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Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
37 posts
Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

Hello TA Contributors,

I am looking to purchase r/t train tickets from Paris to Strasbourg during the Christmas season. I went into the train.eu and oui.sncf websites and tickets are now available for sale. Since these are non-refundable tickets I want to make sure I don't make any mistakes when I purchase same online. Any insights/tips?

• Is it better to download the oui.sncf app and download the tickets onto my phone? OR should I request the print option? Should I then request the pdf version?

• What should I input into the phone field? I tried putting in my 10 digit U.S. phone # but got a message that the "following field is not a valid mobile number." I put in the area code in the first box and the 7 digit number in the 2nd box. How can I rectify this? I noticed that the first box had +33 already in there and I deleted it when I put in my number.

• Are the train authorities strict with the checked luggage size? I'll be travelling with a 25" suitcase. Does this meet with the size requirements? Since I'm traveling from NYC to Paris roundtrip I'm allowed 20kg and so my weight will be close to that.

• I might add a day trip to Colmar from Strasbourg if time permits. Should I purchase that ticket now or will the tickets be much more if I waited till around Dec 26/27 to buy the tickets in Strasbourg?

Thank you very much for whatever insights you can offer. I'm looking forward to my Christmas trip to Paris. I've purchased my air tickets and just need to get my train tickets and accommodation sorted out sooner than later!

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16 replies to this topic
paris london
Level Contributor
5,440 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

- Whichever you prefer. I like to print out multiple copies of important tickets and keep each in a different place (just in case of luggage loss).

- Use your hotel's phone number.

- For the trains with size limits, yes. Make sure you understand what you're booking and the T&C.

- Wait. You might change your mind, but the price won't change.

Edited: 19 October 2018, 22:28
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,152 posts
37 reviews
2. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

re: phone - try putting in +1 first for a US number, and I think it should work

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
37 posts
3. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

Thank you for your prompt responses, nomarmite and msn110.

• Okay, so I will request the print option for my tickets. Should I request the ticket be sent as a pdf?

• I will try putting a 1 first and see if that works. I am loathe to give the phone # of my hotel because I'm not sure if I'll be in Paris or Strasbourg when or if the train authorities decide to get in touch with me via phone. My other problem is that I won't be able to use my phone to receive calls when I'm in France. I will only be able to access my e-mails on my phone by tapping into wifi. What do they do with the phone # provided - do they send text messages?

• I will wait to buy my ticket from Strasbourg to Colmar since as nomarmite said I might change my mind about going to Colmar if I feel that I haven't seen everything I wanted to see in Strasbourg.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
1,246 posts
13 reviews
4. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

We purchased our tickets Strasbourg at the station a week or so before our trip. We asked for seat reservations and the two men behind the counter kinda smiled at each other and assured us that there was no need to spend the extra money as there would be plenty of seats avail.

I don't remember the day, not a holiday period, but possibly on a Friday. When we boarded the train with our luggage and it was packed, standing room only for at least an hour. The few vacant seats were marked 'reserved'. After passing the station shown on the reserved sign, and waiting another 10-15 minutes, we took a chance and grabbed those seats.

Fortunately they never appeared and we kept the seats all the way to Strasbourg and no one said anything. Of course we were prepared to vacate the seats if anything had been said.

Looking back at the two agent smiling and chuckling ... I think that they did it deliberately... at our expense.

So, my advice... pay the extra on any train over a few hours and buy reservations.

Ireland
Level Contributor
287 posts
23 reviews
5. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

I’ve never received a phone call despite buying numerous French train tickets, so I think you can very safely put your hotel’s number and not worry.

You mention that the oui.sncf tickets are non-refundable. I guess you have noticed, but they also sell tickets that are fully or approx. 90% refundable and exchangeable either for free or a small charge. Often these tickets are not much more expensive. Personally I prefer to pay a bit more for more flexible tickets so as to insure against changed plans, missed connections

, etc.

San Rafael...
Level Contributor
1,152 posts
30 reviews
6. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

We traveled from Paris to Strasbourg in August and I also had a lot of problems with the phone number field on the SNCF website. Nothing I tried, including suggestions I received here, would work. It seems to be a glitch for those of us in the US. Ultimately I used the Trainline,eu website and app and they both worked perfectly. I purchased our tickets there and used the app with electronic tickets when we boarded the trains. Get there a bit early to put up your bags otherwise it can get crowded.

Ireland
Level Contributor
287 posts
23 reviews
7. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

On the other hand, there’s no point getting there too early as the train platforms are generally announced only 20 minutes in advance.

San Rafael...
Level Contributor
1,152 posts
30 reviews
8. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

Agreed John M, but better to arrive 20 minutes before departure than 5 when you have bags that need to be stowed.

Edited: 20 October 2018, 02:34
Ireland
Level Contributor
287 posts
23 reviews
9. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

Agreed, Abigail. I was just building on your advice, not contradicting it. :) To someone more familiar with airports than French railway stations, “arrive early” might mean an hour in advance.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
37 posts
10. Re: Insights/Tips into Buying Train Tickets

Thank you to Canthespam, John, and Abigail for your input. I have noted what you all said.

•I will purchase my train ticket from the trainline.eu website.

• Abigail, it's good to know that there's probably a glitch with the phone # field when trying to use a U.S. phone #.

• John, thank you for reminding me to pay a little more and get the refundable ticket option. At least that'll set my mind at rest.

• I always give myself some extra time when getting somewhere, so that's no problem. I've experienced the scramble to find the right train car in France since platforms are not released right away!!

Again, thank you all for your insights. I hope to have it all straightened out this weekend.

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