Picking up train tickets in France booked online in US

I have been trying to book some tickets for train travel in France online in the US. When I try to complete my purchase, it gives me 2 options for getting the tickets: 1) via mail- but US is not listed as one of the countries, 2) pick up at the automated ticket counter that requires a credit card with a chip that US credit card don't have. I would choose the 2nd option if it would let me pick up the tickets at a SNCF office instead. But, there is no mention of it on the website, I don't know if that is understood or if they just don't encourage US visitors to buy online. Usually, if you put in a US address, the price of the tickets quite a bit.
I would hit the 'pick up' at the station option if that includes the ticket office. Please help with this query.Thanks!!!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

Sujata, I believe that you can pick up your tickets at any staffed SNCF train station in France. It's true that you cannot use the automated ticket machines as they require a chip and pin card. But, the instructions on the SNCF ticket require you to bring the credit card you used to buy the tickets. This is only for the ticket machine to identify you. The ticket agent may ask for this credit card but your passport will work much better. Still, you should bring this credit card.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2823 posts

Try buying only one ticket at a time (in other words, check out and complete the purchase with only one ticket in the shopping basket, then repeat for each ticket). A few years ago, this trick worked, and I was able to get the "pick up at a French station" option; when I tried to buy all three tickets in one order, I only got "pick up at a ticket machine."

Posted by Sujata
Brentwood, Tennessee, United States
6 posts

Thanks Larry & Harold. I did try to buy one ticket at a time too, but it still doesn't include the 'pick up at a station'. I was wondering if they would still let me pick them up at a ticket office using the same credit card. On the other hand, I could wait until I get there, but it gives me about 2 days for my first train, which may not give me a cheaper price for advance purchase on TGV. But, I might be ok as I think October is not a high season, and I am traveling to relatively obscure places.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

Sujata, one trick may be to buy the TGV ticket separately. You can print most TGV tickets out at home moments after purchase. You'll see the e-ticket option for most TGV tickets. SNCF will not let you print out tickets for regional trains or also most runs where the regional train is combined with a TGV. What tickets are you trying to buy and on which date? I'd like to look at some options.

Posted by Sujata
Brentwood, Tennessee, United States
6 posts

Larry, I reach Paris Oct.11th. Then I need to buy a Paris to Roanne ticket for Sunday morning- Oct. 13th, then Roanne to Avignon Oct, 19th morning, then Avignon to Nice Oct.26th afternoon to Nice. I have enough time for the last two trips except the first one. That's why I wanted to buy the Paris to Roanne ticket beforehand.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6699 posts

Great info Zoe. I was doing dummy purchases for Sujata's trip and on some, it said specifically to pick up your tickets at a ticket machine. On others, it repeated that option but also had an option to pick up at a staffed train station. It was a bit confusing. I think you clarified the situation. I've always purchased TGV tickets and I could print them out at home.

Posted by Darcy
Lewiston, Idaho, USA
1201 posts

I wasn't given the option to print at home so chose that I'd pick them up at an automatique....which of course I wouldn't be able to do because I don't have a Chip & Pin card (only a Chip & Swipe). I was able to pick up our tickets at an SNCF boutique which was even more convenient for us than going to the station.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2457 posts

Don't worry, you can pick up your tickets at an SNCF location. I just did this a month ago. I took the confirmation email and the credit card I used to purchase the tickets, and the agent printed out the stack of tickets for me.

Posted by Sujata
Brentwood, Tennessee, United States
6 posts

Thanks all for your help.I can now go ahead with my plans.

Posted by Sujata
Brentwood, Tennessee, United States
6 posts

I tried all options to buy my ticket. When you try to buy the ticket on SNCF using the very helpful suggestions given on this website (how to buy tickets on SNCF without being redirected- by the man in seat 61) : http://www.seat61.com/voyages-sncf.htm#.Ui5iOX8lKAo- my credit card was rejected. Then as per suggestions of this website, I ended up buying my ticket on Loco 2.com. It was a little more expensive, but it worked. But, I highly recommend this post for buying train tickets in France from the US. Hope this will help someone.

Posted by Robert Lee
Berkeley, USA
1 posts

Having just spent 2 hours trying to buy TGV tickets on the SNCF website with a USA issued credit card - here is how I was FINALLY able to do it. I used the french version of the website - i don't know if it works on the English version - but worth a try. After selecting all the parameters of the ticket, I entered in my Capital One credit card. It was declined. I found online that one can only buy SNCF E-tickets if the USA credit card is "verifed" by Visa. Going to VerifedByVisa.com brought the message that CapitalOne does not participate. Then I used my Chase United Explorer Card (no currency conversion fees). It was also declined, with no reason why. Then I called Chase and spoke to a specialist in VerifedByVisa, who said it should work. I tried a 2nd time with the Explorer Card, following his instructions, and it was declined again, I called Chase again, and this time spoke to a 2nd Verified by Visa specialist, and this time she said that she would fix it for me, after I gave her MANY forms of identification. I tried a 3rd time to buy the tickets, and this time it worked, and the charge was accepted. SNCF sent me an Email. In the email was the instruction to click on "Imprimer", which then brought up an image of the E-ticket itself, which had to be printed and presented on the train. Took a couple hours, but saved a lot of $ for cheaper non-refundable tickets.

Posted by Sujata
Brentwood, Tennessee, United States
6 posts

Yes, it seems like a hassle to use your American credit card through SNCF. However with loco2.com, I had no problems. It is a UK based website and posts the cost in pounds. However, the cost is pretty similar (off by 2-3 dollars). If you pay by a debit card, and I paid with a master card debit, there is no transaction fee either. And you can do either 'print at home' or 'pick up at station' option. I found this website much less painful.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

I used iDTGV (website) for online rail tickets for France. I was able to print out my tickets at home. Often there are sales or discounts available.