Winter Holidays: How to Book Cheap SNCF Tickets?

To the point Whether you want to spend Christmas with your family, celebrate Christmas Eve with friends or discover the delights of Europe, don't wait any longer to buy your train tickets for the festive season. The sooner you book, the less you pay!

In an environment where managing expenses is key, finding affordable ways to travel is essential. Our guide reveals the essential strategies for getting cheap SNCF tickets so you can enjoy the festive season on a budget.

How to Get the Cheapest SNCF Tickets at the Best Price?

At a time when economic considerations are more important than ever, finding clever ways to save money on rail travel is a valuable pursuit. Here are some tips on how to find cheap SNCF tickets.


Book As Soon As Possible

Booking in advance is one of the most effective strategies for getting cheap train tickets. If you reserve your Christmas tickets as soon as the SNCF opens for bookings, you can choose the dates that best suit your travel plans and benefit from competitive fares.

It’s important to note that the most popular timeslots are quickly sold out, so delaying your booking could result in higher prices.

From Wednesday October 4, you can book Intercités and TGV Inoui train tickets for any journey between December 10 and January 9, 2024.

For journeys to Europe by TGV or regional TER trains, the dates are as follows:

  • TGV Inoui Brussels, TGV Inoui Luxembourg-Paris, TGV Inoui Fribourg-Paris: Bookings will be open for the next 4 months.
  • TGV Inoui to Spain, in cooperation with DB-SNCF, TGV Lyria and TGV Inoui France-Italy: Bookings will be open for the next 6 months.
  • TER: Reservations will be open for the next 3, 4 or 5 months, depending on the region.
  • OUIGO: Bookings will be available for journeys until July 5, 2024.
  • EUROSTAR to England: Bookings will be possible for travel within the next 11 months.
  • EUROSTAR to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany: Bookings will be available for journeys within the next 4 months.

Booking as soon as sales open can be particularly beneficial if you’re traveling in a group, as it increases your chances of reserving seats side by side.

TGV Inoui and Intercités Bookings

TGV Inoui and Intercités train tickets will go on sale on October 4, 2023, for travel between December 10, 2023 and January 9, 2024. This offer applies to journeys within France and to certain European destinations, including Brussels-Province, Paris-Fribourg and Paris-Luxembourg.

It is interesting to note that tickets can be exchanged and refunded free of charge up to 3 days before departure. This makes planning easier.

TGV Ouigo Bookings

Fares start from €10 for a number of one-way tickets, valid on certain days and trains, to a selection of destinations in France. As these fares are limited and subject to availability on eligible trains, don’t delay in purchasing your tickets. These will also go on sale from October 4, 2023, for travel between December 10, 2023 and July 9, 2024.

Unlike TGV Inoui, TGV Ouigo tickets are non-refundable.

Be Flexible

For those who are flexible with their dates, considering early morning or evening departures can result in significant savings compared to the more popular late day trains. Flexible hours can be an asset when looking for cheap train tickets.

Get a SNCF Discount Card

The SNCF offers 7 different discount cards, each aimed at a different group of customers. However, as some discount cards do not allow holders to travel during peak periods such as the Christmas holidays, we have selected three that can help you find cheap SNCF tickets.

Carte Avantage

For frequent travellers, the discount cards can be an interesting option to reduce travel costs. The cartes Avantages, priced at 49 euros a year, offer holders and their travel companions a 30% discount on train tickets.

In addition, for journeys of less than 1 hour 30 minutes, the cost is capped at 49 euros. For journeys lasting between 1 h 30 and 3 h, the cost is capped at 69 euros. And finally, for journeys of over 3 hours, the cost is capped at 89 euros.

Be careful, though, as the carte Avantage discounts carte Avantage are only valid for round trips that include a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.

National Weekly or Monthly Package

If long-term planning isn’t your strong point, national weekly or monthly packages can be interesting, especially if you travel frequently over short periods. Despite a potentially high initial cost, these packages guarantee that the cost of a ticket will never exceed 1.50 euros, regardless of when it is purchased. It is important to note, however, that these packages do not guarantee access to seats without prior reservation.

Carte Liberté

The carte Liberté may also be attractive, but only if you are a regular business traveler. It only offers a 30% discount on personal travel, despite costing considerably more per year than the carte Avantage.

It benefits from offering fixed-priced business travel. A Paris – Marseille train ticket, for example, will never exceed 67 euros, even if purchased at the last minute. And when there is no fixed fare for a given route, the carte Liberté offers a 45% discount in first class, even at the last minute. When traveling second class, tickets are available at a 60% discount.

Subscribe to the Grand Voyageur Program

The Grand Voyageur program rewards frequent travelers with points for every train journey. All you need to do is register for free on the SNCF website and create an SNCF CONNECT account. This will give you access to offers that allow you to buy train tickets at reduced prices.

Thanks to the Grand Voyageur SNCF loyalty program, travelers can benefit from codes worth up to 30% off, valid on TGV Inoui and Intercités routes.

cartes de fidélité grand voyageur SNCF

Bottom Line

Anticipation is the key to getting cheap train tickets at the best price, so make sure you book your seats on the SNCF website as soon as sales open. This is especially important if you’re travelling in a group, as it increases your chances of getting side-by-side seats.

If you’re a flexible traveller, consider leaving in the early morning or evening to save on traveling by train. If you travel a lot, you may also want to consider the carte Avantage or carte Liberté, which will give you significant discounts on train tickets. Enjoy your journey!

Frequently Asked Questions About Buying SNCF Tickets at the Best Price

How to Buy Cheap Train Tickets?

The best way to get cheap train tickets is to be flexible about departure times and dates, and to plan your trip months in advance.

When to Buy Train Tickets for the Christmas Vacations?

Train tickets for the Christmas vacations will be available from October 4, 2023. To travel at the best price during this period, it is advisable to book your tickets as soon as SNCF reservations open. As Christmas is a busy time, prices won’t be cheaper if you wait until the last minute to buy a ticket.

What's the Cheapest Day to Take the Train?

If you’re looking for ways to save money on your train tickets, consider traveling outside peak periods. Friday evenings and early-morning weekday departures are the best times to travel at the best price.

How to Get a €1 Train Ticket?

1 euro tickets can be purchased on SNCF Connect for travel on five lines in the Occitanie region:

  • Nîmes – Le Grau du Roi
  • Carcassonne – Quillan
  • Perpignan – Villefranche-Vernet-les-Bains
  • Marvejols – La-Bastide-St-Laurent-les-Bains
  • Béziers – Bédarieux – St-Chély-d’Apcher

How Far in Advance of a Trip Should I Book a Train Ticket?

Train tickets can be booked up to several months before departure, depending on the means of transport chosen. For journeys to England in EUROSTAR, for example, it is possible to reserve a place on board almost a year in advance. For TGV Inoui in France, it is usually possible to secure a seat on board a few months in advance.

How to Get a Free SNCF Ticket?

In the Île-de-France region, the Solidarité Transport fare system enables people in precarious situations to travel with substantial discounts, or even free of charge, on public transport. Recipients of the Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA), the unemployed, veterans and victims of war, as well as those accompanying a person with a disability card (CI), can obtain the Navigo Pass free of charge.

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