We are at 55 days until departure and, having crossed all of the big hurdles (match tickets, hotel reservations, air travel booked), we are focused on settling as many of the small details of our trip as we feasibly can.
It was high priority to get our train travel from Lyon to Nice settled, as our window for taking that trip is narrow: we need to arrive in Nice with time to check into our hotel and get to Allianz Riviera in time for a 9:00 pm match.
We used Seat 61 to do a bit of research prior to purchasing our tickets. It is a great resource for navigating train travel, if you’re in the market for such information.
High-speed Trains à Grande Vitesse (TVG) tickets are available to purchase 90 days in advance. And, unlike the regional trains (which travel shorter distances) when it’s commonplace to buy a ticket at the station and hop on the train, it’s better to purchase TVG tickets in advance. One of the reasons you want to book early is that there are a limited number of nonrefundable first-class tickets that are just a touch more expensive than second class tickets.
We were slightly behind, booking at 72 days until our journey, but we managed to land those just-a-bit-more first-class tickets.
The amenities in first class aren’t outrageously better (bigger seats, more legroom and…that’s about it) but we will be taking a very early train and hopefully catching some sleep during the journey. A bit more space for an extra €5 per ticket seems like a bargain for a more restful trip.
Following recommendations that we read at Seat 61 and elsewhere, we used Captain Train to purchase our tickets. Captain Train is a third-party vendor, but its prices are equal to those that you’d get from booking directly with SNCF (France’s national state-owned railway company) and Captain Train’s website is far easier to navigate. Apparently the payment process works much smoother at Captain Train, too.
We’re counting on an equally smooth 4½ journey from Lyon to Nice. Preferably featuring a good bit of sleeping. And maybe some wine.
Pro tip: you’re allowed to drink on French trains. And also early in the morning if you’re on vacation.