SNCF train tickets: what are the blue and white periods?

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The holidays are fast approaching, and it’s time to book your trip. If, like 71% of French people in 2017, you plan to go to metropolitan France, taking the train will most certainly be unavoidable. But you could come up against prices bordering on indecency.

INSEE reports that in just three months, the price of SNCF train tickets has increased by 15.3%. The trend had been rather downward until then, due in particular to the Covid pandemic, which had caused the cost of train travel to fall by around 6% between 2019 and 2020.

But this substantial inflation is disputed by the main interested party, the SNCF, which estimates that prices have, on the contrary, fallen by 7% since June 2021, thanks to the arrival of the Avantage card and various promotions.

Why such a disparity in the numbers? According to Midi Libre, the method of calculating the evolution of ticket prices could be in question. SNCF estimates it by dividing its turnover by the number of tickets sold over a given period. INSEE, for its part, uses a robot, which consults the price of tickets marketed by the railway company every day.

Still, for many French people, traveling by train has almost become a luxury, especially during the holiday period, when prices tend to soar.

To save money and find a ticket at the best price, however, there is a tip to know when booking your tickets.

For TER trains, the SNCF has set up a timetable, with white periods and blue periods. Concretely, this means that by traveling at certain times of the day, or during certain times of the year, your tickets will be cheaper.

The white periods correspond to the peak hours of SNCF traffic.

If you are traveling during the blue period, your ticket will be up to 50% cheaper with the Avantage card. For seniors and those under 25, the rate will be reduced to 25%.

In addition to the blue periods, there are special days on which the blue periods can change. To view the 2022 calendar, go here.