Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

MorganB's guide to booking SNCF French train tickets

MorganB's guide to booking SNCF French train tickets

Old Feb 10th, 2006, 01:19 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,265
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
MorganB's guide to booking SNCF French train tickets

There are so many questions / problems booking on the SNCF website that I have typed up a guide. Hope people find this helpful. Corrections, comments and additions are welcome. First you will find an explication of SNCF fares followed by a step by step guide to booking.

SNCF Fares Explained

NOTE: Some fares state that they can be delieved by post. You should NEVER select to have your tickets mailed to the USA. This option is intended only for people residing in France and could lead to your tickets being lost. If they are lost you have to buy new tickets and then apply in writing for a refund for the lost / unused tickets after travel has been completed.

PREMS: : Prems can be purchased up to but no more than 3 months prior to travel. Prems are mainly offered in 2nd class but there are rare promotions where they may be offered in first class. Prems are among the cheapest fares available. To get the best prem fares book 3 months in advance. Prems are limited in number. If they are not offered when you do your search then they are either sold out or not offered between the chosen cities. PREM Tickets are non-exchangeable, non-refundable. Prem tickets are printable only if all legs of your journey and all passengers are traveling on Prem fares, iDTGV fares or last minute fares. If you blend fares you will only be given the option to get the tickets by mail. In that event you should either book legs separately or do your search again and only select PREMS. Prems MAY BE blended with iDTGV fares or last minute fares and remain printable. Blending with any other fare caused them to become mail ONLY. PREMS are available on one way and round trip travel. PREMS may be used by children, youth, adults and seniors. It is best to simply enter the number of travelers in the “adult” drop down to obtain PREM fares. Prems are not available on all routes. Prems are internet ONLY fares and cannot be booked via telephone.

iDTGV: iDTGV fares are among the lowest fares the SNCF offers. They can be lower or higher than PREMS. iDTGV tickets are exchangeable before printing, and are non refundable. iDTGV are separate trains that can only be booked on the internet and tickets MUST be printed. IDTGV fares are the ONLY fares offered on iDTGV trains. You will not see PREMS or any other type of fare on this train. You will be given no other fare choice when booking an iDTGV train. IDTGV fares are highlighted in purple. IDTGV fares rise as seats are sold on the train. Be sure to look at first class fares as well. When many of the 2nd class seats have been sold, first class can actually be less expensive. IDTGV tickets may be purchased well in advance. How far in advance is difficult to know as they open up dates randomly. iDTGV's are available on select routes only and generally only offer one time of travel per day on any given route.

LAST MINUTE OFFERS : Last minute offers are internet only tickets and are 50 percent off full fare. They are a good option for last minute travel bookings when prems or idtgv tickets are sold out. New offers are posted 12 am CET every tuesday for travel through the following tuesday. Ticket cannot be exchanged, or refunded. On-line payment. Tickets can be printed at home unless blended with a non-printable fare. In that event they can be picked up at the train station. You must take your reservation number and the credit card used at the time of booking to obtain your tickets.

• DISCOVERY STAY : Discovery stays are 25 percent off full fares. They require round trip travel and a Saturday night stay. They are exchangeable and refundable before departure. Non exchangeable and non refundable ticket after departure. Discovery Stay fares may NOT be printed. You should chose the option Collect your ticket from an automatic ticket machine (except for business cards and the "Frequent Traveller and Flat Rate" season tickets) or from station ticket office or Boutiques (in France only). NOTE: You MUST take your reservation number AND the credit card used at the time of booking to retrieve your tickets. You will NOT be given your tickets otherwise.

REGULAR FARE. : These are full fare tickets and are exchangeable and Refundable at any time. .They may not be printed. You should chose the option Collect your ticket from an automatic ticket machine (except for business cards and the "Frequent Traveller and Flat Rate" season tickets) or from station ticket office or Boutiques (in France only). NOTE: You MUST take your reservation number AND the credit card used at the time of booking to retrieve your tickets. You will NOT be given your tickets otherwise.

• DISCOVERY SENIOR : Non exchangeable and non refundable ticket after departure. Over 60 years. These fares may not be printed. They are usually MORE expensive than PREM fares and should only be chosen when prems are not available.

DISCOVERY CHILD PLUS : Non exchangeable and non refundable ticket after departure. Travel with a child under 12, maximum of 5 passengers. This fare offers a discount not only to the child traveling but also to up to 5 adults traveling with the child. This fare is higher than PREM fares but lower than full fares. Should only be booked when PREMS are not available. This fare is NOT printable.

• FULL CHILD FARE : Exchangeable and Refundable.

BOOKING SNCF TRAIN TICKETS

NOTE: This is written with people in mind that reside in countries that the SNCF does not mail directly to. I have written it particularly for US residents however it should apply to any country that cannot have their tickets mailed.

1. Go to http://voyages-sncf.com
2. Look for the british flag at the bottom left of the page and click on it.
3. Click "advanced Search"
4. In the "going from" enter your departure city
5. In the "going to Box" enter your destination
6. Check the direct route only box if you know that direct service is offered
7. Select single or return
8. Enter outward and return date
9. Enter departure time. If you want to see all the times for the day enter an early hour like 5 am then you can page through all of the times through out the day. This is a good idea if you are seeking out a cheap fare and will travel at any time. Otherwise put in the earliest time you are willing to travel.
10. Select class and leave reservation as yes
11. Enter who is traveling. NOTE: You may put a senior and it will offer PREMS as well as senior fares. However, if you put a child it will only offer a child fare for them and you wont be able to print at all so it is best to enter child as an adult, perform a search and look at prices. Then you can enter adults and child and see which is cheaper.
12. Enter reduced fare card info if you have one which is unlikely for a tourist as they are designed for residents.
13. Select FRANCE as the country where you will collect your tickets.
14. Click submit.
15. You will be presented with your outward journey where you may select the outbound fares. Fares with the yellow background are the cheapest, a blue background is the mid price and grey is most expensive and tends to be flexible. Green background tends to be a class upgrade suggestion.
16. If you do not like the times you may click "see the following trains" to go to the next page of trains.
17. Click on Options to select seating options for the train that you have chosen. If its an iDTGV click on ambience.
18. Once you find the fare / time you want select "choose this outward journey" located next to the choosen time/ fare.
19. You will be presented with return journey fares/ times. Repeate steps 15-18.
20. Once you find the fare / time you want select "choose this return journey" located next to the choosen time/ fare.
21. You may or may not be offered cancellation insurance. Make your selection

ORDER PAGE

1. possible options given to you:

Confirm your order by paying online and choose to:

Print your ticket yourself to save time

Receive your ticket free by post

Collect your ticket from an automatic ticket machine (except for business cards and the "Frequent Traveller and Flat Rate" season tickets) or from station ticket office or Boutiques (in France only).

OR

Choose a single option to be confirmed later:
You must pay and collect your ticket before the XX/XX/20XX at XXhXX sur Voyages-Sncf.com or from an automatic ticket machine (except for trade cards and "Frequent Journey and Season Ticket" rail cards) of from station ticket offices and Boutiques (in France only).

NOTE: Only certain options are available based on the fare you select or the MIX of fares you have selected.
Only PREMS fares for your entire order = Printable
PREMS plus any other fare = MAIL ONLY which is not an option so you need to go back and look for PREMS only
iDTGV = always printable, even when mixed with other fares. You should NEVER select to have tickets mailed if you live in the USA. This is a huge risk and could create massive problems if you do not get them.

2. Select Print ticket if available. If not available select to Collect your tickets. If you only want to make a reservation without paying then you can select to place an option that will expire if not paid for by date given.

3. Enter your surname, first name and E-mail address NOTE: This has nothing to do with the name on printed tickets. This is mearly info on the person placing the order.

4. Leave address info BLANK.
5. Check the box to accept the Conditions of Sale
6. Press confirm
7. You will be taken to a page to enter credit card info etc.
MorganB is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 01:21 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,265
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I wish I could edit! thats "explanation" not "explication" lol
MorganB is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 01:59 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well done, Morgan!!
StCirq is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 02:00 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,605
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You have truly risen to 'sainthood'.. bless you.
Travelnut is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 03:20 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 102
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bravo, MorganB!!!!!!
teaberry is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 03:22 PM
  #6  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,699
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Very good of yout to post this, Morgan.

ira is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 04:34 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,358
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great effort, lots of very useful info. Thank you.
RonZ is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2006, 04:44 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,766
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you Morgan - this should really be helpful to many people!
Sue4 is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 05:32 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 102
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ttt
teaberry is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 05:42 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,563
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Good job, Morgan - this one goes in the France file for sure. Thank you!
Seamus is online now  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 06:08 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,456
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great job, Morgan. If I may add regarding Prem's, this may not be as important as 3-month condition but you can buy them (if not sold out yet) at latest 7 days prior to the travel date = If your train travel is within 7 days, Prem's will not be available. This used to be 14 days but when I checked Prem's site just now, I got the message "today 11 Feb, you can buy the tickets for travels from 18 Feb".
kappa is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 10:04 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 677
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
<<Prems are internet ONLY fares and cannot be booked via telephone.>>

St. Cirq, didn't you tell me that you were able to get PREM fares for your group by telephoning, or did I misunderstand?
Betty1 is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 10:12 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,265
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks all ! Glad you like it. I was tired of answering little pieces here and there so hopefully this will walk people through it.

Kappa, good catch on the last purchase date for the prems, didnt know that.

Betty, I am fairly sure PREMS are internet only but i certainly could be wrong! The sales conditions concerning this fare imply that it is internet only because paiment online is manditory however that could be misleading.
MorganB is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 05:45 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 677
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, MorganB. You have done a great service for me and others by posting this. Though I have bought tickets through the SNCF site before, if you haven't used it recently it can be confusing.

About the Prem fares, I posted a question a couple of days ago about buying multiple tickets - I need 11. The problem is, of course, that you can only buy 6 at a time on the website and if I buy them in 2 stages - 6 and 5 - I might not have everyone in the same car (or even the same train?) at the same price. St. Cirq had suggested I call.

I'm thinking now that I might get the 6 tickets off the website, hopefully at a Prem fare, and then call to see if I can get 5 others in the same car. If it's true that Prem fares are not available by telephone, at least I would have 6 at that price. Or do you think I could try the second purchase on line and see if the seats are nearby before I confirm?

Thanks again, B
Betty1 is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 06:29 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49,560
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Morgan and Betty: Yes, I did buy PREM fares by telephone. They asked me for my email address and sent me a URL to go to to print out the tickets. Don't know if mine was a special case or the norm, but it worked beautifully.

In fact, I have to call them tomorrow because a friend has decided to come to St-Cirq with me on my trip in March and I want to see if I can get her the same PREM fares I got, and seats at least nearby the ones I've already reserved. I'll report on what I find out after I call.
StCirq is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 08:04 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 932
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you Morgan! I was just on the SNCF website and did a *run-thru* for purchasing tickets and of course I didn't see anywhere where it said "United States" ... so I did a search on Fodors for SNCF and your very helpful post appeared!!! Thank you!
katzen is offline  
Old Feb 11th, 2006, 11:58 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,456
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Prem's fare, Online purchase only or not?

Adding to St.Cirq's experience of purchasing by telephone, I can tell the following.

Prem's started as online purchase only fare and it remained so for some time. However since approximately one year now you can buy it at SNCF boutiques and affiliated travel agencies. For example, SNCF boutique in Geneva advertises "Prem's fare for as low as CHF35-39 (= 20-25 euro) for GVA-PAR and GVA-Marseille". So if they do it at their counters, it could well be possible by phone or at least it is not Online only any more.

Perhaps that's why it's getting a bit harder to find Prem's online, it seems to me, nowadays. It is accecible to more people now, not only to internet users.
kappa is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2006, 06:11 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 1,669
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks so much for your very clear explication!
But, can I clarify one thing - in searching for different/cheapest fares, I was going back and forth on the sncf site. When I finally decided on my tickets I went to confirm /purchase, and it was really expensive! Turns out that the site holds on, sort of, to all the previous fares that you just looked at and assumes that you will get them all. So, I went through and hit delete on all the ones that I didn't want. Seems pretty obvious now that I think about it, but it sure scared me at the time.

I have been making our prems reservations, and our group of seven will be in two cars, because of the 6 people limit. Unfortunate, but we will be spending enough time together, a little break might be nice.

But, in all my going back and forth, I ended up using the wrong dates! Aaaak! Is there any way that I can get non exchangeable tickets exchanged, that anyone knows of? I couldn't believe it when I realized. I got a very nice, and firm, reply to my email, saying in a nutshell "Non". I feel like an idiot.
Momliz is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2006, 06:26 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,456
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Momliz, that's terrible! And that's for 7 persons ! I doubt anythingn can be done as you see it's firm "non-refundable". Your might want to try to speak with somebody from SNCF customer service or send e-mail to them to ask for mercy? I'm very skpetic about the result but since the loss is rather big (25 x 7 persons = 175euro?), would that be worth try without expecting much from SNCF?
kappa is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2006, 06:28 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 2,456
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
> ..Turns out that the site holds on, sort of, to all the previous fares that you just looked at and assumes that you will get them all. So, I went through and hit delete on all the ones that I didn't want...

Oh, I noticed that too.
kappa is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -