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Train Travel France

Hi Travellers,
We are planning a trip to France May 6th., arriving in Paris and directly taking the train to Arles. Joining a bike and barge trip there for 8 days ending in Lyon. From there we would like to take the train from Lyon to Annecy, stay 4 nights and travel by train from Annecy to Paris then fly home.
There is the possibility that we may do a day trip by train to Chamonix while in Annecy.
I have purchased your 2020 travel guide on France and read the section on train travel but hoped to get some specific direction regarding our trip. I realize the TGV train from Paris requires a reservation( it will be daytime travel) Should we purchase a rail pass, senior discount pass.....or any other ideas? There are 6 of us travelling together...... just thought of this now but perhaps renting a van with driver would be a better option.
One more thing the reserved train tickets are non refundable so if by some chance we have to cancel our plans due to a travel ban because of the Corona virus we would be out that money.
So much to think about!
I would greatly appreciate advice. Thank You, Debbie

Posted by
950 posts

Sounds like a glorious trip (copying an pasting for myself ;)
I would just buy 6 train tickets for each leg and when I did, I would look at the refund policy. I suspect SCNF is adjusting their policies as circumstances change (as the airlines are doing), so best to get it for them. Moreover, there may be different prices tickets based on change or refund-ability. We travel as a group of 5 and buy our tickets individually per trip, sometimes in advance and sometimes not, depending on the route. But we always compare prices with a rental car, and more often than not, the rental car is far cheaper than 5 train tickets. The train is more relaxing though, and an experience in itself, so you have to weigh that too
Fr more train info, better than the book, you should look at the website seat61.com

Posted by
1653 posts

TGV "INOUI" Tickets have refundable fares that aren't necessarily very expensive. You're just out 5 euros per ticket if you cancel less than a month before (and 15 if less than 2 days), a very minor penalty. So you can book the TGV tickets, fare conditions are clearly set out if you use the Oui SNCF website (avoid Rail Europe, more expensive).
Lyon to Annecy is a regional train, booking unnecessary.
A senior discount card (carte avantage senior) could be useful, but the savings won't be huge given the cost of the card. You can look at prices and book senior-discounted tickets before buying the card itself, so you can compare.
And last but not least, forget about rail passes in France. Limited seat quotas, unwieldy reservation system, high cost.

Posted by
1418 posts

hey hey robert
you will love annnecy. we were there last september for 6 nights. don't know the dynamics of 6 people.
i would stay in or near the center vieille ville, what is you budget in euros and exact dates?
walk thru the village along the canals, stores, shops, restaurants, bars/bistros, across from the lake. tuesdays, fridays and sundays are market day and so much to look at
booking.com
hotels or apt we liked to have a small fridge for cold things we bought.
don't buy a rail pass, look at point to point (annecy gare d'annecy 74000 annecy fr to paris) if you have exact dates i would book (en.oui.sncf) or (trainline.com). they do have ages before booking, if you are 60+ they will ask, it's about 3h30m to 4h00m. we packed a lunch/snacks, bottle wine, always carry corkscrew, other drink and enjoyed the ride. we left about 11am or noon, shower, have small breakfast, pack up and outta apt and get to paris for check in after 3ish.
decide what you want and need, i can send you more info about things to do and see that made our trip fabulous.
aloha