For those of you who want to travel in France alone, without Tour & Travel, and if you want to take a train from one city to another, you definitely have to take care of the train ticket alone. Well, here are tips and how to get cheap train tickets in France.
The train in France is operated by SNCF. Train tickets can be purchased starting from 90 days before departure. To buy a train ticket in France, you can buy it from the Trainline, Raileurope, or SNCF Voyages website. I suggest to buy tickets from SNCF Voyages, because SNCF Voyages is the official website of the SNCF. The price offered by the Trainline is approximately the same as the SNCF Voyages, but what I don’t like from the Trainline is that in one booking it can only be for 5 people. If you want to add more people, yes you can, just “Add to Cart”, but it’s different with the booking code. In my opinion, it’s rather complicated huh. But the good thing is, the Trainline’s payment method can use Paypal, not only Credit Cards. While SNCF Voyages only accept credit cards with 3D Secure Payment.
In France there are fast trains and regular trains. Fast trains usually only serve routes from / to major cities in France. While the regular train serves the route to a small town in France. This regular train, called TER, is operated by SNCF as well. There are 3 types of super-fast trains in France: TGV, iDTGV, and Ouigo. The difference lies in price and route. The most expensive price is TGV. Whereas iDTGV and Ouigo are cheaper than TGV. Even though both trains are fast. Ouigo is usually priced at 10 Euros one way. For TGV it costs around 25 Euros one way. Because iDTGV and Ouigo are cheap, so if you buy a ticket right before D-Day, it will definitely be more expensive. So here are tips, if you want to buy a cheap iDTGV or Ouigo train ticket, you have to buy it in advance. IDTGV or Ouigo train tickets can also only be purchased online.
The routes offered by TGV are usually from big cities to other big cities. Ouigo is also the same as TGV, serving routes from big cities to other big cities, but the difference is that the location of the station is different from TGV. Ouigo train station is usually located on the outskirts of the city, if the TGV train station is in the center of the city. Whereas iDTGV only serves the route from Paris to the south of France, or vice versa.
As I mentioned above, I recommend buying train tickets directly from the SNCF official website, which is SNCF Voyages. If you want a cheap train ticket, of course it must be from its official website and in its original language, French. Yes, on the SNCF Voyages website we can choose the country, if you choose a country other than France, for example “Europe (other countries)”, the language changes to English. But the price of a train ticket and how to get a ticket also changed. Therefore, I suggest choosing only France, even if you have to use French. Because if we choose France it is assumed that they are selling train tickets for local French people, so the price is cheaper. But these cheap tickets at SNCF France Voyages quickly run out too, so as soon as there are cheap tickets, they have to be bought immediately, otherwise the cheap tickets can go up and the price goes up again.
So, at that time I wanted to buy a TGV train ticket for Paris – Bordeaux, I checked on the SNCF Voyages whose France was cheaper than the European (other countries) SNCF Voyages. Because at that time I was still hesitant about buying a train ticket or not, so I waited a few days. Uh apparently when I was sure I wanted to buy, the price of tickets at Voyages SNCF France actually went up and the price was the same as that of Europe (other countries). Finally I bought the tickets through Europe (other countries) SNCF Voyages.
When I want to buy a TER Bordeaux St.Jean – St.Foy La Grande train ticket, as usual, I checked on France’s SNCF Voyages, and the price is cheaper than Europe (other countries) SNCF Voyages. This time I got a different experience than before: how to get a train ticket is different. Maybe this case appeared because I bought a TER train ticket. For Europe (other countries), there is no “Print at Home” option to get tickets. Most only can the “Collection From an Automatic Ticket Machine”, and must show a credit card physically when at the train station later, and make sure at the train station there is an Automatic Ticket Machine. Because I don’t want to be complicated anymore at the train station, I just want the one who can “Print at Home”. Fortunately, when I checked in France’s SNCF Voyages there was a “Print at Home” option. After purchasing a train ticket at France’s SNCF Voyages, I also received a confirmation email from its SNCF Voyages. There is a link to get the e-ticket. The key word is “Billet Imprimer”. This e-ticket can be printed, it can also be downloaded on the cellphone.
But for routes to major cities, this Europe (other countries) SNCF Voyages’s method for getting tickets is “Print at Home” too. It looks like depends on the route and the type of train too. When I bought a ticket through Europe (other countries) SNCF from Paris-Bordeaux, I got the e-ticket via email.
The next question is “How do you buy a train ticket in French if you don’t speak French?” This is an easy matter, just suppose what data should be entered, for example First Name, Last Name, Date of Birth, etc. If you’re confused, just use Google Translate 😀
Oh yes, if you are 12-25 years old there is sometimes a discount on the train ticket. For those aged 60 years and over there is also sometimes a discounted price. There’s even a discount card for sale, valid for 1 year. But for me, who travel in France for only a few days, this is no use to me. In my opinion, discounted tickets like that would be very useful if you lived in France for a long period of time.