another thread about railpasses...

Old Aug 30th, 2010, 09:22 PM
  #1  
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another thread about railpasses...

sorry in advance because i know it has been probably explained to death but i'm so confused about pricing for SNCF, RAILEUROPE, etc railpasses. i'm trying to find fares from paris to toulouse and back again but when i book on SNCF it gives me a much cheaper price than when i go on the actual RAILEUROPE. i don't understand!!! perhaps someone can give me a better idea on how to swing this.

looking for the most economical but cost friendly way to work this out.

I have to go to Paris/Toulouse/Cinque Terre.

i thought about doing
paris/toulouse/paris by train. fly from paris/pisa. train from pisa/la spezia/ct

or

paris/toulouse by train. fly from toulouse/milan. train from milan/la spezia/ct

sorry i don't know what would be the best route. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!!
KayDoll is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2010, 09:30 PM
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SNCF is the official French Railway. RailEurope is a ticket reseller for many different railway companies across Europe that will be happy to sell you the same ticket with service fees attached

For Italian rail tickets, the official website follows. (If you have North American credit cards, you won't be able to purchase online, but the site is good to check schedules.)

http://www.ferroviedellostato.it/homepage_en.html
ellenem is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2010, 10:04 PM
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A) You can book on the French site www.voyages-sncf.fr, but first call the company that issued your credit card and tell them what you're about to do, so that their security software is unblocked and the transaction can go through. The same goes for all your other purchases, before and during the trip - tell all card issuers the places and dates, incl. the bank that issued your ATM (Bancomat) card, and have them increase the daily withdrawal limit in case of a cash-emergency..

When you get to France, take the very same credit card that you used online and show it when retrieving your tickets (don't ask to have them sent!) - with your confirmation number (print the computer screen and take it along) and that very same credit card they'll hand you the tickets at any major train station.

B) As stated, Raileurope sells at sometimes shameless mark-ups.

C) You can indeed purchase from the Italian site, but it is no slam-dunk, it seems to be a lottery as to who is successful and with what kind of card - no rhyme or reason.

D) Paris-Toulouse is easy, plenty of fast TGV trains (the mandatory seat reservation comes with the ticket).

E) Train connections from the south of France into Italy to Genova are not as smooth, but you can do it, just be very patient.

If you can take the 06:54 from Toulouse-Matablau, you arrive in Riomaggiore at 20:51. You'll be changing trains 4 times, in Marseilles, Nice, Monaco, and on the border at Ventimiglia.

F) If that stretches the friendship (how big a picnic basket can you take along???) then fly, maybe with EasyJet leaving Toulouse airport at 08:35, via a change in Paris-Orly, to arrive in Pisa at 13:50, then take the 14:35 train from the Pisa airport train station and - with a quick change of trains in La Spezia, you get to Riomaggiore at 16:09.

On my randomly chosen date of Sept. 23 the flight costs USD118.69 - you'll have to watch the weight and size of your luggage, budget airlines are very stingy and strict.

Then there are many more flights to Pisa from Toulouse, but really only one more reasonable one, the 11:55 with BA that gets into Pisa at 18:50.

There is a USD67.47 flight on skyscanner from Toulouse to Genova via Rome - leaves Toulouse at 9:55 and gets to Genova at 19.00, with EasyJet to Rome and with Blu-Express to Genova.

From Genova there are slow local trains to Riomaggiore, or you can take a faster IC train to La Spezia and a slower one back to Riomaggiore.

I've used Riomaggiore as an example for the Cinque Terre, that doesn't mean that this is the one of the five (cinque) towns that you'd have to stay at.

I see no reasonable flights from Tolouse into Milan.

Flights are at www.skyscanner.com and others.

Trains (but not prices - they are hard to get online for trips across borders) at www.bahn.de and www.voyages-sncf.fr and http://plannerint.b-rail.be/bin/query.exe/en?L=profi&
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Old Aug 30th, 2010, 10:39 PM
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that should be www.skyscanner.net NOT .com
Dukey is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2010, 11:49 PM
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RailEurope is definitely more expensive as you are paying for the convenience of booking on an American site and not having to navigate several European train sites. There are several helpful train sites that give lots of info; one is seat61.com

Tickets for French trains (SNCF) are usually cheaper when booked 90 days before the train journey; they are called PREM tickets. Do a search here on SNCF and you'll get help on how to book. There's a very long thread by Morgan B on booking these tickets and how to navigate the site.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:00 AM
  #6  
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this is why i love fodors!! thank you so much for all of your information!
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:07 AM
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>

Easy. SNCF is the French national railway. RailEurope is a commercial American venture out to make a profit. They'll mark up the tickets and then also require you to pay hefty delivery charges. Steer clear of them in this instance.

For Paris to Toulouse, if your travel is a month or more out from now (up to 3 months, specifically), you should be able to buy PREM tickets, which are deeply discounted, but also nonrefundable and nonexchangeable. You can print them out on your own, so no need to wait in line at the train station and no need to "composte" them before boarding.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:35 AM
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I don't understand, the question was bout railpasses and I think all the answers were about regular tickets. I haven't bought a France railpass in years, but I thought they were priced the same and not marked up as they are for tourists. In fact, I didn't even know you could buy them from SNCF, you usually have to buy those kind of things outside the country of use.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 08:08 AM
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apologies, i shouldn't have titled it railpasses. it was actually about the sites selling the tickets. it's just that when i checked the sncf sites for tickets they gave me one price and then raileurope gave me another completely. i now know the difference. i'm sorry for the confusion
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 10:00 AM
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>

Raileurope, while it is a New York corporation based in White Plains, is co-owned by Swiss Federal Railways and the SNCF.

What they generally offer is:

1. very limited access to their own train schedules.

2. tickets other than those they otherwise offer at discounts.

3. tickets sold mostly at a premium prices.

4. rail passes which can offer great flexibility but at prices above those they offer elsewhere.

If any of the above special services appeal to you, then be all means contact them. If you prefer the purchase options Swill Rail or SNCF extends globally to non-US citizens, use one of their other sites:

http://www.voyages-scnf.com (in French only)
http://www.tgv-europe.com (avoid selecting USA as your home country. Do so will link you to raileurope.)
Sarastro is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2010, 11:19 AM
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it's easier to fly
paris - toulouse on easyjet for 30 euros
toulouse - pisa with 1 stop on ba for 158 euros
pisa to paris for 50 euros on easyjet

see www.bravofly.com

good luck
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 12:21 PM
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You don't need "railpasses". Only train (or plane) tickets.
suze is online now  
Old Aug 31st, 2010, 05:47 PM
  #13  
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i am looking at tickets now for toulouse to pisa and they are pricing in the $200s. is this the usual or can i find them cheaper if i wait?
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:10 PM
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Dukey - don't worry, it switches to .com when needed

Kaydoll - I doubt that the fares will go down. Since there is not a single direct flight, you know that it is not a high priority route for any airline. Never say never but - just my 2 cents.
However, I only looked at the obvious routes and gave you the tools to research others, maybe fly to Bologna or Firenze or ??? and take a train from there, could work out cheaper, so go to work.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2010, 09:56 PM
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KayDoll - you have been advised on this thread that the best prices on French train tickets (PREM tickets) are to be had 90 days before your trip. Aren't you going next spring (March/April??)? According to my Walmart calendar, your trip is 6 or 7 months from now. 90 days = approximately 3 months. So please try to book tickets 90 days before your Toulouse to Pisa trip.

If you want an approximate price now to compare with airfare, enter in a date that is 90 days from today.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 10:12 PM
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Yes I understand about the trains. I was inquiring about the flights. Wasn't sure if they had the same timeline
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 10:16 PM
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Dalaillama:: i will play around with it and see what I find. Thank you for all of your help
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 09:56 AM
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YOu don't have to buy a PREM exactly 90 days before a trip, that's just when they are first available. The prices do not necessary go up by day after that, although often they may be higher much closer to the departure date. I never buy mine exactly 90 days, it's not that problematic. I've had prices go down from what they were when first available, actually, for iDTGVs which are the same trains and PREM-type discounts.
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 10:07 AM
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The iDTGV tickets start at 19€/15€ for night trains (which is cheaper than the PREMs) and increase in price as tickets are sold. Depending upon when the schedules are published, iDTGV tickets are sold as early as 4-6 months in advance of any given travel date.

For those who are able to read the French site, www.voyages-scnf.com there are last minute deals (basically reissued PREMs) available just a few days before departure. I have not seen these on the other SNCF websites. The listings are limited but look for the offers under the heading Dernière minute.
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