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Making Reservations on French Trains

Many French trains need to be reserved in advance, and seats can be limited at times. Make your train trips in France comfortable and reserve your seats before the journey even begins! Most French high-speed trains and night trains can be reserved up to 2 months in advance.


The video below tells you more about train travel in France and making reservations.

French trains with limited seats for Eurail Pass Holders

 

It’s good to know that the number of seats available for Eurail Pass Holders is limited on the following trains:

 

We highly recommend you reserve these trains as soon as possible. If you leave booking these reservations too late, there’s a big chance the allocation of seats to Eurail Pass Holders will be full. Reservations on the above trains can be made up to 2 months in advance.

Regional trains in France

 

The train you want to take may be fully booked, or you may want to avoid having to pay the additional reservation fees. In these cases, we recommend using regional trains that don’t require a reservation.

This can mean a few more train transfers and longer journey times, but it also gives you the chance to see more of the beautiful French countryside. It’s not always possible to avoid trains with reservations, but it’s always worth checking. Simply toggle on the ‘No reservation needed’ button on the Eurail timetable.

For more information, visit France by train.

Alternative routes for French trains

 

If the French train you want to take is full, you‘ll need to find a different way to make your journey. We’ve researched the 10 most popular French train routes, domestic and international. We show the fastest option using trains with limited seats for pass holders, as well as some alternative options.

Please keep in mind that train durations stated are approximate and include the time it takes to change trains.

Paris to Amsterdam

Fastest route

  • Travelling from Paris Nord to Amsterdam Central is fastest with the Eurostar high-speed train

  • Travel time: 3h 20m

  • Reservations are mandatory. Please note there are limited seats for people traveling with a Eurail Pass.


Alternative route (with some reservations)

  • Paris Nord to Lille Flandres – TGV* – 1h 5m
  • Lille Flandres – Kortrijk – TER – 35m
  • Kortrijk to Antwerp Central – InterCity – 1h 25m
  • Antwerp Central to Amsterdam Central – InterCity – 1h 50m

Total average travel time: 6h

 

*Reservation type: Mandatory; Limited seats for people with a Eurail Pass.

Paris to Barcelona

Fastest route

  • Travelling from Paris Gare de Lyon to Barcelona Sants is fastest with the TGV high speed train
  • Travel time: 6hr 30min
  • Reservations are mandatory. Please note there are limited seats for people travelling with a Eurail Pass.

Use the Intercités de Nuit as an alternative route to Barcelona

 

Both the night trains to Latour de Carol and Cerbère are good alternatives for the busy TGV route to Barcelona.

  • Search for Paris to Latour de Carol in our timetable and find the local train to Barcelona on the Rodalies website (‘La Tor de Querol-Enveitg’).
  • Search for Paris to Cerbere and Cerbere to Barcelona in separate enquiries in our timetable. This train only runs daily during summer season.

 

Alternative route by TGV (with some reservations)

  • Paris Lyon to Perpignan – TGV – 5hrs
  • Perpignan – Barcelona via Port Bou – Regional Rodalies – 3h 45m*

Total train travel time: 10h (including train transfer time)

 

*Search for Perpignan-Barcelona in a separate enquiry and deselect High Speed Trains

Paris to Brussels

Fastest route

  • Traveling from Paris Nord to Bruxelles Midi is fastest with the Eurostar high-speed train

  • Travel time: 1h 25m

  • Reservations are mandatory. Please note there are limited seats for people traveling with a Eurail Pass.


Alternative route (no reservations)

  • Paris Nord to Maubeuge – TER – 2h
  • Maubeuge to Charleroi – TER – 55 m
  • Charleroi – Bruxelles Midi – InterCity – 50m

Total travel time: 4h 28m

Paris to Frankfurt

Fastest route

  • Travelling from Paris Est to Frankfurt Main is fastest by ICE or TGV* high-speed train

  • Travel time: 4 hours

  • Reservations are mandatory for the ICE and TGV trains. Please note there are limited seats for people traveling with an Eurail Pass

 

Alternative route (no reservations)

  1. Paris est to Chalons en Champagne - TER - 1hr 35min
  2. Chalons en Champagne to Metz Ville - TER - 1hr 40min
  3. Metz Ville to Strasbourg - TER - 1hr 45min
  4. Strasbourg to Offenburg - TER - 30min
  5. Offenburg to Frankfurt (Main) Hbf - InterCity - 1hr 45min

Total train travel time: 8hr 40min

Marseille to Geneva

Fastest route

From  To Train type Travel time
Marseilles St Charles Geneva High-speed TGV* 3hr 40min

*Reservation type: Mandatory

 

Alternative (no reservations)

From  To Train type Travel time
Marseilles st Charles Valence Ville TER 2hr 25min
Valence Ville Geneve TER 3hr 15min
      5hr 55min

 

Paris to Milan

Fastest route

From  To Train type Travel time
Paris Gare de Lyon Milano P. Garibaldi High-speed TGV 7hr 10min

 

Alternative route (with some reservations)

From To Train type Travel time
Paris Austerlitz Nice Ville Intercité de Nuit* 11hr 25min
Nice Ville Ventimiglia TER 50min
Ventimiglia Milano Centrale InterCity** 3hr 50min
      17hr 30min

*Reservation type: Mandatory; limited seats for pass holders
**Reservation type: Recommended

 

Alternative route (no reservations)

From To Train type Travel time
Paris Bercy Lyon Part Dieu TER 5hr 50min
Lyon Part Dieu Marseille St Charles TER 3hr 35min
Marseille St Charles Nice Ville TER 2hr 35min
Nice Ville  Ventimiglia TER 50min
Ventimiglia Milano Rogoredo   4hr 20min
      25hr 45min

 

Traveling 25 hours might not be something everyone is willing to do. However, instead of making the journey in one go you could also decide to make a stopover on the route and continue traveling the next day. How about having an early breakfast in Paris then have dinner in Marseille, continue your travels to Nice. Spend a bit of time discovering the beach city of Nice before continuing on to Milan. 

Paris to Zurich

Fastest route

Paris Gare de Lyon to Zurich Hb - High-speed TGV* - 4hr 5min

*Reservation type: Mandatory

 

Alternative route (some reservations)

  1. Paris Est to Belfort Ville - InterCités

From  To Train type Travel time
Paris Est Belfort Ville Intercités* 4hr 5min
Belfort Ville Mulhouse Ville TER 35min
Mulhouse Ville Basel SBB TER 25min
Basel SBB Olten InterCity 25min
Olten Zurich Hb InterCity 30min
      8hr 20min

*Reservation type: Mandatory; limited seats for Pass holders

Paris to Bordeaux

Fastest route

Paris Montparnasse to Bordeaux St Jean - High-speed TGV* - 3hr 15min

*Reservation type: Mandatory

 

Alternative route (some reservations)

  1. Paris Austerlitz to Vierzon Ville - InterCités - 1hr 40min

  2. Vierzon Ville to Limoges Benedictins - TER - 2hr 5min

  3. Limoges Benedictins to Périgueux- TER - 1hr 20min

  4. Périgueux to Bordeaux St Jean - TER - 1hr 25min

     

    Total travel time: 6hr 30min

Paris to Marseille

Fastest route

Paris Gare de Lyon to Marseille St Charles - High-speed TGV* - 3hr 20min

*Reservation type: Mandatory

 

Alternative route (no reservations)

  1. Paris Bercy to Lyon Part Dieu - TER - 5hr 5min

  2. Lyon Part Dieu to Marseille St Charles - TER - 3hr 35min

     

    Total train travel time: 8hr 40min

Paris to Nice

Fastest route

Paris Gare de Lyon to Nice-Ville - High-speed TGV* - 5hr 40min

*Reservation type: Mandatory.


Alternative route (with some reservations)

  1. Paris Bercy to Lyon Part Dieu - TER - 5hr 5min

  2. Lyon Part Dieu to Marseille St Charles - TER - 3hr 35min

  3. Marseille St Charles to Nice Ville - TER - 2hr 35min

     

    Total train travel time: 11hr 10min