5, 6, or 7-day pass (eurail pass) for one country - France & pass activation & seat reservation timing

  • 19 November 2023
  • 3 replies

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Hi everyone:

Researching; planning for May 10 to 24, 2024 trip (2-week trip) to France with senior parents.

Train Trips Needed:

  1. Sunday, Paris Montparnasse to Chenonceaux (round trip) approx €330 (RT tickets for 3 persons); required 2 TGV seat reservation x 3 persons
  2. Monday, Paris St Lazare to Vernon-Giverny; round trip €54 (RT tickets 3 persons)
  3. Tuesday, CDG T2 (TGV) to Colmar; one way €389.10 (3 persons); required 1 TGV seat reservation x 3 persons
  4. Thursday, Colmar to Lyon Part Dieu, one way €237.3; require 1 TGV seat reservation x 3 persons
  5. Saturday, Lyon-Part Dieu to Avignon Centre, one way  €114 (3 persons), require 1 TGV seat reservation x 3 persons +  Avignon Centre - Orange, one way €42.6
  6. Monday, Avignon Centre to Arles, round trip €52.2 (3 persons)
  7. Tuesday, Avignon Centre to Nice Ville, one way €204.3 (3 persons), require 1 TGV seat reservation x 3 persons

Approximate total train cost using December 2023 pricing is about €1423.50

Eurail pass (2 seniors & 1 adult)

  • 5-day pass €579/USD $619
  • 6-day pass €641/USD $685
  • 7-day pass €700/USD $750

Question 1: Not sure whether to buy 5, 6 or 7-day eurail pass. 

If I don’t count  #2 St Lazare to Vernon-Giverny & #6 Avignon to Arles, then I will only need 5-day pass. 

From your past travel experience, do you think I need to worry about getting tickets for these 2 journeys in May? 

(#5 Avignon to Orange doesn’t need a pass but since that day I intend to use TGV Lyon to Avignon that same day then it’s an add on.)

Question 2: In the event of a strike during my travel, what happens to one’s pass? The “trips/tickets” already chosen (added to My Trips) and the booked seat reservations? 

Question 3: Can I purchase an eurail one-country France pass and not activate it but use the pass # to make seat reservations? I’m not so clear on this. I’ve read that you should activate closer to your travel date. But I want to make the seat reservations early to take advantage of any €10 (+ service charge) ones. 


Thank you. 


Best answer by thibcabe 19 November 2023, 21:44

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You are too early to buy reservations for May, bookings haven't opened yet for dates after 24th March. However as you'll be traveling during 2 of the busiest weekends of the year (Ascension and Pentecost holidays) I'd recommend booking well in advance.

Use for all TGV reservations (4€ fee per order).

Since the price difference is fairly small I'd get 7 day passes right away.

Reservations are not possible onboard TER regional trains. It works in a first come first served basis. As a tip : go to train ends to find more seats. Usually regional train tickets are available at all times but SNCF has a weird policy where they stop selling tickets on busy days (instead of putting extra trains for example). This is where the Eurail Pass will come handy as you can literally log the train 30 seconds before boarding.

Question 2 : strikes would complicate things a lot but nobody can plan them in advance. If the booked train is cancelled reservations are not transfered to the next train (otherwise it would be chaos). You'd have to deal with SNCF customer service : they're generally helpful on the phone but at stations not so much... they have to give you free of charge new reservations on the first available train, whether in 1st or 2nd class (insist if they deny that right).

Question 3 : yes you can book reservations before activating passes. Use the link I posted above.

Feel free to ask further questions.

Userlevel 7
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I guess you have accommodation near CDG Airport. Otherwise there are plenty of direct TGVs from Paris-Est to Strasbourg/Colmar.

Is there a specific to go to Avignon Centre before Orange ? In any case there are plenty of direct reservation-free TER regional trains from Lyon to Orange and then Avignon.

Btw Avignon Centre - Nice-Ville can easily be done reservation-free. TGVs are not much faster on that route since there's no high-speed railway apart from the first bit to Marseille. For example (also 2h earlier) :

- TER Avignon Centre - Marseille St-Charles 09:53 - 11:11

- TER Marseille St-Charles - Nice-Ville 11:57 - 14:37

Userlevel 1
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Thank you so much @thibcabe 

Question #2 Strikes: Thank you for shedding light on some aspects. Again I’m aware that one has to be patient! 

Question #1 & #3: Yes I know it’s too early to book seat reservation (yes I know it’s only for TGVs) but I’m just trying to understand the ins and outs and be ready for later.

Ah I was aware of Ascension, so Thurs to Sun closure but thanks for letting me know about Pentecost holiday, Sun, May 19, 2024. Will things start to close starting Friday? Or people take time off to make a long weekend say taking Fri off?

Yes a part of me like the convenience of buying 7-days so I don’t need to go to the station to buy actual tickets for # 2 & #6 trips.

Thank you for suggesting the reservation-free TER Lyon to Orange route. We will be staying at Avignon and that’s why we thought to do Lyon to Avignon, drop off luggage and then Avignon to Orange. Now we will find luggage storage near Orange train station so we can do some sightseeing. Will then stay at Avignon for 3 nights (visit some Provence sites.)

Thank you as well for the reservation-free TER Avignon Centre - Marseille St-Charles / Marseille St-Charles to Nice-Ville route suggestion. Will do that.

TGV to Colmar: We are not staying at the airport. Will stay at Hotel Marignan (5e arrondissement). We thought it will be easier to take the RER B from Hotel back to the airport to catch the TGV to Colmar than to go from the Hotel Marignan to a Paris train hub to Colmar with senior parents and carry on luggage. But now your suggestion of Gare de l’Est to Colmar TGV seems much better as the metro ride on line 4 is about 20 min. Much shorter than from the Hotel to the Airport TGV.