Can someone please clarify things for me. I understand it best to buy train tickets on the TGV website rather than the Rail Europe site. I also understand that in order to not get redirected, I should indicate my country as Anarctica vs. USA. I found the train schedule I want on Rail Europe but it is not listed on TGV. Any reason why that would be? Also, the connection time on the TGV schedule is only 14 minutes. Is this enough time realistically? Finally, I read where you need a credit card with a chip or pin to use the ticket machines. So, how do I purchase a ticket online without that?
I use France as ticket collection point (I think Antarctic is over the top). I see that now if you use Great Britain, they try to shunt you to a site similar to Raileurope with a .uk extension and has the same issues as Raileurope. At most stations, 14 minutes is not a problem. You just walk down a staircase, walk at most 100 feet, and up another staircase, and you are there. Its not at all like an airport transfer. If your journey is entirely in France, you print the tickets at home on your printer from a pdf file. If you need to collect your tickets in France, you can get them at any manned ticket booth with the SAME credit card you used to buy them. Regional trains generally do not need to be bought in advance as the prices don't change and they cost less to begin with. (and you don't see them on RailEurope, commissions aren't high enough)
The pin&chip is only necessary when buying from a vending machine, late at night when the ticket booth is unmanned, or there is a huge line.
I use Great Britain as my Ticket Collection Country. On www.tgv-europe.com, any country but USA should keep you from being directed to RailEurope. RailEurope is a ticket broker and not a train website. As such, the real train websites have the most accurate timetables for the trains they run. For France, it's SNCF and www.tgv-europe.com is one of their sites. You DO NOT need a chip and pin card to visit France or any other European country. One thing you will run into are automated ticket machines that will not accept your "swipe" credit card. Examples are ticket machines in the train stations, toll booths on the highways, gas station pumps and ticket machines in the Paris metro. However, you can use your "swipe" credit card where any of these places have a staffed position. For example, if you have to pick up your ticket in France, just look for an staffed train station or SNCF boutigue ticket office. They have devices that can swipe your credit card. If on the highway or in the metro, carry lots of Euro coins and cash. Many metro stations may not be staffed. In restaurants, servers carry wireless/bluetooth devices to your table that accept either type of card. Yes, 14 minutes is enough time to change trains. Just be ready to get off the train quickly, make your way to the sigage to let you know where your next train is located and then make your way to the next train.