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Train schedule

I'm so confused over the train schedules! I know it can't be that hard, but I have spent hours online trying to figure it out and am still stumped. In May 2015 I will fly in to CDG, on my way to Bayeux in Normandy. Everything I've read says take the RER B to Gare du Nord, connect to the RER E to St. Lazare, and from there I can catch one of the frequent trains to Caen/Bayeux. I understand I can't purchase a ticket until 90 days out (which is messing with my OCD, ha ha, I'd like to have things planned out now).

I've tried to look around and see what the schedule is, to get a feel for my options. But I can't seem to find just a schedule, one that shows what trains run between Paris and Bayeux on what days of the week. (I realize this might change by May, was just wanting an idea). As an alternative I put in the destinations and selected a day in March (as if to buy a ticket), only 2 trains come up, and both are shown as departing from Montparnasse and routing through Argentan. I know I must be doing something wrong but can't figure out what it is! I've tried the official SNCF site and the USA raileurope site, as well as changing my country to Canada and Australia on the raileurope site. I'm having the same trouble planning my return to Paris, which will be from Mont St. Michel a few days later. I read about some great options on how to do this, but none of those options show up on the actual ticket site.

For what it's worth, I will arrive at CDG around 11am on Tuesday May 26 and head straight to Bayeux, would like to get there as early as possible. On Friday May 29 I will head back to Paris from Mont St. Michel for one night (staying near Notre Dame), again wanting to arrive in Paris as early in the day as possible.

I found this website that had exactly what I'd hoped to find as far as train schedules, and it was very encouraging as there does seem to be many, many options from St. Lazare to Bayeux. But why do only 2 trains show up when I search the official site?? How can I buy a ticket on one of the trains listed on the schedule, if they don't show up when I put my itinerary in when its time to purchase? I'd really like to have my tickets purchased ahead of time.

Thanks for any help! Sorry for the long post.


Posted by
3 posts

Well, maybe I figured out part of the problem. On the schedule at the link, I hadn't noticed how few of the trains to Bayeux run on Tuesday. Perhaps there really are only a couple of options for Tuesday travel??

Posted by
32063 posts


Your trip is actually fairly straight forward, and you've got lots of time to work out the details. To begin with, don't use Rail Europe for schedule information, as they typically only show trains that they sell tickets for. One of the best websites to use for researching rail trips anywhere in Europe is the site.

This is an idea on how I'd probably approach the same trip.....

  • CDG to Gare Saint-Lazare - you can use either the method you mentioned above and take the RER "B" to Gare du Nord (actually the Magenta station) and then RER "E" from there to Hausmann Saint-Lazare. There will be a short walk to reach the part of the station where the Normandy trains depart. The other method is CDG to Châtelet station and then Metro line 14 to Saint-Lazare. Châtelet is a large station, so again some walking will be required.
  • Saint-Lazare to Bayeux - there are numerous trains on that route every day, some direct and some with one change in Caen. Travel time with the direct trains is 2H:06M.

Many of the group here (including myself) don't recommend pre-purchase of rail tickets when connecting from an international flight. I'm not sure if it's even possible to pre-purchase RER tickets? If you do decide to purchase at least some tickets online, you might try the Capitaine Train website.

You may want to have a look at the excellent Paris By Train website, as that has a lot of good information (including photos) of how to use the Paris rail system.

Posted by
31088 posts

I don't have time to dig into the schedules at the moment buy I think you may be running into the major engineering works on that line this spring which adds many hours and a convoluted route to that journey while the line is closed. It is worth digging deeper.

Posted by
16893 posts

Sites that sell tickets often will not show a train until it is available for sale, rarely more than 3 months in advance of the travel date. How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it. This site is recommended in all Rick Steves materials because it provides a complete schedule, not related to what tickets are for sale. Schedules are published through the first week of June.

When planning a train ride after your flight arrival, I don't recommend booking ahead. Advance-discount tickets will not be refundable or changeable if you miss the scheduled train. Regular Paris-Bayeux fares only cost about $50 per person for purchase at the train station. Trains on this route don't require reservations and I think don't offer seat assignments.

Posted by
177 posts

Tori. I am having the same problem with the trains. I like to get things in order as soon as possible so I was looking at the train schedules also (started in August for my May 9th train). I will be going to Bayeux after my RS BOE 21 day tour on May 9th. The trains I saw then we're numerous leaving from St. Lazare. I was looking again using a date around the beginning of March that changed to the two lines out of Montparnasse. I was concerned because I had plans that I needed to be in Bayeux as early as possible. The bottom line is there is work being done during March and April that made the changes necessary but have been told that the previous trains will be back for May. I had a thread about that. I will look for the name and post it here.

Posted by
2625 posts

And according to the French site given above, on May 26 the full set of direct trains is running all day from Saint Lazare to Bayeux.

Most of these trains will likely be 15 Euro in advance for a non-exchangeable ticket. As for how long you need to get from CDG to Saint Lazare, I do not know, other than from Magenta to Saint Lazare is listed as 5 minutes (or so) on the Metro and 5 minutes walk.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all so much for your replies and helpful links! Especially since I know my quandary wasn't unique and has most likely been asked and answered many, many times. I can see I should have started my research here, rather than flailing around the interwebz on my own. Thanks again!

Posted by
145 posts

Another catch-all train site that was not mentioned on this thread is seat61.


Posted by
3946 posts

If you have not already found it, this official guide to the Paris regional mass transit systems may help
Its interactive section will describe the route from CdG through Gare du Nord to St-Lazare, giving estimates of the duration for the time of day. One caution: It is a little bit optimistic. A newcomer who has to pause to double-check the direction signs, particularly for the walk from the underground to St-Lazare, may need extra breathing space.
Another site you can look at is the blog which has photos to help navigate major stations. Minus a functional smartphone with appropriate apps, you can print out a map for the St-Lazare vicinity in advance on or Google.