I would like to travel between Spain and France using the high-speed trains through the eastern border. I consider the Interrail option, but I am having a hard time figuring out how to check for the availability of seats. Seems that Interrail reservations can sell out even if there are other seats available.

I did not buy a pass yet, because the availability of seats at a specific date weighs in my choice of which pass to buy or considering another mode of travel.

I cannot use the Interrail reservations system to check for availabilities. The system requires a valid pass number.

SNCF is no more selling Interrail supplements on its website for its trains, if I were to use the TGV. I would need to reach a station in France.

For the Renfe AVE trains, seems the only possible way to book Interrail supplements is in-person at the station in Spain. I may consider this option for the return trip, once I can be physically there, but this is a gamble. The last available seats can sell out in between.

Is there another possibility to enquire about the availability and eventually reserve?

If not possible, I looked for the reservation-free routes :

  • Through Latour-de-Carol: too short on time to afford the detour; otherwise can be a nice trip at a different occasion.
  • Through San Sebastian, Irun, Hendaye: same time constraint
  • Using the slow trains up to Portbou: I have souvenirs of riding the local train from Barcelona to Llança 15 years ago that stops everywhere. Hard seats without headrests for 3 hours and no tray tables; ouch! But I remember that there were faster trains to Figueres, could that be a solution?

I still save a lot with the Interrail solution, factoring in the pass day, compared to the current price of regular tickets on the high-speed route.

  • There’s also the option of buying a regular ticket instead of the pass?
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 10, 2023 at 12:24
  • The Interrail booking engine, when not logged in, says "Others ways to book this seat reservation: Book in person at a main station in Europe / Reservations at the station possible only in France". Not sure how this can be understood, but if you are in Europe, close to a large train station, maybe they coud help? Note that in train stations in France, it is becoming more and more difficult to book anything which isn't available online and the plan is that in the next few months it will become impossible, so I'm not so sure you can actually book Interrail reservations in a French train station.
    – jcaron
    Oct 10, 2023 at 12:25
  • interrail.eu/en/book-reservations/how-do-i-book-seats in the France section says: "By calling SNCF +33 1 84 94 3635 Select #85 for English You can book both domestic and international reservations The SNCF call centre currently only accepts payment via American Express". Quite surprising IMHO, but you can try to call them.
    – jcaron
    Oct 10, 2023 at 12:29
  • It doesn't anwer your question, but your plan does not sound like a good idea. An interrail pass is first of all not valid on all French and Spanish high speed trains, and when valid, you still need a relatively expensive seat reservation in addition and that reservation is hard to by and only available for a limited number of seats on each train. On the other hand, regular tickets for French and Spanish high speed trains can be quite cheap if you plan ahead and buy in advance. Oct 10, 2023 at 12:35
  • 1
    @DavGin You do not have any spontaneity with Interrail in France and Spain as seats per departure are limited. Oct 10, 2023 at 14:28

1 Answer 1

  • Internal trains in France do NOT (currently) have a passholder quota. So as long as there is currently a seat available for public sale you can buy an Interrail reservation too.
  • Trains in Spain also I believe don't have a quota. A few more high-profile ones are now bookable through Interrail's website, but others you need to be at a Spanish station really. There is a telephone option but it's so limited as to be practically useless. But again as long as there are tickets for sale I think you should be good.
  • It seems to be literally impossible to book the France->Spain Spanish-run AVE right now on Interrail. I even asked a friend in Spain to try for me and he said they told him it was impossible. On a recent trip I gave up and bought a (very expensive!) Single ticket. The ticket inspector onboard the train also couldn't tell me how I was supposed to have done it. If you wish to try, good luck!
  • The France->Spain French-run TGV IS bookable through the interrail website, but I believe there IS a quota. I unfortunately don't know of a way of checking this particular quota without a pass.

If you do a lot of European trips, my suggestion would be to buy a pass but not activate it yet, then you can check reservations and if you can't use it for this trip use it for a future one.

  • Is a 3-ticket combination possible? Internal ticket via Interrail in France up to the border, regular ticket to cross the border, then a domestic Spanish ticket, all on the same train.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 10, 2023 at 16:11
  • I don't think so, as far as I recall it wasn't selling reservations through the interrail website for the international AVE at all. From what I hear this could change in future but I wouldn't count on it. However I've clarified the situation as I realised I missed out an important option.
    – Muzer
    Oct 10, 2023 at 16:26
  • @JonathanReez you can indeed book the TGV to Perpignan on the Interrail website (no limitations), the Perpignan-Figueres Villafant on the same TGV as well (with limits, or probably on the SNCF site). The Spanish segment from Figueres to Barcelona apparently can’t be booked on that train in the Interrail site, but there are quite a few other fast trains.
    – jcaron
    Oct 10, 2023 at 21:57

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