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Are train reservations REALLY necessary? France & Italy Pass

I have the France+Italy Regional Eurail Pass, 5 days within 2 months. My travel plans are as follows: Travel Day ONE: Paris - Versailles, Versailles - Paris, Paris - Chamonix (France) Travel Day TWO (& THREE???): Chamonix, France - Florence, Italy Travel Day Four: Florence - Naples
Travel Day Five: Naples - Rome I have been told & read too many opinions that vary in severity regarding seat reservations, but mostly by people who either didn't use a railpass or were using a rail pass in different countries. I have been advised to AT LEAST book a seat reservation for the Paris - Chamonix leg of my journey... would someone confirm that for me? We do have some flexibility in our schedule but not for that leg of the journey. But mostly our flexibility comes from the fact that the trains we are planning on taking are the 1st of the day (so like 6am-ish) so really as long as we are able to get to where we need to go within that day, we are good. For example: Florence - Naples: Planned departure from Florence @ 6:50am & arrival in Naples @ 9:55am... but as long as we get to Naples before 7pm we are good! Is it necessary to book a seat reservation for this train??? THANK YOU SO MUCH for your input, everyone's knowledge is priceless...

Posted by
32265 posts

Rachel, I've travelled both with a Railpass and P-P tickets, and can tell you unequivocally that you MUST have seat reservations for trains in Italy where these are compulsory! Even with a Railpass, if you're caught without a valid reservation for the train you're riding on, you'll likely BE FINED ON THE SPOT and it's not cheap! Fines start at €50 per person, PLUS the cost of the reservation which is currently about €10. If you don't pay on the spot, fines double and increase from there. Conductors are all carrying portable debit/credit card Terminals these days, so the fine will be out of your account before you get off the train! I can tell you that with absolute certainty, as it's happened to me and I've also seen it happen to many others on various trips to Italy (including my last one in September). Happy travels!

Posted by
20450 posts

Your Paris-Chamonix will include a TGV leg to Bellegarde, "Subject to compulsary reservation". Florenece-Naples is a Eurostar Italia, "Subject to compulsary reservation". Naples-Rome is a Eurostar Italia, "Subject to compulsary reservation". I guess you can make the reservation just before you board. Also, you can do all these on regional trains if you want to spend all day riding a train and make lots of changes. Are you traveling by your self, or with others? If so, do you want to sit together in a seat of your choice, or whatever you can get even if it means being in different cars? Do you want to traipse up and down the train with your luggage looking for a seat? Are you willing to ride standing up?
From one who rode from Lyon to Avignon standing between cars.

Posted by
2393 posts

Paris to St Gervais will be by TGV - reservations are compulsory on ALL TGV trains. You can then go from St. Gervais to Chamonix St Gervais to Florence - the TGV & Eurostar portions require reservations as well. There are some regional trains from Florence to Rome & Rome to Naples which do not need a reservation but all of the E.EC, EN, FA, FB, FR, IC & ICN require reservations. It might be possible to make your way from Paris to Chamonix using All regional trains that do not need a reservation but it would be a logistical nightmare and could take a couple of days for connections to fit. Bahn.de is your friend.

Posted by
6898 posts

Rachel, if you are riding the TGV in France or the Frecci trains in Italy, you still have to pay extra supplemental fees as a Eurail passholder. These supplemental fees include the seat reservation. You cannot board either of these train systems without first paying the additional supplemental fees. The Eurail website will tell you that but they don't seem to bother to link you to this extra information when you buy your pass. France also limits their seats to Eurail passholders. Normally, this isn't a problem but if they sell out of their alloted seats for passholders, you either pay full fare for the train you want or you wait for a passholder seat on a subsequent. Says that also on the Eurail page. Supplemental fees for the TGV are 9Euros. For the Frecci trains in Italy, it's 10Euro for each one you are on. For example, if you change trains at Rome from Florence to Naples (which is unlikely), you would pay the 10Euro fee for each of the two trains. Here's a link to the Eurail webpage that explains most of this. http://www.eurail.com/plan-your-trip/train-reservations/reservation-fees

Posted by
12 posts

Ken, Sam & Christi... THANK YOU so much for your confirmations. I might have been stubborn and not done reservations (frugal) if you had not posted such great responses. I have another question then (related), if you don't mind. All of you had said my train from Paris - St Gervais... but online my train (for reservations) stops in Annecy... which is before St Gervais. (I am loving dbahn, however raileurope isn't measuring up). Is that because the train from Annecy to St Gervais doesn't require a seat reservation? FROM THERE (Chamonix) on my way to Florence, I am hoping to take more regional (right?) trains like this route: Chamonix, France - Courmayeur, Italy Courmayeur - Aosta Aosta - Ivrea Ivrea - Chivasso Chivasso - Torino Portu Susa
Torino Portu Susa - Firenze (Florence) Do you think all these trains are covered by my pass? I am starting to wonder if buying the pass was even a good idea!?!?? Humbly puzzeled & becoming broke...

Posted by
2829 posts

FROM THERE (Chamonix) on my way to Florence, I am hoping to take more regional (right?) trains like this route: Chamonix, France - Courmayeur, Italy Courmayeur - Aosta Aosta - Ivrea Ivrea - Chivasso Chivasso - Torino Portu Susa
Torino Portu Susa - Firenze (Florence) There is no rail link between Chamonix and Cormayeur. Even the cable car link that connect both is closed until 2014 for expansion/reconstrution/modernization. Cormayeur - Torino: viable on regional trains Torino - Fireze: it takes several hours longer than just take a high-speed train No reason for doing that (your time is more valuable than losing so much time on uncomfortable regional trains).

Posted by
2081 posts

hi, just a comment. when i was over there for work, i took the train from Calais to Paris. iirc, they called it class 3. it was SRO and the beginning of spring break. so, if youre travleing near that time, the trains can get full. happy trails.

Posted by
20450 posts

You can get bus from Chamonix to Courmayeur or all the way to Aosta.
Annecy to St Gervais is a regional train.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks everyone! Sam - I am actually aware of the bus system to Couyamer (spell?) BUT I DID NOT know that you could take it all the way to Aosta! Which is helpful. Thank you! I am still super frustrated with the raileurope site. I want to connect (as dbahn instructs) Paris - Bellegarde (Ain) - Chamonix... but the raileurope site only allows me to either take Paris - Annecy - St Gervais - Chamonix OR Paris - Bellegarde (southern France)- St Gervais - Chamonix. FRUSTRATING. But thanks everyone for everything...

Posted by
4174 posts

You may be having trouble because you are using RailEurope. Try TGV-Europe.com instead. Use the "book your train ticket" box to put in your Paris to Chamonix option. This next part is VERY important. In the scroll down box called "ticket collection country" put Great Britain. You may get a pop-up box where you can stick with TGV or not. Mark the option to stay with TGV. Then you should get all your route options and costs. I used 28 March as the date for a test. In the "from" box I chose all the Paris train stations. My results showed multiple options going all the way from Paris Gare de Lyon to Chamonix with the following major stops in between: Bellegarde-Saint Gervais Les B, Annecy-Saint Gervais Les B, Bellegarde alone, Lyon Part Dieu alone. I scanned using the "following trains" arrow up to 29 March and discovered that not all options happen everyday. There may actually be more options on your date of travel. Each option has complete details about reservation requirements, costs, etc. There is a bit of a learning curve, but you will get the hang of it.

Posted by
12 posts

Lo, That site would have been helpful IF I was purchasing point-to-point tickets. But I have a Regional France+Italy RailPass with Eurail. So that site you recommended doesn't actually help me, unless there is a "seat reservation" only option I must have missed. Thanks anyway!

Posted by
23465 posts

We understand the questions. You are not listening to the answers. The reason Rail Europe is failing you is because it is NOT a train company. It is a travel agency that sells tickets and reservations to a limited number of trains generally at a good mark up in price. That is way you are seeing all the trains available at bahn.de not the same number of options at Rail Europe. The is no need, especially in Italy, to purchase seat reservations a head of time because the seats are always available. Buy the day before. A rail pass doesn't pay off in Italy because the basic fares are cheap. In Italy ALL trains except Regional trains, require a seat reservation at an addition fee to the pass holder, but the reservation can be made as late as 30 minutes prior to departure. It is very rare for a train to be sold out in Italy. It is my understanding (not experience in France) that the number of seat reservations available for pass holders is limited, therefore, in France an advance reservation is necessary.

Posted by
32265 posts

Rachel, I'd suggest NOT using the Rail Europe site for checking schedules, as the information they provide is often somewhat "limited". In addition to the bahn.de website, you can also use the rail sites of each country - SNCF for France and Trenitalia for Italy. After you arrive in Paris, you might take a few hours and visit the nearest SNCF Boutique (locations in various parts of the city). They should be able to help you sort out the reservations and other details for the trains you'll be using. You may also find it helpful to download the free PDF Rail Pass Guide from this website. Click the "Railpasses" tab at the top of this page and then look in the lower right corner for the link. Cheers!

Posted by
12 posts

Frank, Would you still give the same advice (for seat reservations in Italy) for someone going in mid-May? (Apparently that is Italy's start of the tourist season) Thanks for the reality slap. I was getting VERY frustrated with raileurope. I outsmarted them and am going to take the TGV train from Paris to Lyon, and from there go to St Gervais & on to Chamonix and in the time frame I want to. (which is not the route they lay out for me as options to Chamonix... punks) If you still advise waiting to make train reservations until I get there... (Italy in May) I will. Just don't want to get stuck somewhere you know? We do have hostel reservations & other flights to catch as we country hop. I would like to stick close to our itinerary, if possible. I am not too tightly wound up to understand things could change along the way slightly, but while I have the time to plan... I will do my best to do it well. Which is hard, considering I have never been there (yet) and we are going too MANY different places.

Posted by
4159 posts

Rachel , as you are seeing , Railpasses are not generally the panacea they appear to be . I have another idea ; Depending on your date of travel , Raileurope does offer refunds and cancellations for passes . There are obviously some fees involved , but you might consider going that route and saving yourself a fair amount of both money , and mostly , headaches , in trying to make this work .Also spending time on "The Man in Seat 61 " and " Ron in Rome " websites will give you a very good grounding in the use of European rail services .

Posted by
12 posts

ANYONE KNOW OF ANY OTHER SITE THAT I CAN MAKE SEAT RESERVATIONS ON TRAINS WITH? Raileurope is failing me. Everyone so far has recommended sites that DON'T do seat reservations, just the train time tables. Trust me, I am detail orientated (like SEVERLY) and have ALREADY looked into all those sites, and unless I am missing something, cannot do seat reservations (only, since I have a pass) on those sites. Raileurope is the only one I've found that does, but they don't have the trains I want (eventhough I know that they are available, based of dbahn site & others) Ken & Steven... Thanks for responding! But I am not sure either of you grasp my actual question. Ken, none of those sites have seat reservations only, for people who already hold a rail pass. Steven, I am convinced (after having people with great advice contact me privately) that the railpass is for us... considering our itinerary. Although I am very frustrated still. They require a seat reservation on certain trains but then they don't let you make it! What sense is there in that? I just want to go to Chamonix! (haha)

Posted by
16887 posts

Seat reservations for passholders are easy on Trenitalia. From the page listing several trains for your day of travel, choose the one you want using the "s e l e c t" arrow. Scroll down and you will see that train has an expanded list of prices, including Super Economy and Base. Below that it says "View other prices and services" with a button to click. Push that button (it will turn green) and then hit the red "continue." On the next page, use the arrow under "Offers" to scroll down to the "Global Pass" option. That is your seat reservation. It will be 10 euro for the ES (Le Frecce) trains.

Posted by
32265 posts

Rachel, As Frank mentioned, we understand the questions and provided what we thought were good suggestions. For the reservations in France, as I mentioned earlier you could stop by an SNCF Boutique when you arrive in Paris (several days before you'll be travelling) and get those all sorted. They may also be able to help with the first segment into Italy? For other trips in Italy, I'd stop by a station and arrange reservations a few days before you'll be travelling (they'll give you a separate card with the reservation details listed). The bahn.de website will tell you which segments need reservations. Have a look at this website, as it may answer some of your questions: http://www.seat61.com/Railpass-and-Eurail-pass-guide.htm#reservations%20or%20pay%20supplements%20with%20a%20railpass Scroll down to the section titled " Will I need reservations or have to pay extra fees?" Perhaps a call to the Rail Europe number shown will help? Given your concern, it might be worth spending a few bucks to phone the ETBD Rail department and have a chat with them. I'm sure Rick's excellent staff will be able provide all the information you'll need. The number is shown in the "Contact Us" link below. Cheers!

Posted by
4174 posts

Sorry, Rachel. I guess I should've been clearer. I wasn't suggesting that you buy tickets using the TGV site. I was looking at it as a way to verify why some sections of your trip dropped out without an option to do a seat reservation. And to maybe answer some questions you had about the routes.

Posted by
8700 posts

Rail Europe's timetables are incomplete because it only shows routes for which it sells tickets and it doesn't show all routes requiring multiple connections. What is your travel date and desired departure time for Paris - Chamonix?

Posted by
8700 posts

Yes, your pass would be good on the trains from Aosta to Firenze. However, if you take the bus from Chamonix to Aosta, you might consider connecting there to a bus to Milan and taking a high-speed train from there to Firenze. The ride will be a lot faster than taking the train via Torino. For bus timetables from Chamonix to Milano, go here.

Posted by
12 posts

THANKS EVERYONE!!! I got everything sorted... and learned so many very valuable things along the way - thanks to all of YOU! I booked a seat reservation from Paris to Lyon, then the regional train to St Gervais Bains & finally the bus to Chamonix! In the time frame I want too, praise Jesus! In appreciation & extreme gratitude... to EVERYONE who posted, Rachel
__________ Tim, thanks for that advice... I am going to look into that and simplify our traveling from Chamonix to Florence! I VERY MUCH appreciate it... you have no idea. Thank you.