Train/RER Tips

Nov 27th, 2006, 10:54 AM
  #1  
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Train/RER Tips

My husband and I going to Normandy in April/07. I've been reading several of the posts regarding rental car and train/RER travel. We're doing a reverse route (I confess I copied it from an upscale tour company I found!) than what I see most people post. Our plan is to go by RER from CDG to Versailles, pick up our rental car there and do our trip through part of Brittany and on to Normandy ending with a car drop off in Rouren and returning to Paris via train for our last 3 nights. Luggage will be light.

I've seen some discussion of people buying train tickes in advance via the internet. Pros and cons of doing so? As first timers on these modes of travel - any tips?

Thank you!!
patandhank is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:02 AM
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ira
 
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Hi P,

You will be taking the RER, not the SNCF.

You buy your tickets at the train station at CDG 2.

Directions are at www.ratp.fr for Aeroport Charles de Gaulle 2 TGV to Versailles-Rive Gauche or Rive Droit.

ira is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:10 AM
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The RER is a commuters' train, you can't buy tickets via internet for it (and you can't reserve either, don't worry, the price doesn't vary). Just buy your ticket in Roissy-CDG train station when you arrive.
norween is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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BTW the RER C (to Versailles) is an SNCF train
norween is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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I think your itinerary makes some sense. You certainly don't need to do any rail reservations to get to Versailles, but you there's nothing wrong with checking out "best times to buy SCNF rail" for your return from Rouen, although I suspect even that could be left to the last minute.

MorganB has published a terrific guide to rail reservations--with several editions!--on this site. I suggest a search under MorganB French Rail .

Part of me wonders why, though, you wouldn't take the TGV from Paris to Rennes in Bretagne, rent the car there, work your way up the coast to Rouen and THEN take rail back to Paris. Was there a reason?
josephina is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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ira
 
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Hi N,

Interestingly, SNCF not only won't sell tickets to Versailles over the internet, they also don't list the same route as RATP.

ira is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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What route does the sncf suggest for Versailles (and where from) ?
The ratp site includes all the RER lines (ratp AND sncf)
The Transilien site (sncf / local branch) tends to favor the sncf trains
And the sncf site ignores all other companies like ratp.
norween is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:36 AM
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ira
 
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SNCF says to take the RER B to Montparnasse and then the SNCF train.
ira is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:54 AM
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You can find the same itineraies on both sncf and ratp : it depends on wich station you put in for Versailles : Rive Droite will be via Montparnasse (and a "not RER" train) and Rive Gauche or Chantiers via RER C
(with some minor variations depending on the hour entered : the last RER leaves before the last train from Montparnasse)
norween is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 11:56 AM
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I would have thought that the SNCF would say to take the train from Saint Lazare! Everybody knows that the Versailles-Chantiers station served by Montparnasse is the least convenient of the 3 Versailles stations.
kerouac is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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Wow - thanks that was quick!

Thanks for the pointer on the CDG location to catch the train.

I used the website for RER and that's why I was saying RER to Versailles. It showed RER C.

Josephina thanks for the tip on MorganB - I'll do the search. We're doing this route because our focus is Normandy and we're only going to dip into Brittany. We are going to head over to Nantes from Versailles then on to Mont St Michel to Bayeux to Rouen and then back to Paris.

You guys make it all sound so easy!
patandhank is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 12:24 PM
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The other route CDG-Versailles involves hopping TGVs from the airport to Paris-Massy, where you can change to train to Versailles.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 12:25 PM
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In fact you can probably pick up your rental car at Massy, on the southern outskirts of Paris.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 12:36 PM
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Why Nantes? We found ourselves passing near there once, but couldn't find any promising information in our guidebook. So we kept on driving. I seem to recall a waiter telling us there's good shopping there(?).

Now I'm curious!
JeanneB is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 12:45 PM
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Nantes is a fairly pleasant sea-faring town. Rather suave boulevards and parcs.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 01:08 PM
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The standard 2nd class fare from Rouen to Paris is E18.90. PREM'S (discount) fares bought online at sncf.com can be as low as E10.00. Book up to 90 days in advance and print them yourself. However, note that they are non-exchangeable and non-reimburseable.
TimS is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 01:08 PM
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Found the MorganB post. Haven't even read it - just highlighted and printed! Just from glancing at it something I would want to have.

JeanneB - it was more the location and roads to head north. Guide book does give it 3 *** versus ** for other spots in that area. Honestly - we're "winging it" in staying there.

Josephina - the other reason is that we didn't want to back track to Versailles if we went to Rennes.

Given that there are two ways to get to Versailles, anybody know which is closer (or does it matter?) to the Hertz car rental at 1 Rue des Chantiers Sopres Versailles?
patandhank is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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Gosh, what a mess ...

Methinks I have to put things clearer here.

Ira, the SNCF runs the northern part of Line B, from CDG/Mitry to Gare du Nord., with SNCF railway engineers, on RFF tracks, with SNCF signalling. There is a driver change at GdN and from there to the southrn termini the line is under RATP responsibility, with RATP signalling, etc...

The difference is zilch to the average person, don't worry.

The Voyages-SNCF.com website won't sell Transilien (= the commercial name of the SNCF trains within Île-de-France, including the RER lines under its responsibility : Line C, Line D, line E, north of Line B and the Cergy/Poissy branches of Line A from Nanterre Préfecture) or other RER tickets.

I don't know why you would want to book in advance a _commuter railway_ trip, anyhow.

Versailles Rive Droite, as its name indicates, is the terminus of the SNCF line that runs over the Rive Droite: Right Bank of the Seine and goes to Paris Saint Lazare, not Paris Montparnasse.

Versailles Chantiers is served by trains from Paris Montparnasse and also by RER C trains.

Versailles Rive Gauche is served by trains that run on the line following the Left Bank of the Seine, that is the RER C (check on a map).

I doubt the SNCF website can give you such a journey as "Line B to Montparnasse" since Line B never ever called at Montparnasse and never will.

Norween, the SNCF and the RATP website use the same train database and the same algorithm by Navitia. I would be grateful if you gave me a documented example where the SNCF website favors SNCF trains.

As to the TGV option... it is kind of the most cumbersome (and expensive!)

The easy solution being:

Take the RER B from CDG to Saint Michel, change here for RER C westbound (important) towards Versailles RIVE GAUCHE (very important - NOT Versailles Chantiers, which is the terminus of the circular services, that you would reach after endless travel through the suburbs).
superheterodyne is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 01:56 PM
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Superheterodyne - thanks so much!
patandhank is offline  
Nov 27th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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You're welcome !
superheterodyne is offline  

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