SNCF 1st or 2nd class?

Old Feb 23rd, 2001, 10:04 PM
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SNCF 1st or 2nd class?

We'll be taking the train from Perigueux to Paris (4 adults w/luggage). It's been many years since I've taken the train in France. What's the difference between 1st class and 2nd class cars? I've checked and the prices seem pretty close (about $25 more each). Also, does anyone have advice about the best way to get a discount ticket? This is the only time we'll use the train on our trip. Thanks for your help.
Old Feb 24th, 2001, 06:18 AM
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I travel SNCF's non-TGV lines out of Gare de Lyon about yearly. Used to live in France and travelled SNCF every month or so. My wife and I still argue over whether or not the price difference vs. the comfort is justified. For us both, we see the difference as being in the seats and we both agree that the seats in premiere class are somewhat better. Most or all recline and they are as or more spacious than a business class airline seat, though not as comfortable. Last time we took 2nd class (a good 10 years ago), the seat upholstery stood out as not quite as nice as 1st and less cushiony, but still quite comfortable.
It occurs to me that you might be basing your thinking on the significant differences between classes on the airlines. ABSOLUTELY NO COMPARISON! Torture class or whatever they call it on airlines is vastly WORSE than anything on SNCF.
One note of caution. You have a choice of fumeur or nonfumeur cars. Whether you smoke or not, fumeur cars will contain dense, noxious clouds of grey-green smoke composed of the effluent from every kind of coarse weed they smoke in France. Even passing through a fumeur car makes my clothes reek. If you ever are booked into fumeur or have no other choice, hold out for the next train! Be warned!!!
Old Feb 24th, 2001, 08:02 AM
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On the Périgueux-Paris line, there is little difference between 1st and 2nd class, except that 1st class seats are more comfortable and there will be fewer passengers in the car most likely. Also, you are fairly likely to have to change at Limoges (no big deal - the trains pull up beside each other and you hop to the next track), and if so, it's possible that on the first leg of your journey, from Périgueux to Limoges, you'll have only one choice of seating - rustic.
There are a number of discounts available to you if you buy your tickets in France. There is one for purchasing the tickets 8 or more days in advance, for example, and another for two or more members of the same family traveling together. The SNCF website outlines these in some detail.
Old Feb 24th, 2001, 10:39 PM
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For the little bit extra, we go ahead and buy 1st class. Depending on the train, you can often get an enclosed cabin to yourselves, which is nice if you want to stretch out or even nap (some of the cars have nicely padded benches). The non-smoking cars are definitely in better condition than smoking, whatever your preference.

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