TGV tickets...

May 20th, 2010, 06:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 36
TGV tickets...

argh, it's all in french and my french is less than non-existant.
i supposes i should have expected that......!

trying to get a ticket from Paris to Lourdes and back, and book it from North America.
should i engage a travel agent or show up at the Montparnasse train station in the hopes that a anglais speaking agent will be available there?

thank you.

SNCF booking site..
apscoradiales is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,505
Go to and enter the UK as your country of origin. It is in ENglish !
Pvoyageuse is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 06:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,058
The key information you need is not in French - it's the timetables and the prices. Have you been able to identify which trains you want to take?

If you book online you may save loads of money, plus save yourself the trouble of waiting in line and having to composte your tickets. And no, not all agents speak English.

You can use the English version of the SNCF website to find trains and price them out, then revert to the French to make the purchase. When it asks what country you're in, say UK, even though that's not the case.

I doubt an American travel agent can do much better than you're doing, unless you find a francophone one.
StCirq is online now  
May 20th, 2010, 07:08 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13,432
book on line and save.. as StCirq said, follow Pvoy...suggestion
danon is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 08:11 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,916
It's a minor detail, but when you go to and click on the "Select your country" drop-down list, you'll need to choose Great Britain. The United Kingdom is not on the list.
TimS is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,465
YOu are definitely going to be able to find an agent at the train station who speaks English enough to sell you a ticket.

DOn't buy a ticket blindly by claiming you live somewhere else if you intend to then say you want it mailed to you.
Christina is online now  
May 20th, 2010, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,916
The point of saying you live in Great Britain is to keep the site in English without being bumped to the Rail Europe site which doesn't offer discount fares. If you book far enough in advance to get a Prem's fare, you can print the tickets yourself. For any other fare you can pick up the tickets at any SNCF station in France even though you have said you live in Great Britain.
TimS is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 11:00 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,103
apscoradiales--I was so used to using Morgan's Guide to Booking TGV tickets, but I had not done so for a few years. A month or two ago, I was in total shock that I kept getting RailEurope whenever I tried to book in English.

Some Tips:
1) Seat61 has a rather good guide to booking your tickets in French, but just going to the Seat 61 website can lead you down lots of paths to, you guessed it, RailEurope, where you do NOT want to go. Instead of "passing jail", go directly to this URL: to use
(This may not come up as a complete hyperlink, but copying/pasting in the browser will work)

and scroll down until you see this heading:

"So is there a catch? Do I have to book in French?"

You will able to find detailed explanations with screen shots. You really don't need to know French with this help. By checking these fares on SNCF, you get to see ALL the fares.

2) If you know you want to book idTGV (often cheaper than anything else and something you can print at home), you might want to go directly to

3)If you successfully navigate, buy, and confirm your reservation but cannot get anything further to print (provided you bought PREMS or idTGV and chose the print option), try using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

4) After having print problems (see Firefox vs IE above) when I finally got to the my "names of party page" for my idTGV reservations, I saw two PDF guides in the corner that would have been helpful BEFORE I got to that page:

5)Last but not least, do remember that by buying PREMs or idTGV tickets, you not only can print them but also can save the tickets to file and then email them as attachments if necessary. I have always been able to keep a back-up file of my PREMS this way in cyberspace, and when I've had to meet other parties at the station, they have been able to print out their own tickets back at their own homes without problems.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 11:23 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,916
AllesandreZoe, is an excellent resource, but there is a simpler way to book tickets for travel in France than what is suggested on that site. Just follow the instructions that Pvoyageuse and I have given. is a multi-language SNCF site. The timetables and fares--including all discount fares--are the same on that site as they are on I'll say it again. To keep the site in English and to avoid being bumped to the Rail Europe site which doesn't offer discount fares, choose Great Britain as your country of residence. If you get a Prem's fare, print the ticket yourself. For any other fare you'll be given the option of picking up your ticket at any SNCF station in France.
TimS is offline  
May 20th, 2010, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,513
When using TGV-Europe you can also choose Canada as your English-language base for purchasing tickets on-line. SNCF recently liberated Canada from the RailEurope price squeeze.

The blog Paris by Train includes a step-by-step English guide to buying TGV tickets, walking the tourist through the procedure by illustrating each page in the order process. The blog includes photos inside the biggest Paris stations to help the newcomer navigate.
Southam is offline  

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