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Old Jul 21, 12, 7:39 pm   #1
 
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5am train from Grenoble

I'll be staying at a hotel in Grenoble, and hope to take a 5am train out of the city to Cannes. The hotel is 1.5 km away from the station. Can you advise whether or not this is a good or bad idea? Travel in Early September with 4 passengers.

1) 5am train is 30Euro less pp than all other AM trains
2) Walking 1.5 km at 4:30 am is not really practical, right?
3) Trams do not run that early, right?
4) How common/easy is it to reserve or schedule a taxi for that early?
What if we're staying at a relatively small hotel?
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Old Jul 21, 12, 7:43 pm   #2
 
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why is walking not practical?
1.5 km is equivalent to aprox 15 minutes of brisk walk
You don't mention what time of the year so I can imagine not a good idea in winter when it is really cold or snowing but summer/early fall should be OK.
I will let other people comment on safety issues in Grenoble but I would not mind walking in Paris, Lyon or Nice. I have actually done that.
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Old Jul 21, 12, 8:14 pm   #3
 
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Yes, Google Maps "Walking" distance estimated it at 15 minutes. I guess my concern was it being so early. Traveling in Early September, so sunrise should be ~7:00am, which means that at 4:30am it should be fairly dark. Are most of the sidewalks and such lighted enough? and safely? Thank you!
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Old Jul 29, 12, 10:04 pm   #4
 
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Are all in your group "morning" people?

If I'm flying, I'll gladly pay an extra 30 euros/$40 for a flight that's not insanely early. I'd have trouble getting to sleep the night before, knowing that I have to get up so early, and what if someone in your group can't get going fast enough?

The area around the Grenoble train station isn't the greatest, but I doubt there's many undesirables hanging around at that hour of the morning. But it will be dark, no question about that. As for the safety of your specific route, if you haven't been there already, I'd do a "walk through" via Google Street View and see what it looks like.

1.5km, 15 minutes... any luggage?
Quote:
Originally Posted by nrr View Post
Maybe (with the aid of your hotel's personnel) you could arrange for a taxi to drive you directly there--it shouldn't be that expensive, since the distance is pretty short.
The cheapest fares on SNCF don't allow for credit if you miss your train, so you'd be paying full "walk-up" fare to get to your destination... very expensive. Thus you really don't have much room for error; if the cab's late, you're hosed. The only thing you can truly depend on at that hour of the morning are your feet. And even that may be questionable.
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Last edited by Mike Jacoubowsky; Aug 1, 12 at 11:22 am. Reason: merge
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Old Jul 31, 12, 9:04 pm   #5
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Maybe (with the aid of your hotel's personnel) you could arrange for a taxi to drive you directly there--it shouldn't be that expensive, since the distance is pretty short.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 7:07 am   #6
 
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Thank you Mike and nrr. We decided to "risk it", and go for the early train. I think we will attempt a Cab, though intend to leave early enough to walk if necessary. Luggage is limited, but we'll all have a small roller bag. Regarding Mike's "what if someone in your group can't get going fast enough?" the person in our group I would be most worried about is me, and I won't let that happen. ;-]

Part of the reason for leaving early is cost, but also it is getting to spend more time at our destination, as that is already limited. We'll have plenty of time to sleep on the train.

The train is a commuter train, without seat reservations to Lyon part dieu. Tickets are paper and have already been mailed. It says to arrive 15 minutes early for that. It will be the only commuter train on our trip, is there anything else to look for or be aware of?


When we arrive we'll scope out the plan for a quick and painless departure, any advise for making this as painless as possible would be appreciated (where to look for our train, etc.)
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Old Aug 2, 12, 1:34 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strawbearlyjamms View Post
Thank you Mike and nrr. We decided to "risk it", and go for the early train. I think we will attempt a Cab, though intend to leave early enough to walk if necessary. Luggage is limited, but we'll all have a small roller bag. Regarding Mike's "what if someone in your group can't get going fast enough?" the person in our group I would be most worried about is me, and I won't let that happen. ;-]

Part of the reason for leaving early is cost, but also it is getting to spend more time at our destination, as that is already limited. We'll have plenty of time to sleep on the train.

The train is a commuter train, without seat reservations to Lyon part dieu. Tickets are paper and have already been mailed. It says to arrive 15 minutes early for that. It will be the only commuter train on our trip, is there anything else to look for or be aware of?


When we arrive we'll scope out the plan for a quick and painless departure, any advise for making this as painless as possible would be appreciated (where to look for our train, etc.)
There won't be too many trains at that hour of the morning, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Upon arrival at the station, you'll be looking up at the big board to find your train and its track number. The track number typically doesn't post until shortly before the train arrives, but you're not going to be arriving at the station much sooner than the train anyway.

The destination may not be enough to find your train, since that might not be its final stop (although, for a commuter, it's likely Lyon is the final stop). I just checked the schedules on bahn.de (world's greatest site for euro train schedules) and it's almost certain your train's final stop is in fact Lyon. Likely train #17600. Far more confusing will be going from that train to your connection in Cannes. Oh, don't forget to insert your ticket into the punch machines before boarding. Don't ask me why they want you to do that.

You've got my curiosity up; just checked the schedules and don't quickly find a train leaving around 5-ish that connects efficiently in Lyon... ah, right. You're probably spending some time in Lyon because that was the cheaper ticket. Next time you book trains in France, keep in mind that it's not always cheapest to book a single itin. My son and I saved about 50 euros each by booking Lourdes-Dax Dax-Paris instead of Lourdes-Paris. We did have to change trains in Dax, but it was only 15 minutes longer than the direct would have been.

And avoid buying from RailEurope. Expensive! You can buy on-line from the SNCF website and print your tickets at home, or in some cases, pick them up at the station. All stuff you probably already know.

Have a great trip!
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Old Aug 2, 12, 7:01 pm   #8
 
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Excellent advise all around. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Jacoubowsky View Post

The destination may not be enough to find your train, since that might not be its final stop (although, for a commuter, it's likely Lyon is the final stop). I just checked the schedules on bahn.de (world's greatest site for euro train schedules) and it's almost certain your train's final stop is in fact Lyon. Likely train #17600. Far more confusing will be going from that train to your connection in Cannes. Oh, don't forget to insert your ticket into the punch machines before boarding. Don't ask me why they want you to do that.
Oddly enough, upon further inspection, it seems as if our "train" is actually a "bus"... at least from Grenoble to Lyon. It does not say this on the ticket that I can see.... Only online at the Bahn.de site

Shouldn't change anything though... right?

Quote:
You've got my curiosity up; just checked the schedules and don't quickly find a train leaving around 5-ish that connects efficiently in Lyon... ah, right. You're probably spending some time in Lyon because that was the cheaper ticket. Next time you book trains in France, keep in mind that it's not always cheapest to book a single itin. My son and I saved about 50 euros each by booking Lourdes-Dax Dax-Paris instead of Lourdes-Paris. We did have to change trains in Dax, but it was only 15 minutes longer than the direct would have been.

And avoid buying from RailEurope. Expensive! You can buy on-line from the SNCF website and print your tickets at home, or in some cases, pick them up at the station. All stuff you probably already know.

Have a great trip!
Purchasing the legs separately, did not even occur to me. Good to know for next time. I had been informed of the raileurope "scam" from an earlier post and was informed about the seat61 site which was very helpful. I was able to purchase through the SNCF site at a discount of about $200.
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Old Aug 2, 12, 8:29 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strawbearlyjamms View Post
Excellent advise all around. Thank you.

Oddly enough, upon further inspection, it seems as if our "train" is actually a "bus"... at least from Grenoble to Lyon. It does not say this on the ticket that I can see.... Only online at the Bahn.de site

Shouldn't change anything though... right?

Purchasing the legs separately, did not even occur to me. Good to know for next time. I had been informed of the raileurope "scam" from an earlier post and was informed about the seat61 site which was very helpful. I was able to purchase through the SNCF site at a discount of about $200.
From what I can see here, looks like the bus station is on the river side of the train station. Makes sense that it's a bus; I was looking over the schedule and that's the only thing that made sense for the timeframe, but thought otherwise since you hadn't mentioned a bus leg.

It's a bit overboard to call RailEurope a "scam"- it's an easy/familiar way for people to order tickets abroad, and I think the only way to purchase a railpass. But once you learn how things work, it's easy to "go native."

Ah, remember that stuff I was saying about looking at the big board for the train? That's going to be a big deal in Lyon. Big station, tons of trains moving in & out. How much time between legs? OK, looked it up, probably 20 minutes. Not much time. Find that board fast; it will likely already have the track number on it. For the TGV, no need to have anything punched by the yellow machines before boarding.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 3:20 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Jacoubowsky View Post
For the TGV, no need to have anything punched by the yellow machines before boarding.
Um, yes you do have to punch normal TGV tickets, unless it's international. Punching the ticket serves a purpose: it shows that the ticket has been used, in case the conductor doesn't come around to punch it, and prevents one from trying to get a refund for a trip one actually took.

If you ever run out of time or forget to punch your ticket, find the conductor before s/he makes the rounds. If you come clean up front, they are generally lenient.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 11:02 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louie_LI View Post
Um, yes you do have to punch normal TGV tickets, unless it's international. Punching the ticket serves a purpose: it shows that the ticket has been used, in case the conductor doesn't come around to punch it, and prevents one from trying to get a refund for a trip one actually took.

If you ever run out of time or forget to punch your ticket, find the conductor before s/he makes the rounds. If you come clean up front, they are generally lenient.
Thanks for the clarification. Makes sense.
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Old Aug 7, 12, 1:39 pm   #12
 
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Great advice, Thank you very much.
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Old Sep 7, 12, 10:08 am   #13
 
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couple of points I wanted to bring back after my trip.

1) We decided to get a taxi, as we thought our luggage would have been a bit challenging to lug that distance. The taxi was called by our hotel and arrived right on time. There appear to be several 24 hr taxi stands in the vicinity, so taxi hailing at any hour should be no problem in Grenoble. We used 3 taxis during our trip, one from the station to our hotel, where we used the taxi line waiting for us. We had 4 pax with luggage and had no trouble hailing a larger taxi that fit us and our luggage just fine. Each trip was ~10 euro. Other taxi was at about 11pm at the base of the BUBBLES. We communicated to the cable car operator that we needed a taxi to our hotel, and despite our communication challenges, our taxi arrived within minutes. Very convenient taxi system.

2) We did have a bit of a mix up after arriving to the station though. There appears to be ONE bus station with TWO parts. One part for the traditional bus system, and one part for SCNF busses. The part near the train station (southern part) have "line numbers" and leave to the two nearby airports about hourly. There are NO VALIDATION machines near this part. There was a 5:00 am bus scheduled to leave to Lyon Airport. Our tickets said our bus was to arrive at Lyon Part Dieu at 5:05. This bus arrived and it APPEARED as if this was the ONLY BUS leaving until about 6pm. The monitors DO NOT DISPLAY THE SCNF BUSSES. This was very confusing. There was a heard of people on the OTHER side of the bus station. While waiting to board, a bus arrived where those people were waiting, so I went to check while the rest of our party waited to get on the wrong bus. I saw that bus was labeled with Lyon Part Dieu and quickly retrieved our luggage and transitioned our party to the correct bus. We also happened to find a single VALIDATION MACHINE at the far northern part of the station, near where the SCNF busses appear to depart. We quickly validated, and boarded. There were at least a dozen people with tickets for this bus that were turned away. We made it just in time.

It was fairly dark when we arrived, so maybe we just missed something, but there was really no indication of how we would know to go to that bus, and from what I gathered, there were at least 10 other people who attempted to get on to the Lyon Airport bus only to be directed to the (already filled) Lyon Part Dieu bus.

Just a tip for future people who might be interested in this information.
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