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Tips on last minute/"winging it" train travel in France

Provo, Utah, United...
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Tips on last minute/"winging it" train travel in France

My husband and I are planning a backpacking trip to Europe in June. We're thinking about getting a Eurail pass for the rest of our trip, but aren't sure what to do about travel in France (due to the reservations/restrictions). We are traveling to Paris from Brunswick, Germany and then will head to somewhere in Southern France after Paris (next stop Venice). However, our dates won't be finalized until days before our trip and we want to remain somewhat flexible. What is our best option for train travel in France? Are we going to have to pay ridiculously high prices if we book same day or a only few days in advance?

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Le Bugue, France
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1. Re: Tips on last minute/"winging it" train travel in France

Yes, you will pay the highest possible prices at the last minute, often two or three or four times more than if you plan ahead and buy early. Flexibility is expensive.

Victoria, Canada
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2. Re: Tips on last minute/"winging it" train travel in France

Yes.. we paid 40 euros for first class tickets from Paris to Nice for july 2012.. I booked them on iDTGV three months in advance.. the people we befriended on the train .. they bought their tickets 2 weeks in advance and paid 200 euros.

A rail pass is as you suspect not usually worth it either.

Trying to commit to a schedule.. rough at least .. may save you $$$

Paris, France
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3. Re: Tips on last minute/"winging it" train travel in France

If you're not in a hurry you could probably get there using local trains. Otherwise the longer you wait the higher the fare for the TGV trains. A flight *might* be cheaper than the train.

I'd think carefully before buying a rail pass. I've always found point-to-point tickets to be cheaper. You can learn more on the very helpful Man in Seat 61 website: seat61.com/Railpass-and-Eurail-pass-guide.htm

Paris, France
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4. Re: Tips on last minute/"winging it" train travel in France

Yes, taking local trains (with no réservations and invariable fares) might be the best solution for getting around -- almost certainly not a rail pass since all of the TGV trains would require you to pay for reservations anyway.

Local trains will not really save you money over the fares you could have gotten to cover a long distance for next to nothing by booking well ahead of time, but it will give you access to a totally different experience of France if you stop in more of the medium sized towns along the way. Naturally, it all depends on how many days you have at your disposal.

Quainton, United...
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5. Re: Tips on last minute/"winging it" train travel in France

Paris-Nice starts at 25 euros 2-3 months in advance rising to 130 euros full-flex bought on the day or a day or two before.

Local TER trains have fixed prices and no reservations, so can be bought on the day, no problem. But these tend to run for shorter distances.

Use www.capitainetrain.com to see what's available and get a feel for French train fares.

6. Re: Tips on last minute/"winging it" train travel in France

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