SNCF opens bookings for summer train travel in France
French train company SNCF has opened ticket reservations for the summer holidays today (Friday May 15) - with free refunds and exchanges offered if the health situation changes.
Tickets are now on sale for TGV and Intercités services.
But the company will only sell 50% of its seats until at least June 2, to enable passengers to maintain social distancing as much as possible, said Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs.
He said: “You can book your ticket for the whole of France and we will be there.”
The tickets will also be available with free refunds and exchanges should the health situation and deconfinement rules change between now and your travel date, as the government has not ruled out “reconfinement” or further restrictions if necessary.
SNCF is currently running just 35% of its TGV and Intercités services at the moment, but is hoping to reach 100% by the summer, government restrictions allowing.
Mr Fanichet said: “We are awaiting June 2 to know the new rules that will apply to the health and safety conditions on board trains. But as of today, the French have barely planned their holidays. There are many, many seats left.”
SNCF has already said that it will require passengers to wear a mask at all times when travelling.
The announcement from SNCF comes after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe yesterday said (Thursday May 14) that the French public “will be able to go on holiday within France...in July and August”.
Mr Philippe said that “within France” referred to “both the mainland Hexagon, and overseas France”.
Yet, President Emmanuel Macron has also urged travellers to stay within France - and perhaps Europe - as “major international travel” is likely to be limited this year.
He said: “We will limit major international travel, even during the summer holidays. We will stay among Europeans, and we may need to reduce it even more. There are restrictions, and that is to be expected. We have not won the battle against the virus. It is still there, we have just slowed it down.”
The second phase of confinement is expected to start on June 2, if the first phase is deemed to be a success.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France