France has an expansive rail network, with high-speed trains operating along main lines and regional trains reaching to remote corners. You can buy French train tickets on Loco2 via our connection to the French rail operator SNCF.
Exploring France by train is easy and affordable. It’s over 30 years since France launched its first high-speed rail route (between Paris-Lyon). 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 along the way. It is possible to devise long journeys across France relying entirely on slower regional trains (normally called regional express train or TER). For example, you can travel from Paris to the Mediterranean by TER with just one change of train.
For travellers from Britain, Eurostar is the natural route to France. There are up to 20 direct Eurostar trains each day from London to Paris. And 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, but they are still 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.