Aussie couple mid-50's will arrive in Paris in Sept 2010 - for a week or so in France.
Later we'll catch Eurostar to London.
From Paris - we want to include a visit to the Nantes area for a few days.
I've been trawling rail websites - but am confused about the cost of tickets - plane or train. I'd prefer train.
Would this trip be worth doing this via ordinary return train tickets - or perhaps worth considering via a Eurail Pass (or France Pass) - such as a 4 or 5 day Pass?
The Eurail/France type Pass is probably more expensive than just getting tickets - but if it is worthwhile - I guess we could factor in an additional trip to make it worthwhile.
You can price out the cost of train tickets on the tgv-europe.com website
, which is run by the SNCF (the French rail service). Just select the UK from the map when you first load up the webpage. I did a quick search on a random day at a random time, and I got prices varying from 36.50 to 43 euros per person in second class.
Now, be advised that this train is a TGV, which is the high-speed train in France. The benefit of this is that it is very comfortable... the only downside is that seats are subject to a compulsory reservation. Unfortunately I have never taken this route so I am not sure if you really need to reserve much in advance or if you can just show up at the station and buy your ticket before hopping on. If you will be traveling with a rail pass, you will need to pay an additional 3 euros per seat in reservation fees. If you are buying point-to-point tickets, the reservation fee is included in the cost of the ticket.
If you end up buying the full train tickets on the tgv-europe.com website before leaving for your trip, you have the option of either printing up your tickets, or picking them up at any train station in France. To pick them up, you can go to a ticket window with the credit card you used for purchase, or you can use the automated machines so long as your credit card has one of the chips in it.
In terms of whether or not you will take the trip with a pass, it really depends on whether or not you will be taking other trains in that time frame. If you do not, then the point-to-point tickets are the best. If you plan on making a number of other trips, then I would recommend you price out the point-to-point cost with the website I have listed, and compare it to the cost of the pass (remember to add in reservation fees for the TGV, when applicable).
Have now checked the tvg website - thanks for the info.
You're right - there is a good range of fares.
I was previously going via raileurope.com.au - and the tgv site seems to offer the same trip at a much cheaper fare.
But you're right about the basic question - do we book in advance - or just turn up at the station on the day?
Good food for thought.
For what it is worth, I have on previous occasion booked the TGV in advance, as it was recommended at the time. Just for interest sake, I priced the tickets at the counter and found them within 1 Euro of what we paid.
When we boarded, there was only 2 other passengers on that level of a near empty train, maybe because of a low season?
Having said that, I would book in advance only to be sure that I have seats. You may have the luck of having everyone want to visit Nantes with you at the same time.
Whatever, enjoy. I, like many others, would prefer to be on the TGV rather than behind my desk.