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France, Switzerland, and Germany in a day!

France, Switzerland, and Germany in a day!

Old Jul 11, 17, 8:45 am
  #1  
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France, Switzerland, and Germany in a day!

Hi everyone,

I've just booked a train itinerary via RailEurope for an upcoming trip in October.

My girlfriend is letting me indulge my love of riding the rails in a two-day adventure out to Strasbourg (overnight) then on to Basel for lunch, Offenburg for a beer, back to Strasbourg for our bags, then back to Paris for dinner.

I was looking for any advice or help with places to see in Basel/Offenburg in a very short window. We'll have 4 hours in Basel and about 45 minutes in Offenburg (Enough time for a beer I hope!).

Here's the itinerary:

From:
Paris Est
Departs:
Oct 26, 2017 - 9:25 AM
To:
Strasbourg
Arrives:
Oct 26, 2017 - 11:11 AM

From:
Strasbourg
Departs:
Oct 27, 2017 - 9:51 AM
To:
Basel
Arrives:
Oct 27, 2017 - 11:09 AM

From:
Basel Sbb
Departs:
Oct 27, 2017 - 3:13 PM
To:
Offenburg
Arrives:
Oct 27, 2017 - 4:28 PM

From:
Offenburg
Departs:
Oct 27, 2017 - 5:04 PM
To:
Strasbourg
Arrives:
Oct 27, 2017 - 5:34 PM

From:
Strasbourg
Departs:
Oct 27, 2017 - 6:17 PM
To:
Paris Est
Arrives:
Oct 27, 2017 - 8:12 PM

My goal was to ride as many difference trains as possible without getting on my girlfriend's nerves. I think I've done a fairly good job of it.

2 types of TGV
1 ICE ride
2 TER rides

Thanks in advance for any ideas. I'm very excited to try European railways for the first time along with my first high speed train ride (I should be able to add the Shinkasen sometime in 2018!)
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Old Jul 11, 17, 12:06 pm
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For Offenburg: There is a bar/Döner restaurant just across the stairs from the main passage underground, where you can grab a beer or another drink. Otherwise not much to see. But you only have 36 minutes, not 45 in Offenburg! The train station has a small bakery, where you also could get a coffee.

For Basel: Since Basel SBB is quite central, you find plenty of restaurants in the vincinity. You might even be able to do a bit boating on the Rhine, if you like that.
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Old Jul 11, 17, 12:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Fireflyer05 View Post
For Offenburg: There is a bar/Döner restaurant just across the stairs from the main passage underground, where you can grab a beer or another drink. Otherwise not much to see. But you only have 36 minutes, not 45 in Offenburg! The train station has a small bakery, where you also could get a coffee.

For Basel: Since Basel SBB is quite central, you find plenty of restaurants in the vincinity. You might even be able to do a bit boating on the Rhine, if you like that.
That's a great idea! I was looking at a few of the restaurants overlooking the Rhine but was a bit intimidated trying to figure out which places looked best.

36 minutes seems like enough to dash and grab a kebab and walk back to our next train with a beer.
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Old Jul 11, 17, 11:51 pm
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Never having been to Paris - much less central Europe proper - I unfortunately am not in a position to add any suggestions from past experience. I will say if it were me in your position I'd be looking to somehow blend quality accommodations with terrific scenery, onboard service amenities (a good dining car, not a walk through cafe) and an affordable price. High speed has never been a selling point for me.

That said, you've put together a really impressive itinerary here, MSY. I hope it all turns out to be a fantastic trip - for you both!
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Old Jul 12, 17, 2:18 am
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Originally Posted by MSYtoJFKagain View Post
...My goal was to ride as many difference trains as possible without getting on my girlfriend's nerves. I think I've done a fairly good job of it.

2 types of TGV
1 ICE ride
2 TER rides...
German ICE trains have proper draft beer on board. Can't beat 0.5L of foaming brew while you whizz along. Zum Wohl!
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Old Jul 12, 17, 7:21 am
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Originally Posted by Seat 2A View Post
Never having been to Paris - much less central Europe proper - I unfortunately am not in a position to add any suggestions from past experience. I will say if it were me in your position I'd be looking to somehow blend quality accommodations with terrific scenery, onboard service amenities (a good dining car, not a walk through cafe) and an affordable price. High speed has never been a selling point for me.

That said, you've put together a really impressive itinerary here, MSY. I hope it all turns out to be a fantastic trip - for you both!
Thank you! I'm looking forward to seeing eastern France roll by my window and climbing into Switzerland from Strasbourg.

Originally Posted by farci View Post
German ICE trains have proper draft beer on board. Can't beat 0.5L of foaming brew while you whizz along. Zum Wohl!
Great to know! I have been pinching pennies and (trying) to pinch my waistline a bit for this trip so I can properly enjoy the drinking/eating culture of everywhere I visit!


Additionally, we were originally going to take a day trip up to Bayeux and get a tour of the Normandy landing sites from World War 2. I was looking forward to the ride up as well as a nice tour. As I started my research into the tour companies the lowest prices I could find for a half-day tour are 125 euro without rail tickets!? This is near extortionate as far as I can tell.

I may secretly add a day trip to Bordeaux to pick up a few sundries and ride the rails a bit further.

Thank you for everyone's comments.
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Old Jul 13, 17, 4:38 am
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Remember Basel will appear absurdly expensive and there aren't any restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the station where I would want to waste- sorry, spend - money. Basel SBB station is a good station though, with lots of shopping possibilities at sensible (if that could ever be a valid description in Switzerland) prices. There is a COOP Pronto and numerous coffee outlets and newsagents up on the bridge over the tracks.

Outside the station to the right is a COOP supermarket where you can stock up on supplies at good prices. Within the station there is a decent Migros supermarket, which also has a hot food counter which is a money saving way to have a meal (although you'll have to stand around while scoffing it). Outside the front of the Migros is a sandwich and coffee counter, which is pretty good. And a little way down is an excellent beer shop which sells many Swiss microbrews.

Do be careful of the usual curse of pickpockets in Basel SBB station.
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Old Jul 13, 17, 7:32 am
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Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
Remember Basel will appear absurdly expensive and there aren't any restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the station where I would want to waste- sorry, spend - money. Basel SBB station is a good station though, with lots of shopping possibilities at sensible (if that could ever be a valid description in Switzerland) prices. There is a COOP Pronto and numerous coffee outlets and newsagents up on the bridge over the tracks.

Outside the station to the right is a COOP supermarket where you can stock up on supplies at good prices. Within the station there is a decent Migros supermarket, which also has a hot food counter which is a money saving way to have a meal (although you'll have to stand around while scoffing it). Outside the front of the Migros is a sandwich and coffee counter, which is pretty good. And a little way down is an excellent beer shop which sells many Swiss microbrews.

Do be careful of the usual curse of pickpockets in Basel SBB station.
I appreciate the advice.

We live an absurdly expensive place (Manhattan) already so the restaurant sticker shock isn't as bad as most. We were looking down towards the river for our lunch and it seems there's a number of well-rated options in that area.

I brought up cancelling Normandy and adding Bordeaux to our day trip itinerary and I think I've struck gold. We can get RT TGV tickets for $64 and then go on a lovely vineyard tours for 5-6 hours.
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Old Jul 13, 17, 4:56 pm
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Originally Posted by farci View Post
German ICE trains have proper draft beer on board. Can't beat 0.5L of foaming brew while you whizz along. Zum Wohl!
That's what I'd do. There's really not much to do near the train station in Offenburg, especially in 30 minutes. The kebab place is okay, but personally I'd go for a Butterbrezel from the bakery next to the taxi rank. The city centre is a ten-minute walk from the train station.

If you're in first class on the ICE, you can order food and drinks at your seat, otherwise I'd suggest you go and spend the hour between Basel and Offenburg in the dining car. 0.5l of Bitburger will cost you €3.80.
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Old Jul 13, 17, 5:05 pm
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Originally Posted by waffle View Post
If you're in first class on the ICE, you can order food and drinks at your seat, otherwise I'd suggest you go and spend the hour between Basel and Offenburg in the dining car. 0.5l of Bitburger will cost you €3.80.
That is assuming that anyone will actually take your order - last time I took ICE first I didn't even get my ticket checked, and from Bremen-Köln that was unexpected
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Old Jul 13, 17, 5:35 pm
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Originally Posted by waffle View Post
That's what I'd do. There's really not much to do near the train station in Offenburg, especially in 30 minutes. The kebab place is okay, but personally I'd go for a Butterbrezel from the bakery next to the taxi rank. The city centre is a ten-minute walk from the train station.
Thank you, that's a great idea! I guess we'll enjoy our suds on the train and grab a pretzel eat during our transfer.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 1:21 am
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You know, lunchtime is a good option in Switzerland. You can sometimes get very good prices at top tables if go at lunchtime. I have a friend who works through the Michelin guide every year for a fraction of the normal cost of eating, by trying top tables at lunch. Not all places do a plat du jour, or Tagesteller but it's worth checking out.
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Old Jul 14, 17, 7:22 am
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Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
You know, lunchtime is a good option in Switzerland. You can sometimes get very good prices at top tables if go at lunchtime. I have a friend who works through the Michelin guide every year for a fraction of the normal cost of eating, by trying top tables at lunch. Not all places do a plat du jour, or Tagesteller but it's worth checking out.
This was my thinking. I'll do some research on the Michelin Guide website and see where I get. Thank you!
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Old Jul 15, 17, 3:24 am
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You don't have to go all the way to Michelin, though, ordinary restaurants and brasseries nearly always have midday menus or specials. I'm not a big fan of TripAdvisor but you can certainly get an idea of where you can get good eats.
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Old Jul 25, 17, 11:28 am
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Be aware that because of the speed of the TGV between Paris Est and Strasbourg ... you may not see a lot through the window except blurring!
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