Help me get from Paris to Caen tomorrow through the train strike!
June 13, 2014 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Any mefites knowledgeable about the French transport situation at the moment? Two of us have booked train tickets from Paris to Caen tomorrow and it seems that almost no trains are running.

Having had a busy week, I only now realise that there is a train strike in the middle of my holiday. Two of us have Eurostar tickets for tomorrow (which I understand is unaffected), and then tickets from Paris to Caen. Looking on the Infolignes site, the train we have tickets for is cancelled, and there is one single train from Paris to Caen that runs after we get in on the Eurostar, at 7pm in the evening. So my questions:
- How do I find out if my tickets are valid on this new train? (I was planning on going to St Lazare and asking)
- Is the single 7pm train definitely going to run? And if it is, are we going to be able to get on it?
- Are there any other options for getting to Caen? (I have all the parts of my driving licence with me and could technically hire a car, but I've never driven on the right and suspect that Paris in the middle of a rail strike may not be the best place to learn)
- If the worst happens and we end up finding that we're stuck in Paris at 8pm in the evening, what's the best option for finding somewhere to stay for the night?

It may also be worth mentioning that neither of us can speak French. Money is not extremely tight, but neither can we afford to splurge too much.
posted by Vortisaur to Travel & Transportation around France (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's Brittany Ferries which runs between Portsmouth and Caen directly. Just bag the Eurostar and do that.

Another option is Euroline busses, they go from Paris, but not directly to Caen, but perhaps check a close city.

Go ahead and make hotel reservations now. Most are cancelable up to 6pm.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:23 PM on June 13, 2014

Just hop on the train with your tickets. It's unlikely a conductor will even check them considering the strike, but if they do, they expect to see people from other bookings for the same destination. When you get off there may be people handing you forms to send in for your late train reimbursement.

Today when I rode from Avignon to Paris by TGV, my original train was canceled, the one they told us to take initially was too full, and the third train was late and had an extra stop, but we made it and got free snacks. I hope it works out as well for you.

Also there should be at least one line at the ticket counter where they speak English. It will have a British flag on the sign.
posted by hollyholly at 2:05 PM on June 13, 2014

Ask at Saint-Lazare, yes. FWIW, the strike was originally only scheduled for Wednesday, but keeps getting prolonged on a day-to-day basis...

You're right about not wanting to drive. Paris especially is madness.

The weather's beautiful in Paris currently if you'd want to spend an evening. A good bet would be to check hotels in the Accor chain; a Google search should bring them up. They're reasonably priced, and reliably decent quality. I'm not linking directly because my ancient experience as a Mozilla OpenDirectory/DMOZ mod for France taught me much, far too much, about the shady ways of hotel SEO practices...

If you do end up spending a day, get a Mobilis day ticket for the m├ętro. It's cheap and will take you everywhere within the city, unlimited trips. Well worth it for hopping around, especially with plans in the air.

English is spoken everywhere you'll need it.
posted by fraula at 2:16 PM on June 13, 2014

Apologies for the double post, missed this -
Is the single 7pm train definitely going to run? And if it is, are we going to be able to get on it?

They've been good about running trains they say will run.
posted by fraula at 2:19 PM on June 13, 2014

Is there any way you could modify your Eurostar ticket to get in earlier? That could increase your chances of getting everything sorted out so that you get to Caen. From past experience, the best way to travel on strike days was to get to the train station early and armed with patience. Head to an information point and figure out which trains are running in the direction of Caen.

The 7pm train will likely run but not on schedule. Information at the St-Lazare station will likely be very confusing and last minute.

They aren't likely to check your tickets. It's common for conductors to let people travel standing (without a seat) on strike days. (another reason to try and get there as early as possible).

All the Paris tourism offices will be closed by 7pm. You can, however, book hotels in Paris through their website:

Basically: good luck!
posted by Milau at 2:22 PM on June 13, 2014

Thanks everyone - we decided to cut our losses and just stay in Paris, which was lovely!
posted by Vortisaur at 5:13 AM on June 21, 2014

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