SNCF Train Booking

I was under the impression that you could book 90 days out, but looking at my options for May that may not be true as all the system will show me is TGV (which on my routing makes this from a 6 hours trip to an 18 hour trip Going Avingon to Barcelona) So is the SNCF booking 60 days? or what? Thanks!

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

The SNCF web site shows trains for 90 days out, including non-TGV's. At least within France. I've never used it for inter-country travel; maybe there's a difference.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1695 posts

It's because you're looking at an international trip. Non high-speed trains between the border and Barcelona are treated by the Spanish railways as local journeys and cannot be prebooked online, so you are only seeing TGV journeys.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1695 posts

If you want to find non-TGV journeys on the SNCF site, you will need to search for trains from Avignon to Portbou. There should be Spanish trains connecting with SNCF to Portbou.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8641 posts

You can go Avignon Centre - Port Bou - Barcelona Sants on regional trains. However, you won't find this route on the SNCF site because the second leg is entirely outside of France. For detailed timetables that show this route, use the German Rail site. Since there is no discount for advance purchase on regional trains, buy your tickets at the station.

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
679 posts

Here's what I have found. I can book Avignon to Figueres on SNCF but ONLY up to 60 days out (so the "you can't book a train that crosses the border" doesn't make any sense.) On occassion it will actually show you the entire trip from Avignon to Barcelona... No idea why it is bookable every now and then.... But I figured out that what I want is the regional train to Nimes and then a TGV to Figueres. But as I said this appears to only be booked about 60 days out.
I can then book a Renfe (if I am lucky and can make the website work) from Figueres to BCN. Since Nimes to Figueres is TGV it does look like it would be cheaper to buy this in advance. However, at this point, 90 days out, it appears to be "unbookable" on either the SNCF or the TGV website. I guesss I just have to wait until they decide to let me book it. I don't want to book the Renfe train until I do this in case the schedule I currently have isn't what actually appears when the French booking system decides to let me know what's goign on :)

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6708 posts

Carol, we did the reverse - Barcelona to Avignon. We choose to get off at Nimes and rent our car instead of taking the Regional into Avignon. Our experience at the Barcelona ticket agent window is that we could easily book the ticket but they would not accept a credit card for the whole trip. Only to Figueres-Vilafant where we picked up the French train. We could charge Barcelona Sants/Figueres-Vilafant on our credit card but we chose to pay cash for the entire journey. There must be something funny with the Euro exchange between the two systems. It's interesting that they could book us all the way through because Figueres was well within Spain. Conversely, you might be able to do the same in France but you would have to go up to the ticket window to do this. No advance TGV discount. And, should you buy a discounted ticket online and you get to Figueres-Vilafant, this station is north of the city and not the main station. You pull in and your next train is waiting across the platform. 10 minutes later, you're out of there. If you had to go downstairs to buy a ticket for the Renfe train, I don't think you would make it back up to the platform in time. You're going to need some help navigating the Renfe website to see which trains match up with your incoming TGV. If all fails here, get off at Villifant and taxi to the main station and pick up the next local train to Barcelona Sants. They are frequent from there. Horrible idea but that's all that leaps out at this time. Hopefully others can add to this.

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
679 posts

Thanks. I actually have the connections all mapped "assuming" the French don't change anything :). But you are right I have to have that Renfe ticket before I start the journey. There isn't enough room to go buy a ticket and make the connection I have actually succeeded in buying a ticket on Renfe before so I have hope I can pull this off. :). Just going to wait a month and hopefully the French will release a schedule for Mayn

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8641 posts

Carol, You can book on the SNCF site up to a full three months in advance. However, in your case the problem is that the TGV you wish to take from Nimes to Fiqueres-Vilafant doesn't run beyond 27 April. I have no idea why this is true, but the timetables on the German Rail site specifically say so. If you enter 27 April on voyages-sncf.com, the TGV appears. If you enter 28 April, it doesn't. My suggestion is that you take a French regional train from Avignon Centre to Port Bou and a Spanish regional train from there to Barcelona Sants as I outlined in my previous post. See the detailed timetables on the German Rail site.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8641 posts

There is one more thing against you. I didn't check the RENFE site, but the German Rail site doesn't show any way to get from Figueres-Vilafant to Barcelona after 27 April.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8641 posts

Okay. I just checked the RENFE site and found trains running from Figueres-Vilafant to Barcelona in May. I don't know why they don't appear on the usually infallible German Rail site. However, you still are faced with the fact that the SNCF site doesn't show service to Figueres-Vilafant after 27 April.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1695 posts

There's uncertainty at the moment because SNCF and RENFE are hoping that they'll soon be able to run through trains all the way from Paris to Barcelona without the change at Figueres, but the exact date isn't fixed.

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
679 posts

Thanks everyone! I am just going to hold off for a few weeks and see what happens. Looking at the RENFE ticket's it's not going to break thte bank to wait!