Home base access to small towns

Old Dec 4th, 2022, 08:27 PM
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Home base access to small towns

Hi there,
I am looking for specific ideas for an upcoming European trip in late May.

We are looking for a home base that would allow easy, day trips via either high-speed train or car, to small towns, villages or hamlets. For example, we have already done:

Home base in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, and train/gondola/cable car around the Jungfrau region

Home base in Palazuolo Sul senio and drove to towns in Tuscany, Italy.

Home base in London and drove around the Cotswolds.

Does anyone know of any other places that we could explore with one centrally located place as a home base? Bonus points if it is accessible from Paris. Thank you so much!
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 08:45 PM
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Get yourself a copy of
Europe by Eurail Europe by Eurail
which is premised on exactly what you describe.
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Old Dec 4th, 2022, 08:49 PM
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Thank you!
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 12:37 AM
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All depends on the places you want to visit.

If you are looking for a inner alpine travel hub, you may check Brig (Switzerland), a small historic town with a pedestrian zoine in the center and short ways from there to the railway and bus stations.

Journey times from Brig by public transport:



Riederalp (Aletsch Glacier): 1 hr

Belalp (Aletsch Glacier): 50 min

Simplon Pass: 45 min

Saas Fee: 1 hr

Zermatt: 1 hr 25 min

Kippel Loetschental: 35 min

Leukerbad (thermal spa): 1 hr

Gemmi Pass: 1 hr 30 min

Grimentz Val d'Anniviers: 1 hr 40 min

Evolene Val d'Herens: 1 hr 20 min

Crans-Montana: 1 hr

Montreux Lake Geneva: 1 hr 20 min

Spiez Lake Thun: 35 min

Stresa Lake Maggiore: 55 min

Kandersteg: 35 min

Interlaken: 1 hr

Beatus caves: 1 hr 40 min

Berne: 1 hr

Lucerne: 2 hrs 10 min

Milan: 1 hr 50 min

Paris via Lausanne or Basel: 5 hrs 40 min

Google for these places if you are interested in
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 02:55 AM
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Bologna immediately springs to mind. It's at the centre of an enormous number of train lines, with many places within about an hour's travel eg Modena, Ferrara, Parma, Ravenna, and even Florence which is now only 40 mins away. Milan is an hour away, Venice is only 1 ½ hours away and Rome 2 hours. And so much to see in the city itself with masses of museums, galleries, churches, not to mention the markets, food shops and restaurants. Such a great place to visit for a long stay, IMO.

Ed - at least 3 non stop flights a day from Paris to Bologna taking 1 ½ hours or 8 hours on the train via Milan.

Last edited by annhig; Dec 5th, 2022 at 02:58 AM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 07:42 AM
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I'm not sure I understand the question. Do you have a specific country/area thereof in mind? If not the options are endless.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 09:12 AM
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Palazuolo Sul Senio is not a realistic base for exploring Tuscany by either car or train. The town does not have train service, so any excursion by train would first involve driving to a station somewhere and then working around train timetables. The town's location on the border with Emilia-Romagna puts it too far for comfortable day trips by car.... more than 90 minutes to Florence, more than 2 hours to Siena and to Lucca/Pisa, about 3 hours to the Val d'Orca towns. And that's just "arriving" at the town/city and does not include finding parking.

Do you know which towns or areas of Tuscany you want to visit? If it's the usual list of Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti, etc., you could look in the vicinity of Certaldo or Castelfiorentino which both have train service. If you want to spend time in the Val d'Orca, you may need to look for two bases... one nearer Florence and one in the vicinity of Buonconvento or farther south.

In case you weren't aware, most of the Tuscany region that is popular with tourists does not have train service. Most towns in Tuscany have banned cars in their historical centers, so when you visit you must park outside the town and walk in/out which adds to the overall travel time.
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Old Dec 5th, 2022, 09:53 AM
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In rereading your original post, I guess I'm as confused as hetismij2. You seem to have "already done" the Berner Oberland, Tuscany and the Cotswalds.

So, where are you going????
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Old Dec 6th, 2022, 10:49 AM
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I thought they wanted France by the Paris comment. Although I don't really know what that means, to be honest (accessible from Paris) as you can get anywhere from Paris if you want, by some method.

But lets presume that means some place within a few hours by train from Paris for some reason that is unclear, maybe they want to see Paris also.

Provence seems obvious. Or Alsace. Or Dordogne, I suppose, although that takes longer to get to from Paris. Or the area to the west of the Rhone (Languedoc Roussillon). I like the Drome departement.

really, you can get most areas of France with a few hours from Paris, even Brittany, so I'd say you can do this anywhere, you just have to decide your personal interests and desires as to where you want to go.
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Old Dec 6th, 2022, 11:06 AM
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Sarlat would be a good base for seeing small towns and villages in the Dordogne and some of the Lot.


You'll need a car. There is a Michelin map specifically for the plus beaux villages which would be useful for this area which has many of them.
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Old Dec 6th, 2022, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by joellemassari3734 View Post
Hi there,
I am looking for specific ideas for an upcoming European trip in late May.

We are looking for a home base that would allow easy, day trips via either high-speed train or car, to small towns, villages or hamlets. For example, we have already done:

Home base in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, and train/gondola/cable car around the Jungfrau region

Home base in Palazuolo Sul senio and drove to towns in Tuscany, Italy.

Home base in London and drove around the Cotswolds.

Does anyone know of any other places that we could explore with one centrally located place as a home base? Bonus points if it is accessible from Paris. Thank you so much!
We started a two week trip to France last May with a week in Port-en-Bessin in Normandy. Lots of history, scenery, and food, within easy driving distance. Click on my profile if you want to read my trip report (with photos). Great little town to stay in if you have a car.
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Old Dec 6th, 2022, 01:49 PM
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In the Netherlands: stayed in Leiden and visited Amsterdam, Delft, and Zaanse Schwans. Had time allowed, we could have also visited, The Hague, Rotterdam, et al.

In Austria: stayed in Zell am See, visited Innsbruck, Kitzbühel, Salzburg.

In Italy: stayed in Rome, visited Pompeii, Ostia Antica, Orvieto

In Italy, stayed in Varenna, visited Milan, Bellagio

In England, stayed in London, visited Windsor, Bath, Oxford.

I've never used this company, but their website gave me lots of ideas for independent travel: https://www.untours.com

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