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Travelling on a TER train

TER trains are comfortable local and regional train services that are found in most parts of France – although in the Greater Paris region they are known as Transilien. TER services link cities with their hinterland, but this category of train is also a mainstay of rural France, serving country lines from Brittany to Provence. Some TER routes are remarkably long, with travel times extending to four hours or more.

Criss-crossing the regions of France, and sometimes providing key inter-regional services, TER trains are a common sight. Some routes extend over French frontiers to nearby points in Italy, Switzerland, Spain and other countries which border France.

TER trains vary in style from region to region, even from route to route, with the best rolling stock reserved for key inter-regional services and longer rural routes. You’ll even come across the occasional TGV operating a TER route (for example in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region) and there are a small number of trains that blur the distinction between TER and Intercités. Examples of fast TER services are the Interville (eg. Marseille to Nice) and Interloire (eg. Orleans to Nantes) routes.

TER trains can be double or single-deck. Bicycles can often be taken on board for free. Prior seat reservation on TER trains is not possible.

Seating and sleeping on TER Regional Express

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Standard Class

All TER (and Transilien) trains offer Standard Class seated accommodation. What you get is immensely variable from modern plastic seats (fine for a short ride) to quite retro old carriages which have seen better days but still offer soft and comfy seats. Seats are arranged in pairs on each side of a central aisle. Some of the double-deck TER trains have particularly good luggage space.

Food and drink on TER Regional Express

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Bring your own

There are no rules against bringing your own food and drink on board the train. On the contrary, it is perfectly normal. So whether it’s a sandwich bought at the station at the last moment, or a full-scale hamper with a bottle of champagne, the train is the perfect place for a picnic. Don’t forget to bring your own ice bucket too!

Image credits: hakzelf licensed under CC BY 2.0; Dariusz Sieczkowski and Angelbattle bros both licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0; and © FotobyM | iStock

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