Munich to Nice via Lauterbrunnen, Montreux, Annecy, and Provence
Hello. I have been brainstorming my route for next year, 3rd ED, but need advise from the Swiss roads veterans in here. For a little background, I am travelling with my wife, 13 y/o son and 10 y/o daughter, picking up an M5 on JUNE 21. I am looking for smaller towns and deliberately avoiding bigger cities, and will be spending my last week in St Remy, have 8 days from pickup to make it there. I have read to avoid Zurich, went to Luzern and would think I want to avoid that area (and the traffic) as well. Therefore have targeted Appenzell, Lauterbrunnen, Montreux (or a better town to stay the night), and Annecy before getting to Provence, and need help in deciding what route to take. I am not averse to mountain passes, but do not understand them yet, where they are, which ones to use, which to avoid. These are options I have come with when crafting that Munich to Annecy plan (the rest I have figured it out). This is not set in stone, and I would greatly appreciate any feedback:
Option 1: The default Google Maps route, my concern is that it goes to close to Zurich:
Option 2: Via A53 trying to avoid Zurich, not Luzern:
Option 3: longer, but tries to avoid Luzern and Zurich, Via Wasserfluhstrasse/Route 8, Hauptstrasse/Route 8, Sustenstrasse/Route 11:
Unfortunately I'm not able to view your maps, but here are my thoughts. I am partial to Grindelwald over Lauterbrunen, and I am also very partial to the Parkhotel Schoneigg. Great hotel, great location, breathtaking views, and plenty of safe places to park your new BMW. The drive from Lucern to Grindelwald was one of my favorites. I also enjoyed the drive from Grindelwald to Martigny, part of that drive involved driving onto a rail car, then being hauled by train through a long mountain tunnel. I'd also recommend heading a tad further south to a quaint ski town called Cormayeur, which is on the south side (Italian side) of Mount Blanc. It's a very posh upscale ski town with fantastic food, shopping, and views. Not far from there you can visit the ancient Roman city of Aosta, very cool setting and architecture. You could easily drive under Mont Blanc from there (longest tunnel in Europe) pass Chamonix on your way to Annecy.
Thank you GermanRoots, very useful stuff. I guess you suggest not to avoid driving around Luzern (others suggest here avoiding Zurich, which I will likely do). Your suggestions are very interesting and doable, would make the trip more interesting. I have a few questions if you have the time, would help me out a lot:
The default googlemaps route from Grindelwald to Martigny goes through Montreux and Chillon. Is this the route you took, or did you take a more southern route? How are the logistics of hopping in the train, and do you hop on it through the default route through Montreux? How long is the train ride?
When stopping at Chamonix and Courmauyeur, did you cross the tunnel twice back and forth? Or did you do (or is it better to do) Grindelwald-Martigny-Aosta-Courmauyeur-Chamonix-Annecy and although a bit longer, does not repeat a road?
How many days did you spend in Grindenwald? Is one night enough? Did you stay anywhere along that Grindelwald-Martigny-Aosta-Courmauyeur-Chamonix-Annecy route? I am thinking Martigny could be a good stop, as I would like to avoid a 6 hr driving day that route would take.
I will check Parkhotel Schoneigg.
I can't thank you enough.
Glad to help out. Hopefully I can answer more of your questions.
I did avoid Zurich altogether as I had been there before and also wanted to avoid a big city. However, I did make a 2 hour stop in Luzern to see the Lion sculpture and to grab an afternoon snack. Luzern is a great city, in fact I really wanted to take the tram up to Mt. Pilatus, but it was pretty cloudy on the day I passed through, so we skipped it.
Here is the route I took from the Grindelwald / Lauterbrunnen / Interlaken area. A8 towards Spiez, then south on 223 towards Kandersteg. This will take you through the Lotschberg Tunnel (train car hauler). Here is a video to give you an idea what to expect.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uz8NDF8mY44 Upon exiting the Lotschberg Tunnel, we continued south on the 509 (which might be the only option) then made a turn to the west on Route 9 which we took all of the way to Martigny. This drive down Route 9 is a highway drive, but it takes you down a valley called Valais, which has some pretty rich Roman history with some cool structures and vineyards along the way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valais After lunch in Martigny we drove on to Geneva. The only reason we took this route was because we had plans to stay with friends in Geneva, I would have liked to go even further into the alps and visit Zermatt, Matterhorn, etc. I DID drive both ways through the Mont Blanc tunnel as we made it a day trip from Geneva. I didn't stay in Cormauyer, but I would like to on my next trip. I like your idea of doing Grindelwald-Martigny-Aosta-Courmauyeur-Chamonix-Annecy. You would have some fabulous views in each place.
As far as Grindelwald is concerned, we stayed two days, I would have liked to stay more, but it's not cheap, and we had a long list of other places to visit. I would plan to have two full days in Grindelwald. The popular thing to do in Grindelwald is to take a train ride that goes from Grindelwald up to a place called Klein Scheidegg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klein_Scheidegg From there you get on another train that will take you (literally) through Mt. Eiger to the top of the alps to a station called Jungfraujoch which sits above 11,000 feet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungfraujoch This is about 5 hours round trip from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch and back. You can get some great brawts and beer at Klein Scheidegg, and enjoy some breathtaking views the ENTIRE time.
Here is a link to Parkhotel Shoenegg. http://www.parkhotelschoenegg.ch/de/home/index.html I think we paid about US$500 per night, but it's in a great location, has a great hot tub, steam shower, sauna, pool, etc. Which you will want after walking around the alps.
You could probably find a good overnight place in Martigny, personally I wouldn't stay there. Not that it's a bad place….....but I prefer to be in the mountains, not in a valley. An alternative might be to go to Zermatt and stay there, then you could take a peek at the Matterhorn (weather permitting).
I wish I could help you with places to stay at Courmauyer, like I said I didn't stay there, but I will next time I'm in the region. I remember seeing some quality hotels along the way. We had dinner there and it was phenomenal….....wish I could remember the name of the place. I'm not doing a very good job selling Courmauyer with these vague details, but I invite you to do some research….....I think you will be impressed.
Hope this helps.
So much to do, so little time, it is hard to pick and choose, I have essentially 8 nights from the time I arrive in Munich before I end up in St Remy de Provence for a week. Zermatt is too complicated and time consuming for this time around, and the Lotschberg Tunnel would have me skipping Montreux/Chillon Castle, which I may want to see, but I am really sold on the ideas of spending two full days in Grindelwald (your suggestions already gave me what to do for at least one full day there) and the Mont Blanc tunnel hitting Aosta, spending the night in Courmauyer, then maybe stop for the day in Annecy and end up as I planned in Provence. I am travelling with wife and a 13 and 10 y/o, so have to take that into account. Thank you again for your help. I will post later when I cement my plans a bit more.
This is a very similar route I did 2 years ago. In our case, I drove the route Napoleon, via Chateau de Gourdon, and Balcon de la Mescla. A spectacular drive and the route Napoleon took invading France is a nice countryside drive, with awesome visibility for many miles. Just the perfect spot to open up the BMW!
Bridge over the Balcon:
Along route Napoleon:
I did a somewhat similar route in reverse about 3 years ago. Points of note: What do you plan on doing for two days in Grindelwald? It's a cool town for overnight but felt a little "inauthentic" and more touristy for longer stays. HOWEVER, my wife and I took the gondola up and did some hiking in the Alps. VERY COOL. Can also take the Gondola back down.
We stayed in a "bed and breakfast" in the countryside of Appenzeller. It was an old barn house. Very cool experience. May sure to see the World Heritage Site "oldest library" in St. Gallen in the cathedral (blanking on the name, look it up). Eat some appenzeller cheese. Its great.
I took the back roads from Appenzeller down through Lucern and stayed off the highways. :thumbup:
On your route Montreux. HAVE to stop in Gruyere. Especially if you like cheese. Can visit one of the artisan cheese houses to see how they make it. The town of Gruyere is a very cool old medieval cities set in a castle on the hill. WORTH SEEING!
Sounds like a great trip overall!
Thank you Zoltrix, I will check out your routes and see how they fit, they seem vey nice. Northernlights, point taken about Grindelwald, going with Germanroots recs and have a 3 night reservation at the Parkhotel Schoneigg , he stayed there two nights and felt he could have stayed more. I plan on traveling around the area on the cable cars (Mt Eiger and the other one), doing some hiking for two days, going to the surrounding towns, wanted to also have a good place to get a good rest, and the pool is nice for late afternoons since I am traveling with a 13 and 10 y/o's. Did you stay around Grindelwald and do you have suggestion of a more authentic accommodation around the Bernese Oberland for three nights? I could still cancel if you have another suggestion that fits our bill. After leaving Grindelwald will indeed make a stop in Gruyere and do a cheese tour. Rick Steves' recommends two, one in town and one just outside. Did you go to one of those or a different one, or are their several artisan cheese houses you can just walk in? We will likely do that and the Broc chocolate factory tour on our way to Chateau du Chillon if the day is long enough and spend the night around Leysin or Les Diablerets area and skip Montreux, does not sound like the kind of town we would be interested in after reading about it. Do you have any suggestions of places to stay around that area of Montreux? We will be staying in Weissbad at Gasthaus Alpenblick.
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