SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

TRAVEL NEWS

How to save money travelling by train in France

Travelling by train is one of the best ways to see France, as well as being better for the planet than flying or driving. However, train tickets don't always come cheap - here is a current list of the railcards and offers that can cut the cost.

How to save money travelling by train in France
(Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Railcards are the most common way to cut the cost of a ticket. In some cases, the card can even pay for itself in one journey. France’s rail operator SNCF has a range of cards available for everyone from impoverished students to regular business travellers with an expenses account to burn.

But if you’re not a regular traveller there are also a range of offers plus cheaper services to opt for.

READ ALSO Millions of train tickets go on sale in France for Christmas holidays

Liberté card

This one’s really for business travellers, who use the TGV or Ouigo and Intercite trains regularly. And it comes with a price to match – €399 for a year (€379 for anyone lucky enough to work for a company that is part of SNCF’s Contrat Pro plan). 

Holders can enjoy fixed, destination-based fares for business travel in France and beyond, with a card that guarantees cardholders 60 percent off SNCF’s Business Première fares when travelling standard class, and 45 percent off Business Première fares when travelling 1st class. 

Plus, there’s 30 percent off for you and an accompanying adult plus 60 percent off for accompanying children with SNCF’S Avantage fare.

Max Senior

Regular rail travellers aged 60 and over, who use TGV, InOui or Intercite trains at least twice a month can take advantage of this €79-per-month railcard that covers the cost of all standard-class travel outside peak hours from Monday to Friday.

The card is valid for all routes in France and to Luxembourg and Freiburg im Breisgau. You can use the card to book tickets from 30 days before departure right up to the last minute.

READ ALSO Yes, train travel from France across Europe is far better than flying – even with kids

Avantage Senior

Those aged 60 and over who travel by rail less regularly can buy a €49 Avantage Senior card that offers 30 percent discounts on first and standard-class travel on TGV INOUI, Intercités or TER trains for a year.

It also offers a 60 percent discount on tickets for up to three accompanying children aged between 4 and 11.

Standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France, no matter when they are booked – at €39 for a journey of less than 90 minutes, €59 for a journey of between 90 minutes and three hours, and €79 for journeys over three hours.

Max Jeune

A similar offer to the Max Senior deal is available for regular rail users aged between 16 and 27 who use TGV, InOui or Intercite trains at least twice a month. This key difference is that this €79-per-month railcard covers the cost of all standard-class travel outside peak hours seven days a week.

The card is valid for all routes in France and to Luxembourg and Freiburg im Breisgau. You can use the card to book tickets from 30 days before departure right up to the last minute.

READ ALSO UPDATED: The best websites for cross-Europe train travel

Avantage Jeune

Those aged 12 to 27 who travel by rail less regularly can buy a €49 Avantage Jeune card that offers 30 percent discounts on first and standard-class travel on TGV INOUI, Intercités or TER trains for a year.

Standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France, no matter when they are booked – at €39 for a journey of less than 90 minutes, €59 for a journey of between 90 minutes and three hours, and €79 for journeys over three hours.

Max Actif and Max Actif+

The Mon Forfait Annuel Télétravail pass is basically a season ticket, but for people who don’t travel every day. It’s ideal for part-time or remote workers, but can be used by anyone who has semi-regular train trips. 

Anyone who travels between two and three times a week on the same route can buy a Max Actif pass and travel 250 or times on the same line all year, weekdays only. The Max Actif + is basically the same, but for people who travel four to five times a week, and gives 450 journeys with no weekday limit.

Prices vary depending on the route you travel – full details are here

Weekly or monthly rail cards

Speaking of season tickets, you can also buy first or standard class rail cards that last a month or a week that allow unlimited daily travel, and tickets for €1.50 or less (via SNCF Connect or Trainline) for single or national routes.

Avantage Adult

For anyone aged between 27 and 59, a €49 Avantage Adulte card offers 30 percent discounts on first and standard-class travel on TGV INOUI, Intercités or TER trains for a year.

It also offers a 60 percent discount on tickets for up to three accompanying children aged between 4 and 11.

Standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France, no matter when they are booked – at €39 for a journey of less than 90 minutes, €59 for a journey of between 90 minutes and three hours, and €79 for journeys over three hours.

For more information on railcards available in France, click here

READ ALSO Tourists and locals: Paris Metro tickets, passes and apps explained

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

MONEY

France to begin phasing out paper receipts for shoppers

A new French anti-waste law is set to go into effect in the new year, and it could spell the end of paper sales receipts in l'Hexagone.

France to begin phasing out paper receipts for shoppers

If you live in France, or are planning to visit in the new year, you might find your pockets or the bottom of your purse a bit emptier, as the country is doing away with automatically printed receipts (cash register tickets).

As part of a French anti-waste law voted on in 2020, the new regulation, which comes into effect January 1st, 2023, aims to fight “against the dangerous substances present in cash register tickets” and “to remedy the significant waste that these tickets represent,” according to the French government website Service-Public.

According to Service-Public, there are at least 30 billion sales receipts printed each year, creating lots of waste.

Parts of the anti-waste law have already come into effect, outlawing things like single-use plastic cutlery and coffee and cups and limiting packaging on food.

READ MORE: How France’s new anti-waste laws will affect you

The new rules regarding receipts will apply broadly, according to Ouest France, “both large and medium sized stores” across France, as well as “any establishment receiving the public where receipts are issued” will have to respect the anti-waste regulation.

This also includes vending machines and bank card tickets as well, according to Service-Public.

Customers can, however, still request a printed receipt if they would like one. 

Additionally, those who want a record of what they purchased or how much it cost can also request a non-printed receipt – either in the form of an email, text message, or perhaps on their online profile with the store (if they hold a loyalty card).

As for companies’ perspectives, the “Federation of Commerce and Distribution” told Ouest France that French businesses were not “asking for this law,” but “are keen to respect [it]” and that they are committed to reducing their environmental impact.

READ MORE: From takeways to coffee cups: Here’s what France’s new anti-waste law means

Helpful vocabulary

Receipt – ticket de caisse, un reçu

Non-printed receipt/ e-ticket – ticket de caisse dématérialisé

Waste – Gaspillage

Could I please have a receipt printed? – Est-ce que je pourrais avoir un reçu imprimé ?

Could I please have a receipt by text message? Est-ce que je pourrais avoir le ticket de caisse par SMS ? 

Could I please have a receipt by email? – Est-ce que je pourrais avoir le ticket de caisse par mail ? 

I have a loyalty card. Could you please upload the receipt to the online portal/ application? J’ai une l carte de fidélité. Est-ce que vous pouvez envoyer le ticket de caisse dans mon espace personnel dans l’application ?

SHOW COMMENTS