A trip to Switzerland and France is an amazing experience for a multitude of reasons. Switzerland’s charming towns of Montreux and Lausanne offer picturesque lakeside scenery and stunning Gothic architecture, while the shimmering Lake Geneva and its surrounding mountains provide a backdrop for unforgettable adventures.
The bustling city of Geneva, with its famous Jet d’Eau fountain and diverse cultural offerings, is a must-visit destination. Meanwhile, France‘s Annecy, Yvoire, and Chamonix are rich with medieval charm, alpine scenery, and world-class ski resorts, with the towering Mont Blanc providing a stunning and awe-inspiring vista.
With a mix of natural beauty, historic charm, and cultural richness, a trip to Switzerland and France is sure to be a memorable and unforgettable experience.
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FAQ: FRANCE AND SWITZERLAND ITINERARY
First things first, here are some FAQs.
HOW MANY DAYS FOR SWITZERLAND AND FRANCE TRIP
Here’s a possible breakdown of how to spend your time:
- Geneva: 1-2 days
- Lausanne: 1 day
- Montreux: 1 day
- Glacier 3000: 1 day
- Yvoire: 1 day
- Annecy: 1-2 days
- Chamonix and Mont Blanc: 2-3 days
This adds up to around 10-12 days, but you could add an extra day or two to any of the destinations depending on your interests. Additionally, you could consider adding other nearby destinations, such as Zermatt or Interlaken in Switzerland, if you have more time available.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much time you want to spend in each place based on your interests and preferences.
HOW EXPENSIVE ARE SWITZERLAND AND FRANCE
France and Switzerland can be considered relatively expensive destinations, especially in cities and tourist areas. However, the overall cost of your trip will depend on a number of factors, such as the time of year you visit, the type of accommodation you choose, and the activities and dining options you prefer.
Here are some general considerations for the costs of the above itinerary:
Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in Geneva and other Swiss cities can be quite high, especially during peak tourist season. However, you may be able to find more affordable options in smaller towns or by booking in advance.
Transportation: Train travel in Switzerland and France can be quite expensive, but it’s also a very efficient and convenient way to get around. Consider purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass or other regional travel pass to save money on transportation costs.
Food and drink: Dining out in Switzerland and France can also be pricey, especially in tourist areas. Look for local markets and grocery stores to save money on meals, or consider picnicking in scenic areas for a unique and affordable dining experience.
Activities: Entrance fees for attractions such as cable cars, museums, and historical sites can also add up quickly. Look for discounts or passes that bundle multiple attractions together to save money.
Overall, it’s possible to enjoy a trip to France and Switzerland on a budget, but it may require some planning and research to find the best deals and affordable options.
BEST WAY TO GET AROUND FRANCE AND SWITZERLAND TRIP
The best way to get around for the above-mentioned France and Switzerland itinerary would be a combination of trains, buses, and boats.
Switzerland has an excellent public transportation system, with reliable trains and buses that run frequently and efficiently. The Swiss Travel Pass is a cost-effective option for travelers that provides unlimited access to public transport, including buses, trains, and boats, and also offers free entry to more than 500 museums and exhibitions.
In France, trains are a convenient and comfortable way to travel between cities, with high-speed trains linking major destinations. Buses are also available, especially for shorter trips or for travel to smaller towns not serviced by trains.
For scenic routes such as along Lake Geneva or in the Chamonix Valley, boats are a great option, providing breathtaking views and a unique way to experience the region.
Overall, a combination of these modes of transportation will provide flexibility and allow for easy access to the many beautiful destinations in France and Switzerland.
WHERE TO STAY FOR THIS SWITZERLAND AND FRANCE ITINERARY?
Depending on the length of your stay, I suggest changing hotels 2-3 times. First, my suggestion is to book a hotel in Geneva or Montrezx and do day trips from there.
Then, I recommend staying 1 or 2 nights in Annecy in France before you get to Chamonix – where I suggest staying 1-3 nights.
WHERE TO STAY IN GENEVA
- Luxury: Beau-Rivage Palace – This historic hotel is set on a lush property with stunning views of Lake Geneva. It boasts luxurious rooms and suites, a Michelin-starred restaurant, a spa, and a private boat landing.
- Mid-range: Hotel N’vY – This stylish hotel is located in the heart of Geneva and offers modern rooms with sleek decor. Amenities include a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Budget: Hotel ibis Geneve Centre Nations – This affordable hotel is conveniently located near public transportation and offers comfortable rooms with simple decor. It features a restaurant and a bar.
WHERE TO STAY IN MONTREUX
- Luxury: Fairmont Le Montreux Palace – This historic 5-star hotel is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva and features elegant rooms and suites, a spa, and several restaurants and bars.
- Mid-Range: Eurotel Montreux – This 4-star hotel overlooks Lake Geneva and the Alps and offers comfortable rooms and suites with modern amenities, as well as a fitness center and a restaurant.
- Budget: Hotel du Grand Lac Excelsior – This 3-star hotel is located in the heart of Montreux and offers simple and affordable rooms with lake or mountain views, as well as a restaurant and bar.
WHERE TO STAY IN ANNECY
- Luxury: L’Impérial Palace – This grand hotel is situated on the shores of Lake Annecy and features elegant rooms with lake or mountain views. Amenities include a spa, multiple restaurants, and a casino.
- Mid-range: Best Western Hotel International – This modern hotel is located in the heart of Annecy and offers comfortable rooms with contemporary decor. It includes a fitness center and a restaurant.
- Budget: Ace Hotel Annecy – This affordable hotel is located a short drive from the city center and features clean and simple rooms. It offers free parking and a breakfast buffet.
WHERE TO STAY IN CHAMONIX
- Luxury: Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix – This elegant hotel is located in the heart of Chamonix and features luxurious rooms with mountain views. It includes a spa, a restaurant, and a bar.
- Mid-range: La Folie Douce Hotel Chamonix – This trendy hotel offers stylish rooms with a contemporary alpine aesthetic. It includes a restaurant, a bar, and a terrace with panoramic views.
- Budget: Le Vert Hotel – This affordable hotel is located a short drive from the city center and offers cozy rooms with simple decor. It includes a restaurant and a bar.
DO I NEED A VISIT FOR FRANCE AND SWITZERLAND
It depends on your nationality and the purpose and duration of your visit. If you are a citizen of a country that is a member of the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA), you do not need a visa to visit Switzerland or France for up to 90 days within a 180-day period as a tourist or for business purposes.
If you are not a citizen of the EU or EFTA, you may need a visa depending on your nationality. It’s important to note that visa requirements are subject to change, so it’s best to check with the appropriate authorities or a reputable travel agency for the latest information and requirements.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME FOR A FRANCE + SWITZERLAND TRIP
The best time to visit France and Switzerland for this itinerary would be during the summer months of June, July, and August, as well as early fall in September and early October.
During this time, the weather is generally warm and pleasant, with plenty of sunshine and long daylight hours, making it perfect for exploring the beautiful towns and natural attractions of both countries. This is also the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices, especially in popular tourist destinations like Montreux, Lake Geneva, and Chamonix.
If you prefer to avoid the crowds and higher prices, the shoulder season of May and October can also be a good time to visit. The weather may be slightly cooler, but the scenery is still breathtaking, and there are usually fewer tourists around.
Winter is also a great time to visit Switzerland for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, especially in the Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc area, but be prepared for colder temperatures and shorter days.
WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO SWITZERLAND AND FRANCE
When packing for the above-mentioned itinerary to France and Switzerland, it’s important to pack for varying weather conditions and activities. Here are some essential items to include in your packing list:
- Comfortable walking shoes for exploring the cities and towns, as well as hiking boots if you plan to go hiking in the mountains.
- Layers of clothing to accommodate the varying weather conditions. Bring light, breathable clothes for warm days, and a jacket or sweater for cooler evenings and higher altitudes.
- Rain gear, including a waterproof jacket or poncho and umbrella, as rain showers are common in both countries, especially in the summer months.
- Swimsuit, as there are plenty of opportunities for swimming and water activities in Lake Geneva and the surrounding areas.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun during the day.
- Travel adapters to ensure that your electronics can be charged and used in both countries.
- A backpack or daypack for carrying essentials during the day, such as water, snacks, and a camera.
- Travel documents, including your passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, and any necessary vaccination certificates.
- A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during the day, as tap water is safe to drink in both countries.
- If you plan to go skiing, bring warm and waterproof ski clothing, including gloves, a hat, and goggles.
Overall, packing for this itinerary requires practical and versatile items that can be layered and mixed, and matched for different activities and weather conditions.
PLACES TO VISIT – FRANCE AND SWITZERLAND ITINERARY
So, let´s get started and find out about the best places to visit on a France and Switzerland trip.
I suggest staying in either Montreux or Geneva – both beautiful towns/cities on the shores of Lake Geneva, which will allow you to do day trips from there.
1 DAY – GENEVA
Geneva is a city in Switzerland located on the banks of Lake Geneva. It is known as a global hub for diplomacy and is home to the United Nations headquarters and several other international organizations. Geneva also boasts a rich cultural scene with museums, galleries, and theaters, as well as outdoor attractions like parks and gardens.
Starting your itinerary in Geneva with one day to explore, here are some must-see sights and activities:
Visit the Jet d’Eau: This iconic Geneva landmark is a fountain that shoots water 140 meters into the air. It’s a great spot for taking photos and enjoying the views of Lake Geneva.
Stroll around Old Town: Geneva’s Old Town is a charming and historic area filled with narrow streets, old buildings, and picturesque squares. Take a walk and discover hidden gems like St. Pierre Cathedral, the Reformation Wall, and the Place du Bourg-de-Four.
Explore the museums: Geneva is home to many world-class museums, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and the Patek Philippe Museum.
One day in Geneva is not enough to fully explore all that Geneva has to offer, but these activities will give you a taste of the city’s beauty and culture.
1 DAY – LAUSANNE
Lausanne is a picturesque city in Switzerland located on the shores of Lake Geneva. It is known for its historic architecture, lively cultural scene, and beautiful parks and gardens. Lausanne is also home to several museums and galleries, including the Olympic Museum which celebrates the city’s history as the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games.
A day trip to Lausanne from Geneva or Montreux is a great way to experience more of the beautiful scenery and culture of Switzerland. Here are some must-see sights and activities in Lausanne for a day trip:
Visit the Olympic Museum: Lausanne is the home of the International Olympic Committee, and the Olympic Museum is a must-see for sports enthusiasts. The museum features interactive exhibits and displays about the history and culture of the Olympics.
Explore the old town: Lausanne’s old town is a charming and historic area with narrow streets, old buildings, and picturesque squares. You can stroll around and visit sights like the Gothic-style Lausanne Cathedral and the Place de la Palud.
Take a walk along Lake Geneva: Lausanne sits on the shore of Lake Geneva, and a walk along the lakefront is a great way to enjoy the views and soak up the atmosphere. You can also visit the nearby parks like the Parc de Mon Repos.
Try Swiss wine: Lausanne is in the heart of Switzerland’s wine country, and you can visit local vineyards to taste the local wines. You can also sample local cuisine, including Swiss chocolate.
Take a scenic train ride: Lausanne is a hub for scenic train routes, including the Golden Pass Line, which takes you through stunning mountain scenery and past charming towns.
With its stunning views, rich culture, and delicious cuisine, Lausanne is a perfect destination for a day trip from Geneva.
1 DAY – MONTREUX
Montreux is a charming town located on the shores of Lake Geneva and is famous for its beautiful promenade, lovely climate, and magnificent views of the Alps. I would go as far as saying, Montreux is one of the most beautiful places in all of Switzerland.
Here are some must-see sights and activities in Montreux for a day trip:
Château de Chillon: This castle is located on a small island on Lake Geneva and is one of Switzerland’s most visited historic monuments. Explore the castle’s courtyards, halls, and towers, and enjoy the beautiful views of the lake and mountains.
Walk along the lakeside promenade: Montreux’s lakeside promenade is
one of the most beautiful in Switzerland. Take a stroll, enjoy the fresh air, and soak up the stunning views of the lake and mountains. It seriously is just jaw-dropping beautiful!
Visit the Freddie Mercury statue: Montreux was the home of legendary rock singer Freddie Mercury, and there is a statue of him on the lakeside promenade. Pay tribute to one of the greatest rock stars of all time and take a photo with the statue.
Take a cruise on Lake Geneva: A boat ride on Lake Geneva is a great way to enjoy the scenic beauty of Montreux and the surrounding area.
Visit the Montreux Jazz Festival: If you’re lucky enough to be in Montreux during the summer months, you can experience one of the world’s most famous music festivals. The Montreux Jazz Festival takes place every July and features a lineup of top international artists.
With its stunning views, historic landmarks, and cultural attractions, Montreux is a perfect destination for a day trip from Geneva or Lausanne.
1 DAY – TRIP TO GLACIER 3000
A day trip to Glacier 3000 from Montreux is a great way to experience the beauty of the Swiss Alps. Glacier 3000 is a popular attraction located near the town of Les Diablerets. It offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, as well as opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
Here are some must-see sights and activities to do during your day trip to Glacier 3000:
Take the cable car to the summit: Start your adventure by taking the cable car to the summit of Glacier 3000. The cable car ride is an experience in itself, with breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps.
Walk on the Peak Walk by Tissot: The Peak Walk by Tissot is a unique suspension bridge that connects two peaks at Glacier 3000. Walk across the bridge and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Try the Alpine Coaster: The Alpine Coaster is a thrilling ride that takes you on a wild journey down the mountain. Enjoy the rush of adrenaline as you twist and turn down the slopes.
Enjoy snow activities: Glacier 3000 is a winter wonderland with plenty of snow activities to enjoy. You can go skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or even dog sledding in the winter.
Walk on a glacier: Even in the summer months, you can walk on a glacier – an amazing experience you cannot experience at many places.
Enjoy a meal with a view: The summit of Glacier 3000 offers several dining options with stunning views of the mountains. Enjoy a meal at the restaurant or bring your own snacks while taking in the panoramic views.
A day trip to Glacier 3000 from Montreux is an unforgettable experience that will take you directly to the heart of the Swiss Alps.
1 DAY – YVOIRE
Yvoire is a medieval village located on the shores of Lake Geneva in France, about 25 kilometers southwest of Geneva. If you have more than 7 or 10 days in France & Switzerland, I highly recommend adding it to your itinerary. It can make a wonderful day trip from Geneva.
Yvoire is a charming medieval village located on the shores of Lake Geneva in France. Its picturesque streets and historic buildings, including a 14th-century castle, make it a popular destination.
Here are the best ways to get to Yvoire from Geneva and what to do when you get there:
- By car: The easiest way to get to Yvoire from Geneva is by car. The drive takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
- By public transportation: I suggest, taking a train from Geneva to the pretty town of Nyon, Switzerland, and then taking a ferry across Lake Geneva to Yvoire. The ferry ride takes about 20 minutes, and the entire journey takes about an hour and a half.
Once you arrive in Yvoire, there are plenty of things to do and see:
Explore the medieval village: Yvoire is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, and a stroll through the village is like stepping back in time. Take a walk through the narrow streets and admire the stone houses and colorful flower gardens.
Visit the Castle: Yvoire’s castle, Château d’Yvoire, dates back to the 14th century and is a must-see attraction. The castle now houses a museum dedicated to the history of the village and the surrounding region.
Enjoy Lake Geneva: Yvoire is located on the shores of Lake Geneva, so take some time to enjoy the lake. You can take a boat tour or rent a paddleboat or kayak to explore the lake on your own.
Visit the Jardin des Cinq Sens: This beautiful botanical garden is located just outside the village walls and is filled with plants and flowers that are organized by color and scent.
Overall, Yvoire is a charming village with plenty to see and do, and it makes for a great day trip from Geneva.
GET FROM LAKE GENEVA TO ANNECY
Getting from Geneva to Annecy is relatively easy and can be done by car or public transportation.
- By train: There are regular train services that run between Geneva and Annecy, with a journey time of around 90 minutes. Trains depart from Geneva Cornavin train station and arrive at Annecy train station. You can check the schedules and purchase tickets on the SNCF website or at the train station.
- By bus: There are also bus services that operate between Geneva and Annecy, with a journey time of around one hour. You can check the schedules and purchase tickets on the Flixbus or Ouibus websites.
- By car: If you have a car, you can drive from Geneva to Annecy, which is about a 45-minute journey. There are several car rental companies in Geneva.
- By private transfer: Another option is to book a private transfer service, which will pick you up from your hotel or any other location in Geneva and drop you off at your destination in Annecy. You can book this service through various companies, such as Alps2Alps or Geneva Airport Transfers.
1 -2 DAYS – ANNECY
Annecy is a beautiful town located in the French Alps and is known for its picturesque canals, historic buildings, and stunning natural scenery. In all honesty, I do think Annecy is the most beautiful French town! A treat for your eyes!
Here are some must-see sights and activities to do during your visit to Annecy:
Explore the Old Town: Annecy’s Old Town is a charming area with narrow streets, colorful buildings, and quaint shops. Admire the architecture and take in the vibrant atmosphere of this historic area.
Visit the Château d’Annecy: This 12th-century castle is a historic landmark that has been beautifully preserved. The castle features an art museum that showcases local history and culture, as well as stunning views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Annecy.
Walk along the canals: Annecy is known as the “Venice of the Alps” for its many canals and waterways. Take a walk along the canals and enjoy the picturesque views of the town.
Take a boat tour of Lake Annecy: Lake Annecy is one of the cleanest and most beautiful lakes in Europe. Take a boat tour and enjoy the stunning scenery of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Annecy is a charming town with plenty of sights and activities to keep visitors entertained. From its historic buildings to its stunning natural scenery, Annecy is a perfect destination for a day trip from Geneva or a longer stay.
2-3 DAY – CHAMONIX & MONT BLANC
Chamonix is a beautiful French Alpine town (also known as the Mont Blanc town), known for its stunning natural scenery and world-class skiing and hiking. Of course, it is a lot about Mont Blanc (which I will talk about more in detail later on), and you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, including the Aiguille du Midi and the Mer de Glace Glacier.
The town itself is charming, with traditional Alpine architecture, cozy cafes, and boutique shops. In the summer, you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and other outdoor activities.
In the winter, Chamonix is a skier’s paradise, with numerous ski areas, cross-country skiing trails, and snowshoeing options. The town also has several museums and cultural attractions, including the Alpine Museum and the Maison de la Montagne, which offer insights into the history and culture of the region.
Visit the Mer de Glace Glacier: This is one of the largest glaciers in Europe and can be accessed by a funicular train.
Skiing and snowboarding: Chamonix has several ski areas, including Les Houches and Brevent-Flegere, with over 150 kilometers of ski runs.
Hiking: There are numerous hiking trails in and around Chamonix, ranging from easy walks to challenging climbs.
Paragliding: Experience the thrill of flying over the mountains with a tandem paragliding flight.
Visit the Alpine Museum: Learn about the history and culture of the region at this museum, which has exhibits on mountaineering, skiing, and more.
Relax at a spa: After a day of skiing or hiking, unwind at one of the many spas in Chamonix, which offer massages, saunas, and other treatments.
Switzerland has the Matterhorn and France (and Italy) has the Mont Blanc – these two mountains are some of the most iconic in the world!
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps, with an elevation of 4,810 meters (15,780 feet). It is located on the border between France and Italy and is a popular destination for mountaineers and tourists alike – and if you get the chance to add the Mont Blanc to your France and Switzerland itinerary, I highly suggest doing so.
The mountain is part of the Mont Blanc Massif, a range of mountains that includes several other peaks over 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). The Mont Blanc range offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including glaciers, valleys, and lakes, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Though you can not directly access the mountain peak of Mont Blanc by cable car, you do get pretty close.
Take a cable car or train to the summit: If you want to experience Mont Blanc’s stunning views without climbing, you can take a cable car or train to the summit. The Aiguille du Midi cable car in Chamonix offers spectacular views of Mont Blanc, as well as the surrounding peaks – it stands at 3.842 meters (or 12,605 feet) and is the closest you can get to the summit of Mont Blanc without climbing yourself.
The cable car is divided into two stages. 1) from Chamonix to Plan de l’Aiguille, a height of 2,317 meters, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. 2) from Plan de l’Aiguille to the summit of Aiguille du Midi, a height of 3,842 meters.
At the summit, you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding Alps, including Mont Blanc, as well as a range of activities such as the “Step into the Void,” a glass box that extends over a 1,000-meter drop, giving visitors the sensation of standing in mid-air.
The Aiguille du Midi cable car is popular! Very popular! It provides an unforgettable experience of the stunning natural beauty of the region.
However, due to the high altitude, the main tips I can give you are to be prepared for cold temperatures (even in the summer months) and take appropriate precautions to avoid altitude sickness. Drink lots of water and have a pit stop at Plan de l’Aiguille for half an hour or an hour.
If you were to get up to Mont Blanc yourself, you should know that climbing Mont Blanc is a serious undertaking and requires proper preparation, training, and equipment. If you’re not an experienced mountaineer, it is nothing I recommend for regular people like you and me (no offense!).
FINAL THOUGHTS ON A SWITZERLAND AND FRANCE ITINERARY
A trip to France and Switzerland, covering places like Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux, Annecy, Yvoire, and Chamonix, is a fantastic experience that offers something for everyone. The France and Switzerland itinerary is packed with scenic beauty, outdoor activities, history, and culture.
Enjoy the stunning vistas of Lake Geneva, explore medieval villages, take cable car rides to the mountaintops, and indulge in world-class cuisine.
Overall, this itinerary is perfect for travelers who love adventure, culture, and natural beauty and want to experience the best of France and Switzerland in a short time.