|Train companies||SNCF, Eurostar, Thalys|
|Main stations||Gare du Nord, Gare de Lyon, Gare de l’Est|
|Public transport||Metro, trams, regional trains, bus|
|Cheap tickets||Cheap Train Tickets in France|
Trains to Paris whisk you to the beating heart of the French capital, arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its six main stations (Gare du Nord, de l’Est, de Lyon, d’Austerlitz, Montparnasse, Saint-Lazare) are surrounded by key landmarks – meaning you can easily sip coffee in the charming neighbourhood of Montmartre, go shopping on Champs-Élysées, or take that Eiffel Tower snap.
Read on for advice on how to reach Paris by train, sightseeing tips, and other destinations you can reach from the capital.
“Paris is always a good idea”, said Audrey Hepburn - and it’s hard to disagree. Where to start in the City of Lights? Read our travel tips below for a whistle-stop tour through Paris, and if you’re after something more substantial, our Paris travel hub is here to help.
Arriving into Gare du Nord station, you’ll be a short walk away from Montmartre – a pretty district that has remained faithful to the ‘village’ aesthetic. With its cobbled, meandering streets, Montmartre looks just like a postcard. A 40-minute walk south of Montmartre will take you down the hip streets of Pigalle. Particularly popular here is Rue des Martyrs – heaven for foodies, lined with trendy restaurants, bakeries and delis. Heading east leads to the buzzing Canal Saint-Martin, and to the République/Belleville area where the party awaits.
Walk south towards the historical centre and you’ll stumble upon the famous Père-Lachaise cemetery – the largest cemetery in Paris, it's also the resting place of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.
The nearby Bastille and Le Marais areas, parallel to the Seine banks, brim with private mansions, hip bistros, vintage shops such as Noir Kennedy, and concept stores like Merci. Follow the Seine to the west to find the Centre Pompidou, held together by colourful tubes and hosting modern masterpieces by Miró and Picasso. And let’s not forget the Louvre, gathering antiques, modern and classical art, and, of course, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa under its glass pyramid.
On the left bank, the “bourgeois” area between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Gare Montparnasse is dotted with theatres, cinemas, historical literary cafes, and brasseries like Les Deux Magots. The charming Luxembourg Gardens attract nearby Sorbonne students and families.
A walk west alongside the left bank leads to the Eiffel Tower. The Iron Lady faces the river and the grandiose Trocadéro hill on the right bank, with its fountains, gardens, and museums. There the avenue Kléber leads to the prestigious Champs Elysées. Among high street and luxury fashion shops, La Durée is a go-to place for macarons and afternoon tea.
Staying in Paris for a while? Consider a day trip into the city’s surrounding areas – here are seven of the best.
Since its first journey in 1994, Eurostar has become the preferred way of travelling from London to Paris for countless travellers. 14 services per day depart from St. Pancras International station and arrive at Paris Gare du Nord in 2h 18m (on average). Here’s what to expect on the Eurostar:
One of the biggest conveniences of the Eurostar is that it takes you from city centre to city centre. The train departs from London St. Pancras International station – which is a short walk away from King’s Cross St. Pancras underground – to Paris Gare du Nord, one of the city’s main terminus stations. We’d recommend getting to the station at least 45 minutes before your train is scheduled to depart as check-in closes 30 minutes prior to departure. That’ll give you some time to buy some snacks for the journey – which, by the way, you’re more than welcome to take on board!
There are three steps to the check-in process at St. Pancras: scanning your ticket, walking through a metal detector at security, and passport control. You can take liquids through security with you and there are no luggage weight restrictions. Regarding the former, Eurostar recently updated their alcohol allowance on the train – you can now bring a maximum of four cans of beer or one bottle of wine. Spirits are not allowed.
Eurostar trains will usually depart from platform 9 or 10. Seats are assigned so you’ll have to find the right carriage before boarding. Some trains have up to 22 carriages – be prepared for quite a walk if you’re sat in an end carriage!
Most Eurostar services will go direct to Paris Gare du Nord without stopping. The occasional service calls at Ebbsfleet International or Ashford International. Departing from London, you’ll speed past Stratford International and East London, through a tunnel underneath the Thames River and into the Kent countryside. Around 40 minutes in, the train reaches the mouth of the Channel Tunnel, and after 20 minutes travelling through the ‘Chunnel’ you’ll emerge into Northern France. At this point, Eurostar connects on to France’s high-speed rail lines to Paris Gare du Nord.
There’s no passport control at Gare du Nord so you can hop off the train and right into the city centre. It’s a short walk to the Louvre and Montmartre, or, you can head downstairs at Gare du Nord to the metro to access the rest of the city.
There are three classes on board: Standard Class, Standard Premier Class and Business Premier Class. Standard Class is the most price-effective option. While you won’t have access to complimentary food and drinks as you would in Standard Premier or Business, you will be able to buy items from Café Metropole in the restaurant carriages. A sandwich, drink and snack costs around €10 – not the cheapest, by any stretch – so a great way to save money is to bring a packed lunch on board with you. Standard Class seats also have 2-pin and 3-pin plugs, wide seats and reclining tables. Every carriage has dedicated luggage space and overhead storage.
You can book Eurostar tickets directly through Trainline, up to 180 days in advance. Use our Journey Planner above or visit our London to Paris information page, where you can check journey times, compare prices and book tickets.
Like air travel, Eurostar tickets are cheaper the further in advance you book them so go ahead and book now!
It’s easy to get to Paris from major European cities, thanks to the high-speed rail infrastructure in Central and Western Europe. Below, you’ll find some of the most popular routes into Paris – including journey times and train operating companies.
|Route||Fastest journey||Direct?||Train operating company|
|London to Paris||2h 16m||Yes||Eurostar|
|Brussels to Paris||1h 22m||Yes||Thalys|
|Amsterdam to Paris||3h 12m||Yes||NS, Thalys|
|Barcelona to Paris||6h 25m||Yes||Renfe-SNCF|
|Milan to Paris||7h 03m||Yes||SNCF, Thello, Trenitalia|
|Berlin to Paris||8h 21m||No||Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, Thalys|
|Prague to Paris||10h 30m||No||Deutsche Bahn, SNCF|
|Vienna to Paris||10h 04m||No||Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, ÖBB|
|Budapest to Paris||13h 01m||No||Deutsche Bahn, ÖBB|
Find out more about international train travel in Europe on our Trains in Europe page.
Overnight trains and sleeper services are a good travel option for long-distance journeys to Paris – you won’t have to pay for a hotel room, and you’ll arrive in the city centre in the morning with not a minute of sightseeing lost to transit. Unfortunately, the popular Elipsos overnight train from Barcelona to Paris was discontinued in 2013, but there are still plenty of sleeper trains running to Paris.
For more information on taking sleeper trains, read our Night Trains in Europe page.
Paris has long been a favourite destination for American visitors, and you don’t have to go far to find living evidence of the two countries’ historic relationship. Besides street names like Rue Benjamin Franklin, Avenue Franklin and Avenue du Président Kennedy, you’ll find statues of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson dotted throughout the city. Paris is also home to a miniature Statue of Liberty overlooking the Seine river; the original was a gift from France to the United States in 1886.
Before visiting, it helps to know a few basics. The currency in France is the Euro (€). Always try to pay in Euros where you can, unless you’re happy to be charged a 3-5% currency conversion fee. It also pays to learn a few French phrases, greetings and pleasantries – ‘parlez-vous anglaise?’ is a good place to start!
Restaurants are where differences in American and French custom are really laid bare. Firstly, it’s normal to eat much later in Paris – with most sitting down to eat at 8pm, sometimes as late as 10pm in the summer. Eating is considered a social occasion in France, so don’t expect a waiter to check up on you every five minutes. If you want their attention, raise your hand or make eye contact with them.
Secondly, you won’t be expected to tip as much as is custom in the US. Servers are compensated more adequately in Paris than their American counterparts, so tipping is less of a necessity and more an act of gratitude. Feel free to leave a tip of 5-10%.
Finally, as a member of the Schengen Area, France welcomes American visitors for up to 90 days without a visa. Just make sure your passport is valid for three months beyond your scheduled date of departure from the country!
Planning a rail adventure in France? Paris is perfect for exploring the rest of the country, with several train stations running high-speed TGV services to the south of France, Brittany in the west and the Belgian border region to the north. TGV trains are SNCF’s flagship high-speed service – modern, comfortable and incredibly fast (they can hit speeds of up to 300km/h). Here’s a summary of where TGV can take you from Paris; for more information, visit our SNCF and TGV pages.
|Destination||Journey time||Must see attraction|
|Lyon||1h 52m||Gallo-Roman Museum|
|Bordeaux||2h 09m||Cité du Vin Museum|
|Avignon||2h 36m||Palais des Papes|
|Dijon||1h 34m||Jardin Botanique de l'Arquebuse|
|Strasbourg||1h 45m||Petite-France quarter|