Purchasing Railway Tickets
You can purchase tickets at the railway station, either from the ticket windows (guichets) or from ticket machines (kiosks) that are in most stations in France. Ticket windows could have a queue, so aren't always good if you're in a hurry. The ticket machines in France are modern and easy to use, and take bank cards, such as VISA.
You can also purchase tickets in advance, on-line. The SNCF website (English version) is www.sncf.com/en/trains/ter [external link]
Prices vary according to: the day of the week, the day of the year, distance, specific destination, type of train (local, express, TGV, etc.), and class of ticket.
Off and On
With one ticket, you can get off the train en-route (best to wait 'til it's stopped we think) and continue your journey on a later train. We believe this is restricted to the same day, but we did it with an overnight stop on the Train des Pignes. This is not true for the TGV, where your ticket is for a specific seat on a specific train.
Bicycles on the Train
As a general rule you need to send you bike as baggage, and at least a day before your trip, to have it waiting when you arrive.
The SNCF Guide du Train et du Vélo brochure (available at all major train stations) states the following:
In TGV trains and on Corail coaches - You may take you cycle in the TGV luggage stacks and on the wide vestibul areas of the Corail coaches. (Corail are the long-distance main-line trains.)
These measures apply to cycles which can be folded up or placed with their wheels removed in special covers (120 x 90 cm maximum; 47 x 35 inches).
The trains marked with a bicycle symbol in the SNCF timetables for
domestic services or in the "ville à ville guide carry accompanied
cycles free of charge. You will have to load and unload it yourself
and you are responsible for it at all times.
On some trains (especially regional trains) the capacity of the luggage-van is restricted to 3 cycles.
Cycles are allowed on all trains in the Greater Paris area, including
trains that start or terminate beyond the Greater Paris area boundaries:
- on week-days except from 6h30 to 9h30 and 16h30-19h
- all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank holidays.
Current Travelling with your Bicycle information is available on the SNCF website (English version): www.sncf.com/en/services/travelling-with-your-bike [external link]
The TGV Méditerranée (Paris - Provence line) has a Train + vélo program on some of the trains, available via the reservation.
SNCF Cycle Rental
Different types of bicycles are available for rental at only a few SNCF train stations (and none in the Beyond area).