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France Rail Pass or just tickets

I have learned so much on this travel forum but there is one question (s) that I am very confused about.

Trip: Flight- Round trip Paris to Charlotte/ My husband and myself.
France in April for 2 weeks- Paris for 6 nights-Normandy 3 nights- Provence 4 nights
One day car rental in Normandy
One day care rental in Provence
The remaining times we will be using the train...we count about 6 days of train use.

Questions: The cost of a rail pass is about the same as buying individual tickets. We figured we should get a 6 day French rail pass, purchase reservations on the TGV Paris to Avignon trip and we are about even. Seems like that would give us flexibility in extra little trips here and there.

Where is the best place to purchase a french rail pass? Is the en.voyages-sncf.com website just for Europeans? If I enter USA, it takes me to another website.
Do I buy a rail pass first and then reserve tickets for the TGV line?

I have been told rail europe has high prices.

Thank-you for any help or suggestions!

Shelley

Posted by
16894 posts

Voyages SNCF only sells tickets. For April, it may be hard for you to use that site, if the cheapest Prems fares have sold out for your routes. Rick’s France rail travel page has the link and tips for buying “Prems” rate TGV tickets through SNCF (cheap, reserved, nonrefundable, available three or four months ahead of your travel date) to print at home and pay with PayPal. It does not tend to work with US credit cards, unless you have an extra level of security set up. In that case, then you would have to buy tickets through Rail Europe or CapitaineTrain, and prices are likely to be about equal.

The France Rail Pass is only sold here in the US and through Rail Europe. If you already used ticket costs shown on the map on our France page and estimated the pass to break even, then that's a reasonable value with some flexibility, but it's still pretty necessary to make the TGV seat reservations now, which you can do in the same booking when you buy the pass. But even if the cheapest Prems ticket prices are sold out, there can still be a mid-range of advance discounts available for your longest routes that are cheaper than the full fares shown on our map. If you prefer 1st class, then the 1st-class version of the France pass at $345 per person is just a 22% increase from $282 in 2nd class.

Posted by
4174 posts

Shelley,

Don't put USA as the Ticket Collection Country. Use France or the UK or whatever. You can still see the website in English.

Make sure you have told your credit card folks that you will be making a purchase in France, then buy the tickets in Euros. You can print them at home. I first learned about this back in 2012 when I was looking for tickets from Aix-en-Provence to CDG. And I learned it from this forum.

Buying individual tickets from Voyages SCNF (http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/) for the routes you list will likely be cheaper than a pass. Be sure to look at the entire list of results for your route. Different times of day can be cheaper or more expensive.

You can also click on Best Fare Finder from that opening page or this link -- http://calendar.en.voyages-sncf.com/en/. Fill in the form, I repeat, making sure that your Ticket Collection Country is NOT USA. I use France.

I did that to check April for Paris to Avignon, one way, one passenger, 2nd class, direct routes only and the fares range from 24 to 57 euro per person. You can click on the day you want (I chose 15 April for the test) to go to see the departure and arrival times and the duration of the trip along with the cost.

If you put USA (and maybe some other countries, I don't know), you get bumped to Rail Europe which provides fewer schedule options at greater cost.

This is the link to the results I got, but I don't know if it will work for you due to the length: http://calendar.en.voyages-sncf.com/en/result/ORIGINRR/FRPAR/DESTINATIONRR/FRAVN/NBPASSENGERS/1/TRAVELTYPE/AS/DISTRIBUTEDCOUNTRY/FR/COMFORTCLASS/2/OUTWARDDATE/01-04-2015/OUTWARDTIME/00/INWARDTIME/00/RANGEAGE/STANDARD/DIRECTTRAIN/true/PASSENGER1CARD/default/PASSENGER1AGE/26/outward#http://calendar.en.voyages-sncf.com:80/en/result/ORIGINRR/FRPAR/DESTINATIONRR/FRAVN/NBPASSENGERS/1/TRAVELTYPE/AS/DISTRIBUTEDCOUNTRY/FR/COMFORTCLASS/2/OUTWARDDATE/01-04-2015/OUTWARDTIME/00/INWARDTIME/00/RANGEAGE/STANDARD/DIRECTTRAIN/true/PASSENGER1CARD/default/INITIALOUTWARDBESTPRICE/29.899999618530273/PASSENGER1AGE/26/SHIFTO/1/outward.

Posted by
4174 posts

I forgot to mention that during the process when I bought tickets, I set up a Verified by Visa extra level of security and my card went through just fine. It was easy and I have used it a couple of times for other overseas purchases since then.

You may want to talk to your CC company about that or something similar when you tell them you want to make a purchase in France from SCNF.

Also, if you buy your tickets directly from SCNF, you will get your reservations at the same time with your ticket, all rolled into the same price.