France by train

Your Eurail France Pass is the key to the world's most popular travel destination. Explore the romantic capital Paris, relax at the beach in the French Riviera and visit beautiful castles in the Loire Valley. Traveling by train through France is a guarantee for beautiful and varied scenery. (Please keep in mind that French high-speed and night trains always need reservations in advance and often have limited seating for Eurail pass holders.)

Train types in France
Domestic connections in France
International connections to and from France
Reservations for trains in France
Rail passes for France
Places to visit in France
Events in France
Benefits in France
More about France

France in images

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Mirror's Hall, Versailles

Mirror's Hall, Versailles

Vineyard in Bordeaux region

Vineyard in Bordeaux region

Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel

Cote d'Azur

Cote d'Azur

Train types in France


There are a number of train types in France ready to transport you both day and night. Most of the French network is operated by SNCF. Use the Eurail train timetable to check times for trains in France.


Regional and intercity trains in France

The main rail network in France is made up of the following regional trains and intercity trains:

  • TER trains link most French towns and cities and operate frequent services.

  • InterCité (intercity) trains connect the main towns and cities across France.


On the Eurail timetable regional trains appear as "RE". Reservations are not required for regional trains and most InterCité trains. View a map of InterCité trains that do require a reservation on the SNCF website (in French only).

High-speed trains in France

International high-speed trains in France

These high-speed trains operate to and from France:

  • Eurostar connects Paris and Lille to London (Great Britain) via the Channel Tunnel, and Lille to Brussels (Belgium).

  • Thalys links Paris to Amsterdam (Netherlands), Brussels (Belgium), Cologne (Germany).

  • TGV connects Paris to Luxembourg city (Luxembourg), Lille to Brussels (Belgium), Paris to Turin and Milan (Italy) and Paris to Figueres (Spain).

  • TGV Lyria links Paris to Geneva and Zurich (Switzerland).

  • ICE connects Paris to Frankfurt and Munich (Germany).

  • Renfe-SNCF en Cooperación connects Paris and Marseille to Barcelona and Madrid (Spain).


Domestic high-speed trains in France French TGV high-speed train

French domestic high-speed trains are run by TGV and travel at speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph). TGV trains transport passengers quickly and comfortably to cities across France, including from Paris to popular destinations like Bordeaux, Lyons (Lyon), Marseille and Nice.


TGV trains offer air-conditioning, large luggage racks, power sockets, plus refreshments and often a restaurant car.

On the Eurail timetable TGV trains are simply shown as “TGV”, Thalys as “THA”, ICE as “ICE”, Eurostar as “EST and Talgo du Jour as "TLG". These trains always require a reservation. Eurostar is not included in the Eurail pass, however travelers get a special fare.


Night trains in France

International night trains in France

The Thello night train operates on the following routes:

  • Paris – Milan – Verona – Venice

  • Paris – Florence – Rome


Eurail passes are not valid on the Thello as it is operated by a private railway company. 


Domestic night trains in France

The Intercités de Nuit night trains connect Paris to various destinations in the east, west and south of France, by night.


City Night Line trains appear on the Eurail timetable as "CNL" and Intercités de Nuit as "NZ". The Thello appears as "EN". You're required to book sleeping accommodation in advance.

Train stations of bordering countries

With a Eurail pass valid in France you can travel to the following train stations of countries that border France:

  • Basel (Switzerland)

  • Geneva (Switzerland)

  • Portbou (Spain)

  • Ventimiglia (Italy)



Eurail Passes valid in France are also valid in Monaco, a tiny city-state located on the French Riviera. Its location makes it the perfect stop-over between Nice and the Italian border (20 minutes by train either way). Make sure to visit the marina and the famous Monte Carlo casino!

Domestic connections in France

map with popular domestic routes in France

map with popular domestic routes in France

View approximate train travel times between top cities in France with regional and high-speed TGV trains:


From To High-speed train Regional train


5hr 36min

12hr 28min



3hr 19min

8hr 31min



1hr 58min

5hr 06min



3hr 05min

9hr 10min

International connections to and from France


We suggest the following routes to travel between France and other European countries:

  • Spain – France
    Travel between Paris and Barcelona by day on the direct Renfe-SNCF en Cooperación train (6hr 25min. Alternatively use the Talgo du Jour day train from Barcelona to Perpignan.

  • Germany – France
    Arrive in Paris on international trains from the German cities of Frankfurt (3hr 50min on ICE), Cologne (3hr 15min on Thalys) or Munich (6hr 10min on TGV).

  • Great Britain – France
    Arrive in Paris from London on the Eurostar high-speed train (2hr 15min). Eurostar is not included in the Eurail pass, but a special fare is available.

  • Belgium – France
    Arrive in Paris on the high-speed Thalys train from Brussels (1hr 20min). Alternatively take the TGV from Brussels to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport (1hr 35min); this train also continues direct to Marseille (5hr 30min).

  • Netherlands – France
    Arrive in Paris on the high-speed Thalys train from Amsterdam (3hr 30min).

  • Italy – France
    Take a regional train to Ventimiglia on the Italian border, followed by a direct InterCity train to Milan (4hr) or Genova (2hr), where you can connect to trains across Italy. There is also a  TGV between Paris and Turin (5hr 45min) or Paris and Milan (7hr 15min) (reservations are expensive for this train).
    View more train routes between France and Italy.

  • Switzerland – France
    Take a TGV from Paris to Geneva (3hr 5min) or a regional train from Lyons to Geneva (1hr 50min).

International ferry connections to and from France

You can also travel to and from France by ferry. Get a discount on specific routes with a Eurail pass.

  • Great Britain – France
    Travel with Irish Ferries from Rosslare in Ireland to Roscoff (18hr 30min) or Cherbourg (19hr 30min) in the north-west of France. Get a 30% discount with the Eurail pass.

Reservations for trains in France


Many French trains require an advance reservation, including TGV high-speed trains, all international high-speed trains, and night trains (prices depend on desired sleeping accommodation). You can make reservations up to 3 months in advance.

Please note that the number of seats available for Eurail pass holders is limited on TGV, Thalys trains, certain InterCité trains and the Paris-Frankfurt ICE train. We advise you to reserve these trains as soon as possible.


How to make reservations for French trains

You can make reservations for domestic and international high-speed trains and night trains:

  • Through our Reservation Service.

  • At a ticket desk or self-service machine at local train stations.

  • By phone through one of the railway call centers.


Find out more about reservations

Rail passes for France


Eurail passes including France let you see all of France's great cities like Paris, Lyon, Nice and Cannes. We offer passes that combine France with other European countries.


Rail pass options for France

  • Eurail Global Pass starting from USD$ 336 – be free to visit France and up to 27 other European countries.

  • Eurail Select Pass starting from USD$ 188 – this 2, 3 or 4-country pass combines France with bordering European countries.

France is not available as a One Country Pass.

Places to visit in France

Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower, Paris

Paris - a cultural center of the universe

The ‘city of lights’ is known for its art, architecture, fashion and cuisine. For centuries, the world standards for culture, cooking and couture have been led by the Parisians. And they wouldn’t have it any other way. The list of places to visit is almost endless: the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysée. Paris must be seen to be believed.

The Eiffel Tower is an 8-minute walk from train station Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel.

Chateau and vineyard in Margaux, Bordeaux
Chateau and vineyard in Margaux, Bordeaux

Docking at the Port of the Moon

The port city of Bordeaux offers natural and man-made wonders of all kinds. Known, of course, as one of the finest wine regions in all the world, you can spend your entire visit sipping vino. But set down your glass, and sample the sights and sounds of the city. With nearly 350 registered national monuments, the architecture of Bordeaux has remained virtually unchanged since the 18th century, except for a polish and shine.

Bordeaux train station Gare de Bordeaux-St. Jean is centrally located in the city.

The basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere, Lyon
The basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere, Lyon

History made real in Lyon

The centuries-old city of Lyon is a delight for the senses. Feast your eyes on the glorious landscapes, treat your taste buds to the sumptuous Beaujolais wines, breathe in the air as you sail along the rivers Rhone and Saône, and listen to the lessons of history in the centuries-old architecture, monuments and galleries. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Lyon has been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Station Lyon-St. Paul is in the center of the town, in walking distance of museums, galleries and monuments.

The Château of Versailles
The Château of Versailles

Regal rewards in Versailles

Come for the palace, stay for the passion. The Château of Versailles was once home to King Louis XVI and his extravagant wife Marie-Antoinette. Don’t miss the Hall of Mirrors and Marie-Antoinette’s elaborate gardens. In Versailles, you can stroll through the secret pedestrian pathways and discover craftsmen of all kinds. Artistry and function, architecture and beauty. 16th century style, and 21st century appeal.

It’s a 10-minute walk to the Château of Versailles from station Versailles-Rive Gauche.

Cap d'Antibes, Cote d'Azur
Cap d'Antibes, Cote d'Azur

Soul-quenching sun in the French Riviera

Stroll through the open markets and sip the local Bellet wine, explore the museums that fill the city, stretch out on your own piece of white sandy beach, or embark on a scuba-diving adventure, and you’ll know that Nice, and the rest of the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), is like heaven on earth. The people are as warm and breezy as the weather, and enjoyment is in high demand.

Station Nice-Ville sets you off in the center of town, at the heart of all the Riviera’s activities.

Events in France

Cannes Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

May 17 - May 28, 2017

The annual Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious and noteworthy festivals of its kind. Filmmakers, actors, directors and cinematographers from around the world will gather to discuss, create, and celebrate their mutual love of film.

Cannes is a 5 hr train ride from Paris.

Race track at the Grand Prix of Monaco
Race track at the Grand Prix of Monaco

Monaco Grand Prix

May 25 - May 28, 2017

One of the highlights of the Grand Prix calendar is Monaco’s street circuit. Get your hands on a ticket, make friends with a boat or apartment owner and be blown away by top views of one of the greatest Grand Prix races. Even if you don’t make it for the annual race, you can still take a leisurely stroll around this famous circuit.

The train brings you directly into the center of Monaco.

Concert during Paris Music Festival
Concert during Paris Music Festival

Paris Music Festival

June 21, 2017

During the Music Festival (Fête de la Musique), the city of lights becomes the city of sound. Everywhere you look – in every park, on every street corner, in all public amphitheaters and venues – the musicians of Paris (and the rest of the world) come alive. The festival is free, and it’s everywhere. Don’t miss it!

Use the capital’s extended public transport network to visit the festival sites.

Tour de France
Tour de France

Tour de France

July 1 - July 23, 2017

Founded in 1903, the Tour de France is the most famous cycling event in the world. 198 riders from 22 teams test their strength, stamina, will and passion as they ride through mountains, valleys, and all sorts of terrain for a shot at immortality. Each year, the Tour covers over 2,000 miles (3,218 km) of France, so there are lots of opportunities to get a glimpse.

Most French cities the tour passes can be reached by train. The best thing to do is check this year’s route and decide where you want to join the crowds.

Surf Festival, Biarritz
Surf Festival, Biarritz

Biarritz Surf Festival

July 8 - July 12, 2016

This popular surf festival, regarded as one of the highlights of the surf season includes competitions and shows. It attracts around 150,000 people each year. It’s as much about riding waves, as it is partying hard.

From Biarritz’s main train station take bus number 2 to the beachfront.

Bastille Day, Paris
Bastille Day, Paris

Bastille Day

July 14, 2017

The national celebration (La Fête Nationale) of the French Revolution and France’s eventual independence begins in the evening of the 14th. Just before nightfall, an impressive military parade along the Champs-Elysées gets the festivities started. That’s followed by an elaborate dance party and a spectacular fireworks show. Celebrations continue on through the 15th.

The Champs-Elysées can easily be reached by metro.

Paris beach along the Seine
Paris beach along the Seine

Paris Beach

July 20 - August 23, 2016

The Paris Plage is a man-made beach along the river Seine, and this year, along the Bassin de la Villette in north Paris. Music, cafes, games and activities have made this month-long celebration one of the most popular in Paris. Sip tropical cocktails and soak up the sun while it lasts!

The Paris Plage stretches from Pont de Sully to the Louvre. The many locations can be reached by metro.

Pass benefits in France


Ferry travel

Discounted ferry travel to Ireland is an extra benefit of a Eurail pass valid in France on these routes:

  • Roscoff – Rosslare (Ireland)

  • Cherbourg – Rosslare (Ireland)


Bus travel

Eurail pass holders also travel for free on these international bus routes:

  • Digne – St Auban

  • Digne – Veynes

  • Oloro – Canfranc (Spain)


See all pass benefits in France

More about France

French train station Gare de l'Est, Paris

French train station Gare de l'Est, Paris

Quick facts

  • Capital: Paris

  • Population: 65 million

  • Language: French

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)

  • Dialing code: +33

French hub stations

France has several hub stations in Paris including: Lyon, Nord, Austerlitz, Bercy, Est and Montparnasse. From these train stations it's possible to connect to trains to most of France's main cities.

Station facilities

The main train stations in France usually have excellent facilities, often including:

  • Luggage lockers

  • Foreign exchange desks

  • Restaurants and cafés

  • Tourist information offices

  • ATM cash machines

  • Elevators and escalators

  • Access for disabled passengers

Related pages

- Countries in Europe
- Countries in Europe
- Countries in Europe
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