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Train Travel Conundrum

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Train Travel Conundrum

I'll be in Paris with a friend come March. Our trip includes a visit to Chenonceau and side trips to Brugge and Amsterdam. We have decided to use the train to travel from site to site. Here's our plan:

Paris to Chenonceau: Mar 17

Paris to Brugge: Mar 19

Brugge to Amsterdam: Mar 20

Amsterdam to Paris: Mar 22

I've been pricing travel on Thalys.com, and my companion has looked at RailEurope.com. We know about the potential cost difference, but her main concern is being able to pre-book. She is concerned about that fact that since NA credit cards aren't configured with chips that we may run into various problems (what problems, I don't know, just problems...). I don't really see what the fuss is about booking-wise, but I could use up to the minute tips on any issues I should be aware of when it comes to using a NA card to book European travel. I could also use any tips you might offer on what I should book- pass or one-way tickets per leg on Thalys. I think my travel companion thinks I am more savvy than I really am when it comes to train travel.

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Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
Amsterdam
Amsterdam
North Holland Province, The Netherlands
Paris, France
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1. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

You need to book these trips right away. The longer you wait the higher the prices will be. I do not recall reading of any booking issues with Thalys. I would suggest using www.capitainetrain.com to book the French tickets. Do not use Rail Europe, it's more expensive and does not show all of the trains.

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Europe
Europe
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Paris, France
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2. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

You can use capitainetrain.com to buy tickets for Thalys, Eurostar, Lyria, SNCF and other trains. The cheapest tickets are available 3 months in advance so you're late in booking and missed the cheapest prices (Paris to Amsterdam is only 30€ if bought 3 months in advance). You won't know about any issues with your credit card unless you try to book. From what others have said they have not had issues with NA credit cards on the capitainetrain website.

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Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
Amsterdam
Amsterdam
North Holland Province, The Netherlands
Paris, France
Destination Expert
for Paris, Loire Valley
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3. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

<<they have not had issues with NA credit cards>>

It may be worth noting that many Canadians have EMV or pin and chip credit cards (I assume NA means North America). The problem is with Americans, those from the USA, whose financial and retail institutions have resisted the EMV movement that the rest of the world has embraced.

London, UK
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4. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

A couple of additional points. For Brugge it will probably be best to book thr Thalys with the Any Belgian Destination (ABD) option. The jurney will involve changin at Brussels Midi for one of the fairly frequent local trains to Brigge. or Chenonceau, your journey will involve taking a TGV from Paris to St Pierre des Corps and changing there for one of the less frequent local trains to Chenonceau. You should be able to do this with a single booking.

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Brussels
Brussels
Belgium
Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
Michigan
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5. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

I don't know what "NA" means, but last week I bought tickets on voyages-sncf.com from Paris to Frankfurt for March 30th. I used my Visa card issued by my local credit union and had no problems with the charges going through.

Also, my husband travels in Europe for business and his credit card is not the "chip" type but rather the usual kind we have in the US. He's never had a problem using it.

Julie

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Frankfurt
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Hesse, Germany
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Sydney, Australia
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for Train Travel
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6. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

The question of whether a card has a chip is irrelevant when making Internet purchases, as home computers do not have a chip reader.

Even when you get to France, the only places you might have problems are some automatic vending machines that require a PIN.

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Europe
Oceanside...
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7. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

As previous poster mentioned, book now or the price goes up and up, because folks buy the cheap seats first. Several years ago I pre booked Thalys to Amsterdam from Paris , going thru Brussels, ahead of time and had no problems.

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Amsterdam
North Holland Province, The Netherlands
Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
Brussels
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Metro Vancouver
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8. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

I assume that you will also book a train from Chenonceau back to Paris...It might be worthwhile to check if it would be easier to go by train to Tours, then to go to Chenonceau with a small tour group...

local trains often have inconvenient schedules..and Chenonceau station is likely a fair walk away from the castle (I remember a long alley leading to the castle..) .

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Paris
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Ile-de-France, France
Los Angeles
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9. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

We were unable to purchase tickets to Tours, Blois or Caen using our NA (North American) credit card. It was so frustrating. Of course we first called our bank and then waited 48 hours (the first time we waited only 24 hours and once it's declined, it's declined for 24 hours, so we authorized a different card - which was declined too; they wanted "Visa Verification." So we went through all the steps for Visa verification and waited 24 hours - no go. We verified yet another card, nope - and waited 48 hours as we watched the train fill up.

Finally, we used capitainetrain (thanks, SydneyNick, you are a lifesaver). No problems at all (although it takes a few hours to get your tickets sent). They sent it in a form that we could use on our smartphones, or print out. Both worked.

Oh, and I joined SNCF and used a proper email address and verified that with them too - still they wouldn't take any of my NA cards.

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Blois
Blois
Loire Valley, France
Caen
Caen
Calvados, France
Victoria, Canada
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10. Re: Train Travel Conundrum

I have used my Visa (Canadain ) to purchase tickets and flights in Europe for years..regional trains to places like Rouen., Chantilly, etc . and for the "big" trips on Thalys , Eurostar and iDTGV.. The only time I had a problem was with iDTGV and with persistence I finally got my ticket !

I am not sure what the chip and pin thing has to do with an internet purchase. I understand if choosing to purchase a ticket from a machine you need a chip and pin card, but you can usually find a manned kiosk to buy a ticket and they can take swipe cards.

LeBiscuit they sure didn't like your cards.. were they from a credit union ? I did have to do verified once or twice too. can't remember when.. but I had no trouble or wait.. but getting our ticket on idTGV sounds like your experience .

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