trying to decide if France rail pass makes sense

Hi all,

I am trying to decide if a rail pass makes sense for my trip in the fall. I have changed plans and now will be heading to the French Alps. I have 5 days of train travel planned, although two of those days are Annency to Chamonix and back, and that is only $35 each way. It is looking like a 3-day pass might be the best bet, letting those two travel days be paid as I go. However, the deciding factor is whether the France Rail Pass covers any of the local traveling I would do in that area (up into the mountains in Chamonix, etc...) I can't seem to find that information anywhere. I also can't find schedules/prices for the Annency/Chamonix part this far in advance. Hoping it won't be a problem at a later date.

I have also seen others on this forum write about cheaper fares than what RailEurope posts. However when I go to the direct websites, it just redirects my query back to Rail Europe.
I would be happy to simply buy my tickets when I arrive there, if the cost will be significantly cheaper. But I don't want to be stuck unable to get a reservation. My travel dates are Sunday Oct 5 to Friday Oct 10. (and not flexible on either end, unfortunately.) BTW, I will be in England the week prior, and could book ahead while in the EU. Would this make a difference?

Thanks for your help!

Brenda

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
4217 posts

The reason why you get redirected to Rail Europe is you put down USA as the "ticket collection country" in the box on the TGV website. This is a no no. Since the French rail company owns Rail Europe, the only reason for that box is to redirect you to Rail Europe. Just put "France" in as the country and you'll get the real website and the real prices. TER trains (French regional trains) are not reserved and can be bought as you go. Try buying TGV and IC trains at www.capitainetrain.com. Much easier than the official TGV site and they are the same price.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
7416 posts

If the France pass does save money for your three longest travel days, then it only costs $25-35 for each extra day you add to the pass, depending on class of service. Make seat reservations for the TGV at the same time you buy the pass, in order to be certain of availability. The France Pass only covers trains. The list of accompanying bonuses (all rather insignificant) is at http://ricksteves.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/france-pass/travel-bonuses.html.

The DB link at How to Look Up Train Schedules Online will give you full schedules for October. Annecy-Chamonix unreserved regional train tickets may not be sold on some on ticket-sales web sites and also may not be sold more than two months ahead. If you're not using a rail pass, then plan to buy those tickets at the station.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2923 posts

The 2nd class pass used to be a very good deal for the right itinerary, especially the rail-drive option.

Today you will just have to see for yourself what makes sense for you.