France Train Tickets

What is the best website to use for buying train tickets for France? I want to get the tickets before we leave the U.S. and I keep getting directed to Rail Europe. Am I doing something wrong?

Posted by T.
Seattle, WA, US
154 posts

There is a new, private rail site in France that has the exact SAME RATES as sncf, without all the hassles of lying about what country you are living in. The Man in Seat 61 website has been raving about it--but I haven't tried it myself yet, so this is secondhand. I'm hoping someone on the Helpline will try it out and report back (maybe Sue in Orlando?). It's called Capitaine Train, check out the website https://app.capitainetrain.com/en

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

SNCF has revised the tgv-europe site so it's no longer necessary to list a country of residence. On the home page remove the check mark from the "Direct trains only" box and choose France as your ticket collection country from the drop-down menu. If the Man in Seat 61 likes Capitaine Train, then it's definitely worth checking out.

Posted by Sue
Orlando
42 posts

Thanks for your help. I've checked both sites out - worked great. I was thinking I had to check U.S. as country issuing if I printed the tickets before I get to France. But, I guess I check France because that's the country I'll be using the ticket?? Thanks again.

Posted by Sue
Orlando
42 posts

Thanks for your help. I've checked both sites out - worked great. I was thinking I had to check U.S. as country issuing if I printed the tickets before I get to France. But, I guess I check France because that's the country I'll be using the ticket?? Thanks again.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
912 posts

Sue, you could have checked many other countries, even Antarctica, not known for its rail travel or permanent population. The trick is to avoid an automatic bump to RailEurope which happens when the US is chosen.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet; the website will say you need to print the ticket on A4 paper, but don't worry; 8.5 x 11 works fine. You can print as many copies of the ticket as you like (I'm the "nervous type" and like to have extras in several places), as you need to present your passport with the ticket to the conductor on the train.

Posted by Susanne
Bainbridge Island, WA
3 posts

I had trouble at the payment section on the SNCF site so used the Captaine
Site per the seat61 Recommendation. Worked perfectly. Even sent him some feedback and thanks. We have the tix printed out. A day trip from Paris to Reims, got 18 euro RT each, pays to buy in advance!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6718 posts

Note that my experience with SNCF is that you can print most TGV run tickets at home moments after purchase (you receive and email with the tickets). However, if you are booking a regionale train or a run with a TGV and a Regionale train, they usually don't let you print at home. They don't offer the option. You have to pick up your tickets at a staffed train station in France. You might try a couple of dummy purchases and get to the screen where it describes your options on obtaining your ticket.

Posted by Sue
Orlando
42 posts

Thanks to all for your replies. This site is so informative - I've learned so much - certainly makes things easier for the "beginner" European traveler.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
649 posts

One quick addition to Harold's comments : printing on 8.5 x 11 works fine but set your printer to the A4 setting , slightly different and easily done (OBB AUSTRIAN railways or DB ( Germany ) is insistent about the format as I recall .The critical issue is when folding the paper to a manageable size , take care not to make the fold on the barcode or The other electronic code ( forgot the term ) that the scanner reads .