Germany Trains

Four of us are traveling together from Paris to Germany and back to Paris. We have first class Eurail Passes. Both the rail people with Rick Steves and Eurail people say we will need reservations from and to Paris but not for travel in Germany. However some travel books say we do need reservations or we might be standing on the more popular trains. We'll be visiting Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Bamberg and Berlin during the period 9/4/13-9/18/13. Any comments will be appreciated. Ron
04//03/13

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

You need reservations on the ICE (intercity) trains (small additional fee). These are the high speed trains, usually between major cities like Berlin/Paris etc. I think the high speed trains are called something else in France (TGV maybe). I wouldn't worry about having to stand on the regular trains in September but you may have to tromp thru a few cars (or not). Frankly I always get a reserved seat now on the regular trains if I'm traveling with my sister (clueless traveler) but not if it's just the spousal unit and I. (Hey sweetheart, it's Hanover - get off the freaking train!) Be advised that if a ICE train is running late it will make up time by stopping say 2 minutes vs. ten at a scheduled stop. There's a really funny story to go with this observation but it's unflattering to the said spousal unit.) If you want to set together you need seat reservations. This of course restricts you as to time/date.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2259 posts

Just go ahead and make a 4 Euro seat reservation for each person when you want to travel. Just do it at the station, its easy. Then you'll have seats and everything is OK.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Ronald, Whether you need reservations will depend on which particular trains you choose. You WILL need reservations for the TGV (high speed - 300 kmH) trains in France. Note that reservations for Pass holders are limited so if they're all sold out, you'll have to buy regular tickets and not use your Passes. As the previous reply mentioned, some of the trains in Germany also require reservations. You can see which trains require these by having a look at the details of the trains you plan on using on the bahn.de website. When you arrive in Paris, you might want to stop at an SNCF Boutique as soon as possible to get reservations sorted. There are a number of Boutique locations throughout Paris. Happy travels!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

Hi, Where are you going from Paris to Germany, Frankfurt? Stuttgart? As pointed out, using a Pass from Paris to Germany runs the risk of that seat limitation for Pass holders at the particular departure time/date you want. A real nuisance. Should that happen to you, you still have options as regards to flexiblity: 1. Buy a full price ticket...the very last resort only if pressed for time. (Luckily, I've never had to resort to this option). 2. Ask when the next departure is and if there is a seat limit number for that departure. 3. Since your Pass is 1st class, ask if both 1st and 2nd class for your original departure are filled. Ask the same for the next available departure.
4. Change your departure date, ie. what about tomorrow? Same time? 5. Get to the Franco-Ger. border the old fashion way before there were TGVs, ie., take the TER Paris-Metz-Forbach-Saarbr├╝cken route. There you can hop on any ICE without the mandatory reservation and dealing with the Passholder limit. Option #5 is only if you are willing to spend almost all day reaching the border but if it's great if you want to see those historic towns in Lorraine, esp. Bar-la-Duc and Forbach. Yes, as suggested, buy your reservations once you get to Paris at any SNCF atation. It doesn't have to be Gare de l'Est, the one you'll leave from.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11263 posts

"Both the rail people with Rick Steves and Eurail people say we will need reservations from and to Paris but not for travel in Germany. However some travel books say we do need reservations or we might be standing on the more popular trains." Both are correct. For day trains in Germany, only the ICE Sprinters have mandatory reservations. ICE Sprinters are rare. For instance, there are only two per day (morning and evening) each way between Berlin and Frankfurt. They make the trip non-stop in under four hours. Other ICEs make stops along the way, take longer, and do not require reservations. I've been on a number of ICEs in Germany and only once was it SRO, that on a national holiday. However, seat reservations are inexpensive, so why not get one.