You can now book train travel in France five months in advance

On 2 April, train travel in France will be available to book right through to 30 August, so families can plan and book their summer holiday travel early.

SNCF TGV in Paris Gare de Lyon
SNCF TGV in Paris Gare de Lyon (c) Sese Ingolstadt

So, you are dreaming of a mini adventure across Europe by train and want to go full steam ahead and book your Eurostar tickets well ahead of time. But then your plans get derailed because though you can book Eurostar six months before your travel date, French domestic trains traditionally allow you to purchase your tickets only three months in advance.

It’s problematic when you want to organise all your travel plans at the same time because you are held back by different advance booking windows.

The good news, however, is that this year the three-months booking window on French rail has been extended to almost five. From April 2 French domestic train journeys will be bookable right through to August 30. Previously you had to wait until May to do so.

Families who want to plan and book their travel for the summer holidays can do so a month earlier and that means you can book both your Eurostar and domestic French rail tickets at the same time.

Another perk of this extension is that the earlier you book the more chance you will have of buying cheaper tickets.

Amanda Monroe from Voyages-sncf.com explains:

Another big benefit of booking as soon as tickets become available is that the lowest cost fares tend to sell out very quickly. The prices of trains aren’t flexed over holiday periods, so the pricing is the same in the peak summer months as in the low season, it’s just that the lowest priced fares sell out more quickly. The trains work on a similar pricing model to the low cost airlines, where the prices increase the closer you get to the date of travel and are dictated by demand.

To help you plan your journey, we have put together a snapshot of when you can book with each train operator:

OperatorServiceBooking
EurostarInter-Capitals services to Paris, Lille and BrusselsBook up to 6 months in advance of travel
New Lyon-South of France serviceCurrently available up to 12th December 2015
Disney Direct serviceCurrently available up to 11th December 2015
Alleo High speed services between France and GermanyBook up to 30 August
France Spain High SpeedHigh speed services between France and Spain
Book up to 30 August
TGV France ItalyTGV France Italy
High speed services between France and Italy
Book up to 30 August
TGV LyriaHigh speed services between France and SwitzerlandBook up to 30 August
ThalysHigh speed services from France to Belgium, Germany and the NetherlandsBook up to 3 months in advance of travel.
SNCF All domestic services in France, including high speed TGVsFrom April 2 tickets will be available for travel to August 30
TGV Paris-FreiburgTGV Paris-Freiburg
High speed services between France and Freiburg, Germany
From April 2 tickets will be available for travel to August 30

To book or for more information, visit www.voyages-sncf.com, download a free app, call 0844 848 5848 or call into the Voyages-sncf Travel Centre at 193 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EU. You can also book through hundreds of appointed travel agents throughout the UK.

⇒ Read also: Travel Guide: 48 Hours in Paris