Why does RS say that he uses the bahn site for schedules online but never buys tickets there? Where does an experienced traveller purchase tickets, say from Osnabruck Germany to Aix en Provence to make train travel less expensive?
Chere, In taking the Osnabrück to Aix-en Provence trip, I myself would go through Paris, a day trip. From Osnabrück to Frankfurt there's no direct connection, transfer in Essen to Frankfurt, take the 13:01 dep Frankfurt-Paris Est 16:50, from Paris Est to Gare de Lyon by Metro or bus (I know where the bus stop is), then the 17:45 TGV to Aix-en-Provence, arr 20:44...depending on what you want to arrive. You could also break up the trip by staying in the area of Gare de Lyon and taking the TGV the following morning.
The Bahn site doesn't sell tickets for routes entirely outside of Germany. It does sell them for many international routes that either start or end in Germany. Use the Bahn site to get detailed timetables for any route. Then book tickets well in advance (up to 90 days in most cases) on the national rail companies of the countries in which you will be traveling to get discount fares. Here are two examples for Osnabrueck to Aix-en-Provence: 1. Travel Osnabrueck-Koeln-Paris-Aix. Book separate tickets on the Bahn site for an ICE train from Osnabrueck to Koeln and a Thalys train from Koeln to Paris. (Because the second leg is on a Thalys train, you'll have to do separate bookings.) Book a Paris-Aix TGV on tgv-europe.com. 2. Travel Osnabrueck-Hannover-Metz-Paris-Aix with the Hannover-Metz leg being on a CNL night train. You can do one booking on the Bahn site for Osnabrueck-Metz. You can do one booking for Metz-Aix on tgv-europe.com.
Wow! Does that imply that I would need to be routed through Paris to go to Aix rather than directly through Switzerland? Sounds like it would be wise to take a look at Paris if I have to go through there.
The Bahn site doesn't sell tickets online for routes entirely outside of Germany. But you can get those tickets by phone or at a ticket counter in Germany. Other than taking advantage of advance purchase discounts (On my last trip, a bought a Sparpreis ticket in advance for €29; the price at the counter would have been €89.), there is little reason to purchase tickets until you are over there. The price for full fare tickets online from the Bahn is the same as at the counter. The price from RailEurope rarely, if not never, includes the discounted price and does includes a markup over the full price. You can always buy tickets without reservations over there right up to train time. If a reservation is required, or you just want it, you can almost always buy it the day before.
Chere, where did you see Rick say he plans with Deutsche Bahn but never buys tickets from them? For the cheapest tickets on direct trains buy them from the national railway where the direct train originates or your destination station. For connections you can split the journey into each country's direct trains or sometimes you can get a good deal ahead of time even for a connection. Tim has given you two good choices. They will take 10 or more hours - you are going quite a long way. You could do as you suggest and go via Switzerland if you wish but it will involve 4 to 7 changes of train and 12 to 18 hours. The shortest route would be Osnabrück > Mannheim > Bern > Geneva > Lyon > Aix-en-Provence in 13:58. French trains, especially TGVs are very Paris-centric.
Hey San Francisco! Thanks. Is it difficult to get between Osnabruck essen Frankfurt? Any idea of the cost? and one more: does the bus take long between est and gare de Lyon? Where would the bus station be?
San Francisco, how did you find the osnabruck essen frankfurt connection? I am really bad at this. Is it really about 75 euros to go that short distance? I never found the essen connection. Can this be booked right at the train station as a local trip?
Fred's suggestion to go to Paris via Frankfurt takes longer than to go via Koeln. I don't see the benefit of doing so. However, here's how to get from Gare de l'Est to Gare de Lyon by Metro. Take line 5 to Bastille. Transfer to line 1 and take it to Gare de Lyon. If you take a Thalys train from Koeln to Paris, you will arrive at Gare du Nord. Take the RER D directly from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon.
I just used the Bahn website, put in Osnabrück to Frankfurt, and one of the connections, at 8:37, was an EC to Essen, ICE from there. Full fare for that connection is €97, but for the farthest date out, Sept 3, I found a discount fare of €44. Potentially, you could get €29. You can get the €97 fare at the station; the €29 fare is only available online.
Chere, True, going from Osnabrück to Paris via Essen and via Frankfurt does take more time. That depends on your time factor. What I am suggesting to you is what I would do if I were doing this trip Osnabrück to Aix-en-Provence...a personal decision. First of all, I don't go through Belgium. Second, I avoid taking Thalys trains, if at all possible. And it's possible here. You have 4 legs with Osnabrück to Aix-en-Provence, you time it right, two of them are ICE. Depart Osnabrück at 0837, arr in Essen Hbf. at 0956. Now you have a 55 min. break, until Essen-Frankfurt ICE dep 1053, arr 1248 in Frankfurt. Dep Frankfurt ICE at 1301 (you do have time to make this connection) for Paris Est, arr. 1650. (You probably could go Osnabrück-Frankfurt via Duisburg too). It's best you take the Metro from Gare de l'Est to Gare de Lyon as suggested above, ...can't really direct you to the bus stop, I just know where it is...Bus #65. Take the Paris Lyon TGV to Aix-en-Provence dep 1745, arr 2044. Or, the next one (if you happen to miss it) dep 1753, arr. 2131. This way you stay within Germany and France. From 0837 to 2044 it's doable in making all the connections, if you don't want have additional layovers and arrive later than 2044 or 2131.
I forgot to give you connection times in Paris. It's an 8-minute ride on the RER D from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. It's a 3-minute ride on Metro line 5 from Gare de l'Est to Bastille and a 3-minute ride on Metro line 1 from Bastille to Gare de Lyon. Add a few more minutes to make the connection at Bastille.
Again, thank you, Tim, Hopefully I will be able to find what you told me. I should be booking tomorrow.