Train Tickets Paris to Bayeux- SNCF, can't book it?...HELP (please)!

My family of 5 and brother are spending a week in Paris and we're taking a daytrip to Normandy (booked a personal tour with Overlord) on Friday, May 16. I want to book: the 7:12am train out, arriving in Bayeux at 9:23am; and then returning the same day on the 6:11pm train, arriving in Paris at 8:51pm. There are 6 of us total- 3 Adults, 2 Youth, and 1 Youth with a SNCF S'Miles Discount Card (she just returned from a semester abroad in France and bought this for her travel). Please note if the S'Miles confuses things, at this point if we don't get the discount for her, that's not a huge issue.

I've read that there's better deals/schedules not going through Rail Europe, but using SNCF and picking the tickets up at any train station in Paris. I'm having problems with the SNCF website (finally got it to stay in English after searching/reading an earlier post here-thanks Norm). I get all the way to selecting my return trip (want the Prems fares if possible) and no matter which train or fare I select it gives me an error message stating "Technical Error, try again later". I've been working on this most of the day and I can't figure this out.

What am I doing wrong? I'm within my 90 days, and no, I didn't even try yet putting in my daughter's S'Miles card info., so that's not a problem. I also have lots of other questions about how all this works: Is it possible to print the ticket at home? If not, how does pick-up work in Paris? There's a 7 min. connection in Caen getting there/back...is it confusing, will we make that? What else do I need to know? Thanks for your help!!!!

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8637 posts

First, you're probably not doing anything wrong. The SNCF site can act up at times.

Second, Prem's tickets can be printed at home if (1) you book Paris-Caen separately from Caen-Bayeux or (2) you book a train from Paris that goes on to Bayeux so you don't have to change to a regional train in Caen. You would also need to exlude your daughter's S'Miles card from the booking.

However, you can book everything at once, including your daughter's ticket, and still get Prem's if you can give an address in France to which you want them mailed (like your hotel in Paris).

You don't even have to book Caen-Bayeux or Bayeux-Caen in advance. Tickets for regional trains are good on any train on the route for 60 days. Buy them at any station in Paris.

(continued)

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8637 posts

If you're worried about the connection time in Caen--and I don't think you really need to be--take the 06:42 Paris-Caen train, giving you more time to make the connection in Caen. Also, there is a direct Bayeux-Paris train that leaves at 18:21. (It's the one to which you would have to transfer anyway if you take the 18:11 train to Caen.)

Posted by Nancy
Mars, PA, USA
213 posts

Tim, Thanks so much for the information. I didn't even see the 18:21 train as I thought I'd seen them all and I needed that "Direct route only" button (I assumed that would refine the search, not give me other options--confusing).

Just a few more questions-Tim/anyone. I've done what Tim suggested and can get the SNCF site now to show two of the segments (taking the earlier train per Tim's suggestions 6:42Paris-Caen and 18:21Bayeux-Paris)and still keep the print at home option.

1.Will SNCF except my American Express Card, or do I need to call them first (I'm afraid to just try it as their site says once it is denied that you have to wait 24hrs. to rebook)?
2.Tim said "Tickets for regional trains are good on any train on the route for 60 days." If I book the above now (more than 60 days out), will my ticket be good? Isn't the train that goes from Bayeux-Paris partially regional (even though I don't transfer, it still stops in Caen like all the other Bayeux-Caen regional ones)?

Posted by Nancy
Mars, PA, USA
213 posts

Sorry, one more question.
If I get the above done, I still need the Caen-Bayeux segment on the local train. Tim said "You don't even have to book Caen-Bayeux or Bayeux-Caen in advance. Tickets for regional trains are good on any train on the route for 60 days. Buy them at any station in Paris."
Why does it look like the SNCF site will let me book it now (more than 60 days)? I can get to the enter your e-mail page? WE MUST be on the 9:05 Caen-Bayeux train. Can I really just wait until we get there to book this, or will I run the risk of this train being sold out? I might be able to get our apartment landlord to accept these in the mail (I'm printing the others at home), should I do that or is waiting OK? I'm nervous about being late for an expensive tour. Thanks again!!

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8637 posts

Nancy,

I just realized that I misled you with my 60-day reference. Regional train tickets are undated until you insert them in a "composteur" that time stamps them. If you bought a ticket from point A to point C, you could get off at point B midroute and you would have 60 days to complete the journey to point C. Sorry about that!

The trains that go directly to Bayeux--they all stop in Caen--are Corail trains, not regional trains. That is why you can book Prem's or reserve seats on them. Reservations are not possible on regional trains. If the regional train from Caen to Bayeux is full (highly unlikely), you could stand for that short ride.

It would be a good idea to call Customer Service for American Express and tell them you are about to make a charge to your card for a transaction in France. Otherwise, a computer may block your card for what it thinks is fraudulent use.

Do the same a week before you start your trip to be sure your credit cards and ATM cards will work in Europe.

Posted by Nancy
Mars, PA, USA
213 posts

Tim- Success! We booked the two legs and printed the tickets (a small moment of panic when it let us print the first leg and then it routed us to a blank page, but the email confimation took us back to printing the second leg).

One last question...the example ticket (they show a ticket to compare yours to to make sure it printed correctly) has a bar code on the far right side and our tickets do not. There are some other differences to the tickets, but all the four items they told us to make sure are correct are: Name, Date-Cities, Seat, and Dossier#. Will our tickets work without the bar code (there are two squares with dot patterns in them, I'm hoping it's a new way to "read" the tickets)? Thanks again!

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8637 posts

Congratulations, Nancy!

The last time I printed Prem's was nearly two years ago so I don't remember if a bar code was printed on those tickets or not. However, it shouldn't make any difference. Unlike standard tickets which are printed on card stock and are time stamped when you insert them in the "composteur", you simply take your Prem's printouts on board with you and show them to the conductor when asked. Perhaps someone who has printed Prem's recently will read this thread and will tell you what was on their printouts.