Can I buy a ticket after getting on a train in France?

The rules on ticket purchases vary depending on the type of train and which department you are in

Fines can be levied on trains for travellers without a ticket

Reader Question: If I do not buy a ticket before getting on a French train due to arriving late, am I able to purchase one onboard? 

If you have arrived too late to the station and have rushed on board before buying a ticket, it is prudent to try immediately to find a member of staff onboard. 

Either you will find that you can buy a ticket, or you can explain your situation to them before a ticket check. 

On some trains, if you present yourself to the ticket inspector when you do not have a ticket, a fine, if levied, is smaller. 

Generally speaking, you cannot buy a ticket after getting on a train in France. TGV trains have reserved seats, meaning you can only buy a ticket beforehand. 

There will also almost always be a barrier that will require a ticket to pass before being able to board the train. 

Read more: What documents must you carry on French train to avoid a fine?

That is also the case with metros where you need a ticket to get through the turnstiles before being able to board.

For regional trains, which are often accessible without a turnstile, the rules are a little different. Some lines and some departments do allow passengers to buy tickets onboard, as long as they present themselves to the ticket inspector. 

However, it is not widely advertised and often requires the ticket office to be closed. 

Read more: Destinations, rules: All about €49 French rail pass on sale from June 5

If you are able to buy a ticket onboard expect it to cost an extra €10-60, depending on how far you are planning on travelling. 

As a general rule, you should always buy a ticket before boarding a train. 

There have been reports of passengers being unable to buy a ticket at the station and unable to pay online, so finding a ticket inspector yet still getting fined.

To avoid this, it is best to book your tickets as early as possible, as this will not only potentially help you save money but avoid any situations where you are on a train without a ticket.