At a glance
- High speed train
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Travelling on a TGV train
High-speed TGV trains are the comfortable, modern flagships of the French high-speed rail network. They are a reliable choice for business and leisure travellers.
TGV trains run mainly on dedicated high-speed lines at speeds of up to 350 km/h, but you’ll also find these trains on slower, classic lines where of course their pace is more measured. TGV technology has greatly influenced European high-speed rail travel and is used for example on Thalys and the older Eurostar trains. An increasing number of TGVs are double-deck trains, referred to as TGV Duplex.
TGV trains speed from Paris to major French cities including Bordeaux, Avignon, Nantes and Nice. There are inter-regional TGV services too and direct TGV trains from France to a dozen cities in Germany and a handful of stations in Italy. TGV services are branded by the regions they serve. Thus for example TGV Atlantique services dash from Paris to La Rochelle and Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast, TGV Nord trains head north from Paris to Lille, TGV Méditerranée trains serve the Rhône Valley and French Riviera while TGV Est services run east to Strasbourg and Luxembourg. Cross-border services to Germany are branded Alleo. Direct trains from Paris to Barcelona, operated in collaboration between the Spanish rail operator Renfe and SNCF, are also TGVs.
TGV trains offer seated accommodation in two classes. Air-conditioning comes as standard. There is good luggage space on board, but bear in mind that your luggage has to be labelled. On TGV Duplex trains, choose a seat on the upper level for better views. A seat reservation is obligatory and included in the price of your ticket.
Seating and sleeping on TGV
Seating in TGVs in Standard Class is arranged in pairs of airline-style seats across a central aisle in open-plan carriages. There are some groups of four seats around a table, while others are arranged in pairs, either facing or with your back to the direction of travel. A novelty on some of the newest TGVs is that these airline-style seats can be turned to face the direction of travel. Colour is a hallmark of TGV interior design, and those in the know can identify different generations of TGVs from the precise mix of bold and muted shades in the seating and other decor. A small number of TGVs now offer WiFi in Standard Class, and SNCF plan to enhance connectivity as older trains are refurbished. Most, but not all, TGVs have power points for Standard Class passengers. There are toilets, sometimes with baby-changing facilities, at the end of most carriages.
Food and drink on TGV
Bar / Bistro
A bar-bistro carriage – called 'Le Bar TGV' – is part of every TGV (though it may not be open on some short-distance services or at the very start or end of some longer journeys). It offers hot and cold snacks, sandwiches, breakfast, salads, cake and confectionary, hot and cold drinks, beer and wine. Package deals (called ‘Les Menus’) include a combination of items which together cost less than if you purchased them separately. For example, you can get a salad, dessert and a drink together for about €12. A breakfast menu costs about €8. A half-bottle of wine is usually about €9. You can eat standing in the bar or take purchases back to your seat. On TGV Duplex services the bar is located on the upper level. You can of course take your own food and drinks on board a TGV, and many French travellers do just that, often creating a sense of occasion around a journey by enjoying an elaborate picnic.