Tren? Ou et le billet? Wait, What?
October 30, 2012 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Where can I book a train from Paris Nord to Beaune, returning from Beaune to CDG a few days later?

A question in two parts: I need to find tickets from Paris Gare du Nord to Beaune, and then returning from Beaune to CDG airport.

Where could I purchase these tickets online (in English)?

How much would they reasonably cost?

I found a route via Travelocity that uses SNCF but the rates were well over $100 per person each way, which seems high?

Asking for the boss. Can't believe I'm burnin' my question on this but...expediency. Thanks!
posted by OompaLoompa to Travel & Transportation around France (10 answers total)
Rail Europe. Prices to Beaune look to start around €55 one-way.
posted by jontyjago at 1:21 PM on October 30, 2012

SNCF online shows about 46 euros and up each direction, choosing random midday times on random midweek dates. That's about 60 USD each way. (The price for first class trips are over $100 each way.) It looks like you can order them on the UK SNCF site, though google translate is probably going to help you if you go through the normal SNCF site -- there's not much actual reading needed to make a booking.
posted by jeather at 1:42 PM on October 30, 2012

Don't think you'll find trains from Paris Gare du Nord to Beaune seeing as "Nord" means North and the trains leaving that station go to Northern France and beyond, whereas Beaune is south-east of Paris. I think Gare de Lyon and Gare de Bercy are more likely. Obviously you can get from one to another with RER, metro, taxi, etc.

But yes, Rail Europe is good.
posted by acidic at 1:48 PM on October 30, 2012

Best answer: - Buy them directly from ; at the top right of the screen you can choose between French, English, and German. I am in Paris and redirected right to but can choose English.
- In the search, just enter PARIS and it will choose the correct station which is indeed Bercy or Lyon. Both of these are pretty easy to get to, requiring two metro lines (buy your ticket on your arriving train to Paris or at the machines in the station) and there may be buses but I don't use them.
- The earlier you buy, the better. I did not notice how far in advance you are planning, but tickets are available 90 days ahead of time and prices only go up. I randomly chose Nov 7 one way travel and have 40-60EUR prices in the evening.
- Be careful about what kind of ticket you pick and what card you use for purchase. Some of these MUST be printed at the station in France. Some of them MUST be presented with the card you used to purchase them.
- If all of this is too much effort, it is possible to show up at the SNCF ticket offices in the train stations anywhere, or at their boutiques all over France and in other major cities. English is often spoken.
posted by whatzit at 2:05 PM on October 30, 2012

I've just finished travelling around France by SNCF and bought all my tickets online via the TGV website (this is the Ireland version since that's where I am, but there are other options in the drop down at the top). No worrying about stuff being sent, just pay online with a credit card and you end up with something to print out and show on the train. I looked around a lot and buying them from there was always cheaper than a reseller, plus that's the website my French friend would use.

Since I also went to Belgium and Germany I also used Thalys and Bahn train services. I did find that sometimes I'd get a better price for the various things on each other's sites so its probably worth looking, although for a non-international train like that I doubt it will help.

The tickets go on sale 90 days before the trip and the price goes up very fast, so buy them as soon as possible. Seriously, buy them the day they go on sale if possible. Worst comes to worst, the ticket machines in the station are really easy to use. And the whole system is so great.
posted by shelleycat at 2:40 PM on October 30, 2012

I would second, but Rail Europe is also (partially?) owned by SNCF, and they all use the same booking engine. You may get access to slightly different fare buckets from different sites, though - I remember that the tickets Rail Europe offered for Paris Lyon to Genève were always marginally more expensive than the Voyages-SNCF ones.

Another nice touch (or source of concern, for expenses purposes) is that Voyages-SNCF posts out tickets that are entirely in French while the important details on Rail Europe tickets are in English.

Is your boss arriving at Paris Nord by train immediately before continuing to Beaune? If so, it may be to their advantage to book a through ticket (or at least to make the booking in a single transaction) because then one is definitely covered under the CIV rules for rebooiking and accommodation on the next train; these days SNCF (along with other "Railteam" alliance partners) are more lenient with this.

Finally, remind them to composte leur billet before getting on the train in one of these... failure to do so will likely mean a hefty penalty if they aren't let off for being foreign.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 2:42 PM on October 30, 2012

Some of them MUST be presented with the card you used to purchase them.

In Germany, for every single train ride I had to pull out my Visa card and it was checked carefully and scanned. In France, nothing even though the tickets said I would have to show the card, and often the tickets weren't checked at all. I have no idea if this is typical though so make sure you use your boss's card for booking.

Also we took a bus from CDG into town on the advice of the helpful lady at the Tourist information desk in the airport (apparently the metro wasn't working well that weekend). She sold us the ticket, gave us really clear directions and pointed us towards the bus stop. Oh yeah, we speak no French besides "croissant" and "merci". I would definitely recommend stopping at the desk and talking to them about best transport options for getting to the train station you need to be at.
posted by shelleycat at 2:45 PM on October 30, 2012

Finally, remind them to composte leur billet before getting on the train in one of these... failure to do so will likely mean a hefty penalty if they aren't let off for being foreign.

Just a note: we never had to do this with our internet printout tickets. But apparently some internet printout ones need to be swapped for real tickets and validated, so make sure you're aware of whatever rules apply to the tickets you end up with as there seems to be different options.

The conductors were all really helpful and happy to point us towards what we should be doing (often in a quite imperious way but still!) despite our lack of French, so make sure your boss is ready to ask about anything he's unsure of and all should be good.
posted by shelleycat at 2:50 PM on October 30, 2012

Response by poster: Wow, thanks folks! The boss was booking for tickets at the end of this week, which is probably why they cost so much. I'll pass along your wisdom!
posted by OompaLoompa at 3:54 PM on October 30, 2012

The Man in Seat 61 is my go-to page for any European train questions. He has good directions on how to navigate partially translated booking sites and what to watch out for.
posted by smackfu at 3:59 PM on October 30, 2012

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