Barcelona to Marseille
The starting point for any train journey from Barcelona to France is Barcelona Sants station, one of the city's largest and biggest transport hubs. If your French destination is Marseille, there's one direct train daily from Barcelona to Marseille. Direct trips take just 4h 35m. There are several other options which involve a change in Narbonne. Book in advance and reserve your seat on a specific train for the best value fares. If you're planning on exploring France more extensively, or even beyond, look into Interrail passes for near-unlimited train travel over a set period.
Marseille's history as a port city goes back centuries, and the Old Port area is the best place to begin a visit. While you're in the area, pop into the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, or MUCEM. Once you've had your fill of Mediterranean history, find a little bistro and feast on Marseille's most famous dish, bouillabaisse. Some of the city's best bars and restaurants are clustered here in the Old Port area.
For an adventure off the beaten path, take the Marseille metro to Rond Point du Prado, then bus 23 to the end of the line. You'll see the trail markers for the Calanques National Park. A 45-minute walk takes you through limestone gorges to Sormiou Beach. The turquoise waters are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. If you prefer a more leisurely excursion, see the Calanques on an organised boat tour leaving from Marseille's city centre.
One of the best day trips from Marseille is inland, to the town of Aix-en-Provence. Spend some time strolling along its historic streets and soaking up the quintessentially French atmosphere. Don't miss the Cours Mirabeau, an elegant tree-lined boulevard dotted with fountains. This is where you'll find the town's best restaurants and pavement cafes. Grab a coffee or a croque monsieur, and watch the world go by until it's time to hop back on the train to Marseille. Or why not mooch around Aix-en-Provence's many antique shops or boutiques? You're guaranteed to find a unique souvenir of your visit to Provence to take back home with you.
Barcelona to Nice
With Nice a bit further up the coast from Marseille, the train trip from Barcelona to Nice is similar. There are no direct services, so you'll have to change in Marseille if you take the direct service there from Spain. There's a wider choice of departures, however, if you change first in Narbonne and again in Marseille. The first train leaves Barcelona at 08:00, and the fastest journey time, including connections, is around 8h 30m.
Nice is the biggest city on the Cote D'Azur, famous for its 7km long beach and its glamourous reputation. Join the beautiful people in a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, or wander through the narrow streets of the old town in search of shopping bargains. Nice's main beach is right in the city centre. If you're looking to hit the beaches for a bit of sunbathing and swimming, you won't have to walk far from any central accommodation for some fun in the sun.
Nice's sunny climate has many strong associations with various artists. The Marc Chagall National Museum and the Matisse Museum are well worth a look in town. Whatever time of year you visit, there's likely to be something going on, as Nice hosts over 2,000 events every year. Carnival in February is one of the biggest, followed by the summer Jazz Festival and the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Nice gave its name to the Niçoise salad, and you can find this combination of tuna, egg, and olives on seemingly every bistro menu here in town. If you're looking to eat like a local, look out for socca, a pizza-like snack made from chickpea flour. It's perfect with a glass of local beer. Alternatively, try pissaladière, a thick dough-based dish with caramelised onions and olives. Most of Nice's best bars and restaurants are located on the streets between the beach and the Old Port area.
If you fancy a bit of celebrity glitz, take a quick trip down the coast to the chic town of Cannes, which hosts its renowned film festival every May. A nice pair of sunglasses is an absolute fashion starter for any Cannes visit. Strut along the promenade, shop in the trendy boutiques and sip a drink in a pavement cafe just like the stars do.
Barcelona to Lyon
Lyon is one of eastern France's major cities, known for its culture and cuisine. It also makes a great stopping-off point if you're planning on heading into the Alps or onwards to Switzerland. Direct trains from Barcelona to Lyon take just under 5h. There's only one direct service per day, but making a connection in Montpellier is another convenient option that adds only a few minutes to your journey time. The French high-speed TGV service whizzes you through the French countryside at speeds of up to 280 km/h.
There are two main things Lyon is famous for – history and great food. Lyon's city centre is so historically significant that the entire district has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When it comes to food, you'll be spoilt for choice with a wide range of restaurants. There's everything from Michelin-starred fine dining to pop-up restaurants where the cooking is done by some of France's best up-and-coming chefs.
One of Lyon's best attractions is the Musée des Confluences, located at the tip of an island where the Rhône and Saône rivers converge. The science and anthropology exhibitions inside are very interesting, but the museum's most striking attraction is the space-age architecture of the building itself. It's the perfect place for taking a few selfies and soaking up vistas of the river. Another great viewpoint is from the top of the Fourvière Basilica, where you can enjoy amazing views of the city.
Barcelona to Paris
In just 6h 25m, a direct high-speed train will take you from Barcelona to Paris. There are direct departures from Barcelona Sants each day at 09:25, 13:20 and 16:20. All services from Barcelona to the French capital pull into the Gare De Lyon station, one of France's busiest railway hubs. Another good option if you're looking for a train from Barcelona to France is a sleeper service. There aren't many of these domestic sleeper services still operating in France, but those that do will be well-suited for your needs. You'll arrive in Paris early in the morning ready for a full day's sightseeing, and you'll save money on accommodation for a night.
There's so much to do in Paris that choosing what to do might be a challenge. Of course, you'll need to tick off the classic attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, and Champs-Elysees. But delve a little deeper and look for those hidden corners of Paris visitors often miss. The Parc de Bercy is right on the banks of the river Seine, with three separate garden areas covering different themes. Walk across the footbridge to the National Library of France for impressive views along the river in both directions. Rue Mouffetard, in the 5th arrondissement south of the Seine, is one of the city's oldest streets. It's packed with shops, boutiques, and little restaurants churning out crepes and waffles.
Train travel is the ideal way to get between Spain and France. Both countries have high-speed rail networks offering cross-border services, making your journey fast, convenient, and affordable. What more could you ask for? For more information on making the most of your trip from Barcelona to France, visit our website.