Paris – Basic Guide 2B – Railroads

And if you will be purchasing tickets at the station in Paris for more train travel, in France or internationally, make sure to remember to check the tickets carefully before walking away from the ticket window!

___ Some types of rail tickets, especially passes, require a photo ID even with machines

___ All tickets / passes have European dates which are ordered differently than American dates — check that the date matches the day! The European order is day/month/year format.

___ Check the destination is correctly entered on all of the tickets.

___ Understand which station to use to leave Paris (it may be different than the one you are in to purchase tickets).

___ On reserved tickets, make sure class, carriage and seats all make sense (especially if you are a group traveling together!). First-class is 50% more, but provides a lot of value.

___ International tickets are often purchased at a different window.

___ Even semi-private quarters cost way less than hotels do, so sometimes a night train is a good buy, if the schedule works out for not too early arrival; on some trains, you will get a free breakfast with a first-class ticket. Understand the types of sleeping compartment options.


___ Some tickets must be date-stamp validated by YOU, BEFORE boarding, otherwise there are huge fines! Ask if your ticket must undergo this process and where the orange, yellow or red box validator machines are located. Also, make sure the conductor’s date stamp is correct when he “franks” your ticket, when that is the process used.

___ Eurail passes sometimes must be written on, and other times are NOT allowed to be written on, so understand just what your ticket requires of you!

EurailPass is the best bet for foreigners to travel in Europe, (but it excludes Britain). The Eurail pass must be purchased in your home-country through a travel agent or online at Rail Europe .

Allow time for delivery at home. You must always have your passport to use Eurail pass, and it is not transferable. Immediately read all the Conditions of Use and the other information with your pass! Really, do it.

___ Eurail pass must be validated in its own way, following its directions, in Europe, before you board your first train, and you need your passport with you when you do this at the ticket window. Make sure the start-date is entered as the correct day by the clerk. Remember, the European date format is day/month/year notation. Do it, at most, one day before you are going to start to use it, otherwise you are losing too much time that you’ve paid for.

___ Some seasoned travelers have purchased Eurail Passes in Paris, and I have read that it can be done at Eurail aid offices in other cities in Europe, in each for a 10% premium over the cost at home. So if you are already in Europe, visit a Eurail office with your passport and credit card or cash. In Paris, the office is in the Gare St. Lazare, just off the main hall. But, truthfully, that program could be stopped anytime. I think it’s safer to do all this at home before you leave.

The United Kingdom has its own BritRail pass. Each group may have special pass plans available for 2 or more traveling together. The official site is BritRail .

Just because you have any Rail pass does NOT mean you automatically have a seat on any train! You should always reserve space, at least one day in advance, at the station ticket window and some travel agencies.

There is a fee to make reservations on the high-speed international trains, and most of these DO require reservations.

On the train schedules posted, a capital R in a rectangle at the top of the column indicates a train requiring a reservation. Your best bet is to consistently use a current copy of Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable to determine reservation requirements.

Now on to Part C.
Paris travel article Archive

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