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French rail tickets -- when do sales open?

French rail tickets -- when do sales open?

Aug 27th, 2019, 01:10 PM
  #1  
twk
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French rail tickets -- when do sales open?

I'm travelling to Normandy and Provence next July, and the trip will include 3 days of rail travel:

1. Arrival day, Saturday, July 4 - we fly in to CDG, and will be travelling by rail to Caen. Assume that we will have to go into Paris and leave from St. Lazare.

2. Saturday, July 11 - from Caen to Avingnon. It appears that we can do this by taking a train from Caen to Mantes-la-Jolie, where we would catch a TGV (which originates in Le Havre) that will take us direct to Avignon, without having to change trains in Paris.

3. Friday, July 17 - TGV from Avignon to CDG Terminal 2 (another direct train, it would appear).

Will tickets to all these trains go on sale the same time, or will some be available earlier than others? I was thinking the TGV routes might go on sale earlier, and if that is the case, would we want to book the TGV portion of trip 2 separate from the regional train portion of that trip (what if we miss connections)?

Any feedback is appreciated.
twk is offline  
Aug 27th, 2019, 01:45 PM
  #2  
 
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Normally, TGV tickets go on sale 3 months before departure. So if you travel on July 4, book your tickets at 6:05 PM US Eastern time on April 3 (which is April 4 12:05 am in France). However - there are "special" pre-bookings all the time. There were several this year which I took advantage of. Keep an eye open.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 27th, 2019, 01:46 PM
  #3  
 
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Ticket sales for TER trains open between 2 and 4 months before travel.

TGV tickets are available 3 months in advance, Ouigo trains between 2 and 9 months.
Sarastro is offline  
Aug 27th, 2019, 02:15 PM
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The train from Caen to Avignon departs at 7:41 and has a 9 min connection to the TGV. That would make me nervous (the 9 min connection). I also don't like taking trains that early in the AM while I am on vacation.

Where are you sleeping July 10? If you are sleeping in/near Caen - then you probably should get up early & make a try. But if you miss the connection, you would need to take the next train to Paris, take a taxi for a station change in Paris, and then the next TGV from Paris to Avignon. Not a fun day!!!

If you are sleeping outside of Caen or are nervous about a 9 min connection, I would drive 2 hrs (from Caen) to Rennes and take the 1:18 TGV that arrives in Avignon at 6:46 (no train changes). There is a 7:45am TGV from Rennes that arrives at 12:36 if you want to sleep in Rennes on July 10.

Or you could drive 1 3/4 hrs to Mantes & catch the train there.

Or you could drive 1 hr 40 mins to Le Mans and catch the Rennes train at 2:29 pm..

Or you could drive 2 1/2 hrs to Massy and catch the Rennes train from there. Departures are at 9:25am and 3:25 PM.

Or if you don't have a car, you could:
take the train that departs from Caen at 10:49 & arrives in Le Mans at 12:41, then the TGV from Le Mans that departs at 2:29 & arrives in Avignon at 6:46

Unless you are an experienced train traveler and travel light - I would take one of the Rennes trains from Rennes,, Mantes, Le Mans, or Massy.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Aug 27th, 2019 at 03:01 PM.
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 27th, 2019, 02:21 PM
  #5  
 
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I bought cheap tgv tix for our upcoming trip by getting alerts when the tickets were released. The site is loco2.com where you put in what you want and get an email when there are tickets. You can continue and buy on their site or use the actual French rail site. I put in my request about 4 months in advance. I saved a bundle.
AJPeabody is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 04:37 AM
  #6  
 
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You can do the same thing on trainline.com

I'm not thrilled with very early trains, either, but a 9-minute connection seems pretty normal to me, and we take trains all over France all the time.

At any rate, it; way too early to be buying train tickets for next summer.
StCirq is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 07:23 AM
  #7  
twk
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Originally Posted by AJPeabody View Post
I bought cheap tgv tix for our upcoming trip by getting alerts when the tickets were released. The site is loco2.com where you put in what you want and get an email when there are tickets. You can continue and buy on their site or use the actual French rail site. I put in my request about 4 months in advance. I saved a bundle.
I thought I had seen that feature somewhere. Thanks for pointing that out.
twk is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 07:26 AM
  #8  
twk
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
Normally, TGV tickets go on sale 3 months before departure. So if you travel on July 4, book your tickets at 6:05 PM US Eastern time on April 3 (which is April 4 12:05 am in France). However - there are "special" pre-bookings all the time. There were several this year which I took advantage of. Keep an eye open.

Stu Dudley
So, if the TGV leg goes on sale earlier than the TER, is there any reason to wait for the later date so that they are on one itinerary? It seem that the answer is no.
twk is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 07:34 AM
  #9  
twk
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
The train from Caen to Avignon departs at 7:41 and has a 9 min connection to the TGV. That would make me nervous (the 9 min connection). I also don't like taking trains that early in the AM while I am on vacation.

Where are you sleeping July 10? If you are sleeping in/near Caen - then you probably should get up early & make a try. But if you miss the connection, you would need to take the next train to Paris, take a taxi for a station change in Paris, and then the next TGV from Paris to Avignon. Not a fun day!!!

If you are sleeping outside of Caen or are nervous about a 9 min connection, I would drive 2 hrs (from Caen) to Rennes and take the 1:18 TGV that arrives in Avignon at 6:46 (no train changes). There is a 7:45am TGV from Rennes that arrives at 12:36 if you want to sleep in Rennes on July 10.

Or you could drive 1 3/4 hrs to Mantes & catch the train there.

Or you could drive 1 hr 40 mins to Le Mans and catch the Rennes train at 2:29 pm..

Or you could drive 2 1/2 hrs to Massy and catch the Rennes train from there. Departures are at 9:25am and 3:25 PM.

Or if you don't have a car, you could:
take the train that departs from Caen at 10:49 & arrives in Le Mans at 12:41, then the TGV from Le Mans that departs at 2:29 & arrives in Avignon at 6:46

Unless you are an experienced train traveler and travel light - I would take one of the Rennes trains from Rennes,, Mantes, Le Mans, or Massy.

Stu Dudley
I understand the connection concern, but the alternatives look to be as much of a hassle as having to overcome a missed connection.

We are staying about 30 minutes outside of Caen, and will have picked up a rental car in Caen to return in Caen. I considered a one-way rental and driving to Avignon, but taking the train just seem to make more sense (although it will be more expensive).

I did a 2 week Swiss trip in 2016 with an unlimited travel pass and rode the trains every day, so I know what to expect (although no one matches the Swiss in efficiency, from what I've been told). My 2 friends that I'm traveling with are in good shape, and we will have suitable luggage (don't want to overload our rental car, either). One of the reasons why I liked that connection at Mantes-la-Jolie is that it is much easier than having to go across Paris to change stations.
twk is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 07:35 AM
  #10  
 
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A 9-minute connection is a snap, particularly in a small station with only about 4 tracks. It even seems slow sometimes.

Frankly, the American obsession with booking tickets on the first day that they become available confounds me. This is not an Ariana Grande concert! I almost never book tickets more than 2 months before my travel date, and only on the most heavily travelled lines (for example, Paris-Avignon in July, but not Mantes la Jolie-Avignon). I understand that some of you are unable to sleep at night unless you have nailed every single detail of your trip at the earliest possible date. I might be better to learn to relax a bit.
kerouac is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 09:05 AM
  #11  
 
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>> the alternatives look to be as much of a hassle as having to overcome a missed connection. <<

Huh??? A missed connection means getting on the next train to Paris, changing stations in Paris, and then the next train to Avignon. Research the schedules and determine the exact train departures that you would need to take if you missed the connection. I get train schedules here
https://reiseauskunft.bahn.de//bin/query.exe/en

Also check one-way car rentals. We do that twice a year in France - at no additional cost.

Stu Dudley
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Aug 28th, 2019, 09:28 AM
  #12  
 
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This is the page at oui.sncf where you ca.n request an alert for ticket sales opening for your date of travel. It's in French only as far as know, but should be easy to fill out. Last year and the year before, all dates for summer vacation travel went on sale the same day, so not exactly 90 days prior.

As far as wanting to get tickets as early as possible... I have found frequently that 1st class TGV fares are usually not much more than 2nd class when bought early, and I like specific seats that are not plentiful - single seats facing across a table. I'm much more relaxed when I know I've got those nailed.
MaineGG is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 09:29 AM
  #13  
 
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Oops, forgot the link: https://www.oui.sncf/services-train/alerte-reservation
MaineGG is offline  
Aug 28th, 2019, 10:23 AM
  #14  
 
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>> Frankly, the American obsession with booking tickets on the first day that they become available confounds me <<

Many months ago, we purchased first class TGV tickets from Champagne-Ardenne to Strasbourg for travel this past Saturday. The cost was 28E each. I just looked at Trainline for travel this coming Saturday, and tickets are $75 each.

We travel from Auxerre to Paris on Sept 21 and purchased tickets as soon as available, and the tickets are 15E each. Now they are $69.82 each.

Unfortunately, my FIL had a stroke a month ago and we had to cancel our upcoming trip to France for the fall. Fortunately, he had the stroke 2 days after we returned home from our June/July trip to France.

Stu Dudley

Last edited by StuDudley; Aug 28th, 2019 at 10:44 AM.
StuDudley is offline  
Aug 29th, 2019, 08:04 AM
  #15  
twk
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Originally Posted by kerouac View Post
A 9-minute connection is a snap, particularly in a small station with only about 4 tracks. It even seems slow sometimes.

Frankly, the American obsession with booking tickets on the first day that they become available confounds me. This is not an Ariana Grande concert! I almost never book tickets more than 2 months before my travel date, and only on the most heavily travelled lines (for example, Paris-Avignon in July, but not Mantes la Jolie-Avignon). I understand that some of you are unable to sleep at night unless you have nailed every single detail of your trip at the earliest possible date. I might be better to learn to relax a bit.
I do relax...once I've booked all my tickets and accomodations. Train tickets and rental car are just about at the end of the list.
twk is offline  

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