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Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

Salt Lake City, Utah
Level Contributor
135 posts
582 reviews
Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

Rail Europe allows you to purchase TGV tickets from the USA, but there are a potpourri of restrictions that force me to reconsider purchasing these train tickets from the USA.

1. You can't print up the tickets at home. Shipping is $18.00 or you can get your paid for tickets at a machine at the Gare de Lyon.

2. No changes or cancellations are allowed unless you pay an exorbitant fee.

My question is thus:

If I purchase the tickets at Gare de Lyon will I have a problem if my French language skills stink?

If I purchase the tickets at Gare de Lyon, is there a chance that my chosen trains will be sold out?

We are just training to Lyon for the day, coming back that evening. Is it worth heading to the gare before our chosen day so there will not be a long wait and possibility of missing our train?

Thank you so much for any assistance you can provide.

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Chicago, Illinois
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1,869 posts
182 reviews
1. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

Don't use Rail Europe. Use the website for the French rail system, SNCF, http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/train-ticket. When it asks the country where you will be printing the tickets, do NOT put in the US. Any other country will do: A lot of people select Antartica. I choose Great Britain, which results in a pop up window appearing that gives you a choice of proceeding with the booking using Rail Europe or SNCF. Select SNCF.

Note that some people have had problems with the SNCF site because it uses a credit card verification program that not all American credit cards participate in. (There's a workaround for this problem but I don't remember it as the site accepted my Chase Visa.)

Palo Alto...
Level Contributor
3,670 posts
6 reviews
2. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

One work around is to use is to use www.capitainetrain.com. I am lucky in that I have never had a problem with my US issued card on the SNCF site, but I use my Amex card. You should be able to choose the print at home option for tickets from Paris to Lyon. By the way, if the link in response 1 does not work, try going to the site by going to www.sncf.com/en.

Edited: 8:22 pm, August 13, 2013
Le Bugue, France
Level Contributor
14,097 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

If you wait to buy them on the spot, you will pay the absolutely highest price. The best bargains are to be had on www.voyages-sncf.com 3 months out from your date of travel.

But to answer your other question, whether or not you can manage enough French to buy a ticket on the spot will depend on the clerk you encounter - some, maybe even most, will speak some English, I guess (don't know as I don't talk in English when in France but have heard many others doing it). You do need to know the formalities of greeting people, and surely you can master saying "un billet aller-retour à Lyon."

I'm not sure what going the day before your trip would do for you in terms of missing your train. But it might help to get things sorted out ahead of time so you already have tickets in hand when the time of travel actually arrives. There might be long lines at any time. Don't forget to composte your tickets.

New Hampshire
Destination Expert
for Paris
Level Contributor
21,261 posts
25 reviews
4. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

At the station, there's one line for several or more clerks. There's a sign above each window indicating which languages are spoken by that clerk. When it's your turn, you can wait for the next available English speaking clerk if you wish. However, the clerk at a window without an "English" sign spoke fluent English when we were there. And, all speak enough English to issue tickets. If there's a question about times, prices, etc., they'll spin the screen so you can see it and point.

If you're not comfortable trying to pronounce "un billet aller-retour à Lyon", just write it on a slip of paper with your return date/time.

But, here's another recommendation for purchasing your tickets ahead of time online if you want to pay considerably less. Although, you do take your chances with the weather...

Also, highly, highly, recommend the Segway tour in Lyon. It's less costly than Paris, and usually private, also customized. Best is a tour around to many of the amazing murals. If you send me a PM, I'll look up the guide's name and forward it to you.

Level Contributor
9,858 posts
93 reviews
5. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

It should be "Un aller-retour POUR Lyon, s'il vous plaît" Un aller-retour à Lyon would imply that you wanted to buy a retrun ticket in Lyon to what destination nobody knows! Also the "un" should be changed to however many people are travelling together. Your best solution, though is to buy online NOT through RailEurope.

Destination Expert
for London, Devon
Level Contributor
24,983 posts
52 reviews
6. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

I note your point 2 is 'No changes or cancellations are allowed unless you pay an exorbitant fee.'

This is likely to be a condition of the ticket type, not the agency. Tickets sold in advance are usually cheaper, but with that come severe restrictions on your ability to change it or get a refund (quite often, these simply are not allowed).

Be aware of the conditions attached to your ticket when you buy it.

Quainton, United...
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
Level Contributor
9,526 posts
4 reviews
7. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

It makes no difference to the terms and conditions whom you buy from. If you buy a cheap 'prems' fare from Rail Europe, it's exactly the same as buying it direct from French Railways at www.voyages-sncf.com. No refunds, no changes. That's why it's a cheapie!

If you wait and buy your TGV ticket at the station, that's like waiting until you reach the airport to buy your flight ticket to Europe. Expensive!

Just go online now to what is arguably now the easiest website to use for French trains, www.capitainetrain.com.

Register and buy a cheap 'prems' fare from Paris to Lyon from €19, no booking fee, and you print your own ticket. No refunds, no changes at that price.

You'll also get a choice of seating, unlike booking at RE, including upper or lower deck if it's a TGV Duplex double-decker, which it probably will be. Go upper deck for the best views!

In western Europe, train fares now work like air fares. Cheap in advance (usually limited or no refunds, no changes) rising to expensive full-flex nearer departure. Book in advance for the cheapest rates.

Edited: 10:28 am, August 14, 2013
Le Bugue, France
Level Contributor
14,097 posts
4 reviews
8. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

Yes, tradesform, I realized after I posted it should have been pour, but it was too late to edit.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Level Contributor
135 posts
582 reviews
9. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

You all have helped immeasurably. I am purchasing tickets for four persons and we hope to get a luncheon reservation at Takao Takano. If anyone has any ideas for "not miss" things to do in Lyon for a couple of hours, please lay them on me. Merci beaucoup mon TripAdvisor amis!

10. Re: Tickets for TGV Paris to Lyon

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