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

French national train operator SNCF announced on Wednesday that Christmas ticket sales were open, with 9 million tickets on sale as more and more people opt to take the train.

Millions of train tickets go on sale in France for Christmas holidays
A traveler walks with a suitcase at Gare de Lyon train station in Paris (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

France’s national rail provider, SNCF, announced that tickets on its TGV and Intercité lines for the winter holiday period are now available.

At least 9 million tickets are on sale – 1 million more than last year – after a record summer of train travel as people increasingly opt to take the train for environmental reasons. 

Customers can reserve tickets for travel between December 11th and January 2nd, 2023.

For Ouigo trains – the budget subsidiary of TGV trains – seats can be reserved in advance all the way until July 7th, 2023.

The Ouigo service has also added several new destinations, such as lines to Finistère, La Rochelle and Perpignan, that will be available for reservations this Christmas.

For those looking to travel on local TER routes, the SNCF website noted that the dates for these voyages will vary from one region to another. Tickets for places such as Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, Normandy, Burgundy, Hauts-de-France, New Aquitaine, Occitania, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur, Grand Est and Centre-Val de Loire were already available for sale on Wednesday, October 5th.

“Tickets will be put on sale gradually” for the other regions, said SNCF on their website

Tickets can be purchased on the SNCF Connect websites and apps, or in stations, stores and SNCF-approved agencies.

For seats booked in advance, SNCF allows exchanges and refunds free of charge up to four days before departure. However, a fee will be charged if changes are made in under two days before the reserved date.

Customers should be warned, according to Ouest France, that reservation sites and the application SNCF Connect were at times unavailable on Wednesday morning, due to an influx of people using them.

French daily Le Parisien reports that at least 9 million TGV, Ouigo and Intercités tickets are on sale for the winter period, which is one million more than were available last year.

In 2021, on the opening day for the winter holiday period, over one million tickets were sold in a single day. The most popular destinations were Paris, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux and Strasbourg.

French rail services saw over 23 million people use their services during the summer of 2022, travellers told Franceinfo they opted for train travel for environmental reasons. The record summer for SNCF reported 10 percent more passengers than 2019, prior to the start of the pandemic, with all regions benefitting from the increase. 

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Péage: Toll rates for motorists in France to increase in 2023

France's Ministry of Transport has announced that toll-fees will increase in 2023. Here is what motorists in France can expect.

Péage: Toll rates for motorists in France to increase in 2023

With French motorists already expecting increases in fuel prices starting in January, the cost of travel on many of France’s motorways will also increase in 2023.

Toll rates on the main routes across France are set to go up by an average of 4.75 percent starting on February 1st, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Transport on Friday.

These rates already rose by two percent in 2022. 

While the increase is still lower than the rate of inflation (six percent), motorists in France can still expect driving to become more expensive in 2023, as the government does away with its broad-scale fuel rebate (€0.10 off the litre) at the start of January.

As of early December, the French government was still discussing plans for how to replace the fuel rebate. The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, told Les Echoes in November that the government was considering a targeted, means-tested “fuel allowance” for workers who depend on their vehicles to commute to and from work. 

How much will I be affected?

The degree to which drivers will experience increased costs depends largely on what kind of vehicle they use, in addition to how far you plan to drive on the toll-road. 

Vehicles are broadly classified as follows:

Class 1 (Light vehicles): these are cars and minivans. This class also includes vehicles pulling trailers with a combined height of no more than 2m and a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of less than or equal to 3.5 tonnes.
Class 2: Large utility vehicles and camping cars
Class 3: Heavy goods vehicles, coaches, other 2-axle vehicles, motorhomes taller than 3m
Class 4: Vehicles taller than 3m with a GVW greater than 3.5 tonnes
Class 5: Motorbikes, sidecars, quad bikes, three-wheeled motor vehicles 

The next determining factor for how significant the price rise will be depends on which company is operating the road you use, and there are several different companies that operate toll-roads in France. 

Each year, toll (péage) prices in France are adjusted and re-evaluated for the following year on February 1st, following discussions between the government and the main companies that operate the French freeways. The fees are in part used for road maintenance costs. 

To estimate the cost of tolls for your next French road trip, you can use the calculator on this website