Train tickets for the French summer season now on sale

Travellers are urged to book early to get the best-value fares for the July-September period

Train tickets for the French summer season went on sale today (Wednesday, March 8)
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Train tickets for the French summer season went on sale today (Wednesday, March 8).

Travellers began snapping up tickets for high-speed TGV services covering the July 8- September 3 period.

Those wanting to travel on the budget Ouigo service are now able to purchase tickets up to December 9.

Travellers who are sure of their travel dates are advised to book as early as possible, as they will benefit from the best prices on these journeys, and the number of people travelling is expected to beat last year’s numbers.

Some summer dates still unavailable

Normally, you can buy tickets four months in advance for TGV and Intercity trains. For the Christmas, winter, spring and summer holiday periods, however, SNCF operates a fixed date system for sales.

Not all dates during the summer have tickets currently available to purchase, and this is because of work on key lines.

Due to modernisation work, train services between Paris (Montparnasse and Massy TGV stations) and Brittany, Centre Val de Loire, Pays de la Loire, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie regions will be disrupted on certain dates in July and August.

Consequently, some trains in July (17-20) and August (7-10) will not be available for sale on March 8 but will be available shortly afterwards.

French train operator SNCF suggests subscribing to a booking alert via email to know when trains are available, for these dates or for any future journeys.

Many trains that reach international destinations have tickets available for purchase further in advance; for example, trains to Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy can usually be booked six months in advance, and Eurostar trains to London can often be booked 11 months prior to departure.

Read more: Reminder: The dates of France's 2023 holidays and days off

Book early to get the best prices

The SNCF uses a “yield management” system for bookings, meaning those who book tickets early get the cheapest prices.

It is also advantageous for big groups to book together, as they have a higher chance of booking seats close together.

Demand is expected to be high, as last year saw over 23 million journeys take place over the summer period - 10% higher than 2019’s pre-Covid levels.

Fares have risen by around 5%, despite the SNCF’s record profit of €2.4 billion last year, although the rail company says this price hike is to help absorb rising energy costs.

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