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Question about "no reservation required" trains at SNCF site

Question about "no reservation required" trains at SNCF site

Old May 28th, 2004, 08:35 PM
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Question about "no reservation required" trains at SNCF site

Hi there,

I'm going to be spending 3 weeks in France this summer and will be taking the train 5 times while there.

I just checked the SNCF site, and 4 out of the 5 trips indicate that "no reservation is required". Is it possible to reserve my seats through the site anyway? As I'll have to reserve my spot on one of the trains, it might just give me piece of mind to reserve them all. Or can I presume that if they don't require reservations, that getting seats won't be a problem?

Also, given that I'll be traveling in August, if I DON'T reserve my seats, how long in advance will I need to be at the stations to ensure a seat? (the "no reservation" trips are Dijon-Beaune, Beaune-Lyon, Lyon-Arles and Arles-Marseille).

Thanks in advance,
tania
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Old May 29th, 2004, 04:06 AM
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I'm not positive about this as I've never tried to reserve a seat on those short runs, I don't think there is any need to. However, I didn't think you even can make reservations on many short runs, for example, Dijon-Beaune. I just looked at the web site for that run, and on the particular time I chose (around 10 am), it said the train was "sans reservation" and was not available to reserve.

I think the web site is fairly clear in the boxes that if you pick you want to reserve a seat, when it comes back when the fare and info, it will tell you if you can reserve or not. In that same trip on the English section, it says "no reservation required" instead of "sans reservation), but perhaps you didn't notice that there is a red statement at the top of the page that says "you cannot make reservations". If you can, I think it will let you.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 04:17 AM
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To add to Christina's comments: at some point you will notice an "Options" tab - if you click on this, it normally allows you to specify what kind of seats you want. In the case of, e.g., Lyon-Beaune, it says "no places available" which implies that these are small local trains that don't take reservations.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 05:12 AM
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Hi Tania,

I suggest thta you get to the station 15 min before departure. This will give you time to find out which track your train will be on and where it is.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 05:40 AM
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Even on routes that allow reservations I have never needed them. On our first trip We had them but I quickly realized that they were an unnecessary waste of money.On special Panaromic trains in first class they are often required and necessary.Getting to the station early is often a waste of time as the trains don't usually arrive until a few minutes before departure.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 07:17 AM
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I'll present the opposing view: it never hurts to have a seat reservation. I took trains through France this week and last and they were all absolutely packed. Every--and I mean EVERY--seat was reserved for almost the entire journey (people with a reservation would get off at one town and someone would board at the same town with a reservation for the same seat for the rest of the journey). There were many, many Americans stuck in the aisles with their luggage try to find seats to no avail. Some took reserved seats and shamefully tried to avoid relinquishing them to the rightful seat holder, creating unpleasant scenes.
Since you're trips are fairly short, you should be able to find a seat or two available.
Re times on boarding the train, it's not a waste of time if the station is the train's starting point...those trains are often there in advance. Otherwise, they will only be in the station for about 3 to 10 minutes.
Hopefully, you'll be traveling fairly light. With baggage compartments closed off, people are having to put all their luggage either above or under their seats. Try not to bring any luggage that you can't lift over your head.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 07:20 AM
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On our first-ever trip to Europe we didn't get seat reservations for the Rome-Florence part of our journey, with the result that we sat on our luggage in the gangway by the toilet the whole time. Not fun.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 08:02 AM
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Thanks, everyone. Your imput's been very helpful. The only trip I'll need to actually make a reservation for is Paris-Dijon. I think I'll just get to the train station early to reserve my seat and then just buy the rest of my tickets while there (without seat assignment) so that at least when I'm making the other trips, I won't be stuck in line at local train stations, waiting to buy a ticket and chancing it that they might sell out.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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Just keep in mind that buying a ticket doesn't automatically get you a place to sit.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 08:45 AM
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BT: was it full in first class ?In the dozens of train trips we've taken throughout Europe all in high season I can't remember a time when anyone had to stand in first class,that's why I stopped paying the high fees for reservation on tickets we purchased from the U.S.This is travelling with 2 kids.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 10:26 AM
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Yes, first class was completely booked. I'd say first class was full with an overflow of about 20%. At points, I walked around a bit and saw that some of the second class compartments looked almost like a subway at rush hour.
Tania, I'm not sure you can get a reservation so close to the time the train should leave...I can't be certain about France (I had all my French train reservations days ahead of time) but in Italy, I tried to get a reservation on a seat from Milan to Como an hour before departure and was told that was too late.
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Old May 29th, 2004, 10:58 AM
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BT: thanks for info,The trains we took in France was eurostar London-paris,paris-Deauville & back.I guess if you find yourself standing in the aisle a reservation might develop more value.
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