Monday, 14 February 2011

Finding Cheap Train Fares

As is now usual for us, when we went to Paris at the beginning of the month we went by bus and train: bus from Preuilly to Tours, train from Tours to Paris. The bus cost us the princely sum of €1.70, the train €17 each.

Ken asked last year how we manage to find such cheap train fares. Our secret is to book early - the tickets become available three months in advance, and as there are only a certain number of cheap seats on each train these tend to go early for the popular times. We prefer to catch the bus to Tours, and unfortunately, the bus coincides with the popular train times.

If you have some flexibility getting to the station (or are prepared to hang around in Tours for a couple of hours) there are nearly always some €17 each way seats available, even for the next day. The trick until now has been finding them.

Recent changes to the SNCF Billets site has made finding them easier.

You start by entering the Stations (or towns) you are travelling between. Then just put in the date you want to travel, and check the "Trouvez les meilleurs prix sur un mois" box and click the Rèservez button. On the screen that comes up choose the day you want to travel. This will show you all the fares available for that date, then all you have to do is scroll down to find the cheap one. Usually for us it is the last train of the evening (which arrives in Paris at 11.00pm), but even a few days before you travel there are often tickets available on the midday train.

When travelling from Tours Central to Paris it is often cheaper to buy a ticket from St Pierre des Corps and just purchase a navette ticket (€1.20) between Tours and St P.d.C. on the day: when I was writing this the cheapest fares for tomorrow from Tours to Paris Montparnasse were €31.50 whilst from St Pierre des Corps the cheapest were €17.00.

Simon

6 comments:

ckb said...

I'm going to Paris in March, but by regular train, not TGV. I go from Onzain, which is the most practical station for us. Walt drives me up there (near Blois). The train takes about 90 minutes to get to Austerlitz station in Paris. My fare is 10€ each way. The tickets are Prems tickets — not modifiable, not reimbursable — for specific trains on specific days. And they need to be bought well in advance of the travel date.

I've been using the 10€ tickets from Onzain to Paris and back for a couple of years now. I thought the TGV would be a lot more expensive than what you are paying. You're getting a good deal.

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Not quite sure how Sue does it but we book the TGV from Australia 90 days out and pretend we're are French. There is quite a saving on booking while you're in France.
Leon

The Beaver said...

Ken

I am planning to get PREM tickets on TGV from St Pierre des Corps to Montparnasse @ 22E or 29E depending on whether I want to leave at noon or 13:10 ( 90 days out). I got the alert from SNCF when they go on sale

Simon said...

TB: is that a Friday? you should be able to get tickets for €17 on all trains as long as you book on the first day they become available. A hint -the 14.22 train from St PdC always has prems available after they have gone on the 12.10 or 13.03.

Leon - considerable savings - all you have to do is guess what the french words mean!

Ken - I like my speed, I do :)

GaynorB said...

This is really useful information.
If there was a bus from my village in the UK into the local town, it would cost £2.00 for a 4 mile journey!

The Beaver said...

Simon

No, it is on a Saturday. I should look at the 14:22 train then - we were debating about the time since we have to get out of the gîte at 10 AM and we would like to return the car at the same time we picked it up or even before so that we don't pay an extra day on the rental.