I have started to plan a journey for late spring 2015, and one part of it will be a Barcelona-Paris TGV trip. How, I wonder, do I get the cheapest tickets on this service?
For a start the tickets I need are not yet available – FR-ES TGV and AVE services have a 120 day rolling booking horizon, while connecting TGVs in France have a 3 month horizon.
But anyway, to the ticket booking…
To test things I put 25th March, 6am, into Capitaine Train‘s search*, and get a price of €100.00 for the morning TGV that day:
I then tried various ticket splits.
Split in Figueres Vilafant (with Barcelona – Figueres from Renfe, the rest from Capitaine Train) – €105.60
Split in Perpignan – €87.10 (saving €12.90)
Split in Figueres – Vilafant and Perpignan – €89.40 (saving €10.60)
Please note that these splits are all perfectly safe and simple – they may necessitate changing from one seat to another or, in Perpignan, changing from one TGV set to another along the platform, but there is no danger of getting stuck or missing a connection – these are tickets for one, direct, Barcelona – Paris service.
Also note the cheapest price of all is in the very first screenshot – a €59 direct ticket. I also always managed to find €12 – €15.20 connections between Figueres – Vilafant and Perpignan. This makes me think that the best way of booking this connection is as follows:
- Seek a €59 direct train
- If you don’t find that, try splitting the ticket at Perpignan
- If even that does not find you something cheap, try the Perpignan and Figueres – Vilafant split
Easy, eh? European rail – gotta love it! :-&
* – I use Capitaine Train as it has a much better interface, and the same prices, as Voyages-SNCF.
[UPDATE – 5.1.2015, 1945]
The folks at Loco2 in London contacted me, suggesting I try their “Add via station” feature, to find the cheapest connections with just one search. It is possible to only add one ‘via’, making the double split unviable. Also prices are all shown in pounds sterling, but here are the results:
No “Add via station” – here the Loco2 search excels, automatically finding cheaper connections with earlier departures. The direct train at 0925 is £81.50, same as the €100 in my searches above. No other search offered me a through ticket with a 0825 departure though!
Add via station – Figueres Vilafant – this split queried Renfe for the first part of the trip, but actually did not give me a split on the direct train. Even the 0825 departure was more expensive when searching this way than without a “Add via station” as shown above.
Add via station – Perpignan – this split did show the 0925 departure, and the price £71.50 – equates to €91.29 at today’s exchange rate – or a shade above the €87.10 found by doing this split manually above. This could well be to do with SNCF’s prices not changing automatically with the exchange rate.
In conclusion then, Loco2’s tool is neat, and makes searching easier, but it does not cover all the available options, and you might still lose on the exchange rate. Time for Britain to join the Euro or, failing that, for Loco2 to show prices in Euros?
(please also note that I discovered a couple of errors with my explanations in the original blog entry – these have been corrected above!)