Solved! The Problems with SNCF Connect and Ouigo Websites — and How We Buy French Train Tickets in Spite of Them

Given the frequent errors and lack of usability of the SNCF's ticketing websites, we're assuming this their main server. As captured by David Hellmann.
The server for the error-ridden SNCF Connect website is presumably as functional and modern as this train hardware. Credit: David Hellmann.

If you are blocked by error messages on the SNCF Connect or on, you’re not alone. The websites and apps have lots of redirects and undergo constant updates that can render them in some cases nearly unusable. In particular, the transition to the new SNCF Connect website has been very rough and disabled a number of features.

Fortunately, there are easy solutions as well: options for buying French train tickets from separate booking websites. You can get the same tickets at the same prices without the hassle of the SNCF’s — how shall we put this? — highly “varied” levels of website usability and customer service.

The private portals are also a good way to get cheaper train tickets in France because they often come up with smarter routing options than the SNCF’s own websites. And ultimately due to the website errors and redirects this is for many of us the only option.

Solutions for the SNCF Connect website errors

The easiest solution is to avoid SNCF sites entirely. The best train ticketing portal for France (and much of Western Europe) is Trainline. Its pricing follows the dynamic rates offered by the SNCF itself, and sometimes Trainline finds even better routes, saving you a bit of money. The only catch is that there is a small booking fee (usually about 3%) tacked on at the end. We’re happy to pay it to avoid the aggravation of SNCF website errors, plus have better customer support and on occasion find a faster and cheaper route.

Another decent alternative is RailEurope (formerly Loco2), which is also quite user-friendly and error-free. However, it doesn’t offer the complete range of French train tickets including the low-cost Ouigo routes, and the booking fee tends to work out just a bit higher.

There are other solutions that sometimes work for SNCF Connect app and website errors. If your ticket purchase is not urgent, you can clear your browser cache and try back later. You can use a VPN that allows you to pretend that you’re in France. And finally, if you are already in France, you can go to an SNCF office or train station to purchase tickets the old fashioned way, with lines and cash.

Search Trainline for French train tickets

This article is continuously fact-checked and updated by savvy, sweaty, human travel writers

This article was published on March 22, 2018. It underwent a major rewrite on September 19, 2018. It was updated concerning Trainline fees on April 22, 2019. It was given a thorough update on November 15, 2019. On July 28, 2022, have done another thorough update looking at the somehow even worse SNCF Connect website after its transition from On May 10, 2023, we updated with language issues.

The Frequent Complaints About the SNCF Websites and App for Buying Train Tickets

Credit card problems with SNCF Connect

The New SNCF Connect App Doesn’t Work

Geographical Redirects on SNCF Connect to More Expensive Websites

Handling the Error Messages on SNCF Connect

The Price Calendar that Disappeared from SNCF Connect

Using SNCF Connect in English and Other Languages If You Don’t Speak French

Some of my Own Horror Stories with SNCF Booking

Conclusion: Our Favorite Alternative to the Error-Ridden SNCF websites

The view crossing from Italy into France on a fast train, as I write for this site

I’ve been personally much happier since I switched to Trainline, which isn’t perfect but avoids all of the problems above, and has relatively great customer service. Their main issue is couple-of-euros booking fee they now add on to most tickets. (But see also our general tips for cheap French train tickets.)

Once you board a French train, though, and get a croissant and café in the bar car, all the hassle seems worth it as the beautiful countryside slips past your window.