Europe Trains Guide Forum
User Info
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 22, 2024, 05:29:23 pm

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
News
Welcome
Forum Stats
2813 Posts in 516 Topics by 767 Members
Latest Member: Markbut
Home Help Search Login Register
Europe Trains Guide Forum  |  General discussion  |  Train fares and tariffs  |  Journey through the Pyrenees: Madrid to Montpellier
« previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: Journey through the Pyrenees: Madrid to Montpellier  (Read 14787 times)
SEL
Newbie
*
Posts: 22

View Profile
« on: July 04, 2017, 03:31:05 pm »

Hi,

Once again, thanks to you guys and your invaluable advice last year.  We had another great trip, this time through the Balkans, Poland, Germany and Netherlands.

We were also fortunate to visit Japan earlier this year using the Japan train pass.  I have to admit it was refreshing to not have to worry about organising discount fares; instead, turning up at the station, reserving our seats, (included in the pass), and hopping on quickly to ensure they kept to their strict timetable.

However Europe draws us back and I’m wondering how much flexibility and discounting is available on our trip starting mid September.  We’ve decided to stay several days in each of the Spanish/French towns * to use as our bases.  However we realise we might need to hire a car or take a bus in some instances for the side trip destinations.

The route planned so far is: (Staying in towns *)

Madrid* with rtn day trip to Toledo
Madrid to Valencia
Valencia* to Girona
Girona* with rtn side trips to Figueres, Cerbere, Cadaques & Portligat, Pyrenees
Girona to Perpignan
Perpignan* with rtn day trips to Villefranche-de-Conflent and Petit Train Jaune journey
Perpignan with rtn day trips i.e. Carcassonne; Beziers; Collioure & Ceret
Perpignan to Pyrenees (walking)
Pyrenees* to Montpellier
Montpellier* with rtn day trip to Camargue national park
An added is attraction is to visit friends near La Rochelle but I’m waiting to see if our dates match up.
La Rochelle* or Montpelier to London (either by train or plane)
London* to Norwich* & maybe Chester*

I’ve started checking fares but not yet calculated the total costs and whether passes might actually be worthwhile if I'm too late for cheap fares. I hope to get your advice before I get too far and find I’ve got to reorganise everything.

As usual, many many thanks in advance.
Logged
tUt
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 1233

View Profile EuropeTrainsGuide
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2017, 09:22:02 pm »

Dear SEL, first of all sorry for the much delayed reply, this year summer vacation wasn't rail related, but more mountaineering, thus lack of internet

Anyhow, let's go step by step

Madrid to Toledo: very short trip, which basically means no need to think about train tickets in advance (20 euro per person will get you there & back). Buses are cheaper (like 5 euro one way per person), but it takes longer.

Madrid to Valencia: an opposite situation --> buying your train ticket before departure will cost you a fortune (>70 euro for high-speed AVE train), while in advance purchase (e.g. now for September) can help you get your ticket for the same AVE train like three times cheaper. Buses are cheaper (even with the standard full fare), however it will mean 4+ hour journey. In such cases it might make sense just use slow regional train (= ticket price doesn't depend on when you buy your ticket).

Valencia to Girona: almost the same story as above, meaning rather lengthy journey will cost a lot with the ticket purchased before departure (from 40 to 60 euro depending on train choice), while in advance purchase will give you a chance to catch a promo tariff twice cheaper

Girona to Figueres: short & cheap (5 euro one way), so no need to bother with any in advance train ticket purchase, just make sure you use an ordinary regional train and not a fancy high-speed one

Girona to Cerbere: also short & cheap (=no need to buy in advance), however are you sure you want to travel to Cerbere and then again get back to Girona? Since Cerbere is very close to Perpignan, maybe it makes sense not to get back, meaning visit Cerbere on your way from Girona to Perpignan (e.g drop you luggage at the station & go for a walk, while then just continue to Perpignan)

Girona to Portlligat/Cadaques: no railway here (maximum till Figueres), so it's either bus or perhaps car rental (preferred option I guess in this case)

Girona to Perpignan: direct trains are kind of expensive, but with ticket break via Cerbere (meaning Girona-Cerbere + Cerbere-Perpignan) you can easily travel for <15 euro per person

to be continued...
Logged
Get 10% off your next hotel stay and support our forum by utilizing our special Booking.com partner link when you make your next hotel booking!
SEL
Newbie
*
Posts: 22

View Profile
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2017, 05:28:07 am »

Thank you very much tUt, I had assumed you might be away. Hope you had a good trip.  It can annoying not to have constant internet access, but kind of refreshing too.

In the meantime I obviously did some research checking dates for tickets coming online etc.  The itinerary also changed a little to fit in with accommodation and friends joining us.  So…

Madrid to Toledo - OK. Buy on the day.

Madrid to Girona waiting for advance purchase for the first morning train then TEISA 300 bus to Garrotxa Volcanic Nature Reserve where we’re staying.  Why are the Spanish tickets so random??

Nat Park to Valencia.  It seems the TEISA 300 bus to Girona with a 2hr transfer for Girona to Valencia via Barcelona works best. Waiting for cheap tickets to come online.  Should I buy as a through journey in case there’s a holdup on the first leg?

Valencia to Girona. Ditto

Girona to Collioure.  Rodalies gencat R11 to Cerbere (buy at station); then I have found the train1euro (online) tickets connecting Cerbere to Collioure.  I think I can buy a standard ticket at Cerbere if I can’t buy the 1euro online.
I can have either a 1hr 10min or 11mins transfer at Cerbere.  What’s the likelihood of a missed connection on these trains?

Collioure to Perpignan.  I’ll avail myself of the cheap 1euro fares if possible or the 1euro bus. Otherwise cash on the day.

Perpignan to Montpellier.  Again the subsidised fare or do you think it more prudent to book standard fares. I’ll have just landed in HK when the 1euros come on sale for that leg!!  Or is there another way?  I’m also thinking of using the Historical subsidised fares in this region.  From my understanding I can buy these at the local train stations particular to the route i.e. Nimes or Perpignan, 2 of the 5 Historical routes.

Montpellier to Niort (closest station) or La Rochelle Ville or Poitiers. There only seems to be one train per day via Bordeaux, the others go through Paris but there is a selection. These also seem to be online now so I’m running out of cheap fares.

Niort, La Rochelle or Poitiers to London.  I looked at flying but by the time we’ve driven to the airport, hung around and taken the train/tube into London it seems to be just as easy to take the train to Paris & St P.  Trains are more frequent (Sat or Sun) and we could allow a few hours layover in Paris - once we’ve stored the bags.  Your thoughts please if there are any cheap alternative train tips.  If we’re re travelling both ways Paris to Niort (for example) is it cheaper to get a return ticket?

London to Norwich rtn
and possibly London to Chester rtn  or I could combine the two journeys i.e. London - Norwich - Chester - London

Thanks again for passing on your train knowledge.  It helps makes our train travel all the more pleasurable :)
Logged
SEL
Newbie
*
Posts: 22

View Profile
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2017, 03:22:14 pm »

Hi again tUt,
An extra note. 
Is there any rhyme or reason behind the Spanish train prices?  I’ve spent days producing a spread sheet, taking screen grabs to track all the variables but now, when the tickets are on sale they are considerably more expensive (especially when buying more than one), or I don’t know if a train that runs in all previous weeks is unavailable, sold out or just not posted yet.  I’m beginning to think I’ll hire a car just to avoid the frustration!  I can't find any festivals for the dates I'm travelling and I can't believe it's like hiring a car when the price goes up just because you've researched the dates one too many times.
I can never remember having this problem in other european countries.
Logged
tUt
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 1233

View Profile EuropeTrainsGuide
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2017, 11:20:17 pm »

Madrid to Girona waiting for advance purchase for the first morning train then TEISA 300 bus to Garrotxa Volcanic Nature Reserve where we’re staying.  Why are the Spanish tickets so random??
For a cheaper journey you might actually try buying separately Madrid to Barcelona and then, not necessarily in advance, Barcelona-Girona (at least check you date)
Nat Park to Valencia.  It seems the TEISA 300 bus to Girona with a 2hr transfer for Girona to Valencia via Barcelona works best. Waiting for cheap tickets to come online.  Should I buy as a through journey in case there’s a holdup on the first leg?
Again, it makes sense to check both options (meaning through ticket and Barcelona-Valencia separately). Doubt there will be any hold up on Girona-Barcelona leg, it's a major route with trains running very often
Valencia to Girona. Ditto
If you know the exact date, you can also try checking Barc.-Valencia-Barcelona return. Two one-way promo tariff ticket will be cheaper, but Renfe also offers return discount.
Girona to Collioure.  Rodalies gencat R11 to Cerbere (buy at station); then I have found the train1euro (online) tickets connecting Cerbere to Collioure.  I think I can buy a standard ticket at Cerbere if I can’t buy the 1euro online.
With the short journeys like this even full fare (3,7 euro in this case) aren't
I can have either a 1hr 10min or 11mins transfer at Cerbere.  What’s the likelihood of a missed connection on these trains?
The departing train should wait for the passengers from the arriving one, so 11 mins should be enough, but if you have time you can always stop in Cerbere for a bit longer
Collioure to Perpignan.  I’ll avail myself of the cheap 1euro fares if possible or the 1euro bus. Otherwise cash on the day.
Yep, nothing to add here
Perpignan to Montpellier.  Again the subsidised fare or do you think it more prudent to book standard fares. I’ll have just landed in HK when the 1euros come on sale for that leg!!  Or is there another way?
Why to pay more, if you can travel cheaper? Especially since Perpignan to Montpellier is already decent distance and paying almost 30 euro doesn't look like a good choice when you have a chance purchase your tickets in advance

I’m also thinking of using the Historical subsidised fares in this region.  From my understanding I can buy these at the local train stations particular to the route i.e. Nimes or Perpignan, 2 of the 5 Historical routes.
The full info is here in French - https://www.train1euro.fr/Content/I18NTempFiles/20170515_1314/fr/FAQ.pdf , but you can also read something in English (e.g. http://www.languedocliving.com/trains-at-one-euro-life-146.html )

Montpellier to Niort (closest station) or La Rochelle Ville or Poitiers. There only seems to be one train per day via Bordeaux, the others go through Paris but there is a selection. These also seem to be online now so I’m running out of cheap fares.
Well, France is often very Pariscentric, meaning that it's faster to travel via Paris, even if geographically Paris is a detour. If you want to look at some option not involving Paris, then would suggest to check the DB website for timetable (it will show you possible options, while then it will be a task to figure out how to buy it from SNCF)

Niort, La Rochelle or Poitiers to London.  I looked at flying but by the time we’ve driven to the airport, hung around and taken the train/tube into London it seems to be just as easy to take the train to Paris & St P.  Trains are more frequent (Sat or Sun) and we could allow a few hours layover in Paris - once we’ve stored the bags.  Your thoughts please if there are any cheap alternative train tips.  If we’re re travelling both ways Paris to Niort (for example) is it cheaper to get a return ticket?
In France return or one-way it usually doesn't matter, more important is to catch promo tickets, however witht Eurostar trains sometimes it might be cheaper to purchase not from Paris, but from some earlier relatively big French station (in your case e.g. Poitiers) + make sure you check both Eurostar website and SNCF website, those might have a different price for the same departure :)

London to Norwich rtn
and possibly London to Chester rtn  or I could combine the two journeys i.e. London - Norwich - Chester - London
On the Nationall Rail website (as aggregator of all the UK rail operators) you can purchase so called "Advance" tickets for very decent money compared to the standard fare (10 vs. 20+), same story is for London-Chester (20 vs 80+)
Logged
Get 10% off your next hotel stay and support our forum by utilizing our special Booking.com partner link when you make your next hotel booking!
tUt
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 1233

View Profile EuropeTrainsGuide
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2017, 11:28:10 pm »

Is there any rhyme or reason behind the Spanish train prices?  I’ve spent days producing a spread sheet, taking screen grabs to track all the variables but now, when the tickets are on sale they are considerably more expensive (especially when buying more than one), or I don’t know if a train that runs in all previous weeks is unavailable, sold out or just not posted yet.  I’m beginning to think I’ll hire a car just to avoid the frustration!  I can't find any festivals for the dates I'm travelling and I can't believe it's like hiring a car when the price goes up just because you've researched the dates one too many times.
I can never remember having this problem in other european countries.
Hmm... it's a long story and a guessing gaming, but indeed Renfe is very badly organized when it comes to the ticket sale logic, but sometimes you just keep wondering maybe it's intentionally done like this, so that potential tourist-passengers would just buy a Spanish pass or expensive ticket?
What concerns "researched the dates one too many times", you can check it easily by cleaning renfe cookies from your browser or using other pc ;)
Logged
Get 10% off your next hotel stay and support our forum by utilizing our special Booking.com partner link when you make your next hotel booking!
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
« previous next »
 

SMF 2.0.15 | SMF © 2017, Simple Machines