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France Train Guide — How To Travel France By Train – Guide To Backpacking Through Europe

France Train Guide — How To Travel France By Train - Guide To Backpacking Through Europe

It doesn’t get a lot better than zooming via the French countryside at 200mph. In truth, relating to practice journey, France is among the best-connected nations in Europe and you may simply attain lots of Europe’s nice cities from Paris.

However, like all issues French, their rail community could be a little complicated so we’re right here to assist. On this France Practice Information, we’ll inform you all the things that you must find out about touring France by practice — from navigating the system to purchasing practice tickets for the most cost effective worth.

How To Purchase France Practice Tickets

Shopping for French practice tickets is usually straightforward however there are a number of oddities that you simply’ll come throughout when reserving. Maintain studying and we’ll stroll you thru the method.

Let’s first take take a look at the place and when to purchase tickets for the perfect worth…

The place To Purchase France Practice Tickets

So there are a handful of internet sites/strategies for purchasing French practice tickets and every has its personal quirks.

Omio: Omio is a search engine that allows you to examine and ebook trains (and buses and flights) anyplace in Europe. It enables you to simply guide tickets together with your bank card at primarily the identical costs because the SNCF web site. Moreover, Omio searches routes for a number of rail providers throughout Europe so it’s nice for worldwide journeys (since it may simply mix rail journeys of a number of nations). TrainLine is one other easy-to-use search engine reserving website that provides you a similar costs because the French Railways website. Rail Europe is the official North American distributor of French rail tickets so funds and reserving directions are hassle-free for North People. The web site is user-friendly and also you get the good thing about native English-speaking buyer help when you’ve got a problem. They often supply digital tickets or a print-at-home choice.

Rail Europe typically has the identical costs as you’d discover on France’s Nationwide Rail web site. Nevertheless, typically costs are greater on Rail Europe as a result of it will possibly’t all the time discover the gross sales/promotions. So you’ll want to store round.

French Railways: The web site for the official French Railways is The primary drawback with this website is that it typically tries to redirect you — it’s because Rail Europe is its official N. American companion. The issue is that Rail Europe doesn’t all the time discover the most cost effective fares so it’s a must to actively attempt to hold the location from redirecting you. Usually you’ll be able to forestall the redirect by ensuring the location is about to “Europe (different nations)” (see under) — however typically the location nonetheless finds a approach to redirect you. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

train France - buying ticketstrain France - buying ticketsTrace: Ensure “Europe (different nations)” is chosen to stop redirects.

Additionally, obtain the SNCF cellular app so you possibly can have your tickets despatched on to your telephone. 

Ouigo: A number of years in the past the French Nationwide Railways created a brand new low-budget practice line referred to as Ouigo. It principally connects Paris with a handful of fashionable French locations.

Ouigo Train - FranceOuigo Train - FranceOuigo’s Locations

Some Ouigo trains depart from stations outdoors Paris so it takes little underneath an hour by regional practice to get there from central Paris. Nevertheless, some trains do depart from central Paris. There are a couple of different restrictions (like restricted baggage) however the fares could be loopy low cost.

Eurostar: The Eurostar is the practice that connects Paris and London. You possibly can often ebook this journey on different web sites however we’ve discovered it greatest to ebook instantly from the Eurostar website for one of the best costs.

At The Station: In fact, you should purchase any French practice ticket from any practice station — both from a ticket window or an automatic machine (you’ll want a Chip & PIN bank card to purchase from the machines). You should purchase tickets in-advance from practice stations as nicely.


SNCF France Train Ticket machine SNCF France Train Ticket machine Purchase your practice tickets on-line and gather at any French practice station.

Tickets bought on-line could be collected in a number of alternative ways. Most occasions you’re given a number of strategies of accumulating your tickets:

  • Digital Tickets: You’ll be able to often have tickets despatched to your telephone/pill (obtain the App). Merely present to the conductor on the practice when he checks tickets. We wish to additionally print the tickets if attainable simply in case there is a matter.
  • Print-At-Residence Tickets: You’ll be able to print tickets at residence and present to the conductor on the practice when he checks tickets. Straightforward.
  • Decide Up At Station: Use your bank card or a reserving affirmation quantity to gather your tickets on the practice station. You’re typically required to make use of the identical bank card used to buy the tickets to gather them up on the station — so hold this in thoughts when reserving.
    • Additionally, you’ll want a Chip & PIN card to gather from the automated machines however you should use a swipe card on the ticket window. Nevertheless, different occasions you solely want the reserving reference quantity.
  • Mailed Tickets: Many providers will mail you bodily tickets however that is typically a sluggish course of. We propose avoiding this and sticking to the opposite choices.


France has a variety of totally different practice service so it may be a bit of complicated to know what tickets ought to be bought early and which might be purchased each time. We’ll break it down under.

France trains - tvgFrance trains - tvgPractice à Grande Vitesse (TGV)

Excessive-Velocity Trains (TGV): Sure – ebook early. Tickets for France’s TGV high-speed trains can be found to buy round 90 days prematurely. Reserving these early will get you the most cost effective tickets and costs will usually proceed to rise because the departure date approaches. For instance, a day-of ticket can value properly over €100 however that very same purchased weeks early may solely value €30.

Intercité (IC)

Intercité Trains (IC): Intercité trains are quick trains however not as fast because the TGV trains. They often additionally join shorter distances and the trains aren’t fairly as good because the TGV. These tickets may also be bought prematurely for a reduction.

TER train - FranceTER train - FranceTrains Exprès Regionaux (TER)

Regional/Native Trains: France has quite a lot of sluggish trains that join suburban and regional areas. TER (regional trains that join smaller cities with regional hubs), Transilien (connects suburban Paris) and RER (additionally connects suburban Paris). These tickets are priced by distance traveled so that you don’t want to purchase prematurely — merely buy them on the station proper earlier than departure.

Don’t overlook to validate your ticket earlier than you get on the practice otherwise you’ll be fined.

Thalys train - FranceThalys train - FranceTHALYS Practice

Worldwide Trains: There are a couple of separate practice providers that join France to different nations. These are high-speed trains so the identical guidelines about reserving early apply to those tickets as properly.

  • TGV Lyria: Excessive-speed trains that join France and Switzerland.
  • THALYS: Excessive-speed trains that join Paris with Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
  • Inter-Metropolis Categorical (ICE): Excessive-speed trains that join France and Germany.
  • Eurostar: Excessive-speed trains that join Paris and London.


On high-speed trains, your ticket is simply good for the precise time printed in your ticket. You’ll even be given an assigned seat. You don’t want a validate your ticket as a result of your seat is reserved (however they could verify your ID on the practice). NOTE: Your ticket will present the automotive and seat quantity so be sure to’re on the suitable automotive (the trains are clearly marked).

France Train - Ticket validateFrance Train - Ticket validateValidate your ticket earlier than boarding.

On regional/native trains, you may need a bodily ticket. Ensure to validate (i.e. stamp) your ticket within the validation bins on the platform earlier than you get on the practice. They’re typically onerous to seek out so watch what the locals are doing. When you overlook to validate, hunt down the conductor immediately and have him stamp it — for those who wait till he comes round you could be given a high-quality.

Regional trains gained’t have seat reservations so simply sit anyplace.

When you’re on the practice the conductor will ultimately stroll by way of the aisles to verify tickets.


Excessive-speed trains require you to make a reservation when utilizing a Eurail cross — the reservation prices €10-€20/seat for home journey and worldwide trains can cost anyplace from €35-€89/seat (relying on vacation spot). As you’ll be able to see, these worldwide practice reservations could be loopy costly — actually, the reservation charge is usually costlier than shopping for a separate ticket.

You need to make the reservation earlier than you get on the practice. There are a couple of methods to make reservations:

Italy Train Tickets - Railpass ReservationItaly Train Tickets - Railpass Reservation
  • On-line: permits you to e-book your reservation on-line by means of their platform. Merely search for a button that claims “I Have A Railpass” and comply with the prompts.
  • At The Practice Station: You’ll be able to merely go to the practice station and ebook your reservation from the customer support desk or self-service kiosks. You’ll be able to ebook it weeks prematurely or you are able to do it the day you depart. We advise utilizing the kiosks as a result of the ticket window can take eternally.


France train - arrival board France train - arrival board
  • The Departures Board: You’ll discover your practice platform by way of the departure board on the practice station. Don’t fear in case you don’t see your practice as a result of they typically solely show trains departing inside the subsequent 10-20 minutes.
  • Self-Service Machines Are In English: Don’t fear when you don’t converse French as a result of the ticket machines (and practice station indicators) are all in English.
  • Obtain The Rail Planner App: There are a selection of rail apps however we just like the Eurail App — it primarily has the timetables/information for each practice in Europe and it doesn’t require an web connection.
  • Low cost Tickets Are Non-Refundable: One draw back to low cost tickets is that they’re non-refundable they usually can’t be modified.
  • Pack A Picnic: You’re allowed to convey your personal meals and alcohol on trains. It’s nice for these lengthy practice rides.
  • Baggage: There aren’t any weight limits on baggage and you may convey as a lot as you need (properly, as a lot as you possibly can carry). Merely deliver it on and retailer it above your head, behind your seat, or within the baggage racks in every automotive.
  • Making Connections: Your journey may require you to vary trains alongside the journey. Don’t fear if there isn’t a lot time between trains as switching trains are often pretty fast and straightforward (it’s not like flying).
  • Get To The Practice Station Early: Practice stations are often pretty straightforward to navigate however they could be a little complicated. There isn’t any safety that it’s a must to undergo (apart from Eurostar and THALYS trains) nevertheless it doesn’t harm to reach about 20 minutes early.
  • Know Practice Station Names: Most giant cities have a number of practice stations (Paris has seven) so this typically creates confusion. Double examine to be sure to have the proper station — particularly when reserving your ticket.
  • First Class vs Second Class Tickets: First Class tickets usually value 1.5x the second class price. Second Class is completely snug however First Class seats are a bit greater and it’s quieter. There isn’t far more of a distinction.
  • Use A Credit score Card With Chip: Automated ticket kiosks require a card with a Chip & PIN so ensure you know your PIN code.
  • Strikes: France is well-known for practice strikes. They all the time give ample warning earlier than happening strike they usually nonetheless run some trains, however it’s one thing to concentrate to.


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