I don't know the Alps around Geneva that well but there is plenty to do!
First, from Geneva you have the option of staying in France or Switzerland (CH). France is obviously cheaper. And if you stay in Ferney-Voltaire or Annemasse in France you have public transport into Geneva.
You have access to both the Alps or the Jura mountains. Jura is lovely for hiking in the summer, but are not as spectacular as the Alps. Having said that you have a great view across to the Alps.
You can travel to Chamonix reasonably easily.
In CH, the Canton (countuy) of Valais (Wallis) is easily accissible by train from Geneva in a couple of hours and there is mountain galore! More than can be put in this post. Obvious places to visit include Zermatt (hike up to see the Matterhorn), Saas Fe, Leukerbad (hot springs) and impressive mountains (including some hard Via Feratta), Aletsch glacier. All are reachable by public transport from Geneva but if you are planning on doing longer walks you might want to look into staying in a small hotel, b&b or camp site.
All of Switzerland can be reached by rail from Geneva so check the forecast! Often you will have great weather on one side of the alps and lousy weather on the other so you can usually hunt out good weather.
In Geneva, the old town is worht visiting. The University park with the statues of the reformers (fathers of pretestantism if you are interested in that sort of thing) is worth a visit. A stroll around the lake is nice. Take a trip with the paddle steamer on lake Geneva (or one of the other lakes in CH: Lake Luzern is very very nice!). Take boat to Yvoire in France (old town with some good food, not too big so easily visited in a day). You should sample the local fish if you have a chance (filet de perche). Very yum! Oh and thepub Brasseur (Brewer) at the train station makes cracking beer and food to go with it. A 5L tower of beer outside in the summer is hard to beat!
OK, that's a quick over-view. If you want more details on anything let me know and I can suggest more places to visit in CH or more details
It is probably doable in a long day, you have to get the train to Kleine Scheidegg which is below the Eiger. You can get there in just over 4 hours. The rail way you refer to is to the Jungfraujoch, The Top of Europe. It is very nice, but pricy! There is of course also the Eiger Trail which runs below the north face and takes only a couple of hours I think (I haven't done it, but it featured on OM last summer I think).
The railway website www.sbb.ch is good for planning your trips as you can put in your departure and desitnation and you will get an ETA and the breakdown of the route, where to change, what type of transport (i.e. bus, train, boat) etc.
Also, if you are going to be travelling by rail a lot in CH I would highly recommend you look at some of the deals you get for travelling by rail: http://www.swisstravelsystem.ch/en/ You can save A LOT of money that way.
http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/holidays--short-breaks-in-switzerland/scenic-trains.html Link to some of the scenic train trips possible. Great for a relaxing day out for seeing the mountains from a panoramic, air-conditioned train carriage! Glacier Express is very very good (but I did it in winter for my birthday!).
Swiss topo provide maps and can be downloaded for GPS devices.
That link will take you to the Swiss equivalent of OS and a map you can zoom in on to find out which map you need. You can then order from the website, search online on amazon or buy them in a book shop in Geneva.
Really like the idea of going to Zermatt. Looks like the train from Geneva will cost a bit.
Do you know if there's anywhere good to explore for a couple of days over the other side of the border in France? The Tour De France is going to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine so would possibly travel there from Geneva at the beginning of the week before heading to Zermatt or similar
Again, great info thanks! Having looked at my finances, I should probably try and make this as cheap as possible! Is Zermatt/Courmayeur an expensive place to get to?
Are there any places with direct flights or trains from UK/Paris that have enough to do nearby without expensive train transfers?
There's a lot you could do in a week from Geneva. The city itself is well worth wandering around on foot, and you could spend a day or two messing about on the lake steamers, spending a couple of hours at every town and village on the timetable. You could follow both initial spurs of the GR5, first from Thonon les Bains to Chevenoz, Chevenoz to Chapelle d'Abondance, then double back from Chapelle d'Abondance to St Gingolph, putting you back onto the lake to return to Geneva.
Having said all that, you really want to be talking to Moonlight Shadow, as he's a native of those parts.
Super. Will have to see if the girlfriend is happy with what Geneva has to offer!
Looking at the cheapest way to get to Geneva from Exeter. Flights from Bristol for the second weekend in July are currenly about £140 return. I doubt I'm gonna find a similar price for travelling by train as always wanted to use the tgv but on a budget!
geekinthesticks wrote (see)
If you really want to save a few quid and suffer in the process, get the bus... Be prepared for a very uncomfortable journey.
Hmmm... sounds as though the bus ride has improved somewhat!
Seriously, though, it's more than most people would want to endure. It runs through the night, and even if you wanted to try and sleep on-board, it's not exactly a direct service and at some stops you have to get off the bus. I did it once, and I wouldn't do it again, unless the alternative was to crawl to Chamonix over shards of broken glass.
C S 3 wrote (see)
Really like the idea of going to Zermatt. Looks like the train from Geneva will cost a bit.Do you know if there's anywhere good to explore for a couple of days over the other side of the border in France? The Tour De France is going to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine so would possibly travel there from Geneva at the beginning of the week before heading to Zermatt or similar
I used to live in Gex (France, west side of Geneva on the Jura, about 45 minutes from Bellegarde. There is not much to do in Bellegarde, except for maybe visit Fort l'Ecluse an old fort that lies pretty spectacularly.
Here is a link to a walk around there: http://randomassif.kazeo.com/01-ain/bellegarde-sur-valserine-fort-l-ecluse,a343293.html.
There is a lot of paths that go along the back of the Jura around there. It is all a huge nature reserve so no camping, no fires, take all your litter with you etc etc. IF you are ridiculously lucky you can see lynx and capercaillies. Its covered in forest towards Belgarde, but if you head further towards Col de la Fausille you can get some nice walking there. Note you will need a car. There is a bus (or used to be) from Ferney to Bellegarde but it is at odd hours and infrequent. There is also a bus from Geneva train station to Ferney in France (the F line) and there is also one that runs to Meyrin where CERN is (the museum is worth a rainy day!) and into France there. But, if you are going into France, rent a car. It will be a lot easier.
Thanks all, the girlfriend is happy with Geneva so expect more questions nearer the time!
If we camp in Geneva and Zermatt, what rating sleeping bag would we need?
Hi CS3, the Jungfrau railway is not that far from Zermatt as the crow flies... but there are some big mountains in between. It will take you about 3 hrs to get there, either by train or by car. You can take the car on the train through the moutains (Loetschberg Tunnel) so you will need to set out yearly... or you go the day before and camp at Kleine Scheidegg or something like that.
As for going to Milan(o), I don't think the train goes the same route as the Glacier Express. It would be a longer way. According to www.cff.ch the train goes via Domodossola in Italy. The Glacier Express take a full day. It is well worth it though. If you get a 1st Class ticket you have the option of having a nice 3-course meal served whilst you drive. It will be a fair amount more though and the view will be just the same as if you pack a lunch.
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