Although Switzerland and France are bordering countries, Geneva is over 300 miles (480 kilometers) from Paris. The cities are far enough away that you might want to fly, but traveling by rail or road are perfectly feasible options as well.
Because there are a lot of airlines offering budget fares, flying costs about the same as taking the train, but is much faster. However, you should factor in the travel time and cost of getting to and from the airport in each city, whereas the train will take you from city center to city center. Although the bus is cheaper, it takes more than twice as long as the train. However, if your budget is really tight and you have the time, it might be worth it. If you want more independence, driving yourself is a great way to see more of the countryside between Switzerland and France.
Although Switzerland isn't a part of the EU, it is still a part of the Schengen Area, which means you will have no issue crossing over the border into France.
How to Get from Geneva to Paris
- Train: 3 hours, 15 minutes, €46+
- Bus: 6 hours, 30 minutes, €14+
- Flight: 1 hour, 15 minutes, €22+
- Car: 5 hours, 15 minutes, 337 miles (542 kilometers)
Throughout the day, many high-speed trains run from Geneva to Paris, the majority of which are direct and take about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Some routes do require stopping in Lyon, after you pass over the French border, which will add about an hour to your travel time, so make sure you know which you're booking. All trains from Geneva to Paris arrive in Central Paris at the Gare de Lyon station, one of Paris' six main stations. If you have a flight to catch in Paris right off you get off the train, it's better to book a a ticket that goes directly to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), although it might be more expensive.
On this route, you'll have the option to purchase a ticket in second class, first class, and premiere class. While the difference between first and second class is that first class is marginally more comfortable and quiet, a premiere class ticket includes lounge access, complimentary drinks, meal service, and high-speed Wi-Fi.
There are two main bus companies, FlixBus and BlaBlaBus, that travel this route between Geneva and Paris sometimes for as little as €14. Busses will leave throughout the day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., which means you can even take a bus overnight. The night bus may be a little more expensive, but it will save you money on overnight accommodation for one day of your trip. Usually this route takes about 6 hours and 30 minutes, but it could take longer if the bus makes a stop, which it usually does, in Lyon. This stop should only add about an hour to your total journey time.
When flying between Geneva and Paris, you'll want to make sure you book a non-stop flight, which is only offered by two airlines that have some major differences: easyJet and Air France.
As a budget airline, easyJet offers fares for as low as €22, but they only flight directly to Orly Airport (ORY), which is 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Central Paris. Compared to Air France, which is more expensive, with its cheapest fares never venturing below €65, and only flies to CDG, which is further away from the city than ORY. All around, easyJet appears to be the better deal, unless you are on your way to a connecting flight that leaves from CDG. In that case, Air France may be the way to go.
In smooth traffic conditions, it can take five hours or more to travel by car, but it can be a nice way to see stretches of Switzerland and Eastern France. Expect to pay somewhat hefty toll fees at several points throughout the trip, though.
For the quickest route, you can take the A40 from Geneva for 534 kilometers (331 miles) all the way to Paris. Just note that after you cross the border near Macon, which you will do when you cross the Saône River, the A40 will turn into the A6. Along the way, you could make a side-trip for lunch in Lyon, but it will add about half an hour to your total driving time.
What to See in Paris
What is there not to see in Paris? In the City of Lights, there's so much to experience and do from world-famous museums like the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay to classic touristic activities like visiting the top of the Eiffel Tower or scoping out a good spot before sunset to catch the tower's magical light show. If you're on a budget, make sure you bookmark all the free things there are to do in the city, especially because you'll want to save some money to try at least one of the best restaurants while you're in town.
If you think Paris is going to be too frilly and romantic for your, or your travel partner's, more cynical temperament, you may be interested in reading up on the history of the city's dark underbelly, which includes the catacombs filled with real skulls and bones from an exhumed cemetery. And if you want to escape the city for a spat, you can take a day trip out to Versailles or the home of Claude Monet. However, if you'd just like to see what it's like to live in Paris like a local Parisian, make sure you read up on the quirks and hidden gems of whichever arrondisement that you happen to be staying in.