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I don't understand half of it, but it's interesting.

Totally off-topic question, but maybe just you can help me out with an idea: I plan to take a TGV from Strasbourg to Le Mans this Sunday. For those trains, tickets can be obtained only in France. I could reserve and buy on-line, and receive it in Strasbourg, trouble is: voyages-sncf.com wants a credit card for payment (I only have a debit card, no security code), and the same card when receiving the tickets at the counter. Am I left with trying my luck and trying to buy a ticket hours before the train departs?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 09:51:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"credit card" in France means only an international paiement card, if it has MasterCard or Visa logos on it, you should try using the website I think.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 10:24:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That didn't come out properly... In France, a credit card is a means of paiement ; wether it actually creates debt or directly withdraw from your account matters little.

Don't know  about the lack of security code, though. The SNCF website isn't the best for internationalisation.

Can't you purchase through a travel agent, though?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 10:28:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a Maestro card, it's not covered. If I am not mistaken, the security code is correlated with chip cards, mine is only magnetic strip.

Unfortunately, that relation (along the new TGV Est Européen...) is not purchaseable through a travel agent (only found it out when I went to the travel agent).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 02:29:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure you can have the tickets mailed abroad. My sister in law does it frequently (get national trip tickets mailed to London).

At the very beginning of the registration process, when choosing departure and destination, you should find a section of the form at the bottom, with a combo-box for "pays de réception des billets" or something like that (country for receiving tickets), which is set to France by default.

You should then be able to pay with an international card like visa or mc, provided you have a CVVS code on the back (3-digits in the signature box).

Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 11:10:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, there is a pays de réception des billets option, however, for some trains, it is restricted to France only, and my trains are among them.

Still, if I choose France as place of ticket delivery, there is a mailing option whose extra info also talks about sending it abroad. But the problem is mailing time: 4 days inland, 7 days abroad, and I leave home in 4 days...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 02:33:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can confirm what linca and Pierre say. You should be able to get the ticket sent to you in Hungary by using the "pays de réception" choice. And if your card is international (Visa, Euro/Mastercard) you can pay online with it, though they'll ask you for the additional 3-digit code on the back of the card...

Payment cards in France are usually debit cards (though some may have a credit reserve). But if yours has no chip and no PIN (personal security code) you'll have problems in France paying in shops with it or getting money from a cash machine (ATM).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 12:48:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has PIN, but no chip. (I just read that some non-French bank bosses are convinced that chip cards have much improved security, and instead suspect French card-makers of only trying to gain new markets by demanding a switch to chip cards across Europe, with the market 95% covered at home...)

It seems I have to try my luck with before-departure booking in Strasbourg.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 02:38:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that you have completely hijacked my link to a really, really interesting article, I must ask : what day/hour is the train leaving on ? It might help determine whether the train is likely to be full. If you can easily get reduced prices quotes (try to book - without paying - a return ticket one week later, see if you get 25% off), it means there is a fair amount of free seats in the trains, which mean you'll have no problem booking shortly before departure. Else, it might be hard getting on the train.

Although the solution Laurent gave works properly ; if you are in good faith, the best solution is to look for the controller and ask for an inboard ticket. But you won't get early reservations reductions.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 04:26:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that you have completely hijacked my link to a really, really interesting article

Sorry :-( Maybe you should make it a diary? I'm curious what the Keynesians here think about it.

About my train: Sunday, 9h25, and it goes around Paris. I looked at the one week later train, indeed a reduction (from €87 to €72), and also a special promo offer for first-class (€47!). I am relieved! Now if only they gave me reductions on a FIP card/ticket.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Aug 15th, 2007 at 07:19:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to be sure, are you getting a reduction on the Sunday 19th train ? Because that Sunday is probably one of the busiest days for trains : combination of it being in the middle of the summer holidays and end of the August 15th long weekend (August 15th is a public holiday, which means people take additional vacations to make it a long week end...)

I'll see if I make a diary...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Aug 15th, 2007 at 07:25:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no reduction on the 19 August train. And the 1st class special offers must have been sold-out days ago. End of long weekend? Now you make me feel more nervous...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 15th, 2007 at 07:30:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When do you get close enough to France to buy those tickets ? :)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Aug 15th, 2007 at 07:34:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two hours earlier... when my night train arrives in Strasbourg.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Aug 15th, 2007 at 10:07:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Odds of you not spending the trip in a proper seat aren't  low, to say the least...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Aug 15th, 2007 at 06:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For strasbourg-paris at least you can try:

http://idtgv.com/

Once you've paid online you can get a PDF you can print for yourself and you need only this and an official id (passport, ...) with the same name you provided to board the train (for most idtgv controls are done before boarding).

Also in France you can board any train without ticket: the controller always make two pass over the wagon first just walking and the second one later controlling. If you ask them during the first pass you'll just pay a bit more your ticket (it's not a fine just cost to make on board so that everyone doesn't do it). At the second pass you'll get a real fine. It's best to have cache but when I asked out of curiosity they told me they accept credit cards too.

I sometimes do that for Toulouse-Castres after idtgv Paris-Toulouse if I don't have enough time to buy a ticket at Toulouse Matabiau (last time my TGV was 15 minutes late and I had only 3 minutes to board the other train :).

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 02:38:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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