How to Buy Train Tickets to Paris

“It’s only two hours to Paris.”
“You can get there for under €30.”
But how?One of the best things about living in Kaiserslautern is being only a two hour train ride from Paris. If you are excited to see the Eiffel Tower and to walk down the Champs Élysées, then this post is a great place to start.

It’s natural to have a ton of anxiety getting on a train in a foreign country. It’s natural… you’ll be fine! Getting to Paris is actually pretty easy and (relatively) low cost. It just takes a little planning.

The first question is, is the train worth it? Here are a few things to consider before packing up the van and hitting the road.

– Driving to Paris will cost a couple tanks of gas. Expect to pay for a full tank without an Esso Card.

– Tolls will be roughly €60 each way, assuming you take the Autobahn. Also important to consider is that parking in Paris isn’t cheap.

– How much is time worth to you? Taking the Autobahn will take 4-5 hours compared to a 2hr train ride. If you set your GPS to “avoid tolls,” it becomes a 6-7 hour drive. Imagine the frustration of being stuck behind a semi-truck on a curvy, two lane road.

– Can you book your ICE train tickets two months in advance? Booking two months in advance gives you rates as low as €29.90. However, as with most deals, securing the cheapest price requires being flexible with departure times.

Now that I’ve convinced you that taking the train is the way to go, go ahead and download the DB Navigator App or go to http://www.bahn.de. Don’t worry, both have English options. For this post, I’ll share screenshots from using the DB Navigator App.

Okay, now create an account.

“Can I use a VAT form?” Yes, before you head over to the train station with your form, know that VAT is only applicable for the Kaiserslautern to Saarbrücken leg of the journey (the Germany part). You will probably spend more money using your VAT form than you’ll save.

Did you create your account yet?

Now that you have the app open, click here.
Now you see the screen below. Since this is an ICE train (as opposed to a Regional Train) you need to make sure everyone is accounted for on your ticket. Add all your travelers and their ages.
Once you’ve added everyone, click here.
Make sure your screen looks like this, and click here.
Make sure your options look like the screenshot below, and let’s book your journey! Having all these boxes checked ensures that the site gives you all options available. Click “Done.”
Now go back to the home screen and set your search from Kaiserslautern HBF (which is the main train station) to PARIS (this brings you right into the central hub in Paris, Gare de l’est). Select your date and time. Once you’ve done that, press search. For the purpose of this demonstration, I am only purchasing one round-way ticket for one person.
Once you have searched trains, you will see a list of trains displayed. Some options will take up to five hours and cost hundreds of dollars for one person. For the best deal, stick to a direct route ICE or TGV from Kaiserslautern to Paris. For this demonstration, I am selecting the ICE 9558 that leaves on Monday, Dec 9th, at 7:22am.
Once you’ve selected your desired outbound journey, click “Continue to Booking.” You will now have to enter traveler data, once again. I know, seems redundant, but just do it anyways. This data goes on the ICE ticket and informs the inspector that you purchased the appropriate ticket.
Ok, now assuming you’re not going to Paris permanently, we need to book your return ticket. You’ll have the opportunity at this screen.
Since I’m cheap and flexible, I’m going to return the next day at 1:10pm. The price of €59.80 shown indicates the entire roundtrip journey (€29.90 each way). Now you’re ready to head to the ticketing screen, but you don’t know which one to choose. For most people, the cheapest option will suffice. You can read the information icon if you really are that curious. I’ve purchased tickets almost a dozen times and have always been fine with the cheapest option. Ok, now go to ticket / reservation. At this screen, you have the opportunity to reserve seats on the train. This usually only adds €10 per ticket for a roundtrip ticket, and only required for adults. Child seat reservations are free.
“But do I REALLY need a seat reservation?”

No, you don’t. But when you’re standing for 2hrs, you will wish you spent that extra €10.At this point, you click “continue” and go to the payment screen. I don’t think I need to walk you through paying for something online. After all, don’t you use Amazon?

Once you’ve paid, check your e-mail for your ICE ticket. Download it to your phone and print it out. Redundancy never hurts.

“I have my ticket, now what?”

– Luggage: there are no luggage restrictions on the ICE. Just imagine everything you bring, you will be lugging through Paris to your hotel.

– You did pack your tourist passport, right? They sometimes check for passports at the border.

Before you head to the train station, open up the DB Navigator App again, and check the button “Is My Train On Time?” Generally, the ICE train is reliable and on-time, but I have heard a few stories of people finding out their train was cancelled. You should be fine, but it never hurts to check.

For your first trip, I recommend getting to the station an hour early. This leaves plenty of time to figure out parking, take a potty break, and even grab a snack 🥨🍺, before heading to your platform.
Parking at the Kaiserslautern HBF is easy and only €6 per day. DON’T LOSE YOUR PARKING TICKET!
Once in the train station, look for the screen to find out which Gleis (platform) you need to stand at for your train. The DB Navigator App will also tell you, however for a piece of mind, I like to check the screen.
And if you have any doubts, this guy is standing by, ready to help.
“This is a long platform and I have no idea where to stand.”
It’s a good thing you took my advice and reserved a seat. Check out your seat reservation on your ticket. Your ticket will tell you where to sit.Below is our ticket from our last Paris trip. The “Wg” is which wagon you will sit in, and the “Pl” is your seat.Based off this ticket, I need to stand where Wagon 22 will stop. Once I get on, I need to find my way to seats 51, 52, and 54.

This board is posted at the platform. Find your train number, and match up your wagon to the blue letters on the top row.
So say your wagon matches up to “A” on the top row. Go stand at “A” while you wait for your train to pull up.
When your train pulls up, it will be parked for about a minute. If you are standing at the wrong wagon, don’t worry! The important thing is to just get on the train! You will have the next two hours to navigate across wagons to find your seat.
You did it! You’re on your way to one of the most amazing cities in the world! Enjoy the beautiful train ride through the French countryside. Get a snack or drink from the dining cart. Enjoy the free WiFi. Relax. You’ll need to save your energy for all the walking you will be doing in Paris. Bon voyage!
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