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My train travels to Paris
Well now living outside the Paris region, my business and old nostalgia takes meParis often and this is the route
from my new home in Auray, Morbihan, Brittany France, to Paris Montparnasse, passing by Vannes, Redon, Le Mans, Rennes most of the time.
its the TGV and its a nice ride, at Auray the parking for my car is free, and its just 7 minutes from our house. Then, arriving in Paris montparnasse you are in a major hub with many options of metro, bus, taxi, and walks.
These are some pictures of my new in and out of Paris
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
These EuroCity trains, which used to take over six hours to go from Frankfurt am Main to Paris, have now been phased out in favor of the new high-speed connection in which German ICE trains run on French TGV tracks.
At first (summer 2007) there was only one through train per day, an ICE that left Frankfurt at 6:34 in the morning and arrived at Paris East Station four hours and seven minutes later. But there were two other connections which involved changing from one ICE train to another in Saarbrücken, the reason for this being that they did not yet have enough ICEs that were equipped to run on French tracks.
Update: As of 2012 there are five direct connections per day from Frankfurt to Paris, leaving Frankfurt central station at 6:00, 9:01, 13:01, 16:56 and 19:01. Travel time is not quite four hours.
Four of these connections are German ICE trains, but the one at 16:56 is a French TGV – the same train that made the run from Marseille to Frankfurt earlier in the day.
Second photo: The old EuroCity trains no longer had dining cars for the last few years, but they did have vendors coming through on both the German and the French sides of the border, selling quite different kinds of coffee by the way. The vendor in this photo is on the French side, as you can tell from the stacks of individual-filtered plastic coffee cups. These make good coffee but are not environmentally-friendly as they use four different kinds of plastic for the cup, the handle, the filter and the cover.
Third photo: Bicycle transport was still possible in the EuroCity trains, but is not possible in the InterCityExpress (ICE). The General German Bicycle Club (ADFC), of which I am proud to be a member, is campaigning on this issue.
Fourth photo: Arrival by EuroCity at Gare de l'Est (East Station) in Paris, June 2006.
Standing only in First Class!
My Family and I recently took a trip from London to Paris and Amsterdam by train. Let me first declare an interest as I own a 5* hotel in Cape Town called Cape Royale so I normally travel with luxury and limo!
On this occasion I wanted to give my children an education in normal travel so we went by train and subway. We left London on Euro Tunnel in style after waiting in the lounge! After a wonderful experience we arrived in Paris. First problem…no lifts so we had to lug our suitcases …on wheels…up the stairs. We take a subway to the station ‘Tuileries’ of our Hotel called ‘Hotel Des Tuileries’ . Took us ages to get a taxi, who took us for E12 to our hotel, we were so pleased I gave him E20. We checked into the hotel for our suite of adjoining rooms. The suitcases..one each..took up half the room and the small beds the other half!!..however my boys are now getting good education to check out the hotel better before booking…so no problems. Then we go for a local familiarization as we are staying three days only to find that the taxi had ripped us off as the subway Tuileries was only 60 meters away!!!
We enjoyed our three days and learned that at every opportunity there was a North African trying to rip us off….always check that your restaurant bill is only for items you ordered.
Upon check out at Hotel Des Tuileries’ the ‘included breakfast’ became an extra whether we used it or not. What do you do…by this stage we were fed up at being ripped off at every turn that ‘I refused to pay’ WOW this guy started bellowing at the top of his voice saying that we are not being ‘ripped off’ words that I did use. To avoid virtual assault I paid it…another lesson for the boys…get it in writing at check in!!
The taxi to Paris Nord was a relief as we felt like besieged people finally making our escape.
Then we get on the train with THALYS. My email sent to them on July 9th 2010 was as follows:
We travelled by SNCF Thalys from Paris-Nord to Amsterdam on July 3rd 2010, scheduled to depart at 10.25.We were 2 adults and three children on the following tickets:
Adult 1 186510232629/08710224810831 seat 72 Eur 199.00
Adult 2 186510232512/08710224810820 seat 73 Eur 199.00
Child 1 186510232843/08710224810853 seat 76 Eur 39.00
Child 2 186510232959/08710224810864 seat 74 Eur. 39.00
Child 3 186510232736/08710224810842 seat 75 Eur. Total Eur 515.00
This amount was paid by credit card VISA xxx xxx xxx xxx exp 04/13
We arrived at the station early and booked our tickets and seats. The train was delayed due to poor weather.
When we boarded there we other passengers seated in our seats. We politely requested that they would move and they refused. They said that other passengers were seated in their seats and if we got them to change they would then move! We travelled first class because my wife and I both have bad backs due to injury. There was much commotion and a number of people fighting over seats. My wife stood in the corridor, I stood in the carriage and our children sat on the floor all the way to Brussels.
Many people let the train at Brussels; however the people refused to leave our seats. When the train manager came around I asked him politely to allow us sit together in our booked seats. He refused to assist and when I asked him his name he said if I asked again he would make us leave the train in Antwerp!
Apart from the late arrival in Amsterdam, which we understood, this was an appalling journey where you management refused to care for us properly.
In the circumstances we believe that we are due a refund.
We hold the tickets and payment conformation should they be required.
Today, over six weeks later I receive the following reply
From: Customer Service Thalys [mailto:English.SC@thalys.com]
Sent: Friday, August 27, 2010 4:22 PM
To: xxxxxx xxxxx
Subject: RE: Request for Refund.
You contacted us in order to inform us about your dissatisfaction in regards to a delay which you encountered on board of Thalys and the poor travelling conditions on July 3, 2010. I have carefully read your letter and wish to give you an explanation which is as complete as possible.
First of all I wish to offer you our apologies for the inconveniences which this delay caused you. I am aware that every delay, no matter how long and no matter which cause, causes you important inconveniences, especially regarding to seating, and I deeply regret this. Although our rolling stock is adapted to rough weather, the storms of early July has caused great disruption to our train service.
In order not to disappoint our customers, we have decided not to suspend all our trains, but there were inconveniences and delays. These bad weather conditions, which we do not control, constitute a case of force majeure. Consequently, although I deeply regret this, I cannot give a positive answer to your request.
I will transfer your remarks about the lack of assistance by the staff to the staff’s supervisor to ensure better service in such a case in the future. Please be assured that usually all year long our staff on board as well as in the stations do their utmost to guarantee that you travel as comfortably as possible.
With kind regards.
Thalys Customer Service Officer
1050 Bruxelles 5
Our Lesson: Paris is going through some cultural aberration; they are sullen, arrogant, are unwelcoming and hate tourists. The place is filthy and everybody appears to be maximize the amount they can take from you NOW, and to hell with tomorrow. For us it was not worth it to experience their cultural splendors.
Avoid Paris and perhaps they will get the message and sort themselves out.
We are back in beautiful Cape Town, which really is the opposite to our Parisian experience.
As for Thalys, in true Parisian style…take our money but do not deliver the service and then blame a French expression ‘force majeure’. In a normal country, if you had the determination, you could sue, however French society is this way, so guess what the Judge would decide!!!!
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
When we have a long distance to travel, we usually use the overnight trains and book ourselves a sleeping compartment. That way you save on hotel expenses and also when you get to the next city the following day, you are nice and refreshed and ready to go exploring again. @s*
Faster than flying
Since last summer (2007) there has been a fast train service from Mannheim to Paris, with only two more stops in Germany and none between the border and Paris. In fact, people were warned in Saarbruecken (the last stop in Germany) not to help passengers into the train, as the next stop where they could leave would be Paris. Imagine helping your mother put up her bag and then all of sudden you're on your way to Paris. Some years ago this had actually happened to a friend of mine, only then the train stopped in Metz and she was able to get out there. But it was quite a hassle and expensive to get back to Saarbruecken.
Three hours and nine minutes from Mannnheim to Paris, faster than any car and faster than a plane, when you think about the time needed for security and check-in.The highest speed I could see indicated was 318 kmh.
Also very good: From last summer on the DB specials are valid on this service, like saving 50% if the night from Saturday to Sunday is included, acceptance of the Bahncard - the journey was not only faster than a plane would have been, it was also considerably cheaper.
Did you know..
...that you can return tickets without ANY reason or further inquiry at the front desk? Just walk in, say you want a return and voila, your money is back in your account.
...also, when you reserve a ticket online, you don't have to pay until a week later or the departure date, whichever comes soonest. That means you can reserve a spot and if you change your mind, don't click on the link and pay. It will go away. If you actually want the ticket and spot, simply pay and voila, you've got a nice seat.
..also, Belleville has quickly become one of my favorite areas, located in the 20th arrondisement. It was the location filled with immigrants who freshly arrived. It is incredibly diverse, with a petit Chinatown. There is a great little Vietnamese boutique where you can get great sub-sandwiches for 2 Euro. You probably didn't care, but you will love the different people you see/meet/encounter. Strike up a conversation. It's not an area frequently visited such as the others. You never know what may transpire.
- Road Trip
Down by the station, early in the morning ...
The kids' song I have picked up in the heading continues " ...see the little puffing billies all in a row".
The long distance railways in France are run by the SNCF and 'puffing billies' definitely are not part of their fleet! Many of the trains, such as the ones in the photo, now are TGVs (Train a grande vitesse, tr 'High Speed Trains') which cruise along at over 250km/hr, it's interesting to think that the Ferrari also appearing in my 'transport tips' would have no speed advantage! What's more, these do not have to contend with traffic and many are express to their destination, which means that it is possible to get quite a way from Paris on a day's return excursion.
I took the TGV from Gare Montparnasse to Tours, a trip of 230km by road: the TGV ate the distance in about 1.5 hours, with one stop, and it was pleasant to watch the countryside scrolling past the picture windows. Saving time further, the train travels between city centres, avoiding the problems of getting to airports and the inherent airport delays. The fares are more or less comparable to discount airlines and you do need to pre-book your seat. Note though that the SNCF website does not seem to allow for bookings from some countries - I had to book through my local tourist agency. Yes, there also are discount fares for seniors, international seniors cards are accepted.
Basilique du Sacr? Caeur ride
The Basilique du Sacre Caeur is a Paris 'must see'. You can read more about it on our tip Basilique du Sacre Caeur :) This train is more a shuttle than anything else... for the young and the old and those just too lazy to walk up the hill to the Basilique du Sacre Caeur! We didnt use it as we are young and fit (lol) and plus it cost 5 euros EACH for a one way trip...so is a bit of a tourist trap we thought!
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Buying SNCF Tickets
You can purchase either discounted, non-refundable tickets (e.g. Prem) OR refundable but more expensive tickets directly from SNCF, the French railway. One nice thing about purchasing their non-refundable tickets is that you are allowed to print them online.
If you do buy the higher priced tickets you can't print them online unfortunately. And if you live in the US they cannot mail you the tickets as well. How to purchase? Charge them online by selecting France as your country of residence print out your confirmation, and pick up the tickets in person at any SNCF station. Remember to bring the same credit card that you used to charge your tickets.
If you are staying at a hotel, you can use the hotel's address online so that your tickets can be mailed to their address. If it's a good hotel, the staff will not mind receiving the tickets on your behalf.
La Bete Humaine
Check out the site, it's not so fab and the info is not always that great unless you can read French...whether it be Eurostar, Thalys or TGV you will have to deal with the SNCF. Les cheminots as we say in French.
In Zola's Rougon-Macquart series this is where you would find Jacques Lantier son of Gervaise Macquart (L'Assommoir) and Auguste Lantier, brother to Claude (l'Oevure), Etienne (Germinal) and half brother to Anna Coupeau (Nana), you simply must read Zola's novel "La Bete Humaine" when you travel by train. If only to pass time when they are on strike.
It is only so fitting that Jacques was a "cheminot" on the route from Paris to Le Havre, in my Normandy...
- Arts and Culture
Book Tickets Directly With SNCF
If you want to take some great trips outside Paris and you live in the US, buy your tickets directly from the French railway 's (SNCF) site, www.sncf.com. Do not bother to buy from SNCF's US agent, Rail Europe, because the markup is high.
Mobilis one day pass
The Mobilis is a one-day ticket that allows unlimited travel on the Metro, RER, bus, RATP, ADATRIF, APTR, and SNCF suburban network. It excludes the Orlybus, Orlyval, Roissybus, Roissyrail and Orlyrail.
Mobilis one day pass
1 - 2 5.00 euro
1 - 3 6.70 euro
1 - 4 8.50 euro
1 - 5 11.70 euro
1 - 6 14.90 euro
1 - 7 16.45 euro
1 - 8 17.95 euro
Current as at 28/04/04
- Budget Travel
I was actually quite surprised to find how expensive train travel is in France, I guess I assumed that is was more prevalent than in the US and that it would be cheaper.
A round trip ticket to Reims was 40.60E, $50US! For the two of us it would have likely been cheaper to rent a car although perhaps not as quick?
You CAN go to Paris cheaply!
The train is a FANTASTIC way to get to Paris! The SNCF probably has the best deals when it comes to rail travel than anyone! We got rail fare from Strasbourg, France for 5 for 150 Euros. We had to buy a child card for my friend's son and it was an additional 63 Euros to get that fare, but that was well worth the money and the card is good for a year! Our friends live in Germany, so they can still use it since they are living in Europe and will be for some time. It was a 4 hour scenic trip across France, but quite picturesque and fun! By the way, we drove to Strasbourg as the German Rail tickets are an awful price when you try to go between countries. Buying gas for the car we were driving to go across the two countries would have been worse....it was 71 Euro to fill a Jeep Cherokee, so driving really is not an option. It was a lot cheaper for us to stay in Strasbourg, plus we had the added tour of visiting it as well!:) More on Strasbourg later:)
- Budget Travel
Paris - Rome \ Rome Paris
If you are in Paris or Rome and like to complete your dreaming trip to the other country her it is .From Paris to Rome by night train from : Paris gare de percy at 19.00 arrive Rome at 10 am (15 hours)passing the stations : Dijon,Chambery,Genova,La spasia and Pisa.. it is sleeping train, you will gain at least 5 friends, and will avoid paying hotel accomodation ,
The trip for adults(complete ticket) is 100 euro , more cheaper for young people and seniors
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