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France train questions

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Greetings, Fodorites!

I am visiting France with friends and we will be traveling by rail for several of our trips. I have already booked passage on the trains we would like to use. Here are my questions:

On 2 of the legs of the trip, it suggested I book seats, then said that there were no seats available. Do I actually have a reservation on these trains? Does it simply mean that we might have to stand? Or is there a chance that we could get to the station and not be able to travel?

I would like to pick up the tickets at the train station, as that was one of the ways to access our tickets. When I received my confirmation, it says that you must use the credit card used for purchase to pick up the tickets, and that credit cards with the magnetic strip (which is all I have found in the US) cannot be used. Is there some way to retrieve these tickets other than with a European-style credit card? Do I need to change the method of receiving the tickets?

I have sent an email to sncf and hope to hear back from them, but would also be grateful for any advice from the forums.

Any assistance would be appreciated.

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