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How can I get from Lyon to either Saint-Paul-de-Varax or Saint-André-le-Bouchoux by more affordable means than TER train (€10.30 one way per person)?

I am thinking that maybe there are buses that pass through but I'm not sure how to find them.

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    Rome2Rio does not give any better options with public transport. Try blablacar (but for this weekend I saw no rides offered), drive or rent a car if it turns out cheaper. – mts May 1 '16 at 9:12
  • @mts Have you personally used blablacar? Is it appropriate (or at all possible) to contact someone who is going to a different, further destination but is likely to pass through my destination as well? There are many going to Bourg-en-Bresse and they will probably pass through there. – Szabolcs May 1 '16 at 9:21
  • You could try asking, some might be willing to. As for having used there must already be questions about this on here. – mts May 1 '16 at 10:02
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    The only busses I would expect to find are TER busses and busses from the Ain department but they would typically complement rather than compete with the train network. See ain.fr/jcms/cd_5882/carainfr – Relaxed May 2 '16 at 13:26
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    Also, regions might offer special offers on train tickets that are not visible through the main SNCF website (e.g. in Lorraine, you can get a cheaper ticket if you book at the station). Here is one that might be relevant for you – Relaxed May 2 '16 at 13:28
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You should definitely try blablacar, as pointed out by mts in the comments.

It is much used in the Vallée du Rhône, I'm sure you will find a friendly driver.
If you don't find your route directly on the website, try broadening the start/finish of your trip by looking on a map.

I used blablacar a lot as a driver, unfortunately not in this area.

Also, if you do these trips regurlarly, there might be some subscriptions with the SNCF that could lower the price per journey.

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tl;dr On Saturdays (or every day during school holidays), groups of 2-5 people can get a 40% discount if the ticket is bought using the SNCF phone app (but not with the OUI.sncf app). You need to explicitly select the discount in the app.

This applies to travel within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Other regions may have similar discounts which the app should offer.


@Relaxed has mentioned the Illico Samedi discount for TER trains. Here's my experience with it:

  • There is a 40% discount (free ticket for children under 12) available for TER (i.e. regional) trains in the Rhône-Alpes region (thus also to Saint-Paul-de-Varax).

  • The discount is available on all Saturdays or every day during school holidays.

  • Conditions: there must be at least 2 people travelling (at most 5). No prior subscription is required (unlike with most similar discounts).

This is not a heavily advertised discount. More often than not, the staff at the station will not be aware of it. If you don't specifically ask for it, you will not get it.

It is not available from ticket machines (neither yellow SNCF or blue TER ones).

If you buy the ticket online, it must be bought on the Rhône-Alpes TER site and not the global SNCF site. It is not available from the latter. If you buy it using an app, you must use the SNCF app, not the OUI.sncf (formerly Voyages-SNCF) app.

I do not recommend buying the ticket online. If you do so, you must choose the time of travel in advance. If you buy it from the ticket office, it is valid for a certain number of days. You can just stamp it at the station and get on the train at whichever time you prefer. This flexibility is very important for me. UPDATE: If you do not buy it online, you may not be able to get it at the ticket office either. SNCF is terribly disorganized and they do not properly train their staff: often they don't know about this discount or do not know how to apply it.

At least in Lyon, be at the ticket office at least 20-30 min before departure. There may be big queues.

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