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Online TGV Booking from the US

Old Jan 11th, 2006, 05:45 PM
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Online TGV Booking from the US

I am trying to book a ticket from the US on the sncf.com site and have a few questions. First, the US does not even show as a country in which tickets can be picked up (even though a large number of other countries do show up). Second, when I try to book a PREM ticket, the only option it give me is delivery by post in France (which will not work since I am trying to take a train directly from CDG after landing). Even when I try to book full fare tickets, I am not give the option to print my ticket online. The one other option I am given for non-PREM tickets it to pick up at a ticket kiosk (which I understand requires a French credit card, which I do not have). So, I can't get the ticket mailed to me in the US, I can't print it out online, and I can't pick it up at a kiosk. Any suggestions as to how I could possibly print this ticket out online or just reserve a PREM fair to pick up at the station would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 06:13 PM
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Maybe some other people will have suggestions as this kind of question has been posted periodically. I do know that you cannot pick up your tickets in the US. SNCF doesn't have outlets in the US, and you can't.

I have never had a problem myself with buying tickets online for PREMs and being given the choice to print them. I did it last summer, for example. You do not have a French credit card to pick them up in France, I don't know why you think you have to have one. Maybe it says that, I don't know, I've just never read that and never had a problem. I don't know if you are making a distinction between a ticket kiosk and just a train station, which is where I've always picked tickets up in France.

I think whenever someone has said this in the past, it turned out to be that the problem was that they were trying to buy the insurance option online, not just the tickets. I've never done that.

You can't print regular tickets online, as far as I know, only the PREMs or idGTVs, so not being given the option to print regular tickets isn't surprising to me. That is because PREMs are nonrefundable and regular tickets are not. Because they are nonrefundable, I think they allow printing yourself.
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 06:30 PM
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The only light I can shed on the need to have a European card is this:
The times I have tried using my US credit card and ATM card in a French train ticket machine, it failed. I was told later that I needed a special chip that we don't have on credit cards issued in the USA.

Most of the kiosk ticket machines do accept euro notes and coins.

After my credit card failed, I had to put in money, and I got my ticket.

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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 06:57 PM
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You cannot book more than 60 days in advance, and for booking from the States, it's best to call and have them sent to you at home. It's fairly easy.

If you're staying at a hotel in Paris prior to boarding the train, then you can have the tickets delivered to the hotel, our you might even ask the hotel to book the passage for you.
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 07:40 PM
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OK, I think I figured it out. I was trying to book 2 PREM and one non-PREM tickets, which defaulted me into not being able to print. I found a third PREM ticket and was able to print them all. So, do I just board the train with my pre-printed ticket or do I somehow need to turn this in for a separate paper ticket? Thanks for answering my stupid questions.
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 10:15 PM
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You don't need to exchange the printed tickets to board the train, just take your printouts with you. (Also, you don't need to punch home-printed tickets in the yellow ticket validating machines that you find in all French stations - these are only for "regular" tickets)
When the ticket collector comes round the train he/she will usually ask for some sort of ID to prove that you are the person named on the ticket. I usually show my passport.
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 11:22 PM
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Just clarify, as menioned on another thread, Prem's tickets can be bought as far as 90 days since sometime. It is said on sncf site somewhere now and I bought one such ticket about 75 days in advance last summer.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 05:37 AM
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There is a great deal going on now - rail europe on all tgv trains - you can go from paris to lyon for 25 bucks (and other routes too, got it in an email.) You have to buy by Jan 30th, and travel by the end of April. they are all 45-65% off...
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 06:00 AM
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Threadbaron, I don't think of using RailEurope as it is a known fact on this board they add lots of mark-up but I was interested in your post so I entered their site for a try. Paris-Lyon 12 March, among many different fares, I actually saw USD26 on a TGV. I selected it then on the following page, funny, the price given was USD36. Did they automatically add USD10 mark-up there then? Even so, it's not too bad though, it's a bit higher than Prem's €25 (=USD30). Perhaps only when I cannot find Prem's fare, I could use this. I hope no more mark-up from that price.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 06:12 AM
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SNCF was advertising 20€ yesterday for Paris - Lyon, so that RailEurope price isn't that great.

Boxtobe - it seems you've figured it out, but to reiterate, just get on the train with your preprinted tickets and be prepared to show ID to the conductor.

You don't have to have a French credit card to buy tickets at the station. I use AMEX all the time at the guichets when I'm picking up tickets.

You can buy PREMS 90 days out from the date of travel now.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 06:16 AM
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Console yourself with knowing that whatever "mark-up" RailEurope attaches it is all going to SNCF since RailEurope is their North American marketing arm and also why you cannot have tickets mailed by SNCF to you in the US.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 07:16 AM
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One thing I noticed on the scnf site when booking a PREM ticket -- the site made me choose a country of residence before buying the ticket, and before selecting whether to print it or have it delivered. Since the US was not an option, I had to select a European country, but then it didn't seem to matter after that, and I could go ahead and buy and print the ticket, using a US credit card.

It is confusing at first when you go through this process, because the default option is to purchase the insurance, which you can't do if you want to print the tickets. It took me a while to figure this out.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 08:20 AM
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Kappa: the $10 RailEurope automatically adds on is for their ticket protection plan, which costs $10 - it seemed to me on their site that it is not presented as optional, which it is - anything you see on the RailEurope site can be bought thru RailEurope agents, who may not charge some of RE's handling fees and the $10 protection plan - for example Budget Europe (800-441-2387) works thur RailEurope and can sell anything you see on RE site and won't charge the $15 mailing fee or $10 insurance plan - i think they charge a $5 mailing fee on low-cost orders. RailEurope has changed their French point-point tickets this year to market pricing where yes you may well find some extraordinary bargains much like the PREM fares on sncf web site. And yes, though SNCF is the controlling parent of RailEurope, RailEurope is a subsidiary operating as an independent corporation in the US. The President of RailEurope is always appointed by SNCF and comes from the SNCF. I'm not sure SNCF however controls 100% of RailEurope.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 08:53 AM
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Are reservations absolutely needed for tgv or advanced tickets needed for them because I too as a newbie to snfc site am having trouble. Can you just buy them when you arrive at airport cdg.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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Resersvations are required for the TGV, but all that means technically is that you have to have a ticket in hand at least 5 minutes before the train departs.

Yes, you can just buy them when you get there, but you may not get on the train you want, and you can't take advantage of the (sometimes deeply) discounted ticket fares.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 12:07 PM
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I've been reading this thread, and definitely have a question. We'll be travelling from Paris to Aix this spring, by TGV. Haven't booked yet, but
when I go on the sncf website, I'm having trouble finding PREM. Can anyone tell me where I find that option? Do I have to be a member? Thanks.....
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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Go to www.sncf.com. On the home page, click on the box directly above the words "l'agent de voyage en ligne." When the next window opens, look at the right-hand side of the page. You'll see the PREMs and iDTGV there, right next to the box you fill in with your dates and times.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 12:20 PM
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Hi tea,

When you buy your Paris/Aix TGV ticket 90 days in advance on http://www.voyages-sncf.com, if there are PREMS fares available they will be shown.

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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Good point from ira - when you plug in your dates and times you'll be given choices, and the prices will be displayed along with a message that tells you if it's a PREM fare.

The ones that show up on the main screen are just the ones they're promoting right now.
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Old Jan 12th, 2006, 12:35 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the input - it is much appreciated. I bought tickets for he very end of March, so more than 75 days out. Looks like the 90 day availability is confirmed. Strangely, it did not offer a PREM ticket for my child, so I bought an adult ticket instead. There were no issues when I printed the adult ticket showing a child date of birth. Hopefully there will be no issues once I am on the train.
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