The French Trains and more precisely the French rail network is excellent and concentrated. It is under the control of the SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fers français – National Company of the Railroads French), created in 1973 by the merge of several trains companies.
Some lines, non profitable, has been closed, but SNCF has organised bus services. The best lines are the bid ones from Paris, and the TGV modern network is in full expansion.
French Trains and foreign countries
The six Parisians stations ensure the connections towards all the European countries. From now on, thank to the Channel tunnel and the Eurostar, England is serve by the “Gare du Nord” at Paris to the Waterloo Station at London, without any change, in 3h.
The “Gare du Nord” also ensures direct connections with Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow.
The “Gare de Lyon”, which is the biggest train station of Paris, serves the Southeast of the country, the Alps, Switzerland, Italia and Greece.
The “Gare d’Austerlitz”, its neighbour, serves the Southwest of the country, the Pyrenees, Spain and Portugal.
The “Gare de l’Est” serves a part of Switzerland and Deutschland, Austria, and other eastern countries.
The “Gare St Lazare”, who serves the Normandy, knows a very activity with the suburbs network.
The “Gare Montparnasse” serves now the Southwest, with the Atlantic TGV.
France by the train
The French Trains have, since a long time, a reputation of punctuality. The TER (Trains Express Régionaux – Regional Express Trains) serves the regional and local connections. The suburbs network is very concentrated in Paris.
The service “Train-Auto-Couchettes” (train-car-berth) allows you to take a train the evening and to find its car the following day. But you a=have to reserve, mostly during the summer. The tariffs are different following the distance, the day of the travel and the length of the vehicle.
The formats “Train + Auto” (train + car) and “Train + Vélo” (train + bicycle) allow to rent, at the destination station, a car or a bicycle. The format “Train + Hotel” allow you to travel and to be in a hotel where your room is reserve.
Considering the duration of certain trips, the night trip can prove to be a good solution. You can travel or in berth, or in more comfortable space for two persons. Most of the time, the TGV possesses a coach bar.
The French Trains SNCF tariffs changes following the periods of multitude. Normally, the base tariff takes into account the mileage, the chosen class, the supplement for the reservation and the gain time if you take the TGV. You can have some reductions according to many parameters: age of the traveller, reductions cards…
You will find, in the most important stations, cash dispenser who can allow you to buy your ticket and to reserve your place. These machines accept the cash and card payment. You can also reserve your place by phone, by Internet or simply going to the SNCF counters.
The reservations are compulsory in the TGV lines. The train tickets have to be perforate before being in the train. The daters are orange machines, which are in the stations close the platform. You have to engage the ticket in the slit, side printed upward, until the catch. The composting (compulsory), punch the ticket and write the date on.
The SNCF built its reputation on the punctuality. Don’t hope to travel if you come late to the stations.
The presence of an animal in the French Trains is a tolerance. You can’t impose it to the other travellers. For the small pets (less than 6 kg) transport in a bag, you will pay 2.50 € (2.80 £). For the bigger, the owners will have to buy a ticket half price. In the berth, having a pet is completely forbidden, except if you are the only occupant.
Get French lessons and verbs emailed direct to you free
Get lots of useful French lessons and French verbs sent to you each week free by email, from the 200 Words a Day accelerated language learning team. Great for learning, review and consolidating your French knowledge.
Yes, send me my free Learn French newsletters. My details are:
Your privacy is important to us. We do not sell our mailing lists.