Raileurope vs TGV

Hello, I will be in France this July and plan on taking the train from Nice to Lyon and Lyon to Paris. I just priced the tickets and Raileurope charges about $35 more the TGV's website. If I purchase my tickets using TGV, the Lyon to Paris tickets are available to print but the Nice to Lyon tickets does not give me that option. Instead I can collect them at a ticket machine or TGV lists home delivery? Do they deliver to the US and if not, I'm assuming that there are ticket machines in Nice where I can pick up my tickets? Has anyone had issues with using Raileurope? It seems like there isn't a huge price difference between the two company's like some people may lead you to believe. Thank you, Agron

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

If you are able to print the ticket at home, do so. It says you need A4 paper, but 8.5 x 11 works fine. If you are not able to print out the ticket, choose "pick up at a ticket window in a French station." Unless you have a chip and pin credit card, you cannot pick up tickets at French ticket machines. However, as long as you bring the credit card used for purchase, picking up the ticket at a train station or SNCF Boutique (ticket office in town) is fast and easy. To be sure you get the correct ticket options, buy only one ticket at a time. Once, when I tried to buy three tickets, the pick up at a ticket window option did not show; when I bought one at a time, it did.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2508 posts

I always try to use the national railroad's booking system. If you are buying lots of tickets, the fees from RailEurope add up. I priced one ticket from Raileurope that was $40 higher than the same ticket from Trenitalia. For TGV, some routes have an e-ticket option and some don't. I've opted for ticket collection at a French rail station (either machine or ticket window); you need to bring the credit card that you used to purchase the ticket(s), and the TGV site says it has to be valid when you present it for identification, but I've read on this site that the card can be expired and still be accepted for identification of the transaction. And be sure to take the e-mail confirmation for your ticket.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

For some of us, $35 is worth saving. REurope provides a much higher service level which is what you are paying for with the extra $35. If you don't mind pay it, then use REurope especially if you like to physically have everything in hand before you leave. REurope is excellent if you don't mind their prices and schedules.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1356 posts

hi, I like to use Raileurope for logistics. IE, time, stops and such and if there are trains that go to where i want to go. I know there are Anti Raileuope people here too, but that is how i like to do things. YOU can do as you feel. Whats also nice is that the site shows what trains they have there, maybe NOT the only trains, but its a start to figuring out how i want to go. Then i will try the countries train sites if they have one and then also look at times, ect and prices. Back to yoru question regarding buying ticket there. on my last trip i did some experimenting on buying train tickets over there. I did the print @ home, pickup at the ticket kiosk and buy at the window. They all worked for me in the UK and France. Dont know anywhere else, but i get a feeling it will. Im going back there to different countries and will be doing some experimenting again. another thing that i noticed is that some or maybe all rail places will only let you buy tickets so many months out. So far ive noticed 3 or 4 months. WHen i come across this and my trip is 4+ months out i choose the same day of the week i will be going and then look at prices and times within that 3 or 4 month window. this may not be corect or the same as any of the gurus out there, but it works for me and i get a feeling/estimate on how to plan my time for the tranportation. happy trails.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1356 posts

hi again, i did some looking through my records from last year and. edit to add: i looked at some of my train receipts last year and found i did use Raileurope to buy a couple of my tickets. Dont know if it was more expensive since it was early last year. but i didnt have any issues buying and using them. I will say tho, im not opposed to using Raileurope for my ticket purchases but i try and minimize my cost on any of my travels and that includes train travel. I see the train as i do the plane and hotels. Trains and planes are just tools for me to get from A to B and the hotels are just a place to sleep, shower and use the toilet and hopefully to get a decent nights sleep. happy trails.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11276 posts

"I know there are Anti Raileuope people here" For good reason. Although I am not inherently anti-RailEurope, I don't find them to be a very effective means of planning or an economical place to book. Case in point, last May I traveled from Bad Schandau, east of Dresden, to Freising, where I spent the night before flying out of MUC the next morning. I booked a ticket online using an EC from Bad Schandau to Dresden and regional trains from Dresden to Hof to Freising. I easily found the connection on the Bahn website. It took 6½ hours and cost me less than $38 (29€). If I had used RailEurope, I could not have found a connection from Bad Schandau to Freising. The closest I could get was Dresden Hbf to Munich Hbf, for $198. I would have had to buy separately the tickets from Bad Schandau to Dresden and Munich Hbf to Freising, for $17.42 (13,40€). The total trip would have cost me $215 and taken over 8 hours.

Posted by Agron
Wayne, New Jersey, USA
12 posts

Thank you for all the info. Wow! What a difference 24 hrs makes. Yesterday, 4/24, on raileurope.com tickets from Nice to Lyon were almost %100 cheaper than they are today. Yesterday's price was $56, today $100. So I plan I booking my tickets using TGV with France as my ticket collection country. We are five people (2 adults & 3 children ages 12, 9 & 7) traveling from Nice to Lyon on 7/19/13 When I choose the 2nd class option on TGV, it gives me the option for 1st class and its 48 euro cheaper (too good to be true) but below is the criteria to qualify for this rate. "BILLET CARTE ENFANT + : A valid Carte Enfant + must be shown when boarding the train." Can someone tell me if I qualify for this rate and exactly what does it mean?
Also, is there a big difference between 1st & 2nd class? Thanks again, Agron

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1356 posts

@ Lee, you do as you please and i will do the same and so will others. If you notice i didnt say it was the ONLY train reservation to use as many of you have pointed out, but i use to to fit MY needs. It would be the same if i asked a question on here are you were the ONLY person to respond, i woudnt consider YOUR response as gospel nor anyone elses. I would still do MY OWN HOMEWORK too. Just because YOU dont like it doesn't mean EVERYONE will. i pick and choose what suits My needs and hope that other do too. if they want to take yours, RS or everyones as gospel, then thats their business. I try to show them how i do it and it a choice i choose and i try to note that it may not be the best or correct for them, but it works for me. Im sure i paid more for the tickets i purchased via Raileurope, but guess what. Im still alive, still working and am back to travel once again. I really dont know how much more i spent, but i really dont give a damn now. Its past. Im moving on and learned somethings since then. sometimes you get the bear and sometimes it gets you. happy trails.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3076 posts

RailEurope is typically for travelers who need a lot of help, advice, handholding, etc. They're usually overpriced and they never display all of the available options. Also when you purchase you can't be 100% sure that what you purchased you'll get. I learned that on my first time to purchase from RE. In all fairness I did purchase London->Paris EuroStar tickets last Spring because RE had the cheapest price. However, I ususally stick to Trenitalia, SBB and Bahn for my tickets. Last year I also bought 15 tickets on the Frecciargento from Rome to Venice for 9 Euros each ticket. Use what's best for you. I'll be glad to use whatever saves me the most money.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Its interesting when some people just discount that others either do not have money to burn, or don't like to waste money.. a 35 dollar difference is a lot when one is buying 5 tickets, or taking several journeys..
I would rather save 10 bucks on something as mundane as a train ticket so I can spend in on sightseeing , nice dining, or longer stays....those 10 buck savings here and there can add up! I also recommend people check the idTGV site, if early enough they offer some great deals!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

BILLET CARTE ENFANT + : A valid Carte Enfant + must be shown when boarding the train I don't know of that ticket but the translation is "Child Card or pass Ticket". You need to have one of those and present it with the ticket and the child who is traveling.