular Trient valley, its vertiginous cliffs and its typical alpine villages, Les Marécottes, Finhaut and Vallorcine. As you approach Chamonix, a breathtaking view of the Mont-Blanc massif is offered to the passenger.

For whom? Admirers of the mythical massif of the French Alps.

Where is it? From Martigny to Chamonix.

What to see? The Aiguille-du-Midi, by taking the cable car and going to test the Step into the void attraction, on a glass surface above 1000 m of vacuum.

When? The train is used by the inhabitants of the valley and therefore operates daily, at a rate of one train per hour.

How much? 24 fr. the journey with half-fare.

>> Info:, timetables on

The Hirondelles Line (France)

Between heaven and earth. Dole is the starting point of the Ligne des Hirondelles, so named because, passing over the viaducts, the panoramic train seems to be close to the birds.

This line, which crosses the Jura from one end to the other, has was built in the 19th century by the inhabitants of the region to break out of their isolation. It required fifty-six years of work. The steep slopes (700 meters of drop) make it the reference test track for the SNCF for its new trains. A guided tour, with a visit to the cockpit, allows you to miss nothing of the heritage, such as this flash vision of a forge and its astonishing palatine villa, near the Ain gorges.

For whom? Adventurers ready for an improvised one-day getaway.

Where is it? In the French Jura, from Dole to Saint-Claude, 123 km, 2 h 30. Lausanne-Dole in 1 h 30 by TGV.

What to see? The vineyards of Arbois, the saltworks of Arc-et-Senans, Dole and its medieval streets, its canals, the birthplace of Louis Pasteur. In Saint-Claude, the Museum of Contemporary Art or the Pipe and Diamond Museum.

When? Circulates every day. In winter, possibility of doing a snowshoe circuit.

How much? The Swallows Line: approx. 22 fr. the path.

>> Info:,

Le Train des Pignes (Alpes-Maritimes, France)

Tackling the mountains. From the Mediterranean to the gates of the high mountains of the Alps, the Train des Pignes winds between Vauban's ramparts and impressive rocks.

This line leaves from Nice, passes through the Cians gorges, then through perched villages such as Touët-sur-Var, the Mercantour National Park, gorges, the citadel of Entrevaux, to reach the heart of the mountains in the spa town of Digne-les-Bains.

For whom? Those who do not want to choose between thermal baths and excursion.

Where is it? From Nice to Digne-les-Bains in the Alpes de Haute-Provence, i.e. 151 km. Access by train then TGV via Lyon.

What to see? Combine this route with the Train des Merveilles, which also leaves from Nice, to connect Tende, i.e. 70 km along the coast, to the Mercantour National Park.

When? If you are not afraid of crowds, go there on Sundays from May to October for a steam locomotive ride.

How much? Approx. 27 fr. the route for the Train des Pignes. Geneva, Lyon, Nice, approx. 100 fr.

>> Info:

The Semmering line (Austria)

In the footsteps of Sissi. This railway line made possible what seemed unthinkable in the 19th century: the victory of civil engineering over the mountains, linking Vienna to Trieste.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this line owes its notoriety to… Sissi. Indeed, the Semmering pass became a popular vacation spot for the Viennese following the trip of the imperial couple in 1854. To appreciate the technical prowess of the line, a 23 km (splitable) hiking trail runs along the tracks: this is the best way to make beautiful photos of the train.

For whom? Hiking enthusiasts and Sissi fans.

Where is it? The section from Gloggnitz to Semmering, i.e. 40 km, is accessible from Vienna. Access to Vienna by night train from Zurich.

What to see? 16 viaducts, some of which are double-decker, 15 tunnels, old half-timbered villas and hotels with retro charm, steep mountains.

When? Possible all year round; in autumn, the colors of the forest are magnificent. From May to October, the information center at the station tells the fabulous story of this line by exhibiting models and scale models.

How much? About twenty francs for the Vienna-Semmering journey.

>> Info:

The Douro line (Portugal)

Along the calm river. The railway line follows the Douro River heading east and past the terraced vineyards of the Port wine producing region.

This line named Linha do Douro, one of the most scenic in Europe, departs from the center of Porto to travel through the most beautiful landscapes of northern Portugal. The section between Pinhão and Pocinho is the most spectacular and the train allows you to be amazed, while offering plenty of flexibility to explore the different towns along the route.

For whom? For those who love vineyards and wines.

Where is it? From Porto to Pocinho, i.e. 3.5 hours. To go by train to Porto, take the TGV to Hendaye, in the Basque Country, via Paris, then the night train, i.e. a 25-hour trip.

What to see? The terraced vineyards. From Pinhão, you have the choice between cruises and hiking trails to stretch your legs to Casal de Loivos. Without forgetting to visit the local quintas (farms) producing wine.

When? Watch out for work on the line this spring, check the timetables for any changes. Sit on the right side on the way out.

How much? A one-way Porto-Pocinho ticket costs approx. 18 fr.

>> Info:

The Bernina Express (Switzerland)

From glaciers to palm trees. Described as the "most spectacular crossing of the Alps", this line is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its exclusivities.

From Chur to Tirano, Italy, this four-hour trip allows you to discover landscapes of surprising beauty: snow-capped peaks, 55 tunnels, 196 bridges, a raw mineral decor and slopes of up to 70‰ without a rack! The Albula and Bernina railway lines belong to the Unesco heritage, a trademark, thanks to exceptional sights: numerous glaciers, mountain lakes and the famous helical viaduct of Brusio. From Tirano, in summer, the journey to Lugano is by bus.

For whom? Lovers of contrasts.

Where is it? From Chur to Lugano, via Tirano.

The Great Guide to Rail Travel | Illustrated

What to see? Throughout the journey, the animation is ensured by the technical prowess of the line, including the famous viaduct which makes a 360° loop, without forgetting the postcard landscapes: not knowing where to turn your head and the camera!

When? In summer, to accentuate the contrast between eternal snow at the start and palm trees at the finish.

How much? From 31 fr. 50 with half price. Mandatory reservation.

>> Info:

>> See also our site dedicated to the Ascona-Locarno region

Voralpen-Express (Switzerland)

So close, so beautiful, so high. A beautiful line that connects central Switzerland with the gentle hills of the east. To be combined with a stay in St. Gallen or in Appenzell, a hiker's paradise.

The Pre-Alpine Express leaves Lake Lucerne and heads towards eastern Switzerland, passing through the peat bogs of Rothenturm, with the backdrop of the Mythen, emblematic mountains of Schwyz, then the Churfisten in the Toggenburg valley. You will still discover the magnificent landscapes of Appenzell and cross the highest railway viaduct in the country, with its 99 m.

For whom? Those who think that there is no need to go far to be out of place.

Where is it? From Lucerne to St. Gallen, a little over 2 hours.

What to see? In Lucerne, the Transport Museum and the wooden bridge; in St. Gallen, the baroque cathedral and convent library, the Textile Museum and the corbelled houses in the old town.

When? Every day: all excuses are good for this getaway. When the weather is cool, the röstis at Goldenen Schäfli in central St. Gallen warm up stomachs.

How much? From 24 fr. with half price.

>> Info:

The Centovalli Express (Switzerland)

The train that tells the story of Ticino. A stone's throw from Lake Maggiore, a journey through vineyards and waterfalls tumbling from the rocks, in the nature paradise of the Centovalli.

From Domodossola (I) to Locarno, or vice versa, the Centovalli Express takes a winding and narrow track over nearly 55 km, i.e. 83 bridges, 348 curves and 31 tunnels. Time for a trip through the magical landscape of the Hundred Valleys (Centovalli), which is one of the most beautiful panoramas. Waterfalls, Merlot vineyards, chestnut forests and villages forgotten by time will parade past the window. Near Locarno, the train passes over the Maggia and its water-polished rocks.

For whom? Those who love tortillards and Ticino risotto.

Where is it? From Domodossola to Locarno.

What to see? Sublime landscapes throughout the journey. So many temptations to get off the train and go hiking or just to enjoy the serenity of the place. In Locarno, have a coffee on the Piazza Grande.

When? The train runs all year round. How much? From 22 fr. the journey with half-fare.

>> Info:,

The Black Forest line (Germany)

Game of hide and seek. Pine forests, rock walls, the Schwarzwaldbahn, 150 kilometers long, zigzags through some of the most endearing landscapes in Europe.

This tourist train, in the south-west of Germany, crosses the beautiful region of Baden-Württemberg. The Black Forest, with its pines and spruces, is a setting conducive to fairy tales and is home to croquignolet hamlets and houses worthy of Hansel and Gretel. The section from Donaueschingen to Hornberg is superb: if you like bends and tunnels (36!), you will be satisfied. To enjoy a breathtaking view, choose a seat on the 2nd floor of the car.

For whom? Lovers of mysterious forests and legends.

Where is it? Between Konstanz and Offenburg. Access in 3h30 from Lausanne.

What to see? Donaueschingen, the cradle of the Danube with the sources of the river, will also seduce your taste buds during a gourmet stopover with local specialties such as Black Forest ham.

When? A weekend on a whim.

How much? Between 20 and 30 fr.

>> Info:,

Mythical trains

El Transcantabrico (Spain)

The treasures of the north coast. On one side the sea, on the other green valleys, and in the middle rolls a luxury train, cozy atmosphere, comfortable sleeping cars, guided tours.

Less touristy than the rest of the country , northern Spain, nicknamed “Green Spain”, is strong in nature. Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country have some of the richest ecological spaces in Europe, such as the Picos de Europa National Park. But the north coast, which plunges into the Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, also offers miles of beaches, maritime landscapes, and picturesque fishing villages. Not to be outdone in terms of culture and history, it is home to high places such as Santiago de Compostela, the Altamira cave or the Romanesque churches of the province of Palencia.

For whom? Culture and history enthusiasts from the Stone Age to the present day, lovers of beautiful maritime and mountainous landscapes, fans of luxury.

Where is it? From León or San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela or vice versa, four to eight day itineraries.

What to see? The old town of Santiago de Compostela, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, a mind-blowing structure of stone, glass and titanium designed by master architect Frank Gehry, the beach of As Catedrais, in the province of Lugo, with its arches over 30 m high that evoke the flying buttresses of a cathedral and, of course, the cave of Altamira, near Santander, and its pictorial ensemble among the most important in prehistory.

When? From April to October.

How much? From 2115 fr. for 4 days/3 nights, and 4585 fr. for 8 days/7 nights, meals and excursions included.

>> Info:,

Al Andalus (Spain)

From the Moors to flamenco. Aboard a rolling Belle Epoque-style palace, discover Andalusia, land of sun and flamenco, cultural bridge between Africa and Europe.

Departing from Seville, the train Al Andalus makes you discover in seven days the cities, landscapes, monuments and culinary specialties of Andalusia. This vast autonomous region, dominated by the Moors from the 8th to the 15th century, inherited from them the architectural style that characterizes its most beautiful buildings, such as the Alcazar Palace in Seville, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba or the Palace of the Alhambra in Granada.

For whom? Lovers of Islamic architecture, gourmets who appreciate sherry, pata negra ham and gazpacho, flamenco enthusiasts.

Where is it? Meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville and board the train in the evening at 6 p.m.

What to see? The Alhambra and the Nasrid palaces with abundant interior decoration, in Granada, the Mezquita or mosque-cathedral, in Cordoba, an ancient Roman temple which became a church then a mosque, in which a cathedral was then erected.

When? Al Andalus runs several circuits from Seville to Seville in April, May, September and October; in June, he proposes another trip, in Extremadura, from Seville to Madrid, on the 3rd, and vice versa on the 10th.

How much? From 4585 fr. for the Seville-Seville circuit, from 3755 fr. for Sevilla-Madrid.

>> Info:,

The Trans-Siberian Railway (Moscow-Beijing)

The Gold of the Tsars. From Red Square to the Forbidden City in sixteen days: an exceptional railway epic, from one continent and one culture to another.

The first evening, you stroll through illuminated Moscow by company of your guide (Nathalie perhaps). You discover the Red Square, the Kremlin, you treat yourself to a ride in the metro, the largest underground museum in the world, an extraordinary experience that augurs what awaits you the next fortnight: Ekaterinburg, where Tsar Nicolas II and his family, the vast steppes of Western Siberia, Irkutsk, the "Paris of Siberia", Lake Baikal, Mongolia and, finally, after hours of driving, Beijing, its Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, the infamous square Tiananmen.

For whom? Lovers of wide open spaces, Russian literature enthusiasts, those dreamed of by Jules Verne's Michel Strogoff, fans of the greatest conqueror of all time, Genghis Khan, Sinophiles.

Where is it? Departing from Moscow, or Beijing, joined by plane, via Mongolia.

What to see? The Kremlin with its 19 different towers and the Cathedral Square, around which are grouped the oldest monuments of the former residence of the tsars, Lake Baikal, which deserves its nickname of "Pearl of Siberia", the Forbidden City , a concentrate of Chinese history, culture and art.

When? The 2019 trips are practically complete. Book now for 2020.

How much? From 4485 fr. from Beijing, from 4585 fr. from Moscow.

>> Info:

The Orient-Express (London-Venice)

The king of trains. Since its maiden voyage in 1883, it has taken celebrities from all walks of life from one European capital to another, to the gates of Asia.

“The important thing is not not the destination, it's the journey,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. To believe that the author of Treasure Island had taken the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Whether you're heading for Venice from London or Paris, whether you have the means to afford the only annual trip to Istanbul, it's the train that counts: the scene of the investigations of 'Hercule Poirot and James Bond, legend of Art Deco design, it embodies the glamor and elegance of the golden age of travel. Owned by the Belmond Group, it is one of the oldest trains in the world, perhaps the only one to offer time travel.

For whom? Nostalgics, space-time travelers, glamor aficionados.

Where is it? The train connects Paris, London, Venice, Berlin, Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Istanbul, in different possible combinations for one, two, five or ten nights.

What to see? Take a look at the three luxury suites added in spring 2018 and decorated according to the destination they are named after, Paris, Venice, Istanbul. Have a drink at the 1931 bar car, complete with piano; smart dress required.

When? London-Paris-Venice and back runs several times a month, from March to November, but the train only travels its historic Paris-Istanbul route once a year, in August, so you have to book well in advance. advance!

How much? From 995 fr. for Paris-London in a double cabin, up to 12,780 fr. for Paris-Istanbul/Istanbul-Paris, 6 days/5 nights.

>> Info:,

The Glacier Express (Switzerland)

The most famous Swiss train. The Glacier Express is a legend: more than seven hours of journey, 91 tunnels, 291 bridges.

In one day, it crosses intact mountain landscapes, crosses vertiginous gorges and laughing valleys, borrows a string of majestic tunnels and bridges. Nicknamed the "slowest express in the world", the Glacier Express is a mythical experience for anyone passionate about technical prowess and exceptional views, thanks to the glass roof and panoramic windows.

For whom? Lovers of thrills above the void, fans of the Alps and Zermatt.

Where is it? From Zermatt to St. Moritz.

What to see? The Matterhorn, the junction between the two arms of the Rhine and its spectacular gorges, high frozen lakes, a curved viaduct, spiral tunnels and the wildly beautiful landscapes of the Engadine.

When? No trains run from October 15 to December 14, 2019. The line is very popular with tourists, especially Chinese and Japanese: the website indicates the exact number of seats still available per day.

How much? From 59 fr. with half-fare day pass. Mandatory reservation.

>> Info:

A few getaway goals


A paradise in green and blue. On one side the Adriatic Sea, on the other the mountains. And in the middle, vineyards and charming historic towns nestled in hilly landscapes.

A natural destination, ideal for unwinding. Slovenia relies on sustainable tourism, hence a well-developed bus and train network. Tourist attractions are easily accessible, no more stress of traffic jams on the road. For the more athletic, cycling is a good option, with many cycle paths.

For whom? Nature lovers, “slow tourism”.

Where is it? A few hours from Switzerland, with an overnight train from Zurich to Ljubljana.

What to see? The capital, Ljubljana, with its pedestrian centre, Lipica, the oldest stud farm in the world with its Lipizzaner horses, the Postojna cave and its 25 km maze of galleries that can be visited aboard a small train.

When? In summer, for swimming, in spring and autumn, for hiking or cycling without suffering from the sun.

How much? Night train journey from Zurich, between 32 and 160 fr. depending on the choice, seat, berth, bed, etc.

>> Info:,

Hamburg (Germany)

Open door to the world. Between the Elbe and the canals, the city set in water is considered one of the most beautiful in Germany.

Hamburg plays the card of seduction in all directions. Whether you are passionate about history, modern architecture, the port atmosphere or festive bars, you can find everything there and more. With its red facades and its mysterious atmosphere, the Speicherstadt, the "city of warehouses", is the district not to be missed, entirely listed as a UNESCO heritage site. But how can you resist the call of the port, the joyfully bustling quays, the fish market, the beach?

For whom? The curious ready to marvel at every turn.

Where is it? In the very north of Germany, 12 hours from Zurich by night train or 8 hours by ICE, high-speed train.

What to see? The HafenCity district and its contemporary architecture, the Eilbek Kanal for a barge ride, the audacious Elbphilharmonie concert hall, the islands of the Wadden Sea 3 hours by train from Hamburg.

When? The city moves throughout the year, but winter is not recommended for the chilly.

How much? Between 45 and 160 fr. the night train depending on the options or 220 fr. in ICE.

>> Info:,

Utrecht (Netherlands)

The little one that has everything of a big one. Utrecht, nicknamed the little Amsterdam, with the canals but without the hordes of tourists. It's one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, brimming with energy thanks to its student population.

Half an hour from Amsterdam, charming Utrecht offers a sizeable visit human. There are no crowds blocking the streets here. The canals are discovered at the peaceful pace of a canoe. The Domtoren tower, the landmark of the city with its 465 steps, offers a panorama of the entire region.

For whom? Those who appreciate the canals and their mysterious atmosphere.

Where is it? From Lausanne to Utrecht via Paris, i.e. 8:30 a.m. by TGV, or via Mannheim, 9:20 a.m.

What to see? In Utrecht, the medieval city and its canals lined with terraces and bars, its 39 km (flat!) cycle route, the main polder road, its interactive rail museum.

When? In the spring, to admire the tulip fields!

How much? From 150 fr. about the trip.

>> Info:


One Thousand and One Nights. An unforgettable journey through Spain by TGV to enchanting Morocco, by night train or on board the brand new and first TGV in Africa.

Arrive in Morocco without a plane and with trains from he exception: a promise of a dream trip with first of all a journey in the double-decker train which travels at 300 km/h, the TGV Duplex from Paris to Barcelona. After a night there, this time we take a Spanish high-speed train to cross magnificent landscapes to Andalusia, then cross the Strait of Gibraltar by ferry. Once in Tangier, two possibilities: the TGV inaugurated last November, the first high-speed line in Africa, to reach Casablanca in two hours, for 15-24 francs. Or the Marrakech Express, which will take you south to Marrakech in one night. The line runs along the Atlantic coast then crosses a landscape of dunes and desert. Treat yourself to a 1st class berth: at 40 francs, it's reasonable.

For whom? Lovers of high speed and exoticism.

Where is it? From Paris or Lyon via Barcelona to Tangier, Marrakech, Rabat or Casa.

What to see? The Pyrenees, the Sagrada Família during the stage in Barcelona, ​​then the Strait of Gibraltar, the port of Tangier, the desert and the dunes, the souks of Marrakech and its famous Jemaa el-Fna square.

When? In spring or autumn, when the temperatures are mild.

How much? Paris-Barcelona by TGV from 90 fr., Barcelona-Algeciras from 110 fr., free transfer to the ferry in Tarifa then ferry to Tangier from 20 fr.


The Borromean Islands (Italy)

Exoticism and Latin exuberance. Cross the Alps through the Simplon tunnel, then let yourself be dazzled by the charm of these Italian islands which are home to palaces and sumptuous gardens.

After Domodossola, the train winds its way between the mountains before skirting Lake Maggiore and stop at Stresa. The Borromean Islands, scattered on the waves like a rosary, never cease to seduce tourists. Between each island, a shuttle service ensures the connection, the time to discover here a palace converted into a museum, there a park where peacocks roam, some immaculate specimens of which pose in front of the photographers. On the way back, stop for a few hours in Domodossola and get lost in its medieval streets to eat gelati in a square surrounded by arcades.

For whom? Lovers of dolce vita, canoe cruises from island to island and walks in gardens with exotic flora.

Where is it? A stone's throw from Stresa (I), where you can stay, which can be reached from Lausanne with the direct line to Milan, without change, in 2 h 20. From Stresa station, the port is a few minutes' walk away. foot.

What to see? The botanical gardens with more than 2000 different species, the Borromeo Palace for its impressive architecture and its garden with ten superimposed terraces appreciated by Napoleon, the market and the bucolic alleys of Île aux Pêcheurs, the only island inhabited all year round.

When? From spring, to enjoy the sweetness of life and the flowers. Avoid the crowds of Easter and public holidays. How much? From 50 fr. the journey with half-fare.

>> Info:

Cinque Terre (Italy)

Dizziness of colors. Five villages clinging to the cliff, nestled in the middle of heather, broom, stone walls and pines. To get there: a path to go and a small train to return. Idyllic if you choose your dates well while fleeing summer tourists.

From Monterosso to Riomaggiore, five villages, deserted in the 80s, are now protected by the Cinque Terre National Park and belong to the heritage Unesco World. The network of paths of more than 100 km allows everyone, sportsman or simple walker, to walk at their own pace, knowing that each village is connected by train.

For whom? Hikers, lovers of Italian cuisine.

Where is it? In Liguria, in the northwest of Italy, 80 km from Genoa. Access by train from Switzerland via Milan and Genoa.

What to see? Do not neglect a stopover in Genoa, with its huge labyrinthine old town, its port and its famous aquarium.

When? It is imperative to flee summer, Easter, long weekends.

How much? Lausanne-Genoa, 5 h 30, 84 fr. approx., Genoa-Riommaggiore, 1 h 20, 24 fr.

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Dijon (France)

The delights of Burgundy. Once through the Jura chain, the TGV rushes through the French plateau and the vineyards to drop us off in two hours in Dijon, an endearing city.

A small town in which to stroll in the center pedestrian area, to admire the half-timbered houses, stop in the many shops to taste the specialties of the area, obligatory stop at the Maille shop, temple of mustard. Without forgetting the Halles, a superb building with metallic architecture reminiscent of the Halles de Paris, to visit when the 240 stalls are open and make you salivate.

For whom? Gourmands and lovers of improvised walks for a day.

Where is it? Lausanne-Dijon, 2 hours by TGV without change.

What to see? Families will not miss the owl's journey to discover the city in a fun way. Gourmands will head to the venerable gingerbread factory or the Cassissium, a large space devoted to blackcurrants.

When? Favor market days, i.e. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, in the morning. To stock up on good local products.

How much? From 56 fr. the journey with half-fare by TGV.

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Alsace (France)

On the wine route. All in length, Alsace is an ideal field of exploration by train. Many lines crisscross the region, allowing a visit to the villages and vineyards without a car.

The main line, Bâle-Strasbourg, is a good way to reach Mulhouse, Colmar and Sélestat. From Strasbourg, Obernai is 30 minutes by train. Other railways with retro charm offer slaloming in period wagons between hills, typical villages and fortified castles.

For whom? Wine lovers who want to taste it and leave the wheel, hikers, cyclists.

Where is it? From Lausanne, 3h30 journey to Sélestat.

What to see? Sélestat, more intimate and less crowded than Strasbourg, Obernai, a medieval town full of character, the half-timbered houses of Colmar.

When? In autumn, at harvest time, at the end of the year for the Christmas markets.

How much? From 53 fr. the journey with half-fare.

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Corsica (France)

Between beach and mountains. The best way to visit the Isle of Beauty gently? A little train that will rock you in the face of magnificent and varied landscapes.

The Trinichellu, which means "the trembling train", is the promise of a journey at a leisurely pace. But he does not shy away from the effort: after the coast, he weaves between narrow gorges, crosses lost paths and climbs vertiginous slopes. From Corte, it crosses the Parc de Corse: open your eyes on the lookout for wildlife! On arrival in Ajaccio, the beach awaits you for a well-deserved swim.

For whom? Those who dream of a holiday on an island in the sun.

Where is it? From Calvi to Ajaccio, 232 km, about 5 hours. Access by Nice, by ferry.

What to see? The Eiffel bridge, built by a certain… Gustave, the largest viaduct in Corsica. In Ajaccio, go to sea on a catamaran for a few hours to discover Corsica from the open sea.

When? Several trains every day.

How much? About thirty francs the way.

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Innsbruck (Austria)

Full speed ahead in Tyrol. The Railjet, an Austrian fast train, makes it possible to quickly connect Zurich to Innsbruck with peaks at 230 km/h, or even to extend to Vienna or Budapest.

Despite its massive silhouette, the Railjet nimbly slips through through the countryside and bucolic villages to Innsbruck, capital of Tyrol. On board, three different classes, all with wifi. The time saved allows you to linger in the medieval and baroque old town, visit its excellent museums or test the bobsleigh track, in summer and winter, vestiges of the Olympic Games.

For whom? The curious who do not like long journeys.

Where is it? From Zurich to Innsbruck, in 3.5 hours aboard the Railjet.

What to see? The world of Swarovski crystal, the impressive Ambras Castle and its park, the Ferdinandeum, Tyrolean regional museum and its art collections, the Audioversum, an auditory adventure to immerse yourself in the fascinating universe of sounds and discover an interactive exhibition.

When? At any time, on a whim, reservations are not mandatory.

How much? By booking early, tickets from 22 fr. from Zurich to Vienna. Sale from 180 days before departure.

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Bergen (Norway)

Between fjords and high plateau. The trip to Bergen takes 7 hours, but you won't see them pass by as the landscapes are so varied!

The Bergensbanen is now considered one of the most picturesque train rides in the world, according to the Lonely Planet guide. After leaving Oslo and its islands on the fjord, departure for a wild universe made of precipices then vast plateaus at more than 1200 m of altitude. The descent to Flåm, reputed to be the steepest in the world, is the most thrilling part of the trip.

For whom? Thrill seekers, because the landscapes are breathtaking.

Where is it? From Oslo to Bergen. Access via Lörrach (Basel)-Hamburg by night train, then ferry.

What to see? In Bergen, the small wooden houses, the statue of Varg Veum, detective hero of thrillers and a TV series, and the lively quays, the Bryggen district, medieval wooden buildings with gables, listed as UNESCO heritage . In Flåm, the animal park with bears, lynx, deer and elk.

When? Four daily departures, for a 7 hour journey. In winter, to defy the snow, in summer, to enjoy endless days. In season, book your tickets, because there is a high demand.

How much? From 90 fr. the path.

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Booking smart

Tips for finding advantageous tickets and good information. Always keep in mind that the sooner you reserve, the better the prices.

- Low cost TGV The pink and blue TGVs offer the possibility of traveling in France, and even in Europe, with a very small budget. A Lyon-Paris journey costs 18 francs. Add 2 francs to have a socket to charge your laptop. With a supplement of a few euros, it is possible to reserve a place in a special relaxation car. There is no connection with Switzerland. But the Gare de Lyon in Paris is served. As well as Marseille, Nice, Rennes, Nantes, Montpellier for example.

- For young people, but not only…Young backpackers know the Interrail, this card which allows you to travel galore for a month. But did you know that this formula also exists for families or seniors? And even on Swiss territory? There are two types of pass: the Global Pass and the One Country Pass. The first is valid in 30 European countries, the second in the European country of your choice: among the most popular destinations: Italy, Spain and France.

- Virgin trainsRichard Branson's brand is known for its low cost flights. But in Great Britain, Virgin is also trains with advantageous rates, provided you do it very early. The trains are fast, comfortable, with good timetables, good connections, but beware, prices climb quickly. Bonus: at peak times, with first class tickets, free meals and unlimited drinks. Virgin offers family fares, 2 for 1 actions. Price example: a London-Manchester supersaver ticket on a specific train: from 30

- The Eurostar experienceLeaving the center of Paris to reach the center of London in two and a half hours? It is an experience to try with the Eurostar, passing through the Channel Tunnel. With, as a bonus, two entries for the price of one in the major London museums on presentation of the ticket. Convenient for the Swiss, you can take the Eurostar in Lyon, tickets from 160 francs round trip.

- Via ItaliaItalian trains know how to enchant us. On the site, available in French, the offers are obvious from the home page. On Saturday, it's two tickets for the price of one. Children under 15 travel free with parents. Groups (from 2 people) get 30% off. Not to mention the weekend packages.

- Catalogs galoreThe Swiss agency Railtour offers last-minute offers, travel suggestions and a wide choice of downloadable catalogs: Switzerland, European cities, France, etc.

- A specialized agencyZRT Travel was founded in 2005 in Brig. With a long experience in tourism and the railway sector, this agency offers both short stays in Switzerland and Europe as well as themed tours.

- Backpackers' blogsPassionate about train travel, The Man in Seat Sixty-One writes a blog renowned for the quality of information and original ideas. In English.

Le monde en train, these are two French people who share information, tips, itineraries around the world and superb photos.

- The Omio comparator, a site for finding the best price, the fastest connection on SNCF trains and other European companies. It is also possible to buy tickets from the Spanish company Renfe, the Italian company Trenitalia, etc. Omio also exists in the form of an application, useful when looking for information while travelling...

- The bookLes Guides Bleus revive the tradition of long-distance travel and present 42 exceptional train journeys, on five continents, from Switzerland to Madagascar, via America and Africa. "The most beautiful train journeys", S. Adrian and A. Kotmair, Blue Guides, 2016.

Night trains

Travel on both ears. The solution to arrive in the heart of the city, in the early morning, avoiding any stress on the road or at the airport.< /h3>

How to cross Europe without taking the plane or wasting too much time? Traveling by night train. Even if the connections have been reduced over the years, the fault is low cost flights. The advantages noted by travelers: saving hours in security measures at the airport, waking up in the city center, saving the price of a hotel night and… enjoying the atmosphere of the night trains and the landscapes .

Some destinations departing from Zurich with Nightjet, the very comfortable night trains managed by the Austrian company ÖBB: Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Ljubljana, Graz. Trips are made daily. We reserve a seat or a berth in a compartment for 4 or 6 people or a bed in a compartment for 1, 2 or 3 people. An example of prices for Zurich-Berlin: from 33 fr. seated, at 78 fr. for a bed, through 55 fr. the bed.

- Other lines in Europe On Nightjet, other destinations are available in Nordic countries such as Norway, Sweden or Finland.

In Italy, Intercity Nottes, e.g. Turin-Rome-Naples, Milan-Genoa-Messina-Syracuse or Milan-Genoa-Messina-Palermo.

In the Iberian Peninsula, Trenhotels, e.g. Madrid-Lisbon, Lisbon-Hendaye (French border), Madrid-Vigo (Atlantic coast)

In Britain, Caledonian Sleeper, e.g. London-Edinburgh-Fort William or

- By car..! partlyCombining train and car: ideal for traveling with children without hearing “When are we getting there?” every 10 km. We load the car on the train, the children in the berths, and it's up to us to travel in peace! Direction Basel-Hamburg or,

By Mireille Monnier published on April 2, 2019 - 09:08

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