I'm planning to visit France this coming in April. Perhaps for a week. My travel will involve several provinces such as Paris, Burgundy, Provence & Normandy. I think TGV is my only option as I need to save precious time for sight-seeing. May I know which rail service I should order ticket from? Eurostar? Rail Europe? and what sort of ticket pass I should get?
Please advice & I'm willing to disclose necessary details here. Thank you for helping!
PS: I'm from Malaysia.
You should only need TGV for long distance travel. Do consider flying long distances as there are a number of cheap airlines which will do the journey in an hour.
The Paris Metro (subway) is good for getting around Paris as there is a lot to see there but be careful of pickpockets. Pick up a map (Plan) where you buy your ticket. Tickets are flat rate in Paris (more to outside) so you can buy a number at one time to save queuing up. From Paris, Gare St Lazare you can get a train to Rouen or Caen (Normandy). From Rouen, a train runs down to Marseille (I think around 8:50 am? most mornings).
April is low season so you will have no trouble picking up tickets at the stations. You MUST validate a ticket before getting on the train. Before you go to the platform, you will see people using small punch machines.
A travel guide like Lonely Planet on France is a good investment. Budget accommodation in Paris:
Note. Weather may be wet in much of April in northern France.
As far as I know, the only cheap airline I know is Ryanair. Do I have any other options? Anyway, because my trip will involve Paris-Lyon-Burgundy-Provence-Normandy. Basically, it's like a journey that walks around the boundary of France. Hence, I'm considering travelling via train services (including TGV)
Is there an universal Metro ticket pass that works in France? I certainly do wish that there's a universal pass that works with Metro & TGV (and come with a price!) to save the hassle. How much does a metro ticket cost in Paris?
Speaking of train, by which you mean TGV? and I'm still thinking of which service provider I should go for or they're all the same i.e. charging the same rate to foreigner? Since I'm from Malaysia, the only way to claim my pre-order ticket would be the main station right?
Rail Europe is good, but you can save a little coin if you purchase from Thalys or SNCF. It is generally cheaper to say you are in France. I have given an address in France (a hotel) and then said I would pick up the tickets at the station without any problem. The problem is that you need to navigate the site in French, if you choose another language, it assumes you are international, moves you over to the international site and you might not get the cheapest tickets available. It is worth trying to navigate in French.
Check out The Man in Seat 61 for all sorts of great details, including details on how to book online.
You might want to read the section on France on this site:
It is the first red section when you scroll down.
This is "advanced rail ticketing", equivalent to booking a Round-the-world-ticket on your own over the internet.
May I know which rail service I should order ticket from? Eurostar? Rail Europe? and what sort of ticket pass I should get?
You got 2 options:
Just buy everything online from SNCF by navigating the site in French as GregW described above.
Buy a France-Eurail pass from www.eurail.com.
I personally would look at the prices SNCF asks, add them together and then compare them to the price of the Eurail pass. Also take flights into account, www.skyscanner.net is a good site.
I realize it's a very long and expensive journey from Malaysia to France
but with only a week you are planning on attempting far too much.
Paris, Normandy, Burgundy and Provence is just too much in the time
you have available. You'd spend more time on trains and planes than
Paris is a given... I'd recommend picking one other place and even then
you'll only likely have 2 days max to spend.
By all means come back and we can help you refine things but with the
time you have you'll need to be very selective.
As far as trains... check the Trip Advisor forum and do a search for
"morganb"... there is an exhaustive tutorial on using the SNCF
website. Don't use RailEurope or you'll probably pay much more for
the same ticket!
Thanks t_maia, GregW & robc8!
Sorry for late reply. FYI, I'm taking a 2-week leaves to explore France as much as I can (I hope!). I might have to delay my trip to...perhaps early of June? My friends and I were thinking that France in summer may offer more to see than in spring. I heard that certain regions in France such as in Alps region in central France are closed in spring due to snow precipitation. That isn't good as we would love to see the Alpine flora ablaze at the Alps. One of the places I know which can offer such a view is Lautaret Alpine Botanical Garden, which i was thinking to go after visiting Lyon. According to the info I got from it's official site, the garden opens only in early June. If anyone knows anywhere else that looks as great as the garden in spring, please inform me, ya?
My concern is that if the plan is changed to early of June, will the rates of hostel, tickets & bills being jacked up to foreign tourists? Still, amount of tourists is my concern too.
Oh, I will visit the french site of SNCF later. Will come back here again if I'm lost.
Thanks again! Merci!
I just fooled around with the ticket reservation at voyages-SNCF. Most of the tickets to Dijon or Lyon can cost more than 30 Euro! Is that a normal rate when travelling by TGV? On top of that, it seems that idTGV offers much cheaper fare for youth, but can I use the ticket even though I'm a foreigner with age below 25?
Ah! Just checked on Eurail and found out that there's no such thing as One Country Pass for France! What a bummer seeing that I'm only traveling in France in this coming spring/summer! guess my best option is to navigate SNCF in french eh?
You can use the Englsih version of the SNCF site for planning
and checking prices. Switch to french if you're ready to buy
or you'll be redirected to RailEurope where you'll pay more.
The lowest SNCF prices show up 90 days before a departure