differences in TGV ticket levels

Nov 13th, 2009, 12:46 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,357
Definitely do not use rail europe site!!

When in Paris for month in the Spring, I decided to go to favorite spot of mine in Les Baux. My decision was made after the 3 month out purchase to hope for prems. I looked aat first class and I received my ticket going down for 35 euros and my return was 70 euros, I think. This was my first TGV experience. All I can say is..I wish we had something like that in the US! Marvelous. Very comfortable, wide, spacious seating. Areas along the way for luggage storage. Great way to go.

Do your purchasing 3 months out and look for prems..real bargains..alwys use the sncf site..do not ask for it in English as I think it will then take you to the rail europe site.

Oh, when I did mine online, I reserved my seats online and I picked up my tickets here in Paris at a nearby boutique. All very easy to do.

gracejoan3 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2009, 01:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,809
Not even a thought--not worth it!! Three hours at the most--piece of cake.
Gretchen is online now  
Nov 13th, 2009, 01:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 795
Not even a thought--DEFINITELY worth it!! ;-)

At least to us, we travel first class on all European trains unless there's a particular reason not to. We like the peace and quiet in first class, especially in the cars that are "silent" (meaning no mobile phones). Groups are usually in second class, so are families with noisy kids (but not always). Unfortunately, loud mobile-phone talking business types are usually in first, hence our preference for the silent cars.

We're planning two weeks in Paris in the very early spring, possibly preceded or followed by a few days in Dijon/Beaune. First class train travel is a firm part of those travel plans.
Passerine is offline  
Nov 13th, 2009, 02:45 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I have not at all found it necessary to reserve 3 months ahead as long as I stay off the weekend holiday dates. Even to go to Avignon in July, I bought my cheap tickets in June by calculating ahead of time what the high traffic days would be and asking for different dates.
kerouac is offline  
Nov 13th, 2009, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 306
Wow -- Big difference with the French site in terms of cost! My French is not good enough to really help me understand what exactly I am agreeing to. Do I purchase the ticket on-line and then pick it up the day of travel? Or, should I go to the station a few days in advance to pick up the tickets? Do I get an e-mail confirmation or hope for the best in terms of knowing that my tix are confirmed?
SuzChicago is offline  
Nov 13th, 2009, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
my understanding is that either via RailEurope (largely owned by the SNCF or French Railways!) or via www.voyages-sncf.com you get an e-ticket and pick up the ticket at the station (or any station in France) - i think you may have to go to a ticket window as for the automatic machines i think you need a credit card you paid for the ticket with and American ccards seem not to have a necessary magnetic security strip to make these machines work - i am parroting what i think i have read - many times about this - an 'evergreen' Q here and successfully using the voyages-sncf.com site can be problematic it seems as well for novice users who often report their total frustration - yet the savings can be immense so it is worth trying and several Fodorites like St Cirq, Christina, Kerouac, etc do know how to work the site and routinely help others help make it work - so ask questions here and you'll get the right answers IME
Palenque is offline  
Nov 13th, 2009, 11:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,375
That premium fare is something I don't think I've ever seen, so it is higher even than regular first class. You don't have to buy a meal on a first class TGV fare. Maybe they offer that to me and I automatically just don't choose it, I really don't remember.

I admit I would not normally recommend someone buy something online when they can't even read what it is you are buying, you never know. And there are various options, so it's hard to tell what you are agreeing to -- regarding pickup (and "insurance" which I would not recommend and it doesn't probably even cover you). Generally, if you buy an advance discount fare (called PREMs or iDTGVs, you are usually given the option to either pick them up at the station or to print them yourself at home--after choosing, they send you an email confirmation and if you chose to print them, a PDF file you can print). They may ask if you want them mailed, but you had better not check that if you don't live in France or you may be throwing your money away, as they will not mail you tickets to the US, of course (some folks have gotten lucky and said they did, but they are not obligated to and usually won't, in fact, the website says they won't).

YOu can hope for the best as even if you said you wanted to print it, if you couldn't, you could ask them at the station to print you a new copy. After all, some people could have broken printers or lose it on the way. But you must be sure to have ID and the credit card you used online.
Christina is offline  
Nov 13th, 2009, 12:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 11
Adding my $.02, FWIW: I travel first-class between Paris and Lorient (Brittany) on the TGV for an annual visit. It's the only first-class transportation I take, but I savor the quiet and comfort during the four-plus-hour trip (one way), even if every seat is taken. It's worth it to me--maybe it would not be to you.

There are periodic announcements about food and beverages being available in a particular car, and when that car ends service, but during nearly a dozen trips, I've never been offered food of any kind in the car where I'm seated.

As others have mentioned, there are numerous threads and posts on these boards that explain how to book on SNCF. For a number of years, I was able to print off my ticket on my own printer. For the last two trips (searching in French), I've only had the choice of picking up the tickets at the train station. I'm not exactly sure why, and I've been able to pick them up easily enough, but I'd prefer to print them off at home (in the US). Next year, I plan to try one suggestion I saw on a post recently, which is to search the SNCF website as a UK resident to be able to print at home.

Good luck with your search and have fun on your trip.
disparue is offline  
Nov 13th, 2009, 01:28 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,210
I am not sure either why sometimes you can print the tickets and sometimes you can't (even those of us who live in France), but it is really not a problem at all. If you can print the tickets, that's what you do and if not, you just pick them up at any station ticket office or out of a machine.
kerouac is offline  
Nov 15th, 2009, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,765
I think First Class is worth it, for the same reasons Christina and others have mentioned. Especially for longer trips. And especially if you start looking for ticket prices early, when you can find bargains for First Class. I just did Paris/Reims,(which is only 45 minutes)in First. Certainly not necessary for that trip, but nice anyway, for only 5 euros more each way, bargain PREMs.
Sue4 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2009, 06:39 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,495
This is a late addition to the thread but conversations about SNCF/TGV seem eternal.

I ran this test today: Avignon TGV station to Paris for mid-January. Lowest price 2nd class was about 39 euro. Depending on the time of day it could be two or three times that price. But there were some tickets on some trains at 39 euro in first class -- because it was two months in advance.

These prices come from www.tgv-europe, which will operate in English. The trick -- as has frequently been explained in Fodor forums -- is to avoid logging in as a United States resident. Great Britain works fine. That gives you all the explanations in English and the low prices.

Then I compared Rail Europe, which is where the SNCF site will bump you if you pick United States as your residence. 2nd class was 85 euros and higher; 1st was 120 euros and up.

Residence doesn't matter in terms of collecting the ticket. If it is a Prem fare you can print it off the site; otherwise use your e-mail information to get the ticket at an SNCF station. Rail Europe may deliver, but you're paying through the nose for what is now an unnecessary service in these days of the Internet

By the way, I could find no mention of a meal included in first class.

If you are 60 or up, SNCF sometimes offers senior discounts or first class at second-class prices. That's how I have travelled in both first and second class on this route. I'm small, and so is my luggage, so I hardly noticed the bit of extra space in first class and slightly better upholstery. The train goes as fast in either class and that speed is the true wonder of the TGF. Amazing, compared to North American experiences.

One more bit of good news: Customers who register as living in Canada no longer get bumped to Rail Europe, as happened previously.

If your French is good enough to deal with the methodical SNCF page layout, you can always try www.voyages-sncf.com

Another source of help, aside from the admirable www.seat61.com, is a blog I have mentioned before in these forums. http://parisbytrain.com/tgv-tickets/ will walk you through the booking process so clearly that it will seem almost simple. Almost.
Southam is offline  

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