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I'm trying to figure out how to travel from Rennes (or St. Malo) to Poitiers in June, but all the trains and buses I can find pass through Paris, which seems like a huge detour.

Is there any option I'm missing?

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    rome2rio.com/s/Rennes/Poitiers shows options not passing through Paris – mts Apr 13 '16 at 10:43
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    @mts Only twice a week though for the Rennes-Tours train. Although you could train to Nantes (lots of those from Rennes), then get the more-regular Nantes-Tours train. takes just as long as going via Paris though. – CMaster Apr 13 '16 at 10:44
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    @CMaster well-noted about the frequency but the question is really about missed options. I would take the train to Nantes and then the direct bus to Poitiers if I wanted to avoid Paris. Time-wise you won't save much but in terms of money possibly so! – mts Apr 13 '16 at 10:48
  • "which seems like a huge detour" quite simply, it's not. that's the logical flaw in your question here, Anna! of course you'd just go through Paris, why not? it's only a couple hrs. i've never lived on those lines, but it looks like they are both connected to Montparnasse, so you're all set. (the hell is if you have to change between the Paris stations!) – Fattie Apr 13 '16 at 16:44
  • it looks like there is some sort of local train a couple times a week to Tours, which would be much cheaper (and likely slower). have you considered just driving? it's very beautiful. plus you can continuously buy croissants at every small village! on the train you see little, just the major stations – Fattie Apr 13 '16 at 16:46
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Indeed, the French transportation network is organised very centrally around Paris.

Looking at the map of the recent (it might change rapidly) intercity bus connections provided by comparabus.com (some website to book buses) and the train network maps provided by the SNCF for Intercités and TGVs, it looks clear that most trains and buses are centered around Paris (you might find a connection in Tours or Le Mans) so in any case you will have to connect. Using regional trains and avoiding Paris is possible but probably longer and less convenient, going through Nantes.

An alternative would be ride sharing. Blablacar is the most popular service. A search for this weekend shows few direct Rennes-Poitiers trips though. Also know that ride share trips tend to appear only about 2 weeks before the date of travel, so if you want to secure a trip early, this might not be your best option.

Most French people now compare trains, buses and ride sharing options (and planes for the longer distances) when travelling across the country.

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    That's because most if not all high speed TGV lines start/go through Paris. Therefore it is often faster to go through the capital than it is via what visually looks like a more direct route. – JoErNanO Apr 13 '16 at 11:55
  • (+1) To add to @JoErNanO's point, the so-called "province-province" trains are reportedly losing money and have been scrapped one by one over the last couple of decades. – Relaxed Apr 13 '16 at 16:10
  • You're both right, we can extend this domination of Paris over the rest of France to most domains of infrastructures, to the economy. In France. – Vince Apr 13 '16 at 16:56
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As I thought after a look on a map, there are options to travel by trains without going through Paris.

At a random date and time from the French SNCF site:

09H05 RENNES to 10H16 LE MANS
change
10H43 LE MANS to 11H43 ST PIERRE DES CORPS
change
12H03 ST PIERRE DES CORPS to 12H42 POITIERS

Or, (this time from the German website)

Rennes dep 12:35
Le Mans arr 13:54
Transfer time 44 min.

Le Mans dep 14:38
Tours arr 15:46
Transfer time 42 min.

Tours dep 16:28
Poitiers arr 17:37

Both found by just entering your departure and arrival times, no tricks needed. And there are more options. As a second check, I use the German railway planner, which is also good for trains (but not prices) outside Germany and it also finds these same trains, again for the same day.

If you do travel to Massy or Paris, it would give a one station change, rather than the average trek from station to station in Paris, most of the 'via Paris' options for these areas are 'one station only' the station being Montparnasse.

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    Note though that Massy is almost Paris ;) – mts Apr 13 '16 at 16:03
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    It might be 'almost Paris' it is not 'going into Paris, change from one main station to the other main station and travel to where you need to go'. – Willeke Apr 13 '16 at 16:10
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    @Willeke That's actually a very good point that would deserve to be stressed in your answer, I think. – Relaxed Apr 13 '16 at 16:11
  • @Willeke at least in the itinerary produced by Rome2Rio (see my comment to the Q) you would "only" have to change trains in Gare Montparnasse and not take the metro. – mts Apr 13 '16 at 16:28
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    Note that St Pierre des Corps is Tours' main train station for long-distance trains (the Tours station is a dead end, and therefore mainly used by local trains). Both stations are well connected to each other. – tricasse Apr 14 '16 at 7:50

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