france rail travel

Dec 22nd, 2011, 05:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 24
france rail travel

Im online looking at traveling mostly by train around france. I am only finding passes for up to 9 days max. Otherwise you have to buy the two country pass.
Am I missing something? Any comments ?
lalecture is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2011, 05:33 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
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The question with a rail pass is will you be traveling enough to make it cost effective or will point to point tickets be cheaper. You can approximate the cost of individual tickets using the SNCF website and keep in mind that there are often very good deals to be had if you buy far enough in advance. Once you have the information you can compare and make a decision.

This website is a great help if you need it:
joannay is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2011, 06:24 PM
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When you are making your decision keep in mind the amount, if any, of flexibility you might need.
Dukey1 is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2011, 06:46 PM
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Yes, flexibility is indeed an issue. So you can also approximate the cost of individual tickets you might buy as you go not getting the advance purchase discount. It may very well still be the cheaper option, especially if you need to buy more than one pass for the time you'll need.
joannay is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2011, 07:52 PM
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Pass holders still will be required to purchase TGV reservations (which can be limited for pass holders) so there really is no great flexibility advantage for pass holders. With PREM fares as low as 10 euros and iDTGV fares (trains which are not available to pass holders) starting at 19 euros, you will really need to look at the cost of purchasing a pass vs. simply purchasing individual tickets.
Sarastro is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2011, 08:15 PM
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"Flexibility" can be very costly, compared to advance purchase. And, there's not as much "flexibility" as you would presume when pass holder reservations are limited, especially if you are traveling during peak/popular times/days.
djkbooks is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 06:22 AM
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Wow, this is great info! I appreciate all of the replies. I am getting the impression that the "cost" of flexibility may outweigh the advance purchase price savings.
My mom and I will be traveling in early June.
Sounds like just "hopping" on a train whenever we want might be difficult with the pass versus point to point.
This is way more complicated than I imagined at first!!
lalecture is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 06:35 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Some rail websites to check are:

For Paris

For Île-de-France (near Paris)

Others are, and

There are a few others but this should get you started. Avoid the Rail Europe website.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 07:11 AM
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If you are traveling nine days on the train then yes a pass may be the cheapest way if the train rides are a few hours or so long - even cheaper than the deep discounted tickets perhaps and you can decide which trains to take once there and not have to book non-changeable train-specific tickets weeks in advance.

Check out these sites for lots on French rail travel and passes -; and - those sites are loaded with great info and of course check regular prices at, including discounted but limited in number tickets.

It is hard to imagine needing more than nine days of a pass since it is only valid for a one-month period and some train trips may be short like in the Paris area.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 373
Not really so complicated if you have a good sense of how you intend to travel. I think it boils down to these choices:

If you want to play it completely as you go, spend longer in a place if you like, move on when the spirit moves you then forget the pass, forget buying in advance and just walk in and get tickets as you go.

If, however, your trip is fairly structured, you know already where you want to go and how long you want to stay then forget the pass and opt for advance ticket savings.

If you want to go, go, go and your intent is to get as many miles and places under your belt as you possibly can then get a pass.

A compromise between the first 2 options would be to decide in advance on which regions you'd like to visit and for how long each. Then buy discounted tickets online for the longer distance journeys. You can realize big savings on these trips by buying in advance. Then just get walk-up tickets for the short in-between travels. No pass needed. This is what I do.
joannay is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I've bought a France railpass a couple times and they were good deals or I wouldn't have done it as I know a lot about the fares and how to buy tickets. They can be a good deal if you intend some long TGV trips, otherwise not, as short distance rail tickets aren't that expensive and the railpasses usually are pretty expensive. When I bought them, you could really hop on any train with no problem but from what I've read, they limit seats now for those railpasses on some trains. Don't know the details.

But even though the France railpass only goes up to 9 days, I can't imagine what scenario wanting more days would make sense for anyone. YOu'd have to be traveling very long distances all the time for it to make any sense financially at all, and then you'd be having a vacation on a train, not in France. It is true that for 9 days, it gets to be a reasonable price per day (about $50, which is only around 38 euro). But that still means you'd have to be traveling some distance, not just doing day trips, to make the regular fare be more than that.
Christina is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 10:37 AM
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Nine days of first class travel - calendar days to be used anytime in a one-month period for yes $53 a day or about 40 euros a day - this could be an absolute bargain if traveling around France by train - not even discount second class tickets perhaps would be as cheap and the pass provides flexibility though as Christina says on some TGV lines it can be hard to get passholder seats so on those few lines I advise making the required seat reservation when buying the pass and then once in France if you want to take a different train then pay 3 euros to try to book another - 3 euros being the extra fee above the pass for a seat reservation - passes cover rail fare but not required seat reservations.
PalenQ is offline  

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