I know this subject has been beaten to death already, but I'll ask anyway. Someone mentioned buying train tickets in advance from here on SNCF. When I go to that site and put in my info, as soon as I click Search for a Ticket, it kicks over to RailEurope site. So that means that I would be buying from them directly, and I remember many people warning against them for their high prices. So how do I get a ticket from Zurich to Paris and back? I am a little uneasy to wait until I am in Europe to buy tickets, beacuse I want to travel certain trains at certain times. I'll appreciate any help.
When you are on the SNCF website and the site asks you where you are living and or where you are collecting the tickets always answer with "France".
You may have to clear out the cookies from your browser and start over again.
"Officially," SNCF doesn't mail tickets to the US. That's why you were diverted to RailEurope. If you book Zurich-Paris on SNCF, you'll have to enter Switzerland as the country in which you'll pick up that ticket and you'll have to give a Swiss mailing address (like your hotel). For Paris-Zurich you would leave France as the default country and you could choose to pick up your ticket at the station. To keep things simple, you could book both tickets over the phone at the SBB (Swiss Rail) Contact Center. Dial 011 (US international access code) + 41 (country code for Switzerland) + (0)900 300 300. Omit the initial zero which is only used for calls originating in Switzerland.
Unless you are booking a night train, I wouldn't bother. It's normally pretty easy to get 2nd class tickets.
However, if you require a couchette or other berth, I'd go ahead a pre-book.
Tim seems to have it down pat. If you are wanting specific trains and times and you are travelling in the high season I would definately prebook. You may find when you get there you didn't need to but then again you may be glad you did. You probably will pay more but you will have peace of mind that all is organised.