France by Train

Find out about travelling on France's rail transport network including domestic and international trains, including SNCF and TGV services, and local trams and metro systems...

The train network in France is excellent and as a result, is one of the most popular means of transport across France. All trains are run by the national train operator, SNCF. Tickets can be purchased online, via the OUI App, or at any train station. Ticket fares vary according to the comfort of the train, either first, second class or business premiere, and the time and date of departure.

SNCF also offer reward programmes for frequent travellers. See more in the Tips and Points section

Local and regional train services have a fixed price fare ‘tafiff normal’ and they are valid for one journey leaving on any train until midnight. Tickets need to be validated (compostez votre billet) in the yellow machines situated at the entrance to each platform Tickets printed at home do not need to be validated.

The SNCF OUI App is a useful tool. As well as being able to book, download or exchange train tickets, users can access information on over 5,400 stations in France and 150 stations in Europe.

The TGV - Train de Grande Vitesse - is a high speed train which travels at speeds of 300 Km per hour. It has revolutionised French rail travel, enabling people to get to Paris from Bordeaux, for example, in three hours. Tickets must be reserved in advance. Booking a TGV ticket in advance is usually more economical than buying a ticket the day of travel.

Tickets for all trains must be validated before travelling. This can be done by placing the ticket in a punching machine at the entrance to the platform (compostez votre billet) However, passengers that have printed out their tickets from the Internet can present these to inspectors when they pass.

For more information see the SNCF website (In French, English and German)

Eurostar is a train which travels between England, France and Belgium. Destinations include Paris, Disneyland, Brussels, Lille, Avignon and Lyon. OUIGO is a low cost train service running between Paris and the south of France.

 

Getting around for people with disabilities

Discounts and special conditions are available for mobility, sight and hearing disabled people

SNCF has more information on accessibility for passengers with reduced mobility (in French)

Unaccompanied Children

There is a service for children travelling unaccompanied,

·         For information on the Junior & Cie visit SNCF (in French)

Travelling with pets

Dogs and cats may be taken on the trains, but there is a fee and certain conditions must be met. The fee depends on the size of the pet, and once aboard, a fellow passenger may request it be moved. Guide dogs travel free of charge.

For information on travelling with pets visit SNCF 

 

Some tips and points

There are many offers to take advantage of when using the train.

There are four yearly advantage cards for TGV INOUI and Intercites services. Prices start from €49 and users can benefit from discounts on travel, on board purchases and 60% off fares for accompanying children.

Children up to four years old travel for free on TGV in OUI, TER and Intercites.

Advantage Card Offers

The Youth Advantage Card enables 12-27 year olds to a 30% reduction on fares with TGV inOUI, Intercites and some TER services.

The Weekend Advantage card is aimed at frequent weekend travellers aged 27-59. It entitles the user and one accompanying person to a 30% reduction on fares with TGV INOUI and Intercites services.

The Senior Advantage Card is for over 60’s and offers a a 30% reduction on fares with TGV inOUI and Intercites services. There is also 60% off fares for up to 3 accompanying children.

The Family Advantage Card for 27-59 year olds. This entitles the user to a 30% reduction on trips and 60% off for up to 3 accompanying children between 4-11 years old.

Other offers in place include the Liberty Card, the Package Subscription and TGVmax Subscription.

Useful Train Numbers

Useful Numbers

SNCF all services Calling from outside France

Tel: 3635 Tel: 08 92 35 35 35 Website

Travel information from SNCF in French (includes information on delays, strikes, rail works)

Website 

Tel: 36 35

TGV - High speed train

Website

Eurostar Channel train (in English)

Tel: 08 92 35 35 39 Website

Metro

There is a metro (underground) system in Paris, Lyon, Lille, Marseille, Toulouse and Rennes. The metro runs between 05:30 and 00:40 Sunday to Thursday and 05:30 and 01:40 on Friday and Saturday. Metros run between every two and eight minutes depending on the time of the day. Tickets can be bought at the station, from metro personnel or automatic ticket machines. A pass is advisable for people who make multiple journeys. In Paris there is the RER (Regional Express Train) as well as the metro. The RER crosses Paris, linking the suburbs from every corner. There are five RER lines, some of which run underground, and others which are over ground. The service runs daily from 04.45 to 01.30.

For information on Metro services visit RATP

The RATP App offers a guide to Metro travel in Paris and the Ile De France region

For more information on transport in the main cities, see the following websites:

Tram

There are tramways in the many towns and cities across France including in Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Nancy, Nice, Orleans, Rouen and Strasbourg. Services run between approximately 05:00 and midnight. Each station has a covered shelter where the timetables are shown. There is also usually an automatic ticket machine, tickets must be validated once on board.

The Trams in France website has information about cities with tram services