Around two months ago (in October), I bought a TGV train ticket to travel from Paris to Nantes to spend my vacation for Christmas.

However, since the 5th of December, train companies are on strike, and there's no telling when it's going to be over (they announced an unlimited strike). Since then, I noticed some trains were already cancelled.

Assuming my train will get cancelled (I won't be able to know until 1 or 2 days before departure), are there any different means of travelling within the country without trains nor planes?

I was thinking about taxi or Uber drivers, but I don't know if any of them would accept to drive 500 kilometers (311 miles) to the other side of France.

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    My first reflex would be checking the car sharing options. – Dmitry Grigoryev Dec 12 '19 at 12:18
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    I'd go for blablacar – Thomas Ayoub Dec 12 '19 at 13:48
  • Taxi would be insanely expensive though. You pay for the trip back-forth under those circumstances. – Kheldar Dec 12 '19 at 18:58

Taxis would typically be happy to do it but you might have to phone a taxi operator directly. If you have trouble finding a taxi then looking specifically for this service ("taxi longue distance") on Google turns up many results. I personally know taxi drivers who provided this service (sometimes to deliver a parcel rather than a person). Private drivers can do it to (I saw some offers on Eurecab) but the biggest platforms (Uber, Kapten…) do not offer trip this long through their app. The price would however be prohibitive for most people (several hundreds to over a thousand euros).

Cheaper means of transportation that remain available:

  • Flights (although there are disruptions there too and you specified no planes)
  • Long distance busses, both BlaBlaBus and Flixbus operate between Paris and Nantes
  • Ridesharing, the market leader in France is BlaBlaCar
  • Renting a car, if you are so inclined, you can even post the ride on BlaBlaCar to share the costs. If you cannot count on a negotiated rate, you might however find that cars are running out and the price of a rental is already very high indeed (no cars available at Montparnasse next Friday, one-day one-way rental to Nantes from another agency within Paris with Avis starts at almost €400).
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  • 400 Euro for a pickup in Paris to be dropped off in Nantes isn't a bad price. Most of it will be the long distance drop off fees, rather than the rental itself. – jwenting Dec 12 '19 at 5:54
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    @jwenting It is a bad price. I don't see any itemized fee but for the same trip on a May weekday, the rate would be €180. Meanwhile, one-day rentals with a return at the same pickup point also start in the €380-400 range (versus as little as €30 otherwise). – Relaxed Dec 12 '19 at 9:12

SNCF's website suggests the following alternatives during a strike:

  • Car rental with Avis (a traditional rental service)
  • Car rental with OuiCar (a service allowing private owners to rent out their cars)
  • Ride-sharing with BlaBlaCar (a long-distance ride-sharing service)
  • Bus service

For the first two options, there are 10% discount offers available on SNCF's website.

Unfortunately, I can't speak to the relative reliability, price, speed, etc. of these options; hopefully someone else will be able to do so in another answer.

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  • +1 for the link and 10% discount code. Note : Avis (and all the other usual suspects: Europcar, Sixt, etc.) would typically offer one-way intercity rentals (for a fee) whereas peer-to-peer car rental businesses and car sharing schemes (Ubeeqo, Car2Go) typically would not. In France, large supermarket chains also rent cars. They cover areas where international brands do not necessarily have a presence but I don't think one-way rental are available and they are not particularly convenient if you leave from Paris. – Relaxed Dec 11 '19 at 12:54
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    10% discount codes for the big car rental companies are literally everywhere. Does anyone ever pay full price? – Mâtt Frëëman Dec 11 '19 at 14:00
  • Hertz works fine too. Check your credit card, you might have a better discount. – Kheldar Dec 12 '19 at 18:57

I suggest you travel normally as though nothing is happening but take with you a lunch bag containing water and some food...as well as a blanket in case you need to wait couple of hours in an SNCF station.

Then hop on any train heading west from Paris (toward Nates trains 1st head south from Paris). If your train departs from Gare Montparnasse then you most likely find at least one train to Nantes specially when during Christmas yellow vest strikers are more likely to be kind to passengers. If you encounter crowds in Gare Montparnasse do not panic, just hop in any train heading to Nantes direction.

However, if your train departs from CDG TGV T2 then you receive info from SNCF within 24 hours whether it is cancelled or not. If cancelled then do not wait in CDG but instead take Direct-Bus for 18€ to Gare Montparnass (MP) because there are many more options in MP Gare. Direct-Bus runs from CDG terminals and drop you right at eastern entrance of MP Gare. If you carry minimal luggage then this can even be fun as you meet a lot of people along the way with similar conditions and in spirit of holidays.

Alternatively you can download Blabla App from France App Store and find appropriate transport from Paris to Nantes and then cancel your SNCF ticket. If you live outside France, you need first switch to France on your iPhone. Good luck.

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    BlaBlaCar is available through the web and in many European countries, no need to alter your phone's settings. – Relaxed Dec 11 '19 at 23:40

I happen to be taking the same TGV line (Paris -> Nantes ) this week-end during the strike!

First and foremost, you should double-check that your train is effectively cancelled (if so, you must have received a mail from the SNCF).

If you did not receive anything, you're good ! Your train departure will probably be fine.

If you've received a mail notification that your train have been cancelled, SNCF will offer you to reimburse your train ticket, or to exchange it free of charge for an other day. The later seems like the best option for you, it may mess up with your schedule a bit but it is worth considering.

One point worth mentioning is how will you go to Gare Montparnasse ? You should note that except for line 1 and line 14 which are working normally, every other line encounter issues.

Please see the annoucements by RATP (Paris metro lines) : https://twitter.com/ClientsRATP

At the moment, the traffic is:

  • Metro 1 and 14 are working fine
  • Metro 4,7,8,9 are perturbed, working only between 6h30-9h00 and 16h30-19h
  • Metro 2,3,5,6,7,10,11,12,13 are not working
  • RER are working between 6h30-9h00 and 16h30-19h

Since you have to go to Gare Montparnasse to get the train to Nantes, your best bet is to use line 4. Also use line 1 and 14 as much as possible!

If for any reason you do not want to take the train, then you could use the bus which will certainly be cheaper than a taxi ride. Some bus company are BlaBlaBus/Ouibus, FlixBus, Eurolines...

Finally there are a lot of electrical scooter in the street in Paris, or bike that you can rent (Velib') to go to the station.

Good luck!

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  • Eurolines doesn't exist anymore, it's been bought by Flixbus. – Relaxed Dec 12 '19 at 14:32

You could hitch hike. Its more common in France than nearby regions of Switzerland, Germany, UK or Italy, in my experience.

Of course there are some risks!

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