Friday, November 04, 2016

Buying tickets for TER trains in Lorraine

We spent the beginning of November checking out cycle routes in the Moselle Valley in Lorraine. Rather than touring from city to city we stopped two nights in Nancy and took a train to Metz. The regional TER trains are operated by SNCF French national railways. As is usual in Europe there are two types of ticket machines on Nancy station: blue ones offering just regional TER tickets and bright yellow ones offering tickets for the whole French railways network, including the high speed TGVs. These machines speak only French, so brushez up votre Français. We found none of the ticket machines on Nancy station would accept either our German credit card or bank card. The machines do not accept notes either. We are not used to this as modern public transport ticket dispensers in Germany accept notes. We needed 14.60 € in coins which we did not have. (If I am cycling I try to carry the smallest number of coins possible to keep down the weight in my pockets.) In the end I joined a queue in the ticket office and managed to buy tickets before our train came in. We spent the day buying items separately to accumulate change. Fortunately smaller stations in France have staffed ticket offices and are often not that busy. We cycled from Metz to Pagny sur Moselle and bought tickets from a person in a ticket office.
There is another problem in buying tickets in general in la belle France. The French do not pronounce  names the way we do. It is useful when buying tickets from a ticket office to write out the name of the station you wish to reach to show the staff on the other side of the counter, because it is unlikely that they will understand your pronounciation. 
If you are buying tickets from a machine then remember that the machines although basically computers are very exact but dumb. Sensibly the TER ticket machines offer a list of major destinations in the region. If you want to travel to a small village you need to key in the first letter of the first name not the first letter of the second name in the case of a station with a double barreled name. We wanted to go  to a village called Avricourt. Its station lies between Avricourt and Igney and so the station is called Igney-Avricourt. It took a while for us to find it. Vive la France!

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