It's easy to travel by train in France. Thanks to SNCF, France's national state-owned railway company, you can, for example, eat a croissant in Paris at 10 am and drink a glass of wine in Bordeaux around 12 pm. Sounds like heaven? Well, if you're planning a trip to France and want to see as many cities as possible, the train is definitely your best friend.
SNCF operates the 4 main rail services in France:
Travel time: 6hour 06mins
You won't get bored of Paris. But you might fancy some beaches and the perfect climate of the south of France. We won't blame you. And in that case, just take a direct TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon station to Nice-Ville station.
Travel time: 2hours 11mins
From the home of sweets to the home of wine, there is just one TGV. Take the train at Paris Montparnasse station and you'll arrive near the city centre of Bordeaux and its stunning Gothic architecture.
Travel time: 2hours 07mins
When you'll board at Paris Gare de l'Est station and arrive at Strasbourg, you won't believe you're still in the same country. The influence from the German culture is so strong in this charming city that you'll even taste it in your sauerkraut with sausages.
Did you know France is the most visited country on earth? And for good reasons. Plenty of good reasons actually. The main one? France has everything. Whether you prefer spending your holidays swimming, skiing or walking, we're bringing you beaches, mountains and countryside on a silver tray.
Art / Beaches / Cuisine / Cities
The Côte d'Azur (French Riviera). Just its name brings glorious sunshine into the room. Locally known as the Côte d'Azur, that is one of the most beautiful parts of France. Ideally located in the southeast, the region is a year-round holiday destination.
It is no surprise that so many famous artists such as Monet, Picasso and Renoir have been inspired by the magical light and intense colours of the French Riviera. And once you'll be on the pebble beaches of Nice or enjoy a walk on the famous Promenade des Anglais, you'll certainly wish you were a painter too.
If you're looking for some glamour, The Promenade de la Croisette of Cannes, the Casino of Monte Carlo or the yachts of St. Tropez are waiting for you. For nature and calm lovers, grab a pair of comfy shoes and don't miss the picturesque mountaintop villages of Eze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
Why not check out the historic town of Antibes. Known for its love of art, Antibes is home to the Musée Picasso. As you can tell by the name, the museum is dedicated to the work of Pablo Picasso, holding some of the original portraits from the artist.
Gastronomy / Wine / Seaside / Golf / Surf
The largest region of France, Nouvelle Aquitaine encompasses everything there is about France. From the fine wines of Bordeaux, to its endless coastlines and even ski resorts, there is something for everyone.
The biggest city in Nouvelle Aquitaine is Bordeaux, one of the most famous cities in France. Home to some of the most famous vineyards in the world, Bordeaux has become a gastronomic haven for tourists looking to see how their favourite wines are made. Couple this with world class food and this is an experience you simply must savour when visiting the region.
The French Atlantic coast of Nouvelle Aquitaine seems almost endless, starting in the port city of La Rochelle, winding its way down to the south at Bayonne, where the mix of French and Spanish culture combine with fantastic results.
History / Cuisine / Hikes / Local Markets / Wines
Waking up to the sound of grasshoppers, discovering miles of lavender landscapes, tasting the most exquisite rosé wine... Welcome to Provence.
Located just above the French Riviera in the South of France, the Provence doesn't have anything to envy to its neighbour. The capital of the region, Aix-en-Provence will charm you by its local markets full of colours and odours. From its olive oils to the famous Provençal herbs, you could lose yourself in a flavour explosion. Why not try the bouillabaisse, the daube or the... tropézienne?
And to help you digest, nothing like a walk in the middle of the beautiful nature. The Provence has its own Grand Canyon: the Verdon Gorges, a 25 kilometres-long canyon, 600 meters from top to bottom. After your long hike, you can rest at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a typical Provence village listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France (taste its handmade ice cream, it's delicious!). If you're not tired yet, the view from the top of Mont Ventoux, one of the Tour de France's stages, is amazing. But you've got to climb it first!
History / Castles / Wines / Cuisine
Who has never dreamed of being a prince or a princess for a day (or two)? The Loire Valley overflows with castles from Angers to Orléans, following the Loire river in central France, in a bit more than an hour from Paris by train. Whether you're an expert in French royalty, a fan of the tv show Reign or a reader of the comic book series Tintin, you'll find what you're looking for in the Loire Valley.
Start your castles' tour by the Château d'Angers and its Apocalypse tapestry, continue your visit with the Château de Cheverny which inspired Hergé, and finish by the most beautiful castle of all: the Château de Chambord, sitting just by the river. You won't regret it, promise.
But not only is the Loire Valley is known for its architecture, it is also famous for its wines. Called the Cradle of the French or even the Garden of France, you can't possibly miss all the vineyards and fields as far as the eye can see. Why not stop and enjoy a wine tasting? You'll be spoiled for choice, as tastes and colours are diverse. The Loire Valley's wines are among the best in France.
Skis / Hikes / Cuisine / Cities
Nature lovers, sports fans, here is your spot. From snowy mountains to green valleys, from Annecy's blue lake to Chamonix's view of the Mont Blanc, the French Alps will charm you by the diversity of its landscapes and for its fresh air.
In winter, get on your skis and snowboards. L'Alpe d'Huez, Courchevel or Val Thorens open their doors to you... or their numerous slopes. Miles of pistes stretch in front of you. Going in summer? Put your walking shoes on and go on an adventure among the chamois and groundhogs. The French Alps are perfect for hiking or rock climbing and, why not, going for a romantic picnic in the middle of nature.
But the Alps are not only made of mountains. Discover Annecy and have a walk along its famous lake. Get to know the region's cuisine: its fondue next to a fireplace, its raclette to taste with family and friends. All of this with a view on the Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe.
History / Cuisine / Beaches / Cities
Located in the North-West of France, Normandy might not have the best weather in the world but it certainly has the most beautiful landscapes and tasteful cheeses. Among them: the Camembert, king of cheeses. Cradle of the French literature, Normandy saw Guy de Maupassant and Gustave Flaubert, two famous French writers, grow up.
The capital of Normandy, Rouen will charm you by its beautiful paved streets and its cathedral. The city has a huge history to discover, including Joan of Arc's martyr. Following the Seine river to the ocean, Le Havre opens its shores and its delicious cuisine. Don't forget to try out the moules marinières! And, to digest, have a walk along Normandy's beaches. The white cliffs and World War II's mysteries are worth the detour.
You will also want to go South, near St-Malo and Pontorson. Unwind your cameras: the Mont-St-Michel, famous abbey-island, is one of the most photographed places in France. Accessible by a brand-new bridge built in 2014, the abbey is part of the World Heritage Site and is going to transport you to a few centuries in the past.
Trainline's mission is to help you save. Did you know that prices increase as the departure date approaches? Buying train tickets in advance save you a lot of money. Trainline will help you find the cheapest train tickets for journeys in France and will even tell you when the prices are about to increase.
Train tickets usually go on sale around three months before the date of travel. Book in advance to make sure to get the cheapest option as those tend to sell out, which leaves only the more expensive tickets.
When travelling in France, you can benefit from very cheap train tickets by travelling with the low-cost train service OUIGO. Intercités sleeper trains is also a great option for saving money both on train tickets and accommodation (you can go from Paris to Toulouse, Rodez, Briançon and Latour-de-Carol in both directions). When searching for tickets, we'll display all available tickets and options, highlighting the cheapest ones.
Have a look out for deals and offers. When travelling in a group of at least four people, you can benefit from group savings (Pack Tribu). And when travelling with your family, you can benefit from discounted child fares (children under four years old travel for free).
TGV and Intercités tickets can normally be booked up to three months in advance, except between mid-December and mid-January, when tickets go on sale two months in advance and during the holidays from February to April and in summer when the sale begins four months before the date of travel. The ticket price for TGV and Intercités trains increases as the train fills up and it gets closer to the departure date. Tickets for TER trains (regional) are always sold at a set price.
Discover more by reading our guide on cheap train tickets in France.
In Europe, there are many different train companies with their own ticketing and pricing systems, so using a single platform that connects them all to book your train tickets is the best way to go. You can download the Trainline app on your smartphone and check train times and ticket prices on the go, or go to Trainline.eu to plan your journey.
Have a look at our FAQ if you've got any further questions. Have a question that's not listed in the FAQ? Our customer service team is happy to help you out, please choose one of the options from our support page.
Once you've got your tickets, there's no need to worry about taking the train in France for the first time - it's very straightforward and staff at stations and on trains are there to help you navigate French rail.
We generally advise that you plan enough time to arrive at the station, find your platform and board the train. The same goes for journeys that require changes. When booking tickets for a non-direct train journey, we show you realistic options that give you enough time to change trains. Since most of the main train stations in France are very large, it might take up to 10 minutes to walk from a platform at one end of the station to another platform at the other end. Be sure to check out our station pages for more details including locations, facilities, train times and maps of French train stations.
You'll find electronic departure boards in most stations' entrance halls, showing live train times and platform information. Changes in train times such as delays and platform changes will be shown on departure boards as well as announced, usually in the local language via loudspeakers. Platforms are usually numbered continuously, starting with 1. Signage and station maps will lead the way. All the large French train stations are equipped with luggage storage facilities, toilets, shops and restaurants as well as ticket booking offices and information desks.
France has so many fantastic cities that it is difficult to name just one. But Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux are undoubtedly among those that attract the most people with their breathtaking architecture, their delicious food and relaxing way of life.
The City of Love. The City of Lights. You've certainly heard these nicknames so many times. Don't you think it is time for you to find out why? Booking a trip to Paris will allow you to discover the many faces of this fantastic city - which is by itself one of the main reason why France is the most visited country in this world...
Start your journey at the top of the Eiffel Tower, so you can have a glimpse of all the things waiting for you. Then go down and down again to visit the hidden Catacombs of Paris and go on a unique storytelling tour which takes you 135 feet below ground... Or head over the light of the iconic Pantheon's dome, before wandering through the Latin Quarter and marvelling at Notre-Dame Cathedral's Gothic masterpiece.
Once your eyes will be full of beauty, it'll be time to fill your stomach with French cuisine. Which obviously includes cakes, viennoiseries and chocolate. Paris is home of some of the most world-famous pastry chefs, and from the macarons of Laduree to the Ispahan of Pierre Hermé, your sugar fix is in good hands.
Do you want to experience the true French art de vivre? Look no further, Lyon is the next city on your travel list. There, all is culture and architecture, food, art and peace.
But first thing first. When in Lyon, your main preoccupation should be what's for lunch and dinner. Did you know this French city is the capital of gastronomy? The temptation is everywhere in the numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, the traditional bouchons (small bistros serving Lyonnaise cuisine), the prestigious indoor market Les Halles de Lyon, the outdoor markets and their regional products... As you can see, the list is endless. And how not to mention the Pope of French cuisine, Paul Bocuse, pioneer of the 'nouvelle cuisine' movement.
Now it's time for exploration. Without hesitation, head to the Vieux Lyon, one of the largest Renaissance neighbourhoods in Europe. We bet you'll immediately understand why this quarter is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can start filling you with wonder in front of the Romanesque and Gothic style of Saint-Jean Cathedral and of, before losing yourself in the charming 200 and something hidden passageways (traboules) revealing stunning courtyards, alleyways and staircases...
The first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Bordeaux is certainly the word 'wine'. And we honestly can't blame you. You're after all in the world's wine capital. So if you're into Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this city located in the southwest of France is definitely a key destination for you.
Many wine tours and wine tasting are organized in Bordeaux to make the most of your stay. Not only you'll become a fine Bordeaux wine expert, but you'll also visit some famous vineyards, châteaux (castles) or villages in the Aquitaine region according to the guided tour you'll fancy the most. And don't miss La Cité du Vin, a very modern and unique museum celebrating all things wine.
But even before drinking your first glass of wine, you'll fall in love with Bordeaux at first glimpse. The city is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site for its remarkable urban and architectural unity created in the Age of Enlightenment. The majestic 18th century Place de la Bourse, the impressive Palais Rohan or the largest city square in Western Europe called Place des Quinconces, are just some of the things that will blow you away.
Trainline and France.fr are partnering to show off the best of France this fall. The Côte d’Azur is glittering, with its seaside art de vivre in Nice and Fréjus and its living history as an artistic hotspot in Antibes and Cannes. And of course, the exquisite vineyards of Bordeaux and Cognac, as well as charming towns like Rochefort and fiercely beautiful Biarritz in Nouvelle Aquitaine, prove that La France is in bloom in autumn—and now reachable by bus or train from anywhere in Europe.