France (and Europe) for that matter seriously needs to fix its train system. The proliferation of private train companies makes figuring out the actual cost (and availability) of any train ride insanely difficult (added to the fact that they want to redirect me to the more-expensive english site which, by the way, since I am in Japan, WON'T DISPLAY ENGLISH.)
I would definitely take this as an example of private competition being worse than government-run monopoly. These are way, way, way worse than Amtrak or any of the JR subsidiaries.
We plan on trying this trip without a rail pass, for a number of reasons - rail passes (especially in France) have reservation surcharges these days.
We should come out about even in terms of ticket prices, if not a little ahead. It will be interesting to find out.
Visited Matsumoto yesterday. That was awesome. Pictures to come.