Trains to France

Exploring France by train is easy and affordable. It’s over 30 years since France launched it’s high-speed rail programme (on the Paris-Lyon route). Today fast TGV services connect most major cities across the country. But for many visitors, the highlight of French rail travel lies in exploring rural routes where trains meander through the countryside stopping off here and there at communities along the way. It is possible to devise long journeys across France relying entirely on slower regional trains (normally called TER services). For example, you can travel from Paris to the Mediterranean by TER with just one change of train.

For travellers from England, Eurostar is the natural route to France. There are up to 20 direct Eurostar trains each day from London to Paris. But don’t forget that Eurostar also runs direct services to other French cities, among them Calais, Lille, Lyon and Marseille. Don’t assume if travelling from England to provincial French cities that Paris is the obvious connecting point. It’s often quicker and easier to change trains at one of the other French cities served by Eurostar. France has many other excellent international rail links, with direct trains to the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Italy and even Russia.

The principal French rail operator is SNCF, but a small number of longer-distance services are run by other companies, such as Thalys, Thello and Spanish operator Renfe. In some parts of France, local rail services are operated by regionally based companies, often with subsidy from local government, but they are fully integrated into the SNCF national ticketing system. So you’ll often just need one ticket to take you from the coast of Brittany to the sunny shores of the Riviera or from the Alps to the Spanish border and beyond. On longer-distance journeys, book well in advance to get the cheapest tickets.

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Trains in France


  • Day train icon Day/Regional Train
  • Night train icon Night train
  • High-speed train icon High-speed train
  • Scenic train icon Scenic train

France fact file

  • Currency icon Currency: Euro
  • Timezone icon Timezone: 1+ UTC
  • Language icon Language: French

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