Travel safely with World Nomads travel insurance
Compare, search and book rental cars

 

Transport > Europe > Train travel > Train travel in France

Train travel in France

When they're not on strike, French trains are among the best in the world. On the main routes they are fast, frequent and efficient, connecting the major cities in France with most major European destinations. The fast TGV trains travel at up to 300km/h, making them a convenient alternative to air travel.

 

You can buy tickets from the automatic ticket vending machines or the ticket counter (guichets) at the station. If you buy your ticket at the station you will need to validate it at one of the orange date-stamping machines located in every station near the entrance to the platforms. Return tickets need to be validated on both the outward and return journey. If your journey requires a change of trains in different stations in a big city, you will need to re-validate it at the connecting station (eg. a train from London to Toulouse will require a change of train between Paris-Nord and Paris-Montparnasse).

 

Regular tickets are valid until midnight on the day after you have validated your ticket. You may make a stop-over of less than 24 hours during your journey as long as you reach your destination before your ticket expires.

Types of French trains

Corail

Corail is a regular train that runs to destinations throughout France. It runs on mains routes not yet served by the TGV, although theses trains are increasingly being

used on regional routes.

TER (Transport express régional)

TER trains provide regional transport in all the French regions with local rural services and suburban services in the larger cities.


Each region operates its own TER network.

TGV (Train a Grand Vitesse)

The TGV is the star in SNCF's crown with high speed trains that reach speeds of up to 300km/h.

 

The TGV network covers 230 destinations throughout France.

 

The cheapest fares are the promotional Prem's tariffs (sic) that can be booked 90 days in advance. These tariffs start at €17 (Paris-Lille) and are a good option if you don't have a railpass and are organised enough to plan your itinerary months in advance.


Leisure and weekend tariffs are a more flexible option than the Prem's tariffs, but like Prem's tickets are cheapest the further in advance that they are booked.


If you have a railpass, you will need a seat reservation to ride on TGV trains.

iDTGV – a cheaper alternative to the TGV

iDTGV offers a cheaper travel option with yield management pricing structure (like low-cost airlines) on selected TGV trains. One-way fares start at €19 and can be booked up to four months in advance (six months in summer).


There are two classes with iDTGV: iDzen (a quiet zone where mobile phones are banned and children are discouraged) and iDzap (a noisier option where you can rent Sony PSP consoles).


iDTGV operates on the following routes: Paris-Marseille, Paris-Nîmes-Montpellier-Perpignan,

Paris-Bordeaux-Toulouse, Paris-Avignon-Aix en Provence-Toulon-Saint Raphaël-Cannes-Nice, Paris-Bordeaux-Bayonne-Biarritz-Saint Jean de Luz-Hendaye, Paris-Strasbourg-Mulhouse, Paris-Lyon and Paris-Nantes.


Travel on iDTGV trains can only be booked online.

 

Cheap tickets with the Carte 12-25

The Carte 12-25 entitles you to reduced prices on tickets, with discounts ranging from 25% to 60%.

 

You get a 60% discount on TGV and premium Corail services such as the Corail Téoz and Lunéa and there is a 50% discount on most other French trains including regular Corail trains, Corail Intercity, night trains and TER regional trains. The 60% discount is valid for limited places and the 50% discount applies during the période bleue (ask for the calendrier voyageurs at the station to see which days fall within this period). The Carte 12-25 gives you a 25% discount on all train services that don't qualify for the higher discount.

 

This discount card costs €49 and is available to young people aged between 12 and 25 years. They are available from the ticket counter and you will need to bring an ID photo with you when you buy this card.

French rail passes

France Rail Pass

The France Rail Pass is a flexi-pass that entitles the holder to three to nine days of unlimited rail travel in France within a one month period.

 

France Rail Pass
Validity 1st class 2nd class)

3 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

4 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

5 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

6 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

7 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

8 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

9 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

Adult fares (travellers aged 26 and over)

 

France Rail Pass Youth

This pass is similar to the France Rail Pass but it offers cheaper fares, but it is restricted to travellers aged 25 or younger.

 

It entitles the holder to three to nine days of unlimited rail travel in France within a one month period.

 

France Rail Pass
Validity 1st class 2nd class)

3 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

4 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

5 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

6 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

7 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

8 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

9 travel days in 1 month

USD $XX

USD $XX

 

Please not that the above passes cannot be sold to European residents. If you live in Europe you should order the following Interrail One Country pass.

InterRail One Country Pass – France

European residents are eligible to buy the France Interrail One Country pass, which is a flexi pass that gives you three to eight days of unlimited train travel in France within a one month period.

 

InterRail One Country Pass – France
Validity Adult
(1st class)
Adult
(2nd class)
Youth
(2nd class)

3 travel days in 1 month

£238

£176

£117

4 travel days in 1 month

£266

£195

£130

6 travel days in 1 month

£338

£251

£163

8 travel days in 1 month

£376

£279

£181

Please note that Interrail passes can only be sold to European residents. You should order the France Rail Pass if you live outside Europe.


Follow us:

Follow us on Twitter Like BUG on Facebook