Alpine Steam Express

Sunday 19th July to Sunday 26th July 2020
8 - Days


Prices from: £2195


Against the backdrop of the picturesque Swiss and French Jura Mountains, glamorous steam locomotives, historic steamboats and towering peaks all feature prominently on this outstanding Alpine holiday tour.


Departure Date: 19-Jul-2020
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  • Based in the Baroque city of Solothurn, you’ll travel on privately chartered steam trains and steamboats at unusual locations mainly off the beaten path.
  • Many steam highlights appear for the very first time in our programme, including the Swiss Val-de-Travers and Vallée de Joux regions, as well as the French Coni-Fer steam railway near Pontarlier.
  • Enjoy a private steam charter on the extensive Chemins de Fer du Jura metre gauge network in the Franches Montagnes of Western Switzerland, where mighty Mallet engines roam, including unique steam train street running in La-Chaux-de-Fonds.
  • Cruise aboard genuine paddle steamers on Lake Geneva, Lake Thun, Lake Neuchatel and Lake Biel, for delightful afternoon and sunset cruises. An evening river cruise on River Aare is an additional attraction.
  • Experience the amazing 0-8-0 rack and adhesion locomotive No. 704 at the high altitude Furka Railway, over one of the most breathtaking mountain railways in the world on the original summit line of the Glacier Express.
  • Go ‘peak-hopping’ on funiculars and cableways in the Jura Mountains to such panoramic yet lesser known peaks as Mount Chaumont and Mount Weissenstein.
  • Fully explore the region’s tram and rail network with the additional freedom and flexibility of a First Class 4-Day Swiss Travel Pass.

Sunday 19th July
London to Basel; Transfer to Solothurn
You travel First Class by Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. Transferring to Paris Gare de l’Est you then journey to Basel in Switzerland via Strasbourg. A short transfer takes you to Solothurn, your base for the holiday. You check into your hotel and have time to relax before a welcome dinner is provided at an elegant mountain lodge. (D)

Monday 20th July
Mountain Magnificence at the Weissenstein; narrow gauge railways around Solothurn
After a relaxing morning you journey by local railway and aerial cableway to the summit of Mount Weissenstein, Solothurn’s local ‘high hill’ and part of the Jura Mountains range. From the summit there are stunning views of the expansive Swiss Midlands and the high Alpine peaks to the south. Returning back to Solothurn by cableway and train. Then take advantage of a complimentary local public transport rover day-ticket to individually explore the scenic narrow gauge railway lines to Langenthal and St. Urban. Dinner is served at your hotel tonight. (B D)

Tuesday 21st July
Steam with a Mallet locomotive in the Franches Montagnes
The hills of the Swiss Jura Mountains form the backdrop to today’s steam excursion on the extensive Chemins de Fer du Jura narrow-gauge network, hauled by a powerful Henschel Mallet locomotive. You journey via Saignelegier and Le Noirmont to La-Chaux-de-Fonds, through remote landscapes in one of Switzerland’s most isolated regions. Your locomotive battles several gradients before concluding with tram-like street running in the city of La-Chaux-de-Fonds. Lunch is taken on the train in the bistro coach before you return over the same route to the shed at Pré Petitjean. For the return to Solothurn you are free to use your complimentary Swiss Travel Pass, with the option to travel on the other CJ narrow-gauge line to Tavannes. Afterwards, travelling back on the main line via Biel to Solothurn. (B L D)

Wednesday 22nd July
Steam in the Jura Mountains at Vallée de Joux; Paddle Steamers on Lake Geneva
Today, use your Swiss Travel Pass to take a scenic ride on an SBB service train along the Jura lakes and mountains to Le Pont in the remote mountain valley Vallée de Joux. Here, one of the most attractive yet unknown Swiss steam railways operates in a stretch of landscape nestled between forests, lakes and hills. This ‘rare track’ is again combined by ‘rare traction’ with No. 8494 hauling your private main line charter train from Le Pont to Les Brassus, returning back to Le Pont. Lunch will be served in the bistro car, while the railway’s open balcony gondola coach allows you to stand right behind the footplate of the tank engine, creating a memorable experience and providing opportunities for filming or photography. Afterwards, you transfer on an SBB service train to Lake Geneva. Your Swiss Travel Pass allowing you to ‘boat-hop’ on several of the different steamers that will be operating on the lake, while enjoying the incredible landscape of Lac Leman. In the evening, return to Solothurn on one of the many different scenic lines of your own choosing. (B L)

Thursday 23rd July
High altitude steam at the Furka Railway with giant rack tank No. 704; evening steamboat cruise on Lake Thun
This morning, after an exciting journey by standard and narrow-gauge service trains from Solothurn via the Gotthard Railway and Andermatt to Realp, you board a heritage train hauled by the rack and adhesion giant locomotive No. 704, with 0-8-0-wheel alignment and externally visible traction gear. Travel over Switzerland’s premier Alpine steam railway to the Furka summit, pausing for a photo stop, descending through the short summit tunnel and arriving above Gletsch, with the Rhone Glacier in plain sight. Afterwards, you continue on the last section of this heritage railway to re-open in 2011, on spiral tunnels down to Oberwald, before taking an MGB train on the stunning line to Brig. In Brig travel over the Lötschberg summit line to Thun, where you board the magnificent paddle steamer “Bluemlisalp” from 1906 for a wonderful sunset dinner cruise. (B D)

Friday 24th July
Steam in the Swiss Val-de-Travers and at the French Coni-Fer
This morning, after arriving in Travers by SBB service train, a famous Swiss ‘Tigerli’ tank engine will haul your private charter train via Fleurier over the unusual St. Sulpice branch line, which hasn’t seen passenger traffic since 1973. Here, you visit the large steam locomotive collection of the VVT group, and a false arrival of the ‘Tigerli’-hauled train will be staged for photo opportunities. Afterwards, transfer by coach across the French frontier past impressive hill-top castles to the French heritage railway Coni-Fer near Pontarlier. This remote standard-gauge line features a fleet of ‘Tigerlis’, running on what has been preserved of the old Pontarlier - Vallorbe line. Your train traverses hilly scenery, pausing along the way for photo stops and a run past. After lunch, you return by coach to Switzerland and carry on to Neuchatel by service train, where you enjoy a mountain-top excursion on the local funicular to the peak of Mount Chaumont, one of the finest look-out points in the Jura Mountains. From there you return to Solothurn for the evening. (B L D)

Saturday 25th July
Paddle steamer cruise on the Jura lakes, along Switzerland’s longest waterway
Today, experience the nostalgia of the vintage 1912 paddle steamer ‘Neuchatel’, which sails from its name-sake city. Steam along the longest waterway located entirely within Switzerland, sailing on multiple lakes and canals from Neuchatel to Biel, past vineyards and wetlands, with the Jura Mountains towering to the west. In Biel, transfer onto the Aare river boat for a relaxing cruise to Solothurn, passing under the covered wooden bridge at Büren and going through one of Switzerland’s best bird spotting locations. You return to Solothurn in the late afternoon, with dinner provided at the hotel tonight. (B D)

Sunday 26th July
Return to London
After breakfast you transfer from your hotel to Basel. Here you take the High speed train to Strasbourg before changing trains and continuing to Paris Gare de L’Est. There you transfer to Paris Gare du Nord and take a Eurostar service back to London St. Pancras International. (B)


Details

Price

  • First Class £2575
  • Standard Class £2455
  • Single supplement £295
  • Ground only (Solothurn – Solothurn with First Class Swiss Pass) £2275

All prices shown are per person based on two persons sharing.

Price Includes

  • 7 nights accommodation at 4-star H4 Hotel Solothurn with breakfast
  • 6 Dinners and 3 Lunches
  • First or Standard Class rail travel from London to Basel and Return
  • First Class 4 Day Swiss Pass
  • Paddle steamer cruise
  • Private charters as detailed in the itinerary
  • All seat reservations and transfers
  • The services of a tour manager

Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner

 

Map feature coming soon!