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Yikes! Booking train from Pairs to Bordeaux

Yikes! I had not even thought about booking a train ahead of time! I see other people talking about it so it seems I better book as well.

I want to make sure I do it properly. There are three of us, three carryon luggage and a foldable light wheelchair. Do we need to pay extra for the wheelchair and do I chose seats for the journey? Our travel date will be Saturday, June 3. What is the difference between TGV and Ouigo?

Also, I see one train arrives 15min before we have our car rental pickup time. Is it reasonable to take that train or should we arrive earlier? We have a car from Hertz.

We will also need another ticket from Avignon to Paris CDG where we will have a hotel the night before our flight. Should we be booking that as well?

Sorry for all the questions, but grateful for the help!

Posted by
3315 posts

Ouigo is a low cost train service offered by the French rail service. Some Ouigo trains are high-speed and some are not. The differences between Ouigo trains and "regular" trains are cost, limitations on the size and amount of luggage unless you pay a supplement, earlier check-in times, only one class of seating, and in some instances, the trains might stop at a less used station instead of the main station for an area. You may want to read For schedules and fares try or (the official site of the French railroad but one that some people report having difficulty with). I would buy my tickets now if they are available for sale in order to get the lowest price fares if my itinerary was set. All tickets can be changed for a fee but you would have to pay the difference in fares. Fares do not increase per se, rather lower priced fares sell out and then all that are left are the higher priced fares

Posted by
8612 posts

...which has the practical effect of making fares increase for any given traveler looking for fares after the cheaper ones have sold out.

You get better prices the further ahead you book (once the tickets are available, of course).

Take a look at the Man in Seat 61's page for traveling by train in France with his tips, guidance etc.

OuiGo also has more seats crammed in the same space, so it's far less comfortable as well. You are trading price for comfort - OuiGo also has additional restrictions for luggage, you would have to look at their terms to know for sure.

Posted by
2013 posts

I finally got my tickets booked between Paris & Bordeaux, with the return on Jun.3rd. I selected our seats on the lower level because that’s easier for my husband. We won’t get the better view, but we’ll live. He wanted first class seats (he’s never forgiven me for being squashed on a crowded trip from London to Edinburgh following and international flight) and the advantage according to the Man in Seat61 is that those seats can be rotated to follow the direction of the train. For me, the SNCF website glitched a few time, but I finally got it done. I’ve done Trainline before, but I wasn’t getting the times I wanted.

I’d book your Avignon tickets as soon as you can. I had to waiting for my May 27th date to be released. The SNCF website let me put an alert on for when the tickets would be released and that worked really well, although there don’t seem to be any cheap tickets. Some of that is because we are traveling on a Saturday.

Posted by
1897 posts

Thank you all! We always travel by car so I'm not used to trains and I've never booked them. I can't believe how expensive it is for three travelers!

I will start a new thread about car rental to see opinions about driving. Not sure what would be best/easiest for us?

Posted by
74 posts

Paris to Bordeaux is ~7-hour drive by car, and the TGV is 2 hours. Personally, I think that's worth the price.

Posted by
1852 posts

Depending on what time you are planning to travel I think that 132 Euro for 3 people on TGV for a 360 mile journey (Ouigo Plus) is pretty good value, for saving 5 hours and arriving refreshed.

Posted by
5616 posts

When doing your train vs driving cost calculations, consider that French tolls are high at $0.15/mile and gas will cost $0.20-0.25/mile. So the nearly 400 mile drive from Paris to Bordeaux costs about $140 these days, which is the typical price of 2 train tickets and 3 if you're lucky, without even considering rental fees.