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SNCF Winter Sales Open on October 12th

by Malin Schibler, posted 05 October 2017 | Add comment

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Ah, October. The time of year, where supermarkets and shopping malls are all already eagerly getting into the festivities of Christmas. It seems that this year, SNCF has also taken on this merry spirit and will soon release their train tickets for the upcoming winter holiday period. So you can be sure to get your hands on these tickets before you even begin carving out your pumpkin for Halloween!

What’s better than December 25th? October 12th!

Mid-October traditionally calls for the sale of tickets for the holiday season (at least for SNCF trains). This year, the tickets will go on sale on Thursday, October 12th, and you’ll be able to book journeys starting December 10, 2017 to January 12, 2018. As usual, you will have to get up early (or stay up late – depending on your timezone) if you want to get the cheapest tickets. Like always, they go like hotcakes and are sold on a first come, first served basis. There is no set time announced for the sale, though we suggest to be ready to book by 06:00 in the morning (Central European Time).

We highly recommend that you set yourself a reminder to avoid missing out on this sale – and most importantly – getting your hands on the lowest priced tickets available. Since we are always thinking of you and would very much dislike seeing you being late to the game, we’ve created a reminder event to add to your calendar. So make sure you add it, set an alarm and get ready to start booking your winter holiday tickets!

Working with External services

by Nicolas Gonzalez, posted 26 September 2017 | Add comment

Trainline Europe’s search API is a cornerstone of our product, as an online train and bus ticket booking platform. The search API is responsible for fetching and aggregating results from the carriers’ APIs. Without it, we couldn’t display train schedules, and we wouldn’t be able to sell tickets. We are always trying to make it perform better, and we always make sure it highlights the most practical results for our customers.

One of my missions when I joined Trainline was to make sure the connection to external services (like carriers’ APIs) wouldn’t put our entire search API at risk. The purpose was to take the code of the carriers off the main application, then run this code in the context of small workers that consume less resources. These workers must be efficient at what they do, we should be able to start as many of them as we need to, and the part of the code connecting to external services should be isolated, which can’t be bad: if anything were to happen, we would rather see a carrier worker fail than the whole application.

A tour of our infrastructure

We use a Rails application to back a EmberJS frontend. So far nothing unusual, the Rails app is connected to RabbitMQ, user searches are sent to another application built with EventMachine, each payload is consumed and search results are returned to the Rails app. What is described in this blog post concerns the Ruby EM / Search API.

Diagram representing our infrastructure.

Setting timeouts: A primitive form of control on external services

Sometimes the services we need to contact are down or very slow, and when one of these services is not accessible, we don’t want to compromise the whole application.
For example if the user searches for Paris -> Madrid, we need to contact both SNCF and Renfe, and if one of these APIs is not working we need to display a comprehensive error for the user, asking to try again later. We can’t have the applications hanging while users searches accumulate.
Setting timeouts in the HTTP requests is important, but we realized early on that we needed more control over each of these services.

Diagram representing how search results work

Splitting the application

We decided to extract the code belonging to each carrier, and run it in standalone, meaning we can have instances of the app running only the carrier’s code. These instances consume less RAM: around 280MB vs. 450MB for the whole app. Since we’re able to know how many searches we have for each country, we can set a number of instances of the application accordingly: if we have 50% of searches with a French origin and destination, we know we’ll need 50% of our workers to be SNCF.
We achieved that with Ansible and Monit. When deploying, Monit configuration is regenerated with an Ansible template. We just have to update Ansible Yaml files to set the number of workers on the servers.

Diagram representing how search results work with workers.

Example of Ansible deployment settings:

Ansible settings

Going live: what could possibly go wrong

Before launching the split of our Search application for a specific carrier, we were all happy and pressed the “deploy” button. Clients were starting to receive search responses handled by our splitted app and it was great. However something unexpected happened.

We use RabbitMQ to communicate between the applications, and by creating a new
layer of service-specific instances of the search API, we increased the amount
of messages exchanged. The way channels and queues are recycled was not done
properly so the amount of TCP connections to the queue exploded and RabbitMQ crashed.

Conclusion

Setting timeouts is very important when contacting HTTP services but completely isolating the code was the real answer for us. With this setup we can adjust the number of workers for each service according to our traffic. We can also dispatch the workers on servers with varying degrees of performance. We also know that if anything happens, the main application won’t be compromised. In short, it’s an invisible step for you, our customer, but a big step forward for our search API.

It’s Oktobeerfest! Go all stout this year.

by Betsy Autran, posted 13 September 2017 | Add comment

Pitcher yourself celebrating Oktoberfest in Munich this year! If you’re planning to go to Deutschland here’s what you need to know to experience the best of Bavaria.

Munich, Germany - September 29, 2016: The Interior of Loewenbraeu brewery's festive tent at Oktoberfest in Munich, people having fun and drinking beer.

Having a great time in the Loewenbraeu Brewery tent at Oktoberfest in Munich, 2016.

Making your way to Munich, from London

Thanks to excellent connections on Eurostar and Germany’s high-speed ICE trains, Munich is only 9 relaxing hours from London. No harrowing queues for airport security, no taxing taxi fees, no desperate airport parking. Just sit back in your cozy seat on one of Deutsche Bahn’s ICE trains and enjoy the ride as you’re propelled smoothly onward towards overflowing beer steins and sausage. ICE trains are considered the most comfortable and impressive high-speed trains in Europe, by the way. It’s possible to make this journey with only two hops, although some routes do have more connections. We recommend traveling via Brussels and Frankfurt which will get you there schooner than later.

If you’re worried about the cost, let it be the yeast of your worries. We checked out single fares for travel on September 16th by way of Brussels and Frankfurt, and it cost only €149.90 one-way. Compare this to the price of a last-minute airline ticket plus luggage fees and the stress of getting to and through the airport on time…. it’s elementary, my beer Watson. Did we mention that German ICE trains have no luggage restrictions?

old town square romerberg with Justitia statue in Frankfurt Germany

The Romerberg old town square in Frankfurt, Germany.

Chug in from Paris or Frankfurt

There’s much to be said for considering rail options from Paris or Frankfurt, if you’re looking to extend your holiday to more than one town. One-way fares from Paris begin at a very reasonable €75. Frankfurt is even better value, with one-way fares from just €40.

If you’ll be traveling from Frankfurt, we recommend purchasing the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket. As the name implies, it’s a weekend ticket that remains valid all day on Saturday or Sunday. During its period of validity — up until 3 a.m. the following day, in case you want to make it a late night — you can make as many journeys as you wish on the regional transport. So, although you won’t be able to catch a high-speed ICE train, you could make excellent use of the Regional-Bahn (RB), the InterRegio-Express (IRE) and the Regional-Express (RE), plus the S-Bahn (a hybrid urban-suburban rail serving the metropolitan region) and more.

Better yet, if one passenger pays the €40 Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket fare and has four fellow passengers, they’ll pay only €4 for their own tickets, so long as the party travels together at all times. If you’re heading to Oktoberfest with a large group of friends and you’ve made more Weiss plans for your money, this is an excellent value. Not only can you get all the way from Frankfurt to Munich for little over a tenner each, you’ll then have a valid ticket to use the Munich S-Bahn to reach your hotel. That’s a beergain.

Weissewurst and pretzels, need you more motivation?

Weisswurst and pretzels, need you more motivation?

Get some Weisswurst in Bavaria

You shouldn’t restrict yourself to Munich when you have all of Bavaria within your reach. Once you’ve had your fill of the beer halls and you’ve suffered a humiliating dunk while trying to surf on the icy River Isar, get a hearty meal in a quaint nearby town like Lindau or Füssen. And for that, my friend, you and your mates need the Bayern-Ticket. One passenger pays €25, but the remaining four passengers only pay €6. That leaves you plenty of dough for pretzels, bratwurst, and kuchen! We advise you to consume your Bavarian banquet with caution: you don’t want to put your good health at risk just for an awesome deal on a train ticket.

Extra bonus: The Länderticket, like the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket already mentioned, permits travel on suburban S-Bahn services. If you’ve had to settle for a hotel away from the city centre because everything’s been booked up for months by travellers more efficient than you, no big deal. Jump on the S-Bahn at no extra cost and go explore. Bavaria’s huge, so we guarantee you won’t run out of places to see. Try the seven types of beer brewed by the Benedictine monks at the Andechs Monastery, see who’s got the best head for heights at the vertigo inducing AlpspiX viewing platform at Garmisch-Partenkirchen or channel your inner fairytale at King Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein Castle. You could even cross the border into Austria and visit Kufstein or Salzburg! They’re covered by the Länderticket and only a stone’s throw away from Munich.

To find regional tickets that are valid all day, conduct a search for a return journey within the region on our website. For in-depth information about Länder-Tickets and Schönes-Wochenende-Tickets check out our previous blog post.

example-of-regional-ticket

You can review the ticket conditions during your search.

Allow us to wheat your appetite

In case you’re looking for inspiration, we’ve already cooked up some ideas for you.

View from Malerwinkel at Lake Chiemsee.

The view at Lake Chiemsee.

Chiemsee

Just an hour from Munich, Chiemsee is Bavaria’s largest lake. It’s sometimes referred to as the Bavarian Sea and it’s wide enough to be tidal. Hop off the train at the town of Prien am Chiemsee and catch one of the ferries that run year-round to the two inhabited islands on the lake. On Herreninsel you’ll discover the unfinished palace built by King Ludwig II in 1873 and modelled after Versailles. The King died before construction was complete and although parts of the building were demolished, what remains is well worth a visit! The neighbouring island of Fraueninsel, also reachable by ferry, features an 8th century Benedictine convent.

Fussen, Germany - August 7, 2015: Beautiful view of world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, the nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace built for King Ludwig II on a rugged cliff, with scenic mountain landscape near Fussen, southwest Bavaria, Germany.

Beautiful view of world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle near Füssen.

Füssen

Nestled in the heart of the Bavarian Alps and yet it’s still only a two hour train ride from Munich: Füssen lies at the end of Germany’s famous Romantic Road and does not disappoint with its clutch of charming historic buildings, including the Abbey of St Magnus and the High Castle. But the main draw lies just outside Füssen, in the town of Swangau, a short bus ride away. The fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein, featured in the classic movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was built in the 19th century as a retirement retreat for King Ludwig II. Visitors can tour his state rooms and admire the same views which captured his imagination.

Bavarian church Kloster Andechs

Andechs Monastery offers a brewery tour followed by a refreshing beer tasting.

Andechs Monastery

Attainable by train from nearby Herrsching, the Andechs Monastery sits on a hill overlooking Lake Ammersee.  If the weather’s fine, it’s a rewarding hike to the top — and there’s even a biergarten in case you didn’t get your fill in Munich. Monks have been brewing beer here for centuries, though these days most of the action takes place at the foot of the hill where there’s more space. The brewery tour showcases the seven varieties of beer made here, and you can enjoy a tasting at the Bräustüberl afterwards. Back at Lake Ammersee, why not rent a boat or go for a rejuvenating dip?

You know what they say: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Except this time. This deal is lager than life.

The Austrian WESTbahn Tickets Have Arrived on Trainline Europe!

by Malin Schibler, posted 10 May 2017 | One comment

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Our goal is to be your ultimate gateway to buying tickets for all rail operators in Europe; a booking platform that allows you to travel to where ever you wish to go. For that reason, we’re very proud to announce our partnership with WESTbahn. This is yet another step for us to enable your travel opportunities and master our ability in providing you with a comprehensive European booking platform. As of today, you’ll be able to book your WESTbahn tickets on Trainline Europe. So let’s get started and let us introduce you to our newest partner in the rail world.

The Express between two Austrian Metropoles: Vienna and Salzburg

WESTbahn has connected Austria’s capital city since 2011 with the birthplace of Mozart. You may know Mozart as the legendary composer or simply the name behind the delicious chocolates that reflect the delicacy of his music. WESTbahn was named after the same the route that has been operative since 1860, when the first train steamed it’s way from Vienna to Salzburg. Back then, the journey would take around nine hours, though you can be glad it now only takes about two and half.

For those looking to explore Austria, you can check many sightseeing wonders off your list with this route. In Vienna, you’ll begin by getting a full tank of cultural fuel by visiting the Museumsquartier, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the beautiful baroque Belvedere castle. Fill yourself up with some culinary energy with nothing less than a hearty Schnitzel, potato salad and some good old apple strudel. Then digest it all on the WESTbahn as you travel towards the east of the country.

Make an In-Between Stop in Linz!

As WESTbahn tickets allow you to get on and off the train in between your final destination, we recommend making a stop at Linz. Step out of the train, stretch your legs along the Donau river and admire the ROA street art by the harbour. For the young: it’s your chance to take a nice picture for your Instagram and them hipster credits. For those who are a bit older, it’s your opportunity to familiarise yourself with a more civilised form of what used to be called graffiti art.

If you simply would like relaxing some beach-time in this land-locked country, then make yourself comfortable in the city’s Sandburg. Be sure that you stock up on some provisions for your onward journey by getting an aptly named Linzertorte. What is it you may ask? It’s a traditional cake from Linz, rumoured to be the oldest cake in the world and a holiday season classic! Though we recommend eating it all year round (and certainly not one that has been around since the dawn of time – that certainly wouldn’t digest well). Once you’re done, get yourself back on board and continue on to Salzburg, where you can walk and trace the tracks of Mozart – right up to his birthplace – in the UNESCO world heritage historic centre. You’ll certainly not be short of any further desserts – the famed Salzburger Nockerl soufflé are certainly worth the journey (and calories)!

Sunny panoramic image of Salzburg's famous old town with Alps in the background

Salzburg, Austria.

Cheap Train Tickets and Friendly Fare Conditions

The standard price of WESTbahn tickets are up to 50% cheaper than the national rail operator ÖBB’s tickets for the same route. The prices are fixed and unlike other rail operators, do not depend on how far in advance you book, which is what they call yield management in the rail industry. So you can book these tickets on a whim, especially if you feel like a day trip to or from any of the destinations served by WESTbahn:

Wien Westbahnhof to Salzburg: Standard fare €26.50; WESTbahn Plus €46.40.
Salzburg to Westbahnhof: Standard fare €26.50; WESTbahn Plus €46.40.
Wien Westbahnhof to Linz: Standard fare €19,60; WESTbahn Plus €39.50.
Linz to Wien Westbahnhof: Standard fare €19.60; WESTbahn Plus €39.50.
Linz to Salzburg: Standard fare €13.40; WESTbahn Plus €27.30.
Salzburg – Linz: Standard fare €13, 40; WESTbahn Plus €27.30.

If you indulged on some sweet and hearty Austrian desserts then do not worry – you can spare yourself some extra room! With the WESTbahn Plus ticket, you’ll have an extra free seat next to you. This will provide you with greater legroom, food and drinks served to your seat (in case you want to treat yourself some more) and you’ll get a daily newspaper too – so get ready to practice your German!

What about an offer for kids?

WESTbahn has made sure that kids are also covered with some great fare prices. Children up to 6 years travel free of charge and they do not require a ticket. Please note that these children must not travel unaccompanied and that WESTbahn cannot offer any assistance for them. So they will have to be in the company of someone older that can assist them with their travels e.g. a parent, friend or sibling.

For children aged 6 to 14 years (on the day of travel) who travel in the company of an adult with a valid WESTbahn ticket, are charged € 1.00 – irrespective of the distance travelled. An adult can take along a maximum of 4 children paying €1.00 each. If you travel with a WESTbahn PLUS ticket, the upgrade fare will be charged for all accompanying children older than 6 years.

Children from 6 to 14 years (on the day of travel) who travel on their own, the fifth (or more) accompanying children only pay half of the regular full fare. Lastly, please be aware that the ticket inspector is allowed to ask for a photo ID in cases of doubt about the age of a child. So it’s always useful to make sure the kids have some ID with them!

Flexibility all year round

For those that suffer from commitment issues and like to leave their plans open, you can be glad to know that if your ticket is purchased online, it’s valid for an entire year! Plus you can make as many stops as you like on the way.

With Trainline Europe, you will of course also be receiving a special promotional offer with WESTbahn, such as the Spring WESTsavers Days (WESTspartage Frühling), which is valid until the 29th of June.

WESTbahn’s Blue, White and Green Speedsters

westbahn train inside

The double decker (duplex) trains provide you with plenty of amenities. You’ll find the WESTcafé, which provides you with a vending machine for drinks, an air-conditioned and filtered smoking lounge. Yet the non-smokers have no need to worry, you can easily steer free from it as it’s closed off from the rest of the train. Toilets are of course provided on board. Plus there are bike spaces available, for which you can buy a reservation online for €5 or for €10 on board the train.

On top of this, there is free WiFi in all WESTbahn trains, so you’ll be able to keep your friends up to date and make them jealous with your holiday pictures as you’re on the go. Don’t forget to send them to us either, we’d love to receive a picture of your trip on Twitter. The top speed of these trains is 200 km/h (that’s around 124 miles per hour), which isn’t as fast as some of the other high-speed trains, yet it gives you all the more opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery that passes you by.

Head to Austria and Beyond with WESTbahn

Westbahn Network Map

WESTbahn rail network and international connections

Thanks to the cooperation with WESTbahn and Meridian (a regional rail operator) in Germany’s Bavaria, there are 15 daily services between Vienna and Munich. You can simply step off in Salzburg and hop on to a Meridian Train – on the same platform – and it will bring you to Munich. The journey from Salzburg to Munich (via Rosenheim) takes just about 2 hours, so you can enjoy a creamy dose of caffeine in a traditional Viennese coffee house in Vienna and 4.5 hours later, you’ll already be drinking a cold beer in one of Munich’s famed beer halls.

From Munich, you’ll find plenty of trains and connections heading in any direction that you wish: whether it’s onwards to Berlin for some sightseeing and night clubbing or to Zurich for some delicious chocolate tasting. From Zurich, you can take a Trenitalia train directly to Milan if you’re after some good old shopping. You can also jump off the train at Rosenheim instead of heading to Munich and there you’ll find plenty of Deutsche Bahn trains that will take you to Innsbruck, Bozen, Verona, with a final stop in Venice, where you can finish off the journey with a sunset gondola ride.

The Länder-Tickets of Deutsche Bahn have arrived on Trainline Europe!

by Malin Schibler, posted 29 March 2017 | Add comment

Many of our customers that travel regularly in Germany (or live there), have been waiting for this offer for a long time: the discounted Länder-Tickets that are provided by Deutsche Bahn. If you are wishing to travel to a particular region in Germany (which is known as a Bundesland by our more experienced rail-goers or connoisseurs of German travel), you’ll get the most out of it by using a Länderticket. So finally we are ready to fulfill your wishes and are able to provide you with this fantastic offer!

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Our regional offers for Germany: a short overview

On top of the Regio-Tickets (link in German) that we’ve offered for a long time, we have now added 20 new types of tickets from Deutsche Bahn. Included in this release are the Schönes-Wochenende Ticket and the Quer-durchs-Land Ticket. Now what does this exactly mean? With the Schönes-Wochenende Ticket (it literally means: Nice Weekend Ticket), you can travel on a Saturday or Sunday as often as you wish, throughout all of Germany, via regional transport. This includes the Regional-Bahn (RB), the Interregio-Express (IRE) and the Regional-Express (RE), plus the S-Bahn (a hybrid urban-suburban rail serving the metropolitan region). Additionally, many other regional carriers are also included in this offer. The Schönes-Wochenende Ticket costs €40 and allows you to book up to 4 fellow passengers that only have to pay €4 for their own tickets. So grab your friends or family (or both!) and start spending your weekends exploring Germany!

If you’re not planning on having a weekend adventure, then you’ll be glad to know that the Quer-durchs-Land Ticket is exactly what you need. So what does this ticket include? You can travel across the country (this is also the literal meaning of the ticket’s name) with the exact same benefits as the Schönes-Wochenende Ticket. In this case, the Quer-durchs-Land ticket costs €44 and all of your fellow passengers pay only €8 to enjoy your fabulous company. Or at least, we hope they will!

Make use of local and regional transport to explore the 13 states of Germany

db-map-lander-tickets

As you can see on this map, you can now book the Ländertickets for all 13 states (Bundesländer) in Germany. From the Baden-Württemberg-Ticket in the South up to the Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket in the North. The benefits and conditions of each Länderticket depend on the region that you’re travelling in, yet the basic concept remains the same for all.

Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket

Let’s use the Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket as an example, as we all know that Berlin is a number one travel destination in Europe, and has some amazing surrounding cities and areas that are waiting to be explored. With this ticket, you’ll pay €29 in 2nd class and €49 in 1st class. It will allow you to travel from 09:00 a.m. on the first day of validity until 03:00 a.m. on the following day, for all local (regional) trains, public transport companies (there are several that operate in this region) and almost all public transport buses in Brandenburg and Berlin. So if you’d like to explore the capital of Germany without having to purchase a public transport ticket every time you hop on a bus or a tram, then you’ll be best served with the Berlin-Brandenburg-Ticket. This is especially useful if you’re staying a bit outside of the centre of Berlin (we all know how expensive accommodation can be there!) as you won’t miss out on any opportunities to travel around and explore.

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Great for group travel

For many other states, the Ländertickets are particularly beneficial if you’re planning on travelling in a small group (we’re looking you, the Lads on Tour). If you’d like to get your Lederhosen or Dirndl tailored for Octoberfest in Bavaria, you’ll only pay €25 for the ticket and any of your fellow passengers (up to a maximum of 4 per ticket) will only pay €6.

You’ll also find very similar benefits for the Baden-Württemberg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen-Anhalt, Sachsen, Schleswig-Holstein and Thüringen Tickets. You can review the details of these conditions during your search and booking process and of course, you can always contact us if you need any assistance with understanding the conditions. After all, no one is as famous as the Germans for their great attention to detail and this also includes their train tickets. Unfortunately we do have to announce that we cannot yet sell the Hessen-Ticket on our website or apps.

Tickets for night owls

For those who consider themselves revelers of the night (getting into the Berghain on a Friday night in Berlin and staying until Monday morning may qualify you for this), we also have something to offer you! If you prefer to go out when the street lamps turn on and stay up until sunrise, then check out the evening Ländertickets, which could be quite suitable for you:

  • Baden-Württemberg-Ticket Nacht
  • Bayern-Ticket Nacht
  • Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket Nacht
  • Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket Nacht
  • Saarland-Ticket Nacht

Pro tip: “Nacht” means night in German, though we assume you’ve already picked up on that one! Just make sure you do not confuse it with Nackt because this has an entirely different meaning and  you may end up in a very embarrassing situation.

For these Nacht-Tickets, the conditions are basically the same as the day-time tickets. Yet, they are generally even cheaper. For example, you’ll pay €7 less for the Berlin-Brandenburg Ticket. These evening tickets are valid from 6:00 p.m. until 06:00 a.m. or 07:00 a.m. the next day, for any number of trips. So go ahead and party like the Berliners do!

March 30th: Summer Sales Open for All Destinations in France!

by Malin Schibler, posted 24 March 2017 | Add comment

A TGV from Paris runs along the French Riviera, before its arrival in Nice.

A TGV from Paris runs along the French Riviera, before its arrival in Nice.

It’s time for the third and final round of SNCF summer sales! As of Thursday March 30th, you’ll be able to book your summer vacation train tickets for all destinations in France. This sale will be especially for departures from June 30th until August 27th and will include all TGV and Intercités train destinations. As per usual, the tickets go on sale in the early morning (French time), yet we cannot reveal exactly at which time. So we can only recommend to either set your alarm clock for an early wake up or stay up a bit longer than usual, depending on wherever in the world you may be booking from.

A short history of the summer sales

In the past few years, SNCF has released it’s summer sale tickets in two phases: first for the south of France and then later came the North. However, this year we have been pleasantly surprised by three sales rounds, which have been more-or-less equally divided by geographic regions. First came the Paris to Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region sale, then last week the sale for the west of France started and now finally the rest of France will also be covered!

A high speed train running over a viaduct alongside mediterranean coast.

Your holidays, from Lille to Montpellier

All of the destinations that were not covered in the previous sale will now be open for booking on Thursday March 30th. This includes all of the cities in the South, East and North that were not included in the first round of sales. Some examples include:

  • Southern France: Montpellier, Sète or Perpignan
  • Eastern France: Lyon, Grenoble and les Alpes, Dijon, Strasbourg.
  • Northern France: Lille

So luckily this time, no one is left out! However, we do have to remind you that the cheapest tickets do sell out quickly. So don’t wait too long before you book.

Summer in France in three parts

In order to give you a quick summary of the sales, here are the tickets that are already or soon will be available for booking:

  • On February 2nd, the tickets for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region went on sale for journeys as of the 2nd of July.
  • On the 15th of March, train tickets for the west of France (Brittany and the Atlantic Coast) became available. Due to the opening of the new high-speed lines to Bordeaux and Rennes on July 2nd, the journey time to western France will be considerably shortened, in some cases by almost an hour.
  • On March 30th, the rest of all of the TGV and Intercités destinations will also go on sale. So this one is quite easy! No need to look at a map in hour-long detail; this ticket sale includes all destinations in France.

If you were a bit late to the party and have realised your tickets are already on sale, it’s okay! Yet we must warn you: the likelihood of the cheapest tickets (called Prem’s) still being available is quite slim. So as always, we recommend to book sooner rather than later.

March 15: Book Your TGV Tickets to France’s West Coast on Wednesday

by Malin Schibler, posted 14 March 2017 | Add comment

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For those who enjoy spending their summer vacations in the French region of Brittany (or Bretagne for the more seasoned travellers) and the Atlantic Coast, you’ll be pleased to know that the train tickets for France’s western coast will go on sale on March 15, sometime very early in the morning (French time – Central European Time).

Add a reminder to your calendar, get up early or stay up late (depending on wherever in the world you may be booking from) and get ready to buy some cheap train tickets! As always, the most advantageous prices will sell out quickly. See it as the first half of your preparation in the search of finding the best spot on the beach and to take in those sunny rays.

Hint: for our dear Brits and Aussies, don’t forget your sunscreen though!

A refreshing sea breeze

Be prepared to have your regular Wednesday routine interrupted so you can get your hands on the cheapest train tickets this Wednesday for all TGV destinations in Brittany and the Atlantic Coast.

Below you’ll find a list of all the TGV destinations that will be available for booking as of Wednesday morning (French time):

Brittany: Le Mans, Laval, Vitré, Rennes, Dol-de-Bretagne, St-Malo, Lamballe, St-Brieuc, Guingamp, Plouaret-Trégor, Lannion, Morlaix, Landermeau, Brest, Redon, Vannes, Auray, Lorient, Quimperlé, Rosporden, Quimper.

Atlantic Coast: Vendôme-Villiers-sur-Loir TGV, Saint-Pierre-des-Corps, Tours, Saumur, Angers, Sablé-sur-Sarthe, Ancenis, Nantes, Savenay, Saint-Nazaire, Pornichet, La Baule-Escoublac, Le Pouliguen, Le Croisic, La Roche-sur-Yon, Les Sables d’Olonne, Châtellerault, Futuroscope, Poitiers, St-Maixent-l’École, Niort, Surgères, La Rochelle.

Bordeaux and the South-West: Ruffec, Angoulême, Libourne, Bordeaux, Facture, La Teste, Arcachon, Morcenx, Dax, Bayonne, Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Hendaye, Irun, Agen, Montauban, Toulouse.

Cross-country coasting

Photo of a TGV bordering the sea in the South of France.

You’re no longer required to depart from Paris to visit any of the above destinations. So if you’d like to plan a Tour de France on rails, you can travel between any of these TGV stations without necessarily needing to transfer via Paris first.

Reach the seashore faster than Sally sells seashells

For our dear train enthusiasts, you’ll be pleased to hear about the two new high-speed lines that will now be connecting Brittany and Pays de la Loire (Paris to Rennes), including the long awaited the Océane line (Paris to Bordeaux), which will go into service as of July 2nd.

This means that that the travel times have massively decreased; in some cases by more than one hour for certain destinations:

The privileges of this new high-speed line are not only for departures from Paris. So for those who are in Lille or Bordeaux, you can also benefit and gain 47 minutes in travel time. So if you’re travelling from Lille to Bordeaux (or vice-versa), it will now only take 4 hours and 36 minutes in the TGV. The Bordeaux to Angoulême travel time has heavily decreased too. Now it will take only 36 minutes (compared to the previous 60 minutes) to take in the beautiful scenery on the TGV between both of these historic cities.

And for the rest of France…

Depending on where you like to spend your vacation time, you may be late or you may be early. The tickets for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region (e.g. Nice, Cannes, Avignon and Marseille) have already been on sale since the 2nd of February. Yet they haven’t sold out, so you haven’t missed your chance! And for other destinations in France (and Europe!), a small amount of patience will be required.