As I continue planning my 2 weeks in Europe, late August, early September, I had my mind set on booking the Toulouse-Paris segment of the trip and got to work on it last week-end.
As airfares for the date and time I was interested in had shot up to $150 a piece, I turned to Voyages SNCF for rail options.
I discovered a new (to me) 'internet only' option named Intercites 100% Eco where the fare on Toulouse-Paris for 1 person at the beginning of my search last Saturday was 26 Euros, You get a 10% discount if you travel as a family (say 4 people). As of today (June 29) fare for same train is 30 Euros per person.
From what I understand Intercites 100% Eco is a service similar to iDTGV.
Unfortunately, after selecting trip, seats, number of passengers and all other necessary booking information, I hit a wall during payment ( I chose e-ticket option of course).
I tried 2 or 3 times only to see my payment fail.
I contacted card issuer who told me that they had blocked transaction (and card) because of repeated tries. Being informed of my intended purchase, they told me to try again and that all should be smooth sailing.
I tried again to no avail, called Toulouse train station, Voyages SNCF and i forgot who else to find what the issue was and was told in the end it was because I used a foreign card and the system would not accept it unless it was from American Express.
I am not sure that information I was given was 100% accurate.
Nevertheless, I got tired of trying and passed the buck to a relative in France who will get tickets for me.
There is always Rail Europe but often their fares are more expensive (cheapest fare on similar train for same date was listed as $75 per person) and this particular train I was interested in was not part of what they offered.
I will try to get to the bottom of the issue when I am in France.
I wonder if things would have turned out differently had I tried to book via TGV Europe instead?
If you want to practice your French, Kelbillet has a piece titled SNCF, Les trains Intercités ont aussi des prix « low-cost » on 100% Eco.
(* Intercites image from Kelbillet piece)