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by train to and from Paris and France

How to travel by train in France

An introduction to train travel in France, French trains, buying rail tickets in France and using rail passes in France including the France Pass.

Further information on tickets, French trains and travelling by train to and from France is available on the links to the left

Arrived here from the Start Your Journey Page?

1 - Next click the trains link to the left.

2 - Next click the tickets link to the left.

3 - (optional) - next click the name of the city that you will be travelling to/from (if its listed)

4 - IF you've clicked a city, go back to the tickets link, you should now know all you need to know before making a booking.

Train Travel Words/Phrases

We admit we used Google Translate for these, if they're wrong please contact us and we'll correct them

  • Train = train
  • Station = gare
  • Track/Platform = quai
  • Ticket = billet
  • Single Ticket = billet unique
  • Return Ticket = aller-retour
  • 1st class = première classe
  • 2nd class = deuxième classe
  • Ticket/Booking desk = guichet de la gare/bureau de poste de réservation
  • Information Desk = bureau d'information
  • Left Luggage office = consigne à bagages
  • Arrival = arrivée
  • Departure = départ
  • Timetable = horaires des trains
  • Reservation = réservation de train
  • Destination = destination
  • Fridays only = vendredi seulement
  • Saturday only = samedi seulement
  • Sunday only = dimanche seulement
  • Weekend only = Week-end seulement
  • Not Saturday = pas le samedi
  • Not Sunday = pas le dimanche
  • Not weekend = Pas le week-end
  • Public Holiay = jour férié
Travel by train on Public Holidays

Public Holidays = Apr 1st; May 1st; May 8th; May 9th, May 20th; July 14th; August 15th; Nov 1st; Nov 11th; Dec 25th.

On public holidays in France many train services will not operate, particularly services that usually only operate on specific days of the week such as Mon-Fri. Many routes will also operate to a Sunday timetable.
If you're planning to travel by train on a public holiday double check in advance that you're train service will be available.
When buying a ticket online for a holiday date you may be offered an alternative train service due to the special timetable that is likely to be in place.
Book tickets/pay supplements for travel on French trains on days either side of holidays at the earliest opportunity.

Train travel in France summary

Long distance train travel in France is dominated by the network of high speed lines that radiate from Paris.
Travelling at up to 300km/hour (185mph) TGV trains can take just four hours and 30 mins to cover the length of the country from Lille in the north to Marseilles in the south.

Travel By TGV Trains

TGV trains now operate between Paris and virtually all of the major cities in France including Avignon, Bordeaux, Dijon, Le Mans, Lille, Lyon, Marseilles Montpelier, Nantes, Nice, Nimes, Rennes, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
TGV trains also link Paris with key tourist destinations including the French Alps, The Cote D’Azur and Atlantic Coast resorts.

The comparatively few major towns and cities not served by TGV trains from Paris include Amiens, Belfort, Caen, Clemont Ferrand, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Rouen and Troyes.

The cities that are closest to Paris on the network of high speed lines, such as Le Mans, Lille and Lyon are served by a minimum of one TGV service per hour, but trains run less frequently to other destinations, so checking departure times in advance of travel is always recommended.

A network of lines by-pass Paris, enabling TGVs from northern destinations including Lille to reach other French cities without serving the capital.

Travelling by TGV trains requires a supplement which is included in the cost of a ticket whether it's booked online or at the station. Rail passes holders need to book and pay for supplements prior to boarding. The supplement includes the reservation costs, as seats also have to reserved on TGV trains.

When booking online the seats will be automatically assigned, when booking at the station the booking clerk will ask whether you wish to reserve the seat at that point or defer it - automated seat reservation machines are available at major French station enabling TGV ticket holders to arrive at a station without a reserved seat and then make a reservation on the next train up to a few minutes before departure.

Using a Eurail or InterRail Pass in France

There is no getting away from the fact using a Eurail or InterRail pass is now more complicated in France then virtually any other country in Europe.

Here's why:

  • seats on all TGV trains and the majority of InterCité IC* trains have to be reserved (*the IC trains between Paris and both Britanny and Normandy MAY be an exception)
  • There are no alternative direct, fast express trains between any destinations in France other than the TGV or ICs
  • As in other counties Eurail and InterRail pass users USED to be able to pay a supplement to travel in these reserved seats at the last minute. As long as the train you wanted to take wasn't completely sold out, you could pay this supplement at the station just before you boarded the train.
  • However, now the French rail company SNCF has introduced a limited quota of reservations that are available to either Eurail and InterRail pass users
  • When that quota has sold it isn't possible to use a Eurail or InterRail pass at all for your intended journey.
  • ThereByTrain's advice to Eurail and InterRail users is to never leave it until the day of travel to try and pay for a reservation on an IC or TGV train.
  • The quota of reservations set aside for Eurail and InterRail pass users can sell out weeks in advance (particularly in June-August and at weekends).
  • If it has then you'll have two choices (1) take alternative (slower) trains, or (2) pay for a separate full price ticket.

Not great news, but it does not mean that you should avoid France when using a Eurail or InterRail pass, after all IF you can get hold of one, a €6 supplement for a journey by TGV from Nice to Paris is one if Europe's greatest travel deals.

So here are ThereByTrain's unique tips for using a Eurail or InterRail pass in France:

  1. You can check whether reservations are available for rail pass users and by calling the Deutsche Bahn booking center (+49 1806 996 633). Open 24/7. (Yes it's a German Railways travel office, but trust us it's simpler than dealing with SNCF for this sort of enquiry)
  2. Once you have purchase a pass you can also make the reservations by calling that number, but if you've got a fixed itinerary in mind then make the booking(s) as far in advance as possible
  3. If you'd prefer to have overnight accommodation booked more than 60 days in advance of your travel date then have a contingency prepared if you subsequently discover that no InterRail/Eurail reservations are available for your required journeys, you may still be able to book separate discounted tickets for the trains you were planning to take.
  4. Arrange your itinerary so that it starts/ends in France and book separate tickets for the first and last journeys of the trip. For example fly to Paris, book a discounted Thalys ticket for the trip to Amsterdam, start your rail pass itinerary in Amsterdam, finish it in Milan and then book a discounted ticket for the TGV from Milan to Paris
  5. One of the best means of adding France to a rail pass itinerary is to hop along the Mediterranean coast from Italy to Marseilles by regional trains and then head to Switzerland from Marseilles by using other regional trains on spectacular routes best seen by a slower train.
  6. Be wary of the suggestions for alternative routes on the InterRail website, many of these journeys are not as easy as they seem. The alternative trains don't operate very frequently and often it's only possible to make the journey at all by taking a specific train from your starting point.
  7. Try to arrange your itinerary so that you'll be taking the TGV or InterCité train on a Monday-Thursday, the quota of reservations is unlikely to sell out as quickly on those days of the week.
Travelling by other trains than than the TGV

Unlike other European countries, there is often no practical alternative to avoid additional charges/supplements, particularly when travelling from Paris to destinations served by the TGVs on high speed lines.

TGVs tend to replace trains that previously ran on conventional lines, including destinations comparatively close to the capital, the exceptions include Dijon and Tours which are both accessible by conventional train from Paris.

It is incorrect to presume that non-TGV trains in France are comparatively sub-standard, so if TGVs do not provide services to your chosen destination, rail travel can still offer a comparatively comfortable and simple method of travel.

Certain long distance routes on which TGVs don’t operate are served by InterCité IC*) trains, which are arguably more comfortable than TGVs.

Routes on which IC trains provide the majority of services include:

  • Paris – Les Aubrais – Limoges – Brive – Toulouse - Narbonne - Port Bou
  • Paris – Vichy – Clemont Ferrand
  • Bordeaux – Toulouse – Narbonne – Montpellier – Nimes – Marseilles – Nice

A massive investment program has recently been announced by SNCF for many of the older trains on rural and local lines and new trains have therefore entered service on many routes.

How to avoid TGV trains (supplements) when travelling by tain from/to Paris

We've produced a uniquely comprehensive guide on how to avoid the compulsory/reservations on the TGV trains between Paris and:

  • Bordeaux
  • Dijon
  • Lyon
  • Destinations to the south of Lyon including Avignon and Marseilles
  • Strasbourg

including departure and journey times under the header that you'll find towards the foot of this page.

You'll find information on how to avoid paying supplements on high speed trains between Paris and both Amsterdam and Switzerland on our Popular Routes guide.

Travelling via Paris

The city centre in Paris is surrounded by a ring of railway terminals, which serve different destinations, so crossing the city from one station to another can be unavoidable when making connections in the capital.

TGV trains to Calais, Dunkerque and Lille depart from the Gare Du Nord, which is within walking distance of the Gare De L’Est - which is the departure point for TGVs to Luxembourg, Nancy, Reims and Strasbourg.

As its name implies the Gare De Lyon is the station for TGV services to Lyon, as well as Avignon, Dijon, Marseilles, Montpelier, Nice, Nimes and Perpignan.

Montparnasse is the station for TGVs to Bordeaux, Biarritz, Le Mans, Nantes, Rennes (and beyond to other destinations in Normandy), Toulouse, and the Spanish border town, Irun.

A network of lines by-pass Paris, enabling TGVs from northern destinations, particularly Lille, to reach other French cities without serving the capital.

Eurostar passengers can therefore often change at Lille for these trains and thereby avoid the need to cross Paris from one terminal station to another.

This line also features stations at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport ( the primary international airport in France) and at Marne La Vallée, which is within walking distance of the gates of Eurodisney.

Train operations summary

SNCF has completely reorganised the rail timetable in France for 2012 to produced standard times (minutes past the hour) for departures on each long distance rail route.
However, on the majority of routes trains run every two hours and/or fewer trains operate between mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

The only routes on which services run at least once hour per throughout the day are;

  • TGVs from Paris to Lyon and Lille
  • Paris suburban services including those to CDG Airport, Marne La Vallée (for Eurodisney) and Versailles
  • Local trains to certain destinations from Lille
  • Local trains on the Riviera between Cannes and Ventimiglia via Nice

Planning a trip by train in advance is therefore highly recommended, major tourist destinations such as Carcassonne can have gaps in the train service of more than two hours.

Thanks to the spread of the high speed lines enabling people to travel longer distances by day, SNCF now operates few domestic overnight services It is currently still possible to travel overnight from Paris or North-East France (Metz) to the Spanish border and the Cote D’Azur, as well as destinations in south west France from Paris.

Many additional services operate in July and August, particularly in southern France and from Paris to the Atlantic Coast resorts, and from November to April additional snow trains run at weekends between Paris and the French Alps. Where possible they will be included in the journey summaries on

Saturdays in August are notoriously busy on French railways and reservations should be made for any long distance journey. Avoid travelling on August Saturdays if possible, as the major stations become very crowded and passengers without reservations crowd on to trains meaning that even TGV trains have packed corridors and doorways.

France has an extensive rail network and the overwhelming majority of towns and tourist destinations are served by direct train.

The notable exceptions include Mont St Michel (nearest station = Pontorson) , Giverny Chateaux (nearest station = Vernon), Oléron island (La Rochelle and Rochefort) Les Beaux De Provence (Arles), Etretat (Le Havre), Riquewihr (Colmar) and the Island of Re (La Rochelle).

Travelling to/from Paris without using TGV trains - NEW

If you’re not using a rail pass to travel around or through France you don’t need to avoid the TGV trains, take every opportunity you can to obtain a discounted ticket – we tell you how in our ‘French Rail Tickets’ tickets guide to the left, and enjoy high speed train travel at its best.

However, for rail pass users TGV trains can be an obstacle to seeing France by train. For France Pass users, TGVs have to be reserved in advance. For InterRail users these reservation fees/supplements for TGVs can be comparatively expensive when the limited numbers of supplements at the lower rate have sold out. Supplements are therefore hard to obtain on the most popular trains.

Only limited numbers (quotas) of reservations/supplements are available to Eurail pass users on TGV trains and when they’re sold out (and they can sell out days/weeks in advance, particularly in the summer months), Eurail pass users have to travel by alternative non-TGV trains, or purchase separate tickets for the TGV.

Travelling to/from Paris can therefore be something of a challenge for rail pass users.
TGVs are the only direct trains between the French capital and the likes of Bordeaux, Lille, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nice and Strasbourg.
The overwhelming majority of trains between Paris and both Dijon and Lyon are TGVs.

However, there are less obvious alternative trains available when travelling to/from the French capital, that enable avoiding of the TGV. The journeys are also more scenic.
Those flat, largely featureless landscapes that the high speed lines which radiate from Paris travel through, soon become tedious, so cost savings aren’t the only benefit of taking the TGV.

To/from Lille (north of Paris)

To travel between Paris and Lille without using TGVs you can travel via the charming town of Amiens – which can be a great place to spend time between trains (slowing down in France can often be so much more rewarding than rushing around on the TGV).
Amiens is actually an ideal base for exploring the best of northern France by train. There are direct trains between Amiens and Boulogne, Etaples, Reims and Rouen.

From Paris To Lille

There is a daily express (IC) train that departs from Paris (Gare Du Nord) at 10:04 which arrives in Amiens at 11:10.
Every day except for Saturdays it connects in Amiens for a train to Lille that departs Amiens at 11:38 and arrives in Lille at 12:58, so you can be in Lille only three hours after leaving Paris.

However, connections aren’t so convenient on Saturdays. The most convenient train is the 08:28 from Paris (Gare Du Nord) to Amiens that arrives in Amiens at 09:47.
At 10:38 a train departs Amiens which arrives in Lille at 11:58.

From Lille to Paris

Connections that avoid the TGV are more awkward in this direction, particularly in the mornings and early afternoon and the fastest connections vary according to the days of the week.

On Mon-Fri take the 16:02 from Lille (Flandres) to Amiens, where it arrives at 17:21. At 18:14 a train departs from Amiens that arrives at the Gare Du Nord in Paris at 19:32

On Saturday/Sunday take the 16:02 from Lille (Flandres) to Amiens, where it arrives at 17:21. At 18:50 a train departs from Amiens that arrives at the Gare Du Nord in Paris at 19:56.

To/From Strasbourg (east of Paris)

Avoiding the TGVS when travelling between Paris and Strasbourg is awkward, but not impossible, you have to change trains twice; The fastest connections by far are listed below.

From Paris

Mon-Fri only
Train 1 – depart Paris (Gare de l’Est) at 07:36; arrive Bar Le Duc at 09:52
Train 2 – depart Bar Le Duc at 10:02; arrive Nancy at 11:09
Train 3 – depart Nancy at 12:14; arrive Strasbourg at 13:38

Train 1 – depart Paris (Gare de l’Est) at 08:36; arrive Bar Le Duc at 10:52
Train 2 – depart Bar Le Duc at 12:09; arrive Nancy at 13:08
Train 3 – depart Nancy at 13:15; arrive Strasbourg at 14:41

Train 1 – depart Paris (Gare de l’Est) at 08:36; arrive Bar Le Duc at 10:52
Train 2 – depart Bar Le Duc at 12:09; arrive Nancy at 13:08
Train 3 – depart Nancy at 14:15; arrive Strasbourg at 15:41

From Strasbourg

Train 1 – depart Strasbourg at 08:20; arrive Nancy at 09:43/09:45
Train 2 – depart Nancy at 10:11; arrive Bar le Duc at 11:15
Train 3 – depart Bar le Duc at 11:33; arrive Paris (Gare de l’Est) at 13:53

Alternative schedule on Mon-Fri only

Train 1 – depart Strasbourg at 16:20; arrive Nancy at 17:43
Train 2 – depart Nancy at 18:02; arrive Bar le Duc at 18:59
Train 3 – depart Bar le Duc at 19:37; arrive Paris (Gare de l’Est) at 21:53

Alternative schedule on Sundays only (note the tight connection at Nancy, this schedule is a gamble)

Train 1 – depart Strasbourg at 16:28; arrive Nancy at 17:56
Train 2 – depart Nancy at 18:02; arrive Bar le Duc at 18:59
Train 3 – depart Bar le Duc at 19:37; arrive Paris (Gare de l’Est) at 21:53

To/From Avignon, Dijon, Lyon and Marseilles (south east of Paris)

There is an alternative to travelling by the high speed line between Paris, Lyon and southern France.

Trains which take the line, that used to be taken by express trains before the high speed line was built, depart from/arrive at Paris (Bercy) station.

Metro Lines 14 and 6 serve Bercy station, but the Metro and SNCF stations are separate and not directly linked.
To reach the SNCF station from the Metro station you should turn right on exit at the stop of the steps and then turn right on to Boulevard Percy.
Walk to the Hotel Claret and turn right again and the SNCF station is ahead of you up the staircase/escalatur.

From Paris

Trains for Dijon and Lyon (Part Dieu) depart from Bercy station at the times listed below (the arrival times in Lyon are in brackets, the average journey time to Dijon is 2hrs and 50mins):

  • Daily 07:38 (12:40)
  • Mon-Fri 09:23 (14:40)
  • Sat/Sun 09:38 (14:40)
  • Mon-Sat 13:38 (18:40)
  • Daily 15:38 (20:40)
  • Mon-Fri 17:31 (22:40)
  • Sat/Sun 17:38 (22:40)

Connecting trains depart from Lyon (Part Dieu) station at:

  • 13:20 - arrive Valence (Ville) (14:26); Avignon (Centre) at 15:41; Arles (16:03); Miramas (16:21) and Marseilles (St Charles) (16:54)
  • 15:20 - arrive Valence (Ville) (16:26); Avignon (Centre) at 17:41; Arles (18:03); Miramas (18:21) and Marseilles (St Charles) (18:54)
  • 19:20 - arrive Valence (Ville) (20:26); Avignon (Centre) at 21:41; Arles (22:03); Miramas (22:21) and Marseilles (St Charles) (22:54)

Until Aug 10th These train timings from Lyon may be extended during 2012 due to work on the railway line.

From Lyon

Trains to Paris (Bercy )depart from Lyon (Part Dieu) DAILY at the times listed below (the time in brackets is the arrival time in Paris);

  • 07:20 (12:22) – departs from Dijon at 09:29
  • 11:20 (16:22) – departs from Dijon at 13:35 on Mon-Fri and 13:29 on Sat/Sun
  • 13:20 (18:22) – departs from Dijon at 15:29
  • 15:20 (20:22) – departs from Dijon at 17:29
  • 17:20 (22:22) – departs from Dijon at 19:29

Daily connecting trains to Lyon (Part Dieu) depart from:

  • Marseilles (St Charles) 07:06; Miramas 07:39; Arles 07:57; Avignon (Centre) 08:18; Valence (Ville) 09:34 – arrives Lyon (Part Dieu) at 10:40
  • Marseilles (St Charles) 09:06; Miramas 09:39; Arles 09:58; Avignon (Centre) 10:18; Valence (Ville) 11:34 – arrives Lyon (Part Dieu) at 12:40
  • Marseilles (St Charles) 11:06; Miramas 11:39; Arles 11:57; Avignon (Centre) 12:18; Valence (Ville) 13:34 – arrives Lyon (Part Dieu) at 14:40
  • Marseilles (St Charles) 13:06; Miramas 13:39; Arles 13:57; Avignon (Centre) 14:18; Valence (Ville) 15:34 – arrives Lyon (Part Dieu) at 16:40 (from Aug 10 only)

Until Aug 10th these timings may be altered due to work on the railway line.

The majority of TGV trains between Paris and both Valence and Avignon depart from/arrive at the TGV stations on the high speed lines that are some distance from the town centres in Valence and Avignon.
These alternative trains depart from/arrive at stations in the town centres of Valence and Avignon.

To/From Marseilles/Nimes/Montpellier

This routing is not possible from Sept 3rd to Dec 6th.

Even if the TGV supplements on trains between Paris and Marseilles, Nimes and Montpellier aren’t sold out, this route is a great alternative to seeing the best of France by train, as much of it comprises one of the most spectacular journeys in France.

From Paris

The first train to take is the 08:58 IC* train from Paris (Bercy) station to Clemont Ferrand.
Rail pass users need to pay a €3 supplement/reservation fee to travel on this train, but unlike the TGV trains this supplement will virtually always be available.
However, our advice is to pay the supplement before heading to Bercy station.

Metro Lines 14 and 6 serve Bercy station, but the Metro and SNCF stations are separate and not directly linked.
To reach the SNCF station from the Metro station you should turn right on exit at the stop of the steps and then turn right on to Boulevard Percy.
Walk to the Hotel Claret and turn right again and the SNCF station is ahead of you up the staircase/escalatur.

The IC* train arrives in Clemont Ferrand at 12:28 and the train to Nimes departs from Clemont Ferrand at 12:40.
You need to make this connection, but you can arrive in Clemont Ferrand at 10:28 on Mon-Sat by taking the 07:00 IC* train from Paris (Bercy).

The 12:40 daily train from Clemont Ferrand has Marseilles (St Charles) as a final destination, it arrives in Nimes at 17:53 and Marseilles (St Charles) at 19:54.
A connecting train to Montpellier departs from Nimes at 18:13 and arrives in Montpellier at 18:47.

From Marseilles, Nimes (and Montpellier)

A train to Clemont Ferrand departs daily from Marseilles (St Charles) at 11:58 and Nimes at 13:57.
A connecting train to Nimes departs from Montpellier at 13:14.
The train from Marseilles and Nimes arrives in Clemont Ferrand at 19:16.

An IC* train to Paris (Bercy) departs from Clemont Ferrand at 19:32 and arrives in the French capital at 22:57
Rail pass users need to pay a €3 supplement/reservation fee to travel on this train, but unlike the TGV trains this supplement will virtually always be available.
However, pay this supplement before boarding the connecting train to Clemont Ferrand.

To/From Bordeaux

Avoiding the TGV trains when travelling between Paris and Bordeaux involves travelling via Limoges.

The easiest connections by far only involve one change of train at Limoges.
The trains between Paris and Limoges are IC* trains.
Rail pass users need to pay a €3 supplement/reservation fee to travel on these trains, but unlike the TGV trains this supplement will virtually always be available.
However, our advice is to pay this supplement before heading to the station in Paris if possible, and always pay the supplement before setting off from Bordeaux.

From Paris

Train 1 – 07:53 IC* train from Paris (Austerlitz) arrives in Limoges at 10:54. (the final destination of this train is Toulouse)
Train 2 - departs from Limoges at 11:03, arrives in Bordeaux at 14:01. This train does not operate on Saturdays.


Train 1 - daily 13:53 IC* train from Paris (Austerlitz) arrives in Limoges at 16:54. (the final destination of this train is Toulouse)
Train 2 – daily departs from Limoges at 18:03, arrives in Bordeaux at 20:36 or 20:39

From Bordeaux daily

Train 1 – 10:44 train from Bordeaux; arrives Limoges at 13:21
Train 2 – IC* train departs from Limoges at 14:03; arrives Paris (Austerlitz) at 17:07

From Bordeaux – Sat/Sun

Train 1 – 10:44 train from Bordeaux; arrives Limoges at 13:21
Train 2 – IC* train departs from Limoges at 13:32; arrives Paris (Austerlitz) at 17:03

To/From Narbonne and Perpignan

There is a daily direct IC* train in either direction between Paris and both Narbonne and Perpignan.
Rail pass users need to pay a €3 supplement/reservation fee to travel on these trains.
However, as for the TGV trains, these supplements may not be available on the day on which you plan to travel.
Reservations on the IC* trains on this route can sell out days in advance, particularly in the summer.
However, additional trains (that aren’t listed in the timetable) operate on days of particularly heavy demand.

From Paris

A daily IC* train departs from Paris (Austerlitz) at 09:53, it arrives in Narbonne at 17:47 and Perpignan at 18:45 (the destination of this train is Cerbere, at Cerbere connections are available on to Port Bou and Barcelona).

From Narbonne/Perpignan

The IC* train departs from Perpignan at 08:13 and Narbonne at 09:13, it arrives in Paris (Austerlitz) at 17:07.



Supplements are not charged on the trains that run into western and northern Belgium from Lille to destinations including Antwerp/Anvers, Bruges and Ghent (change trains in Ghent to reach Brussels)

Thalys provides the only direct service between Paris and Brussels.

To avoid paying the comparatively expensive supplement charged on Thalys trains rail pass holders can make connections alternative connections by RER (local train) between Paris city centre and CDG Aeroport and the direct TGVR trains from there to/from Brussels/Bruxelles. 

Eurail and Inter Rail pass holders can also make savings if they travel to cities such as Antwerp and Bruges via Lille and use the TGV trains between Paris and Lille, as an alternative to travelling via Brussels and taking Thalys trains between the two capitals.

Aside from trains between both Paris and Lille and Belgium, there are TGV (TGVR) trains that operate direct to/from Brussels and many other French cities including, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseilles and Nice.

The Netherlands:

Thalys trains from Paris run through Belgium to Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam.
However Eurail and InterRail pass holders now have to pay comparatively expensive supplements for travel by Thalys.
It’s possible to reach Amsterdam in less than 6 hours from Paris and avoid the Thalys charges by taking the TGV trains from Paris to Lille and making onward connections from there via Antwerp/Anvers. 

Eurail pass holders in particular will find this a cheaper alternative. Details of the connections are on the Paris page.

There are no overnight trains that operate between France and Belgium or Holland.


In addition to the direct TGV services from Paris, fairly frequent local services shuttle across the border between Metz and Luxembourg and supplements aren’t charged for travel on these local trains. 

Direct trains operate from Luxembourg to the German cities of Trier, Koblenz, Bonn and Cologne/Koln.


A combination of ICE and TGV trains operate the ALLEO services between France and Germany.

The ALLEO trains between Paris and Frankfurt take the route between France and Germany that runs via Saarbrucken
Travellers can avoid the supplements charged on the ALLEO trains by travelling on the local trains that operate between Metz and Saarbrucken. 

(It is not possible to reach Metz from Paris without paying a supplement for the TGV trains). 

Connections are also available from Saarbrucken to Mainz.

ALLEO trains also link Paris with Karlsruhe and Stuttgart via Strasbourg and there is one train per day that continues beyond Stuttgart to/from Augsburg, Munich and Ulm.

Thalys trains provide the only direct trains from Paris to Aachen and Cologne.

The only direct train between Paris and Berlin is the overnight CNL train a

A nightly CNL train also operates between Paris and Munich (where connections can be made for Vienna)


Basel SNCF station operates as a frontier point between France and Switzerland.
Regular trains operate between Strasbourg and Basel, but the only services that continue beyond Basel into Switzerland are the Lyria (TGVL) trains that operate between Paris and Zurich.

The main station in Geneva (Cornavin) also operates as a frontier between France and Switzerland, but all passengers using this route have to change trains in Geneva/Geneve.

In addition to the TGVs that operate to Geneva from Paris, Montpelier and Nice there are local trains that operate between Lyon and Geneva. 

There is also a network of local routes into the French Alps that operate from a separate station, Geneva Eaux Vives.

The only trains that operate via the French border town of Vallorbe to/from Switzerland are the Lyria (TGVL) that operate between Paris, Dijon and both Lausanne and Bern.

There are no overnight trains which operate between Paris and Switzerland.


The only daytime trains that cross the French/Italian on the route via Modane are the TGV  services that operate between Paris and both Turin/Torino and Milan/Milano

An overnight Thello (TLO) train operates between Paris andMilan/Dessenzano/Verona/Vicenza/Padua/Venice which travels via Switzerland (rail passes do not need to be valid in Switzerland to travel on these trains).
This overnight Thello trains are the only direct trains from Paris to Italian destinations east of Milan.
The overnight train on the Paris - Bologna - Firenze - Roma route has been withdrawn.

It’s possible to enter Italy from France without paying a supplement by using the local trains that shuttle every half hour across the border between the Cote D’Azur and the Italian border town of Ventimiglia. However, the EC trains between Nice and Milan have been withdrawn. 

Regular Italian express (IC) trains operate from Ventimiglia to Genoa and Milan and there is a daily early morning service from Ventimiglia to Rome via Pisa and Livorno. 

Local trains, on which no supplements are charged, run along the Italian coast from Ventimiglia to Genoa and La Spezia.


The two principle rail routes from France into Spain operate either side of the Pyrenees on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts respectively.

However, that on the Atlantic coast between Hendaye and Irun is now only recommended for train travel between France and north west Spain and Lisbon

The Mediterranean coast route has recently been transformed due to the opening of the high speed line between Perpignan in France and Figures in Spain and its use by direct high speed (Estrella) trains between Barcelona and Paris, Marsilles and Toulouse. Connections at Barcelona now provide the most convenient option for travelling between Paris and Madrid by train

As a result of the introduction of these high speed trains the overnight trains between Paris and both Barcelona and Madrid have been withdrawn.
The Talgo 2000 train, which had been the only express service on the non-high speed line between Montpellier and Barcelona has also been discontinujed

It is possible to avoid paying supplements/higher fare for travel by the high speed trains by taking local trains along the Mediterranean coast.

Trains from France operate across the border to the Spanish town of Port Bou from where more regular trains operate to Barcelona, via Figures and Girona.
(However, it is easier to make this journey in the opposite direction from Spain to France as they are comparatively frequent local trains direct from Barcelona to the French border town of Cerbere, from where connections are available to French local trains that link Cerbere with Perpignan, Narbonne, Carcassonne, Toulouse, Nimes and Montpelier.)

Now that the Elipsos overnight train between Paris and Barcelona has been discontinued, the overnight option is to takethe Inter Cité De Nuit overnight train from Paris to Port Bou and make connections there for local trains to Barcelona. 

Finally there is the most scenic route between the two counties that runs through the Pyrenees from Barcelona to Toulouse, though connections have to be made in the border town of La Tour De Carol.