Transcript for Episode 223: Quick and Easy Guide to Public Transportation in France: Trains, Buses + Metros

Categories: Paris, Trains in France

Discussed in this Episode

  • Rome2Rio App
  • RATP App
  • Oui.SNCF App
  • Google Maps
  • CityMapper App
  • TrainLineApp
  • Loco2
  • OuiGo App
  • GoEuro App
  • Rome2Rio App
  • SNCF App (for realt-time traffic update)
  • Regional Bus System Around Nice (Provence)
  • Solo travel in France


This is join us in France Episode 223. Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent. Are you getting ready for a trip to Paris, Provence, Normandy somewhere else in France. On this podcast, you’ll hear conversations about France. I am French. I live in France in the fair city of Toulouse. So I believe in sharing boots on the ground reports that keep it real and helpful for your own trip planning. How often have you taken public transportation in France? Maybe never. Maybe you’ve been to France many times but you always rent a car or use taxis maybe you know a lot about public transportation. But let me tell you what my guest on today’s episode Lachlan Cook has tried every mode of public transportation in France, and will explain how you can get around friends using public transit. Many people in North America are not

used to taking public transportation. But in France trains, buses and metros are often more convenient than using a car. They are faster, cheaper, and much less trouble. Show Notes and photos for this episode are on join us in France. com forward slash 223. Two to three. Join us in France is brought to you by Patreon supporters and addicted to friends, the small group tour company for people who want to enjoy friends to the fullest and with no stress. Check out our upcoming tours on May 7 and eighth 2019 on addicted to reminder, there won’t be a new episode next Sunday. I need to take a week off to make time for some other projects. I’ll tell you about those soon. And now here’s my conversation with Lachlan

How are you today? KBMFC Thank you.

Okay, today we are going to talk about getting around France using public transportation.

And Lachlan, a man told you a bit of an expert in this because you’ve done it a lot.

I really enjoy figuring out transit in different places. So I wouldn’t say I’m a complete expert but I’m proficient that’s for sure you’re proficient and you’ve tried a lot of things. So that’s wonderful. Okay, so we’ll

We’re going to be talking about

buses, trains and yeah, mostly trains, right and Metro, of course for Paris, so we’ll split it up between Paris and outside of Paris. Is that what you had in mind? Yes, exactly. I think Paris is sort of its own subject. And then the long distance trains are a separate category. Okay. All right. Well, let’s get going. What do you want to tell us about the Paris Metro? I should say that there’s been another. There’s been a couple of other episodes about public transportations within Paris itself. And I’ll have to link them because I forgot the episode numbers right now, but I’ll have to link them in the show notes.

Good. Well, Paris had the first transit in the world in 1662. The King gave permission for

a couple of gentlemen to start carriage transport and charge for each seat on a set route.

And they were running it every six to eight minutes. And it got incredibly popular. So that’s sort of the precursor to setting up the metro. And the metro was actually set up for the 1900 World Fair in Paris. And they built it fairly quickly. And it opened with 10 lines. And those 10 lines still exist and two, which for more have been added.

They opened with 10. Wow. Yeah, that it was really ambitious. That’s not the way they do it anymore. In France, nowadays, they will most cities will do one line and then maybe make it longer do something that crosses it or that sort of thing.

Right. I think in the old days, it was easier to say we’re doing this and get out of the way right and you can’t really do that anymore.

So Paris is Metro is the second busiest in Europe. Moscow was the first but it but it carries on

The number I have from 2015 is 4.16 million passengers per day in Paris or in Moscow. In Paris. Oh, wow. That is a lot of people. Right? That’s a lot of people. And it’s run by the RATP which are good initials to remember because have a good website. And that stands for ICF autonomy data on passport pally ZN You don’t have to remember that one. Yes, but I have to correct your French a little bit. Do you mind? Yeah. See? No, please. EO to numb the console? Yeah, yeah. Okay. So um, and actually, I should say there are 14 basic lines and to be lines, but that’s a technical detail.

Let me give you a quick summary of the hours. Metro stations in Paris on average are 548 meters apart. So if you are reasonably agile, you can always walk to a metro station. Yeah.

The hours that starts at 530 in the morning and it goes to 115 in the evening, right, that’s on weekdays and 2am on Friday and Saturdays. So good thing to remember if you’re out late.

There’s the system’s divided into five zones. And I don’t want to get too technical for most visitors. zone one and two are sort of the heart of Paris and you don’t have to worry about it too much. Yeah. The only thing you have to think about is VF site is in zone four. And the airport CDG. Chicago is Disney and Fontainebleau are in zone five. So we’re going to those places you need to think about it a little more. Right. And you I mean, if you’re going to those places frequently, then you need to buy the proper pass. But if you’re just using the, you know, the r&r to get to Disney for one day, then obviously just by the one ticket.

Yes. So that leads

into Okay, let’s talk about tickets quickly.

Individual tickets for most people if you’re just using individual tickets you can buy a car ne and that gives you 10 tickets for

14 euros and 90 cents which is a discount off the price of individual tickets right of about 50 cents, right? So so those are really good to do when you’re looking around when you packing around the machine to buy your tickets. They actually say T the one you the option you want his team, it looks like t dash something or other. That’s

right t plus i think is something like that. Yeah, so look for the T hidden the list, because the last time I was there, like Well, how do people know that that’s the money. They don’t call it a con anymore on the on

the screen?

Right and remember when you use those machines that there is an option to select

English which can be helpful.

Even for people who speak some French, it’s a little complicated. Yeah. And also remember that most metro stations have an attendant who can help you. It’s not necessarily at every entrance to the station. So sometimes you’ll have to go to a different entrance to find the attendant booths. That’s a good point.

Second, here’s another useful past to know about. There’s something called a Moby lyst day pass. And for central Paris, that past sells for seven euros and 50 cents for the whole day. Yeah. So if you’re going to be there for a day and you’re going to ride the metro more than I think it works out to five or six times it might be worth just getting that. Yep. And you can if you’re going to go out to Versailles, you can get one that covers you for the whole day and goes up to zone five and that’s a little more expensive. They go up to 17 euros and 50 cents, right and if you just buy the ticket

events, I think it’s like 750 or something. I can’t remember the last time I did it, but it wasn’t that much, you know. And then there’s tourist or in oriented Paris visit past, which is quite expensive, but comes in different day configurations. And I think it includes some museum entries. That’s a whole separate subject. So I want to go into that, but you can search. Google, I think parent value visit does not include any museum. It’s the Paris past. That museums Yeah. So by visitors just the advantage of that one is that you can start it any day of the week. So if you arrive on a Wednesday, well, if you buy the week long, then it’s going to be Wednesday to Wednesday, whereas NaVi go pass only starts on a Monday morning. Right and that’s where we’re headed next. Yeah. For those of you on joining us in France, who are probably repeat visitors like myself, and

Love the Navajo pass. It’s called it Naveed Navajo de Cuba. And the card itself is five euros and you need a photo. So bring your passport photo. And

you can.

You can get it at most metro stations, and then you have to charge it up. And it’s 22 euros and 80 cents for a week. And as Annie just said, it runs Monday to Monday. And you can charge it up anytime through that week through to Thursday, so

Oh, I didn’t know that. They will try that on Friday. That’s weird. No. But if you’re using the metro a lot, I mean, I’ve charged mine up on a Tuesday or Wednesday and used it for the rest of the week and still felt like I got my money’s worth. Yeah, it’s not very much 22 at really I mean, honestly, no other public transportation in a major city. Is that cheap for the week. Right and the Navajo day covert past is great because you just wave it over the thing and it’s

Magic. It will also get you out to and from the airport, which is nice because it covers all five zones, even though

Yeah, the week one.

Yeah. So that’s one of the advantages. And

yeah, I find it super handy. And it just, you’re not fumbling with little tickets and so on and so forth. Right. So, one or two side notes. There are ticket inspectors in Paris. Typically, if you change trains at best steal, you will get your ticket check. So when you scan your ticket, make sure that you have you keep the current ticket with you or your past with you because you will get checked. Yes, always do not throw away your transportation ticket until you have exited the metro system completely. You’re up in the you know, on the street because they could check it at any point. Right. So the nice thing about the Navajo de Kubernetes once you spend the five years

Over the past, you have it and next time you go back to France, you can charge it up again. Yep. So I had one for 10 years they last. My last one lasted for 10 years.

Yeah, they’re wonderful. Yeah. And it was great. But you do have a picture. And it’s a smallish photo. It’s like, you know, the standard American side, but it doesn’t matter if the photo takes over the whole card. Nobody cares. One of the things that you need to know is that you’re supposed to sign it because if it’s not signed, and you have a prickly

whatever you call these people in English, who verify that you paid they might, yeah, inspectors, they might charge you a fine. So you have to attach your photo and sign it and put your name in there. Yeah, so if you bring a standard passport photo with a little trimming with some scissors that will work that’s what I did. Yeah.

Yeah, now I have to say that most of the time for me when I’m in Paris, I walk so much in Paris, I only take the metro if I’m going, you know, five stations or or more. Typically, if I’m going fewer than five stations, I’m just going to walk. So I use the money so that I buy 10 tickets. And when I’m out of the 10 tickets, I buy that one. The the the advantage of that is that it’s very cheap, because it’s like you said it’s a euro 50 not quite a euro 50 per transportation, per ticket and NUU and I end up using maybe two a day, most days, you know, it’s really Right, right. Yeah. So

it depends on what you what your habits are in Paris. Right. I find that I often will pick in on the small to go to and take the metro out there and then walk for a while and take the train back and then do the same in the afternoon. So I found I was typically burnings who are

Carnegie and two days write

me a lot of money. Yeah, and that case, it’s it’s very well worth it. Also you could transfer between the metro and the bus system. But there is very arcane rules that apply. So if it rejects your ticket, well, it’s just that something you did is against the rules and moments on that. Yeah, yeah. And like one, the one thing that’s kind of weird is you can’t, like I remember one day I wanted to, I was really thirsty. I get off the bus, because there was a bakery right there. And I buy a drink and I tried to get back on the bus and it wouldn’t let me use the same ticket.

Right. So you know, I would have I wouldn’t have guessed that role, but that’s how it works. So if if he rejects it well, Soviet but with a bit better with the NaVi go pass. You wouldn’t have this problem. It would take it right.

Right. And I said, say to the listeners, remember that all these prices and rules change. So this is how they are now, my understanding is that the little yellow Metro tickets are going to go away in a few more years and they’re probably going to go more to smart card based stuff just because it’s easier to manage. Right? Right. Okay, so stick Stay tuned on that. Right. Alright, so now we have the tickets, let’s talk about how do you know which direction you’re going and where you’re going and all of that. Okay, so when you’re trying to get on the Paris Metro,

you can look at a paper map and they’ll give you one at each station for free. And there’s also one posted at the entrance to every station so you can check it. But the crucial thing you know, need to know is what’s the end point of the line in the direction I want to go right the number of the line at what’s the end point, right and the numbers are also associated with a color to help you track it.

Right, right. So you need to know your endpoint. And you may want to get one of those little paper maps. But here’s a great way to figure it out. Most of you have Google Maps on your phone, right?

Yeah. And if you look, you’re used to navigating your car with Google Google Maps you put in where you want to go and you hit the directions button, right.

So now if you do that exactly as if you are driving when you get to the screen after the directions button, the second icon, the first icon in the upper left is a car. The second one is a bus or a train. Yeah, if you touch that icon, it will tell you how to get there by Metro and by bus, right and it will give you a number of options. So you can pick the option you want, and then touch that and it will literally tell you how far it is to walk to where to pick up the metro how many stops you have to go and where to get off Google Maps even better.

tells you if you if you’re better off being at the front of the train or the back of the train depending on where you’re changing.

Right sometimes I haven’t run into that but I’ll tell you what they never tells you that for sure. I don’t know. Right? Well map does. That was gonna be my next recommendation. But most of you already have Google Maps right phone so that’s why I mentioned it. Yeah. will work. And so far, I travel a lot and I’ve been able to use it in Hanoi, Saigon, Tokyo, yesterday, Italy, all kinds of places. The one place that does not work, oddly enough is Leo. Leo, you need to get another program. But everywhere else it works. Oh, wow. That’s what I wonder what it is with the Oh, yeah. And there are some, there are some other pieces of information that Google Maps often provides you and one of those is when you get off where you’re going. You’ll find that each metro station has a number of exits. And

Most of us have gotten lost getting out of a metro station that’s sort of inevitable. But if you could pay attention to the exit suggestion listed on Google Maps, you’ll generally be exiting in the right direction. And some of these exits are far flung. I don’t know anyone who’s exited probably out and it hasn’t gotten lost at least 10 times. Well, people who live there and they just go like robots, right, figured it out. And they always do the same. But if you need to make any change at

all, it’s a pain. And actually, it’s the one inconvenient there’s this little hotel that I really enjoyed in the movie, and we mentioned it in the last episode. Well, it was Episode 218 won’t be the last by the time this is published. But in Episode 289, we mentioned a hotel called local do nerve in Loma Hi, and it’s wonderful, but it’s on this line that it

Which line is it? Is it line? One? It’s probably line one. And it’s the only line there and so you always end up having to change a Chatterley Allah.

Oh, and it’s a pain in the behind I mean, the first few days I was so lost then after a while I got it, you know, but it takes you a few days just to get familiarized with. So you know, if you can avoid Chatterley Allah.

Yes, absolutely. And the other thing to remember is if for some reason you don’t know the exit number, when you get off on the platform somewhere on the platform or as you walk out, there’ll be something called the plant plant. Do tap here. Yeah, the plan of the quarter. And that will show you where each exit pops up in the street tonight, so it’s worth taking a quick look at that. If you’re not sure because exits can be widely far apart. Yes, yes, some places, especially some someplace like

around a little while ago.

Good right that one is like the stops are like a kilometer away from each other the the exits, right? All right, so um

let me just say one thing. Paris Metro is sort of famous for having some pickpockets on it. Hmm. How you position yourself can really affect whether you have problems or not. My personal preference is to be if I can at one end of a car or another and tuck myself into a corner. That means I’ve got sort of three sides protected, and I only have to watch my front. Yeah, if you get in the middle of the car, go across the car and try to put your back against the far door. Because if you stand right near the exit, the standard strategy for these guys is to wait First stop, grab something run out the door just before it closes and then you can’t really do anything. That’s right. So try not to be right near the door. Unless you’re about to

Get off and put your phone away in your pocket, hold it in your hands, but have it away in your pocket. So it’s not an obvious like, they are not looking to steal your big luggage. They are looking to steal anything small. So if they can slide your laptop out of your bag or your

camera, maybe a small, something small, they’re always looking for something small that they can resell.

Right and then the other thing on that is be careful anytime there’s a distraction going on, because that’s a favorite tactic. Yeah, you know, people will create a distraction in one place and everyone’s looking at that while they’re grabbing stuff from the UK. So anyway, nothing to worry about too much but a little awareness will save you a lot of grief and a very good way to avoid losing too much is not to bring too much. So exactly judicious about what you carry in your pockets and in your bag. Don’t take you know all of your cash, your passport, your credit card, your work.

bags your us driver’s license. All of this stuff needs to stay in the hotel safe. Just Just keep you know right don’t take much with you and then even if you do get robbed because even people who are very good at this get robbed.

Exactly, you know you won’t lose that much if you have 20 bucks well you’ve lost 20 bucks but if you have 2000 Ah, you know yeah so right. Or worse your passport or something that yes and take two or three days to get replaced. Right and I know that technically in France, do you were supposed to have ID on you at all times. For the love of God just take a photocopy. I have never met a single human being who has gotten in trouble for not having the original passport in their pocket. They they know that we have thieves. They will not give you a hard time just say look, this is my photocopy. I can I can go to the Shonda movie or the police station and produce

The original, they will understand this is not a big deal. Do not travel with your passport in your pockets. Right.

All right, so let’s talk just a little bit about buses in Paris because one of the great part of the Metro is you avoid a lot of traffic. The downside is you don’t see anything. So buses can be a fun option because you actually get to see stuff. And as Annie just mentioned, one of my favorite things to do on the bus is to ride along until I see something interesting and hop out at the next stop and walk back to it. Yes. So Paris has 63 bus lines and 4000 buses.

And if you are out late, they have night buses and if you go on the RATP website, you can see the chart for the night buses.

So the buses are numbered between 20 and 96. And much to my surprise when I was doing research for the show

The numbers actually mean something. Oh, I saw that either. I didn’t either. So the first number relates to where the bus starts its route. And the second number is the end point. And there’s a list of these numbers. And the best thing to do is look on Wikipedia, because it’s complicated. so

small. Yeah, by locations. And if you look on Wikipedia, and type in buses, RATP, Wikipedia, you’ll find the list and the explanation you provide me with the link, I will put it in the show notes, right. So the thing to remember most people get overwhelmed by the buses because they feel like they have to know every bus in Paris and you really don’t know what you tell. So

when you’re out, wherever you’re staying, look at the numbers of the stops near you, because those are the ones that are going to be most useful for you. And then you’re going to find there are a couple lines that are super useful. So to have

Those lines are the 96, which starts in Mopar nos goes through.

Right and through the Morais. Yeah. And I find that one super useful and, and the other one is no, I wish they doubled the amount of buses on that one. But anyway, right and the other one that’s super useful is the 69, which goes from the Eiffel Tower all the way to perilous says Yeah. Yep. Excellent bus lines. Yeah. And the 69 stops almost everywhere visitors might want to go. I mean, not everywhere, but a lot of Right. Yeah. But for instance, Rick Steves recommends if you want to do a cheap tour of Paris, take the 69 Yeah. and ride it from end to end and you’ll cover everything for the price of a metro ticket, right? I or the 96. I would do both. You’re gonna get that kind of mindset. You know, I mean, the hop on hop off buses are fine too, but they cost a lot of money compared to the price of a

Metro ticket. Right? And it is the same tickets that you use on the bus and on the metros, by the way. It is and the Navajo pass will do them. And when you get on the bus, the protocol is to get on if you can through the front door. And you want to say Banjul to the bus driver. That’s considered polite behavior. And then you want to scoot towards the back row do not stand right next to the farebox right to the back of the bus, right? And most Paris buses will actually say The next stop is this, and how many minutes to the end of the line and that sort of information?

Right, and remember the wonderful Google Maps I talked about? Yes, you and you can pull up your phone and look at the blue dots so that you’re sure you’re getting off where you want to get off. Yep.

Yeah, very good. So when you’re doing transit in Paris and and other places, I really strongly recommend you do what it takes to have

cellular data, because it’s really hard to do this kind of stuff. Well, if you don’t have access to mapping and so on and so forth, right, and most metro stations in Paris have 4g reception. True. There’s Yeah, there’s coverage also, usually when you’re on the train, yes. Some places don’t. But most places do. So it’s good. If you need to do start a new search while you’re moving. It will probably work. Right. So wrapping up the Paris part of this the apps you should have our Google Maps obviously citymapper, which Annie mentioned. Yep. And then I recommend getting the RATP app. Yeah. Partly because it has all the maps and it will it also has a section that will show you traffic delays. Yeah. So if there are problems or you know, there’s a strike or a riot or something like that. It’s worth having a quick look to see if things are running. How

They should, right. And they also give you real time information. If you’re here at a time when there’s a strike or there’s some sort of demonstration going on in the city, they will tell you that. So it’s it’s a it’s more up to date, the RSVP app gives you the latest information.

Right? Excellent. With the with the buses, sometimes the bus driver will tell you to get off because they are going to go on a break or is the end of their shift their shift or something.

Just get off and wait for the next one.

Right. And one thing that’s really nice in Paris is almost every station has a little electronic signboard which will tell you how long it’s going to take for the next bus to arrive. Yeah, yeah. They’re not always functioning properly. But most of the time, most of them work most of the time. Let’s put it that way. Right and we should mention

Metro trains, on average come between four and six minutes during normal hours. And it’s a little less on Sundays and weekends, right? And they’re really long so they can take a lot of passengers. Right and we should also mention, for a lot of you, I travel alone and I travel light so I always take the car to the airport.

And it takes a little under an hour and if you have the Navy go day Coover, you’ve already paid for it. So for me that works great, right? But the the caveats Are you got to be able to carry your bag up and down a bunch of stairs and it takes a little bit. Yeah. Yep. But it’s doable. It’s doable, but I recommend that I mean, I’m you know, I’m 53 so I’m not at the age where I like to carry heavy stuff up and down stairs. And, and so I if I have luggage, I will take a taxi and the taxis have set rates as well. So they’re not that expensive, but

That’s just a personal choice.

And a lot of it depends how close you are to an ER station. Yeah, if you if you can go to the station immediately and get on it makes it a whole lot easier than if you have to take a few metro lines to get there. So anyway, just a note. Yeah, yep. Very good. Alright, so now we’re going to move on to talking about transportation outside of Paris to the rest of the country.

Let’s let’s talk about the trains in general. Did you also want to mention regional buses or just the trains?

Let’s we can mention regional buses a little down the road. I think the trains are the most important thing because that’s not always the most comfortable but what people will enjoy the most Yeah, yeah. Yes. All right. All right. So the trains are run by essence. AFCT NASA Nasional tremendous LC Yes.

And they are

there are a few different classes of trains. And the reason you need to know this is because some of them require reservations and some of them don’t. Correct. So the local trains are referred to as TR. Yep. And they don’t sell out. You don’t need reservations and there’s no price difference whether you buy the ticket at the station or ahead of time, correct. Yeah, usually regional train so to go between to lose and I think the furthest TR goes to wash, which is what an hour and 20 minutes away by car so it’s probably the same by train. And and then beyond that, it’s not the same service.

Right. And with TR trains, remember when you’ll buy your ticket at the station, and then you’re looking for the yellow box which will validate your tickets.

Yes, they say compost day, right? Yes. Yes. So it’s very important that you validate the ticket. It was Yeah, it stamps it with the date when you took it. But otherwise, the date is reusable. I mean, the ticket. You could the ticket is not timed in any way. It’s just, it’s just like a metro ticket. It’s you can use it anytime.

Right? And my understanding is once you validate it, you have sort of 24 hours of validity. But the fair inspectors on the train will be looking to make sure you validated it. So what if you have any doubt at all about your ticket, validate it, because if you validate a ticket that you didn’t need to validate it won’t matter? Correct. And I’ll put a picture of the validating machines on the website right if you it’s a yellow machine,

right. So the high speed trains which are really terrific because if you want to go all the way across France say from Paris to nice

Somewhere, you want a high speed train, and those are called TD time to go all the tests. And those generally require reservations. Yeah. And

the reservations are generally cheaper if you buy more in advance. Correct.

So technically speaking tickets for TG these are available 92 days in advance of the train right now. take that with a grain of salt because they tend to get released in batches. And it’s not always 92 days.

Right? Say I want to buy my train ticket for next year. No, he won’t show anything. You won’t show you those dates. Right

now and you’ll think oh, no, there won’t be any trains after the 12th of May. You know, No, that’s not it. It’s just that they’re not open for sale yet. Right. So don’t get in a panic about that and they tend to be slower.

Releasing tickets that schedule changes, one of which happens in the first week of December. So tickets, tickets for the spring will take a while to release after that, for instance, just yesterday the tickets got released for April, May and June. Right, right.


okay, so the thing you need to know about TGV tickets as they come in three fair classes, and you need to be careful of which fair class you buy, because some of those classes don’t allow any changes. So it’s like airline tickets. So I don’t want to go into an exhaustive thing on that because it’s complicated, but you should be aware that if you’re flying in and planning to take a train, you might want to get a fair class that has some flexibility. Yes. So the three fair classes are programs which don’t allow changes or refunds was you and pro

Lazear is kind of a semi flex where you’ll pay a little bit for a change. But it’s doable and Pro is sort of fully refundable the whole bit. Usually the pro tickets are sufficiently more expensive that it’s probably not worth going, you know fully refundable. Hmm. But But if you’re flying in and your plane might be late or something you probably want to get a ticket with some flexibility. Yeah, yeah. And that’s very important those my sister in law plan to do that and she was flying into CPG use the CPG train station to go to not, but her plane was late. And so it was pretty complicated for her to then change and get on a different train.

Right. So let’s talk about how to buy the tickets. I want to I want to recommend strongly that before you buy any tickets at all, you

Go to a website called the man in the seat 61. Yes. And this is the primary train website for the whole world. And the guy really has a lot of information. So if you google the man and seat 61, France, you’ll see something called the beginner’s guide to French trains. And it’s a very much worth reading, right? Yes, yes, it’s very good. And I’m trying to get him on the podcast. But oh, that would be cool. I’m not a celebrity. So I don’t know if he’ll respond or not, we’ll see. Right. So a couple things you should know about French trains. One is, you know, don’t show up two minutes before for a TGV because they usually check your tickets before you get onto the platform, and it will take a little while. Second, when you get to the station, you’re going to find that your train

number is up there, but it won’t show the track and 20 minutes before departure, they’ll put the track up. So you need to be sort of ready to head for the track.

20 minutes before departure, and you’ll see everyone standing around the monitors in the station waiting for the right track number to be displayed, right. And it’s usually the same track, always. So people are used to it. But they’ll still wait because just in case they moved, you know, right. And as a foreigner, you probably won’t know what that track is, although you can ask people and sometimes I’ll get you close, but you want to pay attention to that. Yeah. Then once you’re on the track, your tickets going to have a car number and a seat number. And on the track, they’ll be a little lighted picture of the train, and it’s going to show you which car is going to stop where on the platform, right? So what you want to do is look at that picture and position yourself roughly where your car is going to stop, because sometimes the train comes in, and you’ve got about a minute or two to get on it. Right and those platforms can be quite long. Right? So if you you know if if I’m taking the train introduced to go to Paris, well

That’s the end of the lines. So the train is going to sit there for half an hour. But if for example, I’m picking up the train in Meza me, where it stops some of the TGV stop, then I have to be in the right way. I mean, you can always move around within the train, but it’s not as comfortable. No, and especially if you have luggage, it really works a lot better this year. Yeah, if you’re at the right car, so just notice that and get yourself to the right track. Basically, the train picture will show you the car numbers next to a letter at the letters will be on the platform, you walk down to your letter, and when the train pulls in the car you need to get into will be roughly in front of that letter. Yep.

Okay, and,

and for those of you taking the Eurostar, they have their own website, and you definitely need reservations for that. Right. So buying French train tickets. In the past, the SNCF has referred you to

Europe in the US, which charges a fee. So I think that’s changed now. And Annie likes we SNCF. Yep. And I played with it yesterday. And it didn’t seem to refer me to rail Europe. So that’s a good site to try. Yeah.

And they have an app, and you want to get the app because then you can get your ticket on your phone, which makes your life a lot easier. Yeah. So I would even recommend that with the we SNCF. You buy, you install the app and you buy the ticket from the app. I mean, it will work also they will send you an email and then from the email, you can get to the app. But if you buy it from the app on your phone, then everything is there. And it’s really, really easy. Right? So do that. The other apps that I’ve found to be extremely useful, are one called train line. And that one also has an app and is British based and was started by three guys

Who thought they could better do it better than essence AF. So train line has an app. It’s called train now. And there’s one more call loco to also has an app. Right. So those are all good. Then let’s take one little aside.

You know how their discount airlines Well, they’re now discount key GDS, and those are called Lego. Yes. And they can be really reasonable. Yeah. But just like discount airlines, they have a bunch of rules. So when you look at train line, are we ends are we essence AF, you’re going to see sometimes it’ll say we on the train instead of TGV and if you see that, make sure you read the rules because it if you’re carrying anything more than a carry on bag, you need to either pay for luggage or

or they’re going to charge you when you get there. Oh wow.

Yeah, but but if you just have a carry on, it’s fine. And I used it, but we, there we go trains tend to not allow you to change your ticket. So, you know, sometimes you can I was looking yesterday and I could get too nice for sort of 20 euros. Wow. But if I wasn’t on that train, I was going to lose the twins, right? So, you know, that can be great if it’s, you know, three days before and you’re pretty certain when you’re going. But if it’s six months before that’s probably not, you know, that’s a gamble. Yeah. So pay attention to that because the other thing with we go trains is they require you to be there 30 minutes before the train. So if you’re someone who’s chronically late, that may not work for you. So here

we go. Let’s see, we go all one Hmm.

You know, I have seen that logo and I have seen that on trains. I just never used them.

Right. So on train line when you search a destination, we go trains don’t run between all destinations. But if you search one where they run, it will be in with the train line listings and you’ll see one fair, that’s really cheap, and you’ll go wow.

But pay attention to that. So this is why recommend using trainline loco to SNCF, try searching things in different apps because you’ll often find a little bit different availability right now. All of those links in the show notes right episode, and we go trains can save you a lot of money if they happen to be doing what you want to do, huh? Yeah. Okay, next next thing so so that covers the trains pretty well. The regional buses France have a has a lot of buses and their places. For instance, I just went from MSC to show money. And they’re the train services very awkward and it takes a long time. But there’s a bus that goes

pretty much straight there with one stop. Mm hmm. So, and it’s cheap. It’s half the price of the train. And it’s faster. So

the way to find the buses, the easy way is there’s an app called go euro. And it’s it also has the trains and you can select for trains or buses. So it’s a great way to compare trains and buses. Oh, no euro is really nice, because it also allows you to buy the ticket right on the app too. Right. So that’s another app to have in your arsenal.

And you know, you just put it on your phone, and it’s there and when you need it, a lot of times, for instance, with buses, if it’s midweek or something and you’re pretty sure it’s not going to be sold out. You’re just using the app to make sure what the times are. You’ll go to the bus station, say an NFC just walk up to the counter and buy the ticket right you know, but if you

You know, if you’re nervous about being on a certain bus or something, you can buy it on the app too. I’ve done it both ways. Sure, sure.

So. So that’s a good thing to know about. There’s a pretty robust network. And the other reason I want to mention the buses, is because France is famous for having strikes.

And if you’re in the car, in the midst of a strike, you want to be able to see if there’s a bus that will do what you need to do, right, very often the buses are not on strike, because only one section of the bus market belongs to SNCF. And even they don’t go on strike because they don’t have the same.

The same. Well, yeah, right. Right. Exactly. It’s a union. It’s not protected by the same rules. And so they have no reason to go on strike because they have no protections. Whereas the train people do have a lot of protections that they’re trying to protect. Right. So it’s useful to have that in

Arsenal even if you don’t plan to use it, you may find it useful at a time. So here’s how to think. Yeah, and I was also going to say that there’s also places in France where the trains don’t go anymore, but they’ve usually replaced it with a regional bus. Right.

Right. And the buses there’s a there’s a couple bus companies, I think they all show up on the get go euro app. But there’s flicks bus FLIX bus, and there’s we bus, which is an asset and CF subsidiary. Right. But I think if you use the go euro app, they find them all for you. So you don’t have to look at the individual sites. Very good. That’s that sounds like a good app.

Yeah, so let me just give a quick note on strikes, because this could be useful for people. So it’s worth checking

ahead of time if you’re arriving on the day of a strike and if you could possibly move your ticket by a day tip

You French train strikes are a day or two, and then a day or two of normal. Yeah. So a lot of times if you know there’s a strike the day of your arrival, if you just shift your plane a day, you can avoid the whole mess. Yeah. On the days that there are strikes, there was still be trained. So that’s not the end of the earth. It’s just they’re going to run about one in three trains, which means when you do get on the train that’s going to be horribly crowded. Yeah.

And I’ve done this and you know, ended up standing in the aisle from the airport all the way down to tool because I was going to the lower Valley area and it wasn’t a lot of fun. But yeah, we got there. Yeah, yeah. No, but it took hours and it wasn’t fun. Yeah. So the website to check for strike information is called say like that. Yeah.

And that’s a pretty good website and you can sort by area and by industry and you know, more information.

Then you want, but you can also, if you hit calendar, you can see the calendar of strikes, and you can kind of get a feel for it, right. But really, if you possibly can avoid traveling on strike days, you’ll make your life a lot easier, right. And the advantage to buying your train ticket with the wi SNCF app is that it will send you real time updates on what trains are running and what trains are not in case of a strike. That’s, that’s why I think it’s wise to buy through that app rather than another one. Because you don’t know if you get the tickets through some other app. And there are some good ones. They might not update their app fast enough. Whereas Yeah, we got SNCF, it’ll be up to date. Right. And then also we should mention that we got NSNAF is generally for buying tickets. There’s another app which is just essence AF and that is more focused.

traffic and and, and train specific information, not ticket purchases. Yeah, so it’s worth having the essence AF app because you can see whether your trains running late and so on and then yeah, just put in your train number. That’s a great tip. Yeah, and all of these are free so yeah, no, no, no reason not to try them out. If you don’t like them, you can delete them. Mm hmm

All right. Well, I Oh, one other app that I think people should know about this worthwhile to have there’s an app if you don’t know about it. It’s called Rome to Rio, Rome, the letter to and Rio and Rome to Rio. It’s also on the web Rome to Rio calm basically lets you figure out transit between pretty much any two points on the globe. So if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar and you sort of want to see what the possibilities are right Rome to Rio’s a great starting point. Yeah, it would be good like you feeling to go to

from Paris to I don’t know, Budapest, and you have no idea. They would tell you they would give you show you different possibilities. And it’s a really good app. Right? Well, I haven’t looked at their app, but their their website is, is well, yeah, it’s the same thing, basically. Yeah. But very useful, because they also give you links to the agencies that run those buses and so on and so forth. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Wonderful. So

yeah, I think you you’ve given a lot of tips. It’s, it’s wonderful. And I and I will put your notes on the website so people can look at all that. I just want to end with in praise of train travel in France. It’s so good. I mean, yes, I’m a little bit spoiled because when I do it, I just do first class between to lose in Paris. But it’s four hours. It’s so much less hassle than than the airplane


from my house to the center of Paris takes me so I need to leave my house an hour before the you know the time my train leaves. So it’s going to take me five and a half hours more or less to get between my house to my hotel. It’s wonderful because the train takes longer than that. I mean the airport, getting to the airport and waiting for security and all of that takes longer than it does with the train and the train is so much more comfortable, especially first class, obviously.

Yes, I would urge people to use trains many times because the TGD goes so fast. It goes 300 kilometers an hour. If you’re going, you know a fair distance across France, you’re going to be so much better off taking the train and then if you need to rent a car, you can rent one where you’re going for a day or two. Yeah, but trains travel city center, the city center. The problem with airports is there almost

Never in the city center. Right. So as Annie is saying, if you look at the block to block time, the train is often faster than going to the airport, waiting two hours going through security flying, and then getting in from the airport in the other place. And when you’re in a train, you can get up you can go to the restaurant car and have a coffee or something. You know, it’s and you can see the scenery. Yes, it’s just so much more civilized. They, I can’t say enough good stuff about train travel within France. I’m sure it’s just as good, good. I mean, I’ve also gone to Barcelona and it’s the same experience pretty much it’s a ggV train. You know, if you get first class, you’re in like you have a nice big white seats and you have a nice big tablet and you have individual plugs and it’s wonderful and you can have your, your carry on under your seat. If you have a bigger suitcase, it needs to be a little further away, but I never leave anything valuable in the other suitcase, and there’s not

Train death. I mean you like, like we said before, the CDs are not after you big luggage thereafter your small items that they can sell. They don’t want your coat, you know? Yeah.

Same for Spain. I’ve gone all across Spain and the trains and they’re quite good also. Yeah. Yeah. We should mention there are Eurail passes they’ve gotten the rules just changed for 2019. And

there are now either a global pass which covers most of Europe or single country pass and not much in between. The biggest problem with a Eurail pass is you still have to make a reservation to go on the TV’s right. And you have to pay a reservation See? So at this point, you still kind of have to go through a whole thing to get yourself on the train. I just haven’t found it to be worth the hassle. I’d rather just buy the ticket and be done. I agree. I had a young

cousin of my husband’s who was

was visiting all through Europe who came it was maybe three years ago. So it’s been a few years but he had a Eurail pass. And it was a pain because very few trains were actually eligible for the type of fair he could get. Right. So when you log on, it tells you Okay, what so what’s your customer number, whatever. And then it shows you a few trains you can get, but not enough, you know, and it was around Christmas time, and it was just difficult. So just Yeah, I don’t think they’re worth it most of the time. No, I think if you’re traveling a lot, and you’re hopping around, but if you’re just doing a few trips, you’re probably just going to find it easier to buy a ticket and be done with it. Yep, yep. Agreed. Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much, Lachlan, for coming back on the show and sharing all this good information. It’s really helpful to have a clear view of how these things work in general and then for the details. You always have to

Drill down a little bit yourself. But I think right now hopefully this will give people places to start looking. Yeah. And it really is an approachable thing to do. And it’s really fun and not having to worry about a car and park a car and pay to park a car and pay for gas to deal with speeding tickets and so on is just fantastic. Yeah, economics change if you have a family of four, but as a solo traveler, you know, every time I think about getting a car, I do the math, and it’s just so much easier and cheaper to use transport. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And then it’s pleasant. You don’t you’re not responsible. You don’t have to worry about there’s many things that you don’t have to worry about when you’re in a train that you would have to worry about when you’re in a car. So right. And for example, if you go to nice, they have a seven day transit pass for 15 years. Wow. And that past covers the whole Riviera except for Monaco where you have to pay another euro 50

But you can take buses all over the Riviera on that one pass. Wow. So if you stay for five or six days, it pays for itself really quickly. Yeah, the province area has really good

transportation systems bus regional buses. They’re very good. They used to have a lot of trains. I don’t think they have that many trains anymore, but they have a lot of really good but regional buses. were right. And those are all on Google Maps and I went to all you know little towns I could think of like, like the live Hall show now and ball so sampled of all so yeah. On and on, all by local bus all on that pass. Yeah. Excellent. Yeah. All right. All right. Thank you so much like when you’ve been wonderful again. All right. Well, thank you for having me back and a pleasure and I hope people enjoy riding the trains and buses. Yeah, send us your picture in front of the bus or the door, the train. We want to see your face your happy faces.

I’ll see if I can dig one up. Excellent. Thank you, Lachlan. All right, bye.

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Categories: Paris, Trains in France