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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).
TGV is the high-speed train service of the SNCF company. It connects the major cities of France at speeds of up to 320 km/h. All TGV trains are equipped with a food carriage, a free WiFi connection, power sockets and removable shelves. Two comfort classes are offered – First Class and Second Class, with more flexible train tickets and access to the Grand Voyageur lounge in some stations.
TGV Lyria links France to Switzerland and can travel at a maximum speed of 320 km/h. Resulting from the collaboration between SNCF and SBB, TGV Lyria has three comfort classes on all trains. Standard (equivalent to the Second Class TGV, with comfortable seats), Standard 1ère (with more legroom and access to the SNCF show Grand Voyageur at the Gare de Lyon in Paris) and Business 1ère (available all week except Saturday, on some lines only).
Thello, part of the Trenitalia Group, is an international railway service that connects France and Italy. Thello trains provide direct connections between Paris and Venice via Dijon, and Marseille and Milan via Nice. Trains between Paris and Venice are night/sleeper trains with three service levels. Choose either Standard shared berth compartments (4-6 berth), a standard bed cabin (1-3 people) which includes a welcome drink, breakfast, bed furnishings and a toiletry set, or treat yourself to a premium cabin (1-2 people) which feature a private bathroom with sink, shower and WC. Trains between Marseille and Milan offer Standard Class seating, as well as First Class, which has wider reclining seats for extra comfort.
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 Cologne 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 between Paris and Cologne is 12 hours and 59 minutes and the fastest journey time is 9 hours and 52 minutes. On an average weekday, there are 13 trains per day travelling from Paris to Cologne. The journey time may be longer on weekends and holidays; use our journey planner on this page to search for a specific travel date.
The first train from Paris to Cologne departs at 06:29. The last train from Paris to Cologne departs at 20:48. Trains that depart in the early morning hours or very late evening may be sleeper services. Alternatively, some popular routes may run throughout the night at a reduced frequency. There may also be less services on weekends and holidays; use our journey planner on this page to search for a specific travel date.
No, it is not possible to travel from Paris to Cologne without having to change trains. To travel from Paris to Cologne will require a minimum of 1 change. More changes may be necessary on weekends and holidays; use our journey planner on this page to search for a specific travel date.