How to Book Tickets on Oui.SNCF - Step-by-Step

WORTH KNOWING Before Making A Booking on Oui.SNCF

(1) Oui.SNCF is the French national rail operator's official ticket booking site and it offers multiple language versions.

These versions usually default to your location when you access the site, so if you are accessing the site in the UK you will see the English language version etc.

Though we always use the E.U. version - it's in English, but still offers close to the full package of options available on the French language versio -, including the choice of ticket delivery options.

All The Information Below Relates To Using the E.U Version Of Oui.SNCF:

(2) However, for certain journeys, using the main, French language version of Oui.SNCF can be a better option - it offers a wider choice of tickets and trains, for example, use it and you can compare low cost Ouigo trains swith standard inOuiTGV trains etc.

So switching to the French language version, and using Google Translate to make sense of the site, can be worth trying.

Making a booking on the French site is possible if you are not French*, as you don't have to opt to have tickets mailed to you (or to print off the tickets at home from your email confirmation).

Instead when making  booking on any version of Oui.SNCF, you can usually choose the 'collect from an automatic ticket machine' option, OR the 'retrieval in a French station' options.

Select the latter and you won't need to have a chip + pin card to collect your ticket, but if you don't have one, you'll need to be using a station with a manned ticket office - when it's open.

Or opt to register on the E.U or French versions of Oui.SNF and then select 'E-Ticket' - your ticket will then be messaged to you, so that you can save it to your mobile device - then on the train you can show your phone to the conductor..

(3) *If you're attempting a booking from outside Europe, there is a possibility that the card details you enter when making a booking will be rejected - if they are you will have to switch to booking on RailEurope.

(4) This guide endeavours to highlight the less obvious aspects of using Oui.SNCF to book tickets.

If you were used to using SNCF's previous ticket booking site, Voyage-SNCF it's worth taking some time out to read the info below, as there have been some changes to the functionality - Oui.SNCF isn't just a new name and colour palette.

(1) Choosing your starting point of your journey
How to book on Oui.SNCF
What has been highlighted above is:

(i)  Note the flag at top right - showing that we were using the E.U version of the site,

(ii) The text below the logo alerts you to the fact that you can choose versions of the site to suit your location and preferred language - if you haven't been automatically directed to it.

(iii) The journey being looked up was Paris to Marseille, so 'Par' has been entered in the 'From' box.

Note that a drop down of 'From' options has been automatically generated, these include the specific mainline stations in Paris - using their French names -  'Gare de l'Est for 'Paris Est' etc.

If you're not sure which station in Paris your train will be departing from, you can select the highlighted 'Paris (all stations)' option.

(2) Choosing your destination:
How to buy tickets on the Oui.SNCF website
In this example we are heading to Marseille so 'Mars' has been entered in the 'To' box.

What has been highlighted above is that Oui.SNCF has automatically offered multiple options for destinations associated with Marseille, but Marseille St-Charles, the main station in Marseille is NOT one of these options.

Therefore, this is an example of why choosing the (all stations) option can make it easier to find your journey.

(3)  Using the the detailed search options:

As will be seen this initial booking screen also gives you other options to help you find the optimum ticket, so don't be too hasty in clicking the 'Search' button.

These other options are:

(i) Direction - the default is one-way, so if you will be making a return journey, you need to be pro-active and change it - the booking process for a return journey will then be simplified.

(ii) Direct trains - If you leave these box unticked you will see both direct journeys* AND journeys with changes of train on the search results.

If you know that there is a fairly regular service of direct trains on the route you want to take (you can check this on our journey guides) and they're your preference, then tick this box. You'll then only see direct trains, so you won't have to scan through the search results to seek them out.

*Take care - if you do tick the 'direct trains' box, but there are no direct trains on your selected route, you will just see an empty page of results - the website won't alert you to the fact that you'll need to search again, with the box unticked.

(iii) 'Find the best prices in the next 30 days':

Oui.SNCF does go the extra mile to help its customers book at the cheapest possible price, but if you can only choose departures a couple of days either side of your first choice date, then don't use this facility.

As will be seen below, on the standard search results format it's easy to see if there will be cheaper tickets available on the days either side of your preferred travel date.

Ideally only click the 'Search' button to move on the Selecting  A Ticket stage, when you have chosen and double-checked all the options that suit you - though you can amend them later without returning to this Journey Search page.



(1) Making sense of the ticket PRICE information:
Choosing a ticket when booking on Oui.SNCF
As can be seen above the ticket selection page on Oui.SNCF can be a tad confusing.
It's a good example of a booking screen that, once you're used to using it, can be a big help in finding the ticket you need, but it also has features that we suspect may perplex first time users.

So the first aspect we're going to look at is how to make sense of the ticket price information you will see - though this can vary across the different versions of Oui.SNCF.
Shown above is typical of what you will see on the E.U. and French versions - though on the latter, the text will be in French.

If you have to travel on a specific date, but also want to travel at the cheapest possible price, you will almost certainly need to be flexible re; your departure time - so keep an open mind when selecting a departure time on at the previous Journey Search stage.


Look out for these four things in particular:

(1) At the top of the screen is a calendar* which shows the cheapest possible prices per day over a 7 day period - this search was made 2 months ahead and note the variation in ticket prices between the different days of the week.

The price we have highlighted is the cheapest possible price on the day we initially searched for, ie. our first choice travel date.

*Something we've noticed is that this calendar isn't seemingly now available on all routes.

(2) In this example the cheapest possible price on our chosen day of travel (the Thursday) is available at our preferred departure time.
However, if this €35 price hadn't been visible, then we would have resorted to using the 'Find the best prices of the day' tool - more info on using this is available further down the guide.

(3) But €35 isn't actually the cheapest price displayed in the example?

The €25 price is for journey by a Ouigo bus service - these usually appear in the search results even when opting to look only for 'train' tickets.
However, the cheapest price shown on the days of the week calendar at the top of the results, for example the €25 price on Sun 27th, will be for a train and not a bus.

(4) The €10 price is for a journey by a low cost,basic  Ouigo train.

But note that we have highlighted in blue that this particular Ouigo train isn't departing from central Paris.

This journey by this Ouigo train is showing on these search results because we selected 'Paris (all stations) when choosing the 'From' option on the journey search.

Also note that travelling by Ouigo trains won't be an option on most routes.


(2) Finding the cheapest ticket for your travel date:
booking the cheapest possible tickets on

There are a grand total of eight aspects of this journey search that are worth paying attention to, but not all of them may be relevant to your journey.

(i) As can been in this example above, on this different journey search, we ideally wanted to depart from Paris at around 16:00 on Thurs 24th.

(ii) The calendar at the top of the page is showing the cheapest possible price on Thurs 24th is €35.
But (aside from the bus) this €35 price isn't visible on this initial set of search results - as they're centred on departing at 16:00

(iii) So to see on which departures the €35 price is available on, we needed to click the 'find the best price of the day' tool - we did so and saw this...

(iv) ... the departure time has switched to 07:00 - a very different time of day to 16:00!

(v) However, note that this €35 price is available on more than one departure.

(vi) This €35 price MAY also be available on departures later in the day - the arrow is illustrating that if you scroll down the page, you may see later departures at this price.

When the cheapest price is available on multiple departures per day, Oui.SNCF will show the earliest departure at the top of the page.

(vii) As also can be seen on this example, we could have saved another €10 if we were able to travel on Sunday 27th, so we clicked on that date...

(viii).. we could then see the above - what we have highlighted is that the €25 price does not refer to the bus or Ouigo trains circled in red, instead it refers to departures by standard TGV train that we have highlighted in yellow..

Also highlighted in green that the 08:28 departure has been listed twice - it's best not to wonder why.


(3) Understanding the types of ticket:
Choosing a type of ticket when booking on Oui.SNCF

As can be seen above, when looking up 2nd class journeys on Oui.SNCF you will see four columns of ticket prices.
From left to right they are:

(i) 'Non exchangeable' - also known as 'Prems' tickets.
These are the cheapest tickets, but they live up to their name as once booked they cannot be refunded or exchanged, if you subsequently need to change your travel plans.

You won't see prices for 'Non exchangeable' tickets if you're not looking for tickets a minimum of 10 days ahead of your travel date and if you're looking more than 10 days ahead, they can be sold out when departures are particularly popular.

(ii) 'Exchangeable conditions apply' - Note that these tickets can be exchanged, but NOT refunded if you subsequently change your travel plans.

(iii) Flexible - these are the full price tickets that can be refunded or exchanged. Also if you were to book last minute at the station, this is the price you will pay.

(iv) The fourth column on the right shows the cheapest 1st class price available - which is always visible when 1st class is available on a departure.

Note that the 1st class price you will see when looking up 2nd class journeys can be cheaper than the 'Exchangeable' and 'Flexible prices.


(4) Booking 1st class tickets, having initially looked for 2nd class tickets:
Booking 1st class train tickets on Oui.SNCF

Take care if you do decide to select the 1st class tickets, when having initially looked up a 2nd class journey.

As can be seen in the example above, the only price shown for 1st class can be (and usually is when booking more than a couple of weeks ahead) the price of a 'Non Exchangeable' 1st class ticket.

From this screen, if you wanted to choose a DIFFERENT type of 1st class ticket(s), you will need to select the 1st class button in the search box on the left.


(5) Searching for and booking 1st class tickets:
Searching For 1st class tickets on Oui.SNCF

If you know you want to travel 1st class then it's best to select it at the 'Journey Search' stage, as you will then see all three options for 1st class tickets - which mirror the three different types of 2nd class tickets.

Note that the cheapest price available information at the top of the screen on the calendar is now also for 1st class tickets.

Though if  you have specifically searched for 1st class tickets, then note that cheaper 2nd class options aren't shown on the search results for 1st class tickets.
To compare prices with 2nd class travel you have to click on the 2nd class button in the search box on the left.


(6) Checking the details of your ticket and the chosen train/departure:
Checking the train details when booking on Oui.SNCF

Once a ticket has been selected the box above will appear - note that:

(a) Circled in green - the name of the Non exchangeable ticket is now shown as being a 'Prems' ticket -  Non exchangeable tickets are 'Prems' tickets,

(b) Circled in orange - the core terms and conditions of the ticket.

(c) Circled in yellow - the option to check the journey details, though we suggest you only do so if the journey involves a change of train.

(d) Circled in red - if you will be travelling by TGV or some 'Intercités services, this is the opportunity to choose your TYPE of seat (if you're searching for 1st class tickets on TGV trains, you can select specific seats).

If you opt to 'select this outbound journey' without choosing seats then seats will be assigned on TGVs and those Intercités trains - but the location of a seat can make a difference to the travelling experience, particularly on the double-deck TGV Duplex trains.


(7) Choosing your type of seats:

Choosing a Seat on Oui.SNCF
When choosing seats note that:

(i) For journeys by TGV Duplex* and TGV Océane trains you cannot choose the direction of travel, but you can select seats which face forwards on TGV Atlantique and TGV Sud-Est trains.

*the screenshot is or a departure by a TGV Duplex train.

(ii) The 'upper deck' and 'lower deck' options are only available on departures which use TGV Duplex or TGV Océane trains - this is the only indication on the booking process on Oui.SNCF, of whether you will be travelling by these types of trains.

You can check which of the four types of TGV train you will be travelling on a specific departure, if you follow these simple steps.



Having clicked on 'select this outbound journey' you will see a screen corresponding to the above.

The details of the selected journey are shown including the details of the seats you have been assigned or have chosen.

Ignore the 'ticket delivery options' box - this is NOT the stage of the booking when you can actually choose how to receive your ticket(s).

If you click the 'conditions and details' button, the page will scroll down, so that you can see the information below, but as indicated by our addition of the red arrow, you will have to scroll further down the page if you want to read the full terms and conditions.

checking the terms and conditions of a ticket when booking on Oui.SNCF
Also note on the above image, that this is the stage of the booking process at which you can add another journey(s) to the booking, so that you can pay in one transaction for multiple journeys.



(1) Registration options:

Having clicked on the 'confirm and pay' button or the equivalent, this first stage of the payment process is registration, as shown above.

What we have highlighted is if your use of Oui.SNCF to book tickets is likely to be a one-time only experience, then you don't have to register, you can click on 'Book without a customer account'.

(2) Stage one of choosing a ticket delivery method:
choosing a ticket delivery method on Oui.SNCF

The next stage of the payment process is to choose your preferred ticket delivery method.

The default option is USUALLY an E-ticket - proceed with this and you will sent a link to the ticket that you can use.
You could then download the SNCF app, so that your ticket will be on your mobile device, OR you can print out this ticket yourself and take it with you.

What can be easy to miss is that E-Tickets are usually not the only delivery option - you can access these other options by clicking on 'More withdrawal methods'.

(3) Choosing alternative delivery methods:

Do so and other boxes of delivery options may appear - depending on your location and the version of Oui.SNCF you are using, you might not actually be given a choice of delivery options.

Take care to read the summary of the steps you need to take in order to be able to collect tickets on each method - clicking on the 'More Information' links is recommended.

As is made clear, you need to be able to conform to the conditions of each method for your ticket to be valid - particularly if you are buying 'Prems' tickets.
For example, if the card you used to book has expired by the time you arrive at the station to collect the ticket, you will have to buy another ticket.

If you opt to collect from an 'Automatic Ticket Machine', when retrieving your ticket you will need to enter the PNR number into the machine and NOT the reference number.

Also if you opt to collect from a machine or station, the tickets you will be issued are the types that need to be stamped in the yellow ticket machines at stations prior to boarding.


(4) Personal Information:
paying for tickets when booking on Oui.SNCF
If you opt to create an account, then when making subsequent bookings on Oui.SNCF you can skip this stage of the booking process.



If your journey involves a  change of train we always recommend clicking on the easy to miss arrows, highlighted in green, because by doing so you can check the specific details of each journey - they can differ significantly.

If you do so, you will also then see the journey detail and there are two things that are easy to miss, which are worth paying attention to:

(1) Check the time allowed for the 'Connection' between trains, as making these connections is NOT absolutely guaranteed.
In this example it's likely that the 14:14 train will depart no more than a few minutes late, even if the TGV from Paris was  arriving more than 18 mins late.

Oui.SNCF does NOT offer an option to search for journeys with longer periods of time between connections.

Also you have to seek this information out by checking the details of the journey yourself, Oui.SNCF won't alert you to when connections are tightly timed.

Though if you do miss a booked connection, tickets will be valid on subsequent trains, no matter which type of ticket you will be travelling with - unless you will be connecting into the final train of the day!

However, it's a hassle to be avoided if possible, particularly as the next train on to your final destination may not be departing for another three hours!

(2) The TER train being used on this particular journey is 2nd class only - so before booking 1st class tickets, check for how much of the journey you will actually be able to travel in 1st class.