Taking the train is one of the easiest ways to travel from Paris to Marseille – it’s no wonder it’s such a popular choice with locals and tourists alike. In just over three hours, slick high-speed TGV trains can take you from the centre of Paris to the centre of Marseille in the South of France – that’s quicker than driving and flying when you include airport transfers and waiting around in the terminal.
To make your journey between these two iconic cities extra enjoyable, First Class ticket holders benefit from wider reclining seats and entry to the TGV First Class Lounge at the station. Once you’ve arrived in Marseille you can be strolling along the Vieux Port (Old Port) in just a few minutes, watching superyachts and fishing boats alike come and go in the marina – what could be better? Keep reading for times and ticket information.
TGV is the high-speed train service of the SNCF company. It connects the major cities of France at speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h). All TGV trains are equipped with a food carriage, a free WiFi connection, power sockets and fold-down tables. Two comfort classes are offered – First Class and Second Class, with flexible fare options available and access to the Grand Voyageur lounge in some stations.
OUIGO is the low-cost, high-speed train service operated by the French national train company SNCF. Despite having only one class on board, OUIGO trains offer the same comfort as Second Class seats on TGV trains, although OUIGO tickets are only available to purchase online. To make your journey as smooth as possible, arrive at least 30 minutes before departure and bear in mind that there's an additional fee for bringing a suitcase with you, having a seat with power sockets and travelling with a stroller/buggy.
SNCF is the national train operator of France. It operates all domestic trains and routes across France, as well as international services to Spain and Germany. There are three different types of domestic trains that operate under the SNCF banner – TGV (high-speed, full-service trains that connect the major cities in France), Intercités (usually a more frequent stopping service, but with all the amenities), and TER (regional train services with basic onboard facilities).
Intercités is the classic service of SNCF. The Intercités lines are an important part of the French rail network. Trains make more stops and are cheaper than TGVs, and run at speeds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h). Two comfort classes are offered aboard Intercités – First Class and Second Class. Intercités by night allows you to travel at night on certain routes, in sleeper cars.
Most of the train companies across Europe release their tickets around three to six months in advance, many of which can be cheaper the earlier you book. If you know the dates you want to travel, you may be able to find some cheaper train tickets from Paris to Marseille St-Charles by booking early.§
Many of the train services in Europe are also popular commuter services, lots of train companies increase ticket prices during “peak hours” (generally between 06:00 – 10:00 and 15:00 – 19:00 on weekdays). If you can, consider travelling outside of peak hours to find lower priced tickets.
On some of the busier routes, you might also have the option to take a slower or connecting train. It may take a little longer than some high-speed or direct services, but if you have a little extra time on your hands, you might find a cheaper fare. Plus, you'll have more time to enjoy the view of the countryside!
For specific information about how to get your hands on cheap tickets, check out our European train tickets hub.
The average journey time by train between Paris and Marseille St-Charles is 4 hours and 28 minutes, with around 22 trains per day. The journey time may be longer on weekends and holidays, so use our Journey Planner on this page to search for a specific travel date.
The fastest journey time by train from Paris to Marseille St-Charles is 3 hours and 2 minutes.
Train tickets from Paris to Marseille St-Charles can start from as little as $17.50 when you book in advance and are usually more expensive when purchased on the day. Prices can also vary depending the time of day, route and class you book.
Yes, it is possible to travel from Paris to Marseille St-Charles without having to change trains. There are 13 direct trains from Paris to Marseille St-Charles each day. Though there may be fewer direct services available depending on your exact departure date.
The first train from Paris to Marseille St-Charles leaves at 11:49. Times and services may vary during weekends and holidays.
The last train from Paris to Marseille St-Charles leaves at 09:40. Trains that depart in the early morning hours or very late evening may be sleeper services, time and services may also vary during weekends and holidays.
Trains travelling from Paris to Marseille St-Charles cover a distance of around 410 miles (660 km) during the journey.
My journey begins on the Metro. Gare de Lyon station is served by lots of public transport options in Paris, including bus and metro, and I decided to try my luck getting there via line 14 of the Paris Metro. You can also take line 1, or RER A and D. The exit signs to get to the station were a little confusing at first but it only took me a few moments to find the exit.
Departing from Gare de Lyon
I arrived at the station a few minutes before the departure of the TGV train taking me to Marseille, as travellers can arrive up to two minutes before. I arrived into hall 1, and the billboard just above the Brioche Dorée told me my train was in fact in hall 2 – so I quickly make my way down the long corridor to my actual departure hall. Once I was in the right place, there were several waiting areas, toilets (you need to pay though), a pharmacy and some cafes to enjoy a bite to eat.
Before you board the train, you should normally get your paper ticket validated, but since I had an e-ticket (print it out at home or just show a staff member on your phone), I was able to board straight away. Seat reservations are made when you purchase your ticket, so I was able to see my carriage and seat number. You’ll find the number of your carriage on the doors of the TGV, which can include up to 16 cars depending on the number of people who booked. You can also find your chair by looking at the number on the inserts located above the seats.
On board the train
This particular TGV train was a double decker – so you’re directed to either the ground or first floor depending on your seat number. There are dedicated luggage areas at both ends and the middle of each carriage on both floors. If you’re travelling with large pieces of luggage, it’s best to store them in these spaces and keep any smaller bags or items on the shelves above your seat. The seats are comfortable in both First and Second Class and have fold-down tables, footrests and a net to store things (ideal for keeping your tickets in for when the ticket inspectors come around). There are small rubbish bins located along the carriage as well. If you fancy settling down with your favourite book during the journey, there’s a handy reading light just above your seat.
There’s plenty to see out of the window during your trip - the country landscape unfolds right before your eyes, changing to vineyards as you descend to the south of France. Along the route from Paris to Marseille, the train stops at Avignon, Aix-en-Provence TGV and finally Marseille Saint-Charles – pay special attention to the window as you travel near Avignon as the view is incredible!
I was very happy to see that this TGV train had WiFi access, available by connecting to the “_SNCF_WIFI_INOUI” network and logging into the “wifi.sncf” portal using your name and six-letter ticket code. Once you’re logged in, you can see exactly where you are on your journey and how fast the train is travelling. The portal also lets you view the bar menu (normally found in carriages 4 and 14), so you can decide which sandwiches, snacks and drinks you’d like before you even leave your seat.
Arriving in Marseille
After travelling for around 3h 20m, we arrive into Marseille Saint-Charles station, located in the hills of Marseille, just a few minutes' walk from the old port and the Mediterranean Sea. If you need to take a connecting train to a different location, the station is served by TGV, Intercités and TER trains to other French cities and Ouigo to Disneyland Paris. If you’re thinking about cross border travel, TGV Lyria trains run to Switzerland Thello trains run into Italy.
If you plan on exploring Marseille, don’t head straight down to the city centre before you’ve stopped to admire the view from the stairs outside of the station. Take a look at the charming Notre-Dame de la Garde (Basilica of Our Lady of the Guard) on the opposite hill, before descending to discover more of the city.
Estelle is one of our trusted, hand-picked travel writers. The information for this article was recorded first-hand, based on her own genuine experience of the journey.