I am planning to take a train from Paris to Strasbourg on Sept. 19, 2023. which train station do the trains depart from in Paris? What is the best website to get info re schedules and rates for this train? I speak and read some French, but am not entirely fluent. How soon ahead of departure should I arrive at the train station? Thanks. Peter
Gare de l'Est would be the station to use for Strasbourg. To get schedules and rates, go to the France official railway network SNCF at https://www.sncf-connect.com/en-en and fill in your station (Paris Est) and destination (Strasbourg) with the correct date.
The webpage is in English so no need to translate. I usually get to train stations about 20-30 minutes ahead of time but a lot depends on the time of year and the time of day. If I have time, I like to go to a strange train station early to familiarize myself with it, but that depends on how much time I have. If you aren't familiar with it, I would err on the side of caution and get there a bit earlier so you have time to figure out the layout and where you are going.
And just so you know, the platforms aren't announced until about 20 minutes ahead, which is why there's no need to arrive any earlier,, unless you just want to familiarize yourself with the station, which isn't a bad idea. Just don't be looking for your platform too early.
Gare de l'Est is a nicer smaller station, easy to manage. Yes there is a Mickey Ds if you need such, also a branch of FNAC which is like a Borders and Best Buy mushed together. What surprised me was that when I went to the ticket office, the people on duty didn't parlez the anglais very much. So we used my French and their English and we figured it out.
For anything to do with trains, the Man in Seat 61 has the info you need. He'll also help you decide if it's worth your while to buy a discount card (carte advantage), Rick has advice on this as well.
All signage at train stations is in English and easy to figure out. Watch out for pickpockets, as is the case anywhere tourists congregate. Especially if you're buying Metro tickets from the machines.
The ride from gare de l'est is fast and scenic. It can also be very popular. I suggest being at the gate when it opens and move quickly to your car. Yes, your seat is reserved, but space for luggage (as opposed to smaller carry-ons) is limited. One trick is to move to the centre of the car where there may be a small amount of extra space. Sometimes there is a tag dangling from the overhead storage to mark the rack. It may not be near your seat and other stuff may get piled on it but you just have to take it on trust.
There is also Strasbourg service to CdG airport.
After increasing frustration with the SNCF website I have turned to Trainline.com, an international booking agency that charges a small fee.
On the time to get to the train station….I don’t like to take the Metro with even my carry on suitcase so take a taxi. They can get caught in traffic jams so I allow a generous amount of lead time. I usually lick up a pastry from the Paul there or if later on the day a sandwich for the ride.
I also use the board early strategy to get my suitcase stowed even though mine will usually fit overhead.