The Perfect European Winter Road Trip – That even the kids will love!

Lake Luzern Evening

We love road trips but do not like spending long hours in the car, that’s why this trip from Paris, France to Lucerne, Switzerland may just be PERFECT! We never spent more than two-hours in the car and saw some truly breathtaking scenery! Thanks to the expert planning of the Princess and Pauper Adventures.

Paris Opera House
The Paris Opera House

We took a red eye flight from JFK to Paris and rented our car there. Rental cars at the Charles de Gaulle Airport are conveniently set up so if you tend to overpack, there are no shuttles to lug bags, kids and strollers onto. We also opted for navigation and wifi in our car, which came in VERY useful. We drove into Paris for breakfast, we toured the Paris Opera House and then headed to the lovely, walled town of Beaune in the heart of the Burgundy region. This was the longest drive of the trip at about 3 hours, but with a quick lunch stop it flew by.

In Beaune we had a traditional Burgundy dinner of escargot, Boeuf Bourguignon and creme brûlée, which Jake and Zac loved! On our way out of town the following day, we stopped by the famed Beaune town market and picked up some freshly made truffle salt (we even met the truffle dog), handmade soap and Dijon mustard from the nearby town of Dijon.

From Beaune, we headed to Lausanne, Switzerland. This drive took 2 1/2 hours and was easy. We made it to Lausanne by the early afternoon. We stayed at a beautiful hotel on Lake Geneva with the Alps in the distance, Angleterre & Residence Hotel.

The room included bus passes, so we hoped on a bus to the old town section of Lausanne. We took in some beautiful architecture, worked our way through winding, hilly cobblestone streets and shopped. Jake and Zac picked out an authentic Victorinox Swiss Army knife to bring home to dad. Then we had a traditional fondue dinner at Cafe du Grutli.

We only stayed in Lausanne for one night, then headed to Grindelwald stopping in Bern, Interlake and Lauterbrunnen along the way. The drive was full of breathtaking scenery and our first stop, Bern, was only an hour away from Lausanne. In Bern we walked around the Old Town, a UNESCO world heritage site, grabbed a coffee and snack then hopped back in the car. A quick, but stunning 45-minute drive brought us to Interlaken. Nestled between two alpine lakes and the gateway to the Jungfrau Mountain area, Interlaken is gorgeous. We stopped here for a traditional raclette lunch at the The Grand Cafe Restaurant, made a quick stop in Lauterbrunnen (a 20 minute drive) and finished in Grindelwald.

The first night in Grindelwald we stayed in the heart of town at the Hotel Belvedere, a  family-run hotel at the base of the majestic Bernese Alps. We had dinner at Barry’s Restaurant, which was the perfect opportunity for Jake and Zac to learn about the incredible history of St. Bernard dogs. Barry’s was named after the most famous St. Bernard, Barry – credited with saving between 40 and 100 lives. The restaurant’s charming mountain decor and delicious food completed the experience.

The next morning we headed out early to move to our next hotel, still in Grindelwald but on the mountain. The Berghaus Bort is not reachable by car so we had to take the gondola. 2 kids + 12 bags divided by 4 adults multiplied by a 6-person gondola that doesn’t stop = 1 stress-inducing, out-of-breath trek… but SO WORTH IT!

Located just off the first stop of the First Bahn Gondola, the Bort Station, The Berghaus Bort may be my favorite hotel ever! It’s simple, but full of Swiss Mountain charm and boasts some truly incredible views. We quickly checked in, threw on our ski clothes and took the gondola up to the top. We were able to rent high-quality skis and snowboards at the Intersport location at the First station, almost at the top of the Schwarzhorn Mountain.

While skiing and snowboarding are huge winter attractions for Grindelwald, it’s by no means the only option. In addition to traditional downhill trails, the entire Jungfrau region is brimming with winter hiking and snowshoeing trails and sledging (sledding) runs. The following morning, we headed back up to the same Intersport, but this time we rented sledges. Jake, Zac, Gigi, Aunt Gabrielle, Uncle Drew and me all agree that this is one of the most fun things we have ever done!

The next day, sadly, we checked out of the Berghaus Bort, but before we left Grindelwald we took the Jungfraujoch up to Europe’s highest train station – The Top of Europe. Here we walked through the Eispalast, the highest altitude ice palace and caves hewn from Europe’s longest glacier.

On the way down, we stopped for lunch at the Kleine Scheidegg train station and wondered into one of Travel & Leisure’s most remote hotels, Hotel Bellevue des Alpes.

Most Remote Hotel

With a slight headache and a bit of exhaustion, from the thin air at The Top of Europe, we drove an hour and 15 minutes to Lucerne, our last stop on the trip.

We stayed at the Palace Luzern Hotel, a beautiful property. Sitting on the banks of Lake Lucerne, the view is magnificent. The glassy lake is dotted with noble swans and framed by the grand peaks of alpine mountains. While in Lucerne, you won’t want to miss the Lucerne Lion Monument. I also recommend the 1-hour lake cruise tour on the Panorama Yacht. The well-preserved architecture throughout Lucerne is beautiful, so wear your walking shoes and cross the covered bridge.

Our week-long trip to Switzerland (and France) flew by and there is so much more that I want to explore there. Switzerland’s architecture, history, culture and natural beauty are inspiring.

In seeing such beauty, my natural reaction was to inhale. Yet when my lungs were completely full, my chest continued to expand, not with breath but with wonder, to the point I felt truly connected to all that was around me. It is in moments like this that I realize how small I really am, but what an important job we all have in protecting this wonderful world with its many beautiful cultures and rich histories. This for me, is my wanderlust.

Mountains

 

6 thoughts on “The Perfect European Winter Road Trip – That even the kids will love!”

  1. Enjoyed reading about your trip. I spent four days in Grondelwald 44 years ago in the summer.. one of the most beautiful places in the world!

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  2. LOVED this!!!! You are such an amazing writer, Danielle!! I felt like I was there!!!! All of your tips are so great, I have tucked them in my hat for use later 😉

    Like

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