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How to save money on both train tickets and car hire in France

If you're a fairly regular train-user in France there is a handy card that could save you money - as well as giving you a discount if you ever need to hire a car.

How to save money on both train tickets and car hire in France
Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

Like most countries France has railcards for young people, pensioners, families and frequent travellers – but unlike a lot of countries there is also a card for the ‘inbetweeners’ – people too old for a young person’s railcard but not old enough for pensioner discounts. 

This is called the carte avantage adulte and if you take the train more than a couple of times a year in France it’s well worth looking into.

Who

It is available for people aged between 27 and 59, there is no requirement to be a French citizen or to have a French address in order to get this card.

How much

The card costs €49 upfront, and lasts for one year from the date of purchase.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How certain train fares in France are set to rise

Discounts

Once you have bought the card, you can then use it every time you buy a train ticket for that year and you get a discount off the standard ticket (ie not first class) price. Discounts vary according to the type of ticket

  • 30 percent off TGV or Intercité routes (this does not include the budget Ouigo routes)
  • 25 – 50 percent off local TER trains. Here it depends on the region you are in – for Brittany, Normandy and Pays de la Loire it’s 30 percent, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes is 50 percent and the rest of the country is 25 percent.
  • Up to 30 percent off international travel – the 30 percent discount also applies if your train is from France to another country including services to Italy, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain and Switzerland
  • If you’re booking tickets for yourself and a travel companion, your friend also benefits from the 30 percent discount, and if you’re booking for yourself and children, the kids’ tickets are discounted by up to 60 percent (up to a maximum of three children)

Extras

As well as the train ticket discounts, you also get certain special offers including sales on ‘last-minute’ tickets.

There is also the opportunity to save 15 percent on car hire through Avis and Budget, when booking through the SNCF Connect site.

Card

Although it’s called a railcard, you don’t get an actual physical card, just an email with an attached document. You can print this out to show to a ticket agent if purchasing in person, or use the card’s reference number when booking online.

If you use the SNCF Connect website or app, you have the option of linking the card to your account, so that discounts are applied automatically when you look up prices and book. 

You can find full details, and purchase a card, HERE.

Other options

There are lots of different options for railcards and discount cards for everyone from students to families and pensions – click HERE for a roundup. 

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