Travelling with SNCF allows you to discover the wonders of France by train. SNCF trains take you to all corners of France, as well as to international destinations like Spain and Germany. There are three major SNCF trains you can take: TGV, TER and Intercities. These SNCF trains will take you on national, regional and local routes, including high-speed trains from Paris train stations. Keep on reading to find out more about SNCF train tickets and where you can travel. You can also learn more about the different SNCF trains you can take, and what you can find onboard.
Travelling through France by train gives you a fantastic perspective of this vast country, that you don't get from flying or driving. With the size of France, and the ever-changing cultures and scenery, it can be very easy to lose track of where you are. This map can help you plot your way around France, and find the best route for you.
If you’re interested in seeing where your SNCF train is travelling in France, and where you’ll be in the country once you reach your destination, then take a look at our SNCF map overview. Highlighting the main stations and route across France, this is a great way to plot your journey around France, making it quick and easy to plan your holiday.
If you're still looking for some ideas of where to take the travel to in France, visit our trains in France page for some extra inspiration.
SNCF trains run thousands of services a day throughout the country, so there is no shortage of ways you can travel from your A to B. Using our journey planner, you can access timetables for your selected route. This will include departure and arrival times, journey time, if the train is direct or a change is required, and what type of trains you will travel on. If you want to see some routes that may interest you, then check out some of the most popular SNCF journeys that our customers enjoy.
When taking the train in France, you will be riding one of three SNCF trains: TGV, TER, or Intercities. These trains provide different services across the country. While only TGV provide high-speed services, each train type is a crucial part of the SNCF train network. Find out more about each train, their destinations and what you can find onboard below.
TGV trains are the flagship trains for SNCF. High-speed TGV trains depart and arrive from Paris on a daily basis, with destinations including Marseille, Nice, Strasbourg, Lyon and Bordeaux. TGV trains are also infamous for their double-decker style carriages, enabling them huge numbers of passengers on every route.
TGV trains have both First and Second Class carriages. Regardless of what class you sit in though, you’ll be provided with excellent comfort and amenities such as power sockets and headrests. There’s also a food carriage on most trains, providing hot and cold food and drink.
SNCF Intercities are non-high-speed trains that still serve major French stations and destinations in all parts of the country. These SNCF trains link the major Paris stations with destinations such as Le Havre, Lyon and Bordeaux in relative comfort and speed. Intercities trains travel not only during the day but also sometimes at night. If you have an early start or want to save on hotel rooms, take a look at these.
When travelling onboard, there are many different facilities that cater to all different travellers. There are quiet zones should you want to relax and maybe catch some sleep while you travel. If you’re in a group, then you can ride in seats of four grouped around a table, creating a place to chat and relax as you thunder through France. If you’re travelling with young children, then there are selected Intercities that have special play area compartments. This is perfect for those that need to keep their children occupied while travelling over long distances.
If you are travelling within a region of France and want to move about effortlessly and quickly, then you may find yourself on a TER train. SNCF dedicate the TER trains to shorter routes around different areas of France. These are not high-speed and do stop more frequently, but if you want to discover the next town over to where you’re staying, then these are cheap and very cost-effective.
The TER trains are the most frequent in France, with up to 7,500 services a day across the country! As well as regional routes, these TER services are also important commuter trains into major French cities. We recommend you avoid rush hour times for these trains, as you may find the trains to be cramped and busy.
There is more to SNCF than the TGV, TER and Intercity trains. SNCF also owns, or part owns, a number of other train services across Europe.
Ouigo is a high-speed, yet low-cost train service that provides passengers with long-distance journeys across France. While only on four select routes, if you are travelling to a city or town on a Ouigo route, grab yourself a bargain while tickets are available.
You can also travel to Barcelona on a Renfe-SNCF train. Operated in partnership with Spanish train operator Renfe, this international route connects southern France cities such as Toulouse with the Catalonia region of Spain.
If you take the train to Belgium, you will find yourself on another part-owned train named Thalys. This high-speed train travels from Paris, calling at stations such as Brussels, Rotterdam and as north as Amsterdam.
There are a number of different SNCF tickets you can buy when travelling around France by train. Depending on the flexibility of your travel time and date, you’ll be able to decide which type of ticket is best for you. Here, we’ll break down the three main types of SNCF tickets, and explain how each works on different trains.
This SNCF ticket is available to those travelling on TGV and Intercities trains. The Prem's ticket is available up to 3 months before the date of travel and can cost as little as 15 Euros. They’re often snapped up quickly so you’ll have to move quick to secure yours! These tickets are non-refundable or exchangeable, so you must be able to travel on that particular train, or you’ll lose your money.
This ticket is more flexible and also includes Intercities trains as well as TGV. Loisir tickets can be booked well in advance, up to three months in fact! The flexibility on these tickets allows you more freedom should plans change. You can cancel the ticket free of charge up to 31 days before travel. From there the ticket can only be changed up to the day of travel. There’s a 15 Euro-fee for an alteration to your ticket with TGV trains, while the fee for intercity trains is 12 Euros.
This is the most expensive SNCF train ticket you can buy, but is typically the most flexible. You can cancel or change your ticket up until two hours before your train departs. In order to do this, you can either make the change at a train station or through the Trainline app/online service.
With the Prem's and Loisir tickets, we recommend that you book these tickets as far in advance as possible. This is the best possible way of getting cheap train tickets in France. Not only will this give you peace of mind that the tickets have been bought, but they will also be cheaper. French train ticket prices typically rise as the departure date gets nearer, so if you know when you want to travel, then get a booking to save more money!
Travelling with Renfe? Find out everything you need to know about luggage allowance, pets and other onboard Renfe facilities here
Both LOISIR and PREM’S tickets go on sale up to 3 months in advance before the day of travel. Buying them earlier can also reduce the price of the ticket, so getting them sooner rather than later is certainly recommend.
Renfe-SNCF is a joint venture with Renfe, the train operating company in Spain. Providing cross-border routes to cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, you can travel in all the comfort of a TGV train, with a completely different backdrop.
Yes, you can! All SNCF trains are available to use with a Eurail Pass, and depending on what pass you buy, there’s unlimited use on them as well. You may be required to reserve on certain trains, such as TGV or night trains, which could cost an additional fee.
SNCF is state-owned and has been since it was first formed in 1938.