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Interrail versus single tickets

  • 31 December 2023
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  • Full steam ahead
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I'm deciding whether to use an interrail pass or single tickets for 2024. It's a bit tricky as the SNCf dates I'm looking for aren’t published yet (dep 25 May - ret 2nd June).

 

Other than the Eurostar (as those dates are available now) I'm looking at dates in Feb and March to check price via SNCF.

Can you recommend if using Interrail pass or single tickets is best for this journey? I used interrail pass last year and find it really easy to use so I'm leaning towards that at the moment:


4 people - two teens, two adults


Costs without pass:
Stroud to London (7.31am dep) total return price £97.80 with family railcard

London to Lille Europe (11.04am dep) total return price £592

Lille Europe to Marseille (14.03 dep TGV ) price per person  £150pp!!

Marseille to La ciotat £9pp


Total is super high due to TGV cost - unless I use ouigo?? But is this a more a more complicated/longer journey?


Based on this the interrail pass represents much better value for money (but i think I need to buy it today to avoid the Jan price hike tomorrow?).

 

Costs with pass:

4 days in one month Interrail pass approx £784 (904 euros) total

Stroud to london 7.31am dep included

Eurostar supplement London to Lille dep 11.04: £32pp (£256 total return)

TGV supplement Lille to Marseille 14.03 £12pp (£96 total return)

Marseille to La Ciotat included


Total with pass £1136


Our travel dates are 25th May to 2nd June. We want to get there as easily as possible - minimal changes and fastest speed as we're only away for 8 nights. Taking trains to avoid flying.


Thanks for any advice.

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Best answer by thibcabe 31 December 2023, 13:21

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London to Marseille is at the moment 287 € per Person return 2md class (already bookable; may be booked together). Using OUIGO, you’d just have a longer stopover in Lille at the way to Marseille (nearly 2 hours meaning your journey would be 82 minutes longer).

So it’s easy: You add the trip to London and your trip from Marseille.

Then you compare with the price for a railpass + 60 € per person for the Eurostar to Lille and back to London and 20 € per person for the TGV to Marseille and back. 

Now you’ll see what’s cheaper. 

 

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Just in addition to my question I’ve just calculated this cost - based on feb/march dates/prices: Interrail option still seems favourable even if the alternative is Ouigo cheaper single ticket:

 

Costs without pass:

  1. Stroud to London (7.31am dep) total return price £97.80 with family railcard
  2. London to Lille Europe (11.04am dep) total return price £592 arrives 13.26
  3. Ouigo Lille Flandres to marseille: 15.15 - 20.12 £69pp (plus 3 euros pp seating) (e288) £250
  4. return £35pp 10.02 - 14.30 (e152) £131
  5. Marseille to La ciotat £18pp return

TOTAL WITH OUIGO £1142

Userlevel 2
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London to Marseille is at the moment 287 € per Person return 2md class (already bookable; may be booked together). Using OUIGO, you’d just have a longer stopover in Lille at the way to Marseille (nearly 2 hours).

Thanks Hektor, what site do you book that journey on? Perhaps not bookable for May 25th yet though?

 

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I can’t quite follow your prices, because I think some are per person and some are total?

If you can get a cheap price on Ouigo, then you bring the cost down a lot. But there’s no protection for missed connections etc. (And it’s definitely a no-frills train!)

Consider also the Carte Avantage - effectively French railcard if you’re buying the TGV tickets.

Bear in mind that if you buy the pass, you have, depending on timings, two ‘spare’ days. You can’t use these in the UK, but is there a chance you could use them - even if on another trip?

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Indeed with Ouigo it might be cheaper with regular tickets. As Hektor said Ouigo trains are already available for May/June while regular TGVs will be in around a month. Use sncf-connect.com.

Which train were you thinking to take from Marseille to Lille on the way back ? Unfortunately some regular TGVs were changed to Ouigos meaning lower fares but at the same time less trains for passholders…

I'm not sure you'll get 10€ reservations for the Lille - Marseille TGV. Since it is very popular (coming from Brussels) tickets are expensive and thus reservations might cost 20€.

London to Marseille is at the moment 287 € per Person return 2md class (already bookable; may be booked together). Using OUIGO, you’d just have a longer stopover in Lille at the way to Marseille (nearly 2 hours).

Thanks Hektor, what site do you book that journey on? Perhaps not bookable for May 25th yet though?

 

It’s bookable for the 25h of may from London to Marseille and for the 2nd of june back (if you do use OUIGO). 

SNCF Connect - Recherche (sncf-connect.com)

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Thank you everyone, very helpful. I hadn’t thought about the reservations form Lille being more expensive…  Quite a minefield for short break!

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It’s also worth noting the Intercité de Nuit from Paris to Nice, which stops at Marseille and Toulon.

This will be slower than the TGV, but potentially time-efficient, and might save you some money vs the TGV tickets. You get an afternoon and evening in Paris if you like, then wake up in the Med!

Prices in a couchette start at €29 for a ticket, or €21.60 reservation fee if you’re using a pass.

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Let's also not forget that pass prices will increase at any moment. From 900€ to 990€ for you 4 according to the DB list in the other thread. Reservations would be 80-100€ per person : 2 x 30€ Eurostar and 2 x 10-20€ TGV. Total : 1300-1400€.

Your 1200£ estimate is about right then.

Weekends are the most expensive time of the week but I believe you're tied to those dates.

As it has been said you'll have 2 pass days remaining. If you don't intend to make another trip they may be useful to go to Marseille or Nice for a day trip. I'd choose passes if only for this reason. Book them (ASAP) through myinterrail.co.uk to save a few £.

For the journey back on Sunday which train would you like to take ? The first TGV leaves Marseille too early and the following regular TGV (not Ouigo) leaves much later. Might be better to transfer in Paris.

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Thanks, yes, I think return via Paris might be easier, more options. Taking the eurostar around 2 or 3pm to London, then onto Stroud - back in time for kids to sleep and go to school on Monday morning!

And yes, we’ve planned a day trip to Marseille during our week.

My aim is to buy the pass today if it seems like the right thing to do, to avoid the cost hike which might happen tomorrow!

 

Userlevel 7
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Okay right :)

I'd get passes for the flexibility.

TGVs will become available from 4 months in advance (according to SNCF website). Interrail.eu has a strict 90 days policy for no good reason but you can use https://travel.b-europe.com/Eurail-GE/en/booking-tgv#TravelWish (Belgian Railways) instead. Book both ways at the same time (4€ fee per order).

For the return journey this looks quite convenient :

- TER La Ciotat - Marseille St-Charles 09:55 - 10:28

- TGV Marseille St-Charles - Paris Gare de Lyon 10:45 - 13:50 likely 10€ as long as you book in advance

- RER D transfer (I believe you can still get paper tickets at the TGV dining car to avoid queueing on arrival)

- Eurostar Paris-Nord - London St. Pancras 15:12 - 16:30 30€

- transfer to Paddington, etc.

- GWR Paddington - Stroud 17:33 - 18:55

Schedule for a March Sunday.

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Excellent - thank you and happy new year for tomorrow!

 

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