Rural French railways

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williamn

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I am starting to look at planning a trip to Northern France, hopefully using trains to get to some more rural parts. I wondered if there are any good sources of advice on which are good scenic lines etc. The Man in Seat 61 concentrates mainly on TGV routes and I'm after the more provincial lines. Any good sites for that kind of thing?
 
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Polarbear

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You may also want to purchase a Thomas Cook European timetable too. Although it doesn't have details for every branch line in France, it does cover a good number of the better ones.

What you will find (unless SNCF has changed markedly), is that connections between branch lines rarely if ever make sense & you can end up with some long waits between trains in the middle of nowhere. Be aware also that in France, many services are substituted by buses off peak & in some cases, buses can form the majority of services in a day on certain lines.
 

A60K

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Depends whereabouts in Northern France you're going, but in Nord Pas de Calais there are some TER-GV services which are operated by TGV trains in their spare time. As Polarbear says, there are also routes with bus services instead of trains as part of the timetable - look out for services described as 'autocar'!
 

CC 72100

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Depends whereabouts in Northern France you're going, but in Nord Pas de Calais there are some TER-GV services which are operated by TGV trains in their spare time. As Polarbear says, there are also routes with bus services instead of trains as part of the timetable - look out for services described as 'autocar'!
Yes, do watch out for that! If my memory serves me correct, all services operated by TER are listed on the timetable, be it a bus, coach or train service as it's all under one umbrella. You may want to get in a 'TER intercités' service for a break from DMUs - LHCS, some coaches have compartments.

I don't know how well travelled you are on French railways, but we always used to make two mistakes in some our earlier rail journies when in France

1) We didn't 'composter' or stamp our ticket on the machines at the platform entrance before boarding the train

2) Unless you only plan on going the one-way, you need a return ticket - 'un billet aller-retour'.
 
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