French Trains: An In-depth Overview

An encyclopedia on French trains
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Trains are a type of transport or vehicles that carry goods, supplies (materials), and people from one place to another. They comprise wheels that run on rail tracks similar to cars on roads. Trains are the quickest transport on land to travel and shift the goods. Train stations are commonly located within several towns and cities and are increasingly evolving as part of larger transit networks. 

French Trains emit 7 to 11 times fewer GHGs per passenger/ km traveled than private transport and airplanes, making it the most efficient mode of motorized transport to passengers.

Huge mass production of goods is provided through trains like cement sacks, steel, and iron goods. People also use French trains regularly to transit faster and more efficiently to get to their workplace.

French trains also include several types such as bullet, metro, commuter, intercity trains, etc. Knowing what trains and their types are, let’s look more into the French trains in the country.

Trains of France

French trains
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Many nations around the world like Italy, Spain, Canada, and India are some of the nations which include trains and their services. France is one among the many countries and is also the trendiest country in the section of trains. Around 14,000 French trains are regulated daily. There are also roughly 3054 railway stations.

Seats on French Trains

There are numerous classes/seats on French trains like first-class and second-class seats. In first classes, all TGVs, include spacious seats with comforting armrests and are categorized as two plus one across the car width, meaning two on two seats with a single seat apart from the two seats.

Every seat has either a drop-down table leaving sufficient space for a laptop or a tablet, the seats facing from face to back, or a fixed table with a table light, the seats directed face to face. All 1st class seats possess charge wires for laptops & mobiles with European-style two-pin sockets.

When preparing a reservation, two by two seats facing seat backs in front are called Duo, and single seats facing a seat back in front are called solo.

Seconds seats on all TGVs include comfortable seats with armrests categorized as two plus two across the car width. There are drop-down tables massive enough for a laptop or a tablet although laptop/mobile power sockets are not always fitted in 2nd class. There are two toilets for each set of coaches in every aisle.

Routes and Speed of Trains in France

The railway routes in France, accentuate some of the most popular routes across the country, including high-speed, regional, and main international routes. Such as Paris to Bordeaux, Paris to Lyon. French trains have a terrific high-speed rail network.

All central cities in France have many high-speed connections to Paris each day. Some routes taken by high-speed French trains are High-speed trains TGV transiting for 300 kilometers per hour covering all major cities in France, Paris to Marseille, Paris to Nice.

Eurostar transited for 300 kilometers per hour in a high-speed train from Paris to London.

Train à Grande Vitesse

TGV Trains
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The TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse in French stands for “high-speed train”. It distinguishes the categories of trains available in France. They are being utilized in France. Also used for some traveling between France and England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

French trains usually travel at the speed between 270 km per hour and 320 km per hour. They were the fastest trains in the world, with their typical travel speed being 279,4 km per hour.

Train à Grande Vitesse was particularly used to deliver mail between Paris and Cavaillon. They were riding on speed lines during the night. But they stopped functioning in 2015.


Photo by Chris Munnik from Pexels
SNCF or Société National des Chemins de Fer Français operates a mixture or a chain of French trains network in France.
The SNCF includes varied types of French trains and delivers different services such as high-speed trains, regular, intercity, regional, local express, and low-priced French trains. The SNCF is the European leading corporation in the railway sector in France.
SNCF employs about 242.163 people throughout France and its provinces. The inclination of SNCF has highly rendered to labor unrest, which has been strengthened further by a gulf group formed between the workers and managers.
The social conflict with its collective bargaining has upstaged and resulted in negative effects both on service quality and on human relations in the company.
Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, SNCF operates a collection of trains in France. Several French trains deliver many services like high-speed trains, regular intercity expresses, and regional, local, and low-priced trains.
You need to know the types of trains in France to plan your trip, buy your ticket, and find the correct train platform/track on the french trains. This manual intends to give anyone evaluating rail travel in France a sharp conception of how the rail system works and just how ambiguous it is to buy tickets and travel by French Trains.

The Survey of SNCF

Across the board, 19% use railway services for suburban trips and around 12% for regional trips numerous times per month. In terms of punctuality and reliability, around 59% are satisfied with punctuality and dependability.

In terms of the provision of information, 55% are pleased with the provision of information during the journey and 60% are satisfied with the provision of information on connecting services with other modes of transport. 75% of them are satisfied with the ease of buying tickets, and 64% are pleased with the availability of tickets covering the entire journey.

In terms of cleanliness and maintenance, around 56% are satisfied with the cleanliness and proper maintenance of rail bearings, and 62% are pleased with the cleanliness and neat maintenance of stations. Around 41% of people are satisfied with internet services on the French trains. Only 38% of people are satisfied with the availability of addressing complaints.

Around 53% of people are pleased with the accessibility of railway platforms, and 41% of people are satisfied with the assistance of railway employees.

On-board Catering

When you travel within French cities, you can savor regional French cuisine even before you arrive. SNCF is devoted to offering high-quality onboard dining options that spot local specialties. Starting with an appetizer which is an organic fair-trade chocolate pudding, given on the French trains.

Then some organic crackers/biscuits with credible Comté cheese, French onions, and millet seed. The main course includes some multigrain salad with Périgord walnuts and creamy basil dressing.

Snacks as well such as Apple-lemon fruit purée with no added sugar, a packet of honey biscuits, and some kettle chips. 

Some beverages as well such as fresh Marmande tomato beverage, organic gleaming currant-leaf tea, Blanche de France wheat beer, and gourmet teas. Meals and snacks can be ordered anytime, from 3 months to 1 hour before your train departs, and they will bring your options right to your seat as soon as your journey starts.

The breakfast menu starts at 7.80 (€), the wake-up menu from 3.90 (€), the kid’s menu from 5.90 (€), the snack menu from 10.90 (€) ends counter menu from 11.90 (€).

Major Stations in France

France railway station
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Paris, the capital of France encompasses five major train stations that go beyond the Lle De France region. Some of the stations are Gare du Nord, Gare De l’Est, d’Austerlitz, Gare De Bercy, and Gare De Lyon.

The most prominent and active railway station in Europe is Gare du Nord which provides a hub for the trains entering and exiting Paris on the Eurostar. This railway station also enters Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Also comprising the local and national train lines, this station is always bustling bunch of activities with French trains.

The railway station “Gare de l’Est” is located within a short 10-minute walk from the other major station “Gare du Nord”. It is located a quick ten-minute walk from Gare du Nord (you can also take the bus or metro).

Gare d’Austerlitz is another active station, whose trains ride to the center of France, the Pyrenees, and Toulouse. Trains that go from France to Italy and burgundy comes from the are de Bercy. And French trains that transit to western and southwestern frame and Madrid come from on Gare Montparnasse.

Routes for Regional and Intercity Trains

Regional trains travel between small towns/villages and central cities. Intercity trains are for long-distance and remote places routes which are relatively fast and halt for a short time. They are supervised during the night shift durations in France.

The Station Facilities

The main train stations in France usually have the most exceptional facilities, including:

  • Lockers and safes for baggage, foreign currency exchange desks, restaurants and delis, ATM cash appliances, assistance and information office, elevators, and access to disabled passengers.
  • Most railway stations have cafeterias near them and the main stations in Paris have a large choice of restaurants, clubs, and snack lounges, most serving good food at a reasonable price. Such as the “Gare de Lyon” restaurant which is famous for its cuisines.
  • Most of the central railway stations include bathrooms and toilet facilities, including hair dryers, and showers, and some provide diaper-changing & feeding rooms. There is xerox, photocopying at almost all regional and inter-city railway stations.

Survey of Train Travels in France 

  • People use 9% of railway services for suburban trips at least once a week, 5% for traveling several times per month, 16% for several times per year, 21% for once a year or less, and 49% of people have never used rail for suburban trips on French trains.
  • People use 2% of railway services for regional trips at least once a week, 4% for traveling several times per month, 27% for several times per year, 29% for once a year or less, and 38% have never used rail services for regional trips.
  • People use 0% of railway services for international trips at least once a week, 0% for traveling several times per month 6% for several times per year, 17% for once a year or less, and 77% for people who have never used rail services for international trips. Comparison with the 2013 survey In France.

Comparison with the 2013 Survey In France

  • 74% are satisfied with the availability of thorough tickets in the railway stations, and about 9% of the total area is dissatisfied.

  • In terms of the availability of tickets for a journey using several modes of transport such as the metro, and bus, around 64% of the total area is satisfied with these services in France. 14% of the total area is dissatisfied.

  • In France, around 47% of the total are satisfied with the complaint handling mechanisms, and 21% are dissatisfied with this service in French Trains.

  • In France, about 73% are satisfied with the proper maintenance and cleanliness of railway stations. 21% of them are dissatisfied with the maintenance.

Survey on Booking and seats

  • In France, in terms of the availability of seats on French trains, about 75% are satisfied and 18% are dissatisfied.
  • In France, the average overall population satisfaction index with railway travel is 11.2.
  • In terms of accessibility of booking processes such as the pre-journey process, services of infrastructure, and assistance, about 60% of them are satisfied and 22% are dissatisfied with the accessibility of the booking process.
  • In terms of accessibility of information provided, around 51% are satisfied and 35% are dissatisfied. About 6% are not applicable regarding the accessibility of information provided.

International Routes

Popular International Routes by Train Travelers wishing to use French Trains for their visit to France from neighboring countries will find that Omio is a useful and convenient tool to use while booking their tickets. The main global routes that reach France usually depart and arrive from Lyon and Paris. Some of the most famous international routes by train go from London to Paris, Amsterdam to Paris, Brussels to Paris, Berlin to Lyon, Milan to Paris, and Barcelona to Paris.

A joint corporation between SNCF and the leading rail operator in Spain (Renfe), these high-speed trains connect primary cities in both nations such as Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and Marseille. The TGV company offers only a few routes as well, although it includes plans to expand its network of high-speed French trains in the future.

Major Cities

It is time to prepare for your future journey by French train and bus. SNCF Connect, the app with all the assistance you need to schedule, book, and manage short and long-distance journeys from A to Z. You can also go through 17 Famous French Towns To Visit if you want to use this opportunity to explore and experience the beautiful sights and places of France.

France launched its early high-speed rail route in 1981 and there is now the fastest TGV (Trains à Grande Vitesse) services connecting most major cities across the country.

France launched its early high-speed rail route in 1981 and there is now the fastest TGV (Trains à Grande Vitesse) services connecting most major cities across the country.

The brand new INOUI TGV was founded in 2019 offering greater comfort. However still, for many visitors, the highlight of train travel in France is exploring rustic routes with slower, regional express trains which drift from the Ouigo SNCF’s budget brand proposes eye-catching fares as low as 10 € to travel all way.

Frequent Users of Railway Services

  • In France, to go on holiday by French trains, around 34% of people frequently use French trains to go on holiday. Public transport is often utilized to get from residence to the railway station. In France, about 57% of people use a car or taxi to get home to the railway station. In terms of the provision of information in France, about 75% are satisfied, and a total of 19% are dissatisfied.
  • In terms of the provision of information in France, about 75% are satisfied, and a total of 19% are dissatisfied.
  • In France, to go on holiday by French trains, around 34% of people frequently use French trains to go on holiday. Public transport is often used to get from home to the railway station. In France, about 57% of people use a car or taxi to get home to the railway station.
  • In terms of the provision of information in France, about 75% are satisfied, and a total of 19% are dissatisfied.

Tour Destinations by Trains 

Discover the most promising sights in with these stunning destinations in France. Start your trip in beautiful Paris and let the train carry you down on a memorable journey from the littlest to the greatest things in France

Paris is known as the city of love, and it indeed is. Take a look underneath the infamous Eiffel tower and its sparkling sight, especially the night. The Louvre Museum is a must-visit if you go to Paris.

Relax and enjoy the splendid cafés and wine. Other places include Versailles, Mont Saint-Michel, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Nice, Lyon, Nantes and Rennes are some places you could tour while traveling on the French trains.

An In-depth Guide to High-class Speed of TGV Trains

TGV or Trains à Grande Vitesse is a high-class speed train from the SNCF chain of trains, running at up to 300 km/h (186 mph) on a system covering the towns and cities across broadly of France.

The French trains travel smoothly and quietly, providing a comfortable and relaxing trip to all the passengers. Seat reservation is important for every seat booked by every passenger on a specific train. The ticket fares of TGV are inexpensive as per booking timing as the ticket reserved earlier in advance provides the passengers a cost-efficient trip. Delay or halt in the booking will result in ticket fares being costly.

The booking for TGV French trains is opened 4 months earlier. Anyone from any city can book tickets in francs, euros, or even dollars, overseas through credit cards and online payment or buy on websites.


This guide aspires to give anyone considering rail travel in France a strong understanding of how the rail system operates and just how simple it is to buy tickets in 2nd class.

France’s train network is highly useful on any trip to France, even if you are only going to Paris, but to use the system best you must learn how it works. It varies depending on the type of train you are traveling on TGV – there is no baggage allowance, but you must be able to carry your bags yourself. Broader items should be compiled in the luggage racks at either end of the carriage and smaller items can be stored on the shelf above your seat.

Tickets can be collected at any central French station or in different cases printed out at home. As well as ascertaining French trains including TGV high-speed trains, French Railways have set up a secondary company called Ouigo to operate various cheap Ouigo-branded TGVs between Paris and Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, & Cannes.

Language problems: First-time travelers often think this will be a situation, but it barely ever is. At stations, poster signs usually in English as well as French, or easy-to-understand pictograms are used.

Food & drinks on French trains: Most long-distance trains have a cafe, or bar, serving tea, coffee, & snacks. French domestic trains no longer have restaurant cars, though limited main Monday-Friday services propose pre-bookable meals in first class.

TGV Routes

The routes are Bordeaux, Lyon, and Marseille or see a movie in the world-famous Cannes. The global TGV services connect France with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

In the north, there are global connections to Brussels in Luxembourg and Belgium. In the east, the TGV can take you to different German cities like Munich & Frankfurt. SNCF operates 4 central rail services in France, which correlate together with the major cities of France.

With TGV, you can travel to more than 230 destinations in France and Europe. TER is the provincial network for local trips in the various regions of France. 20 regions are served by the TER. You can book a seat where the trains have been provided with a distinguished seat numbering system.


Alstom is a French multinational manufacturing company operating internationally in the region of rail transport. Being active in the operating of passenger transportation, controlling locomotives with various goods and supplies including the AGV, TGV, and new Pendolino high-speed trains, and extension to Regional French trains.

Alstom’s investments are equal to 30.52 billion euros within the year 2020-2021 and its total equity is estimated at over 9.02 billion euros. It was originally established by a merger between Compagnie Française and Thomson-Houston.

It is easy to discover Paris via French trains. France initiated the first high-speed rail route in 1981. The TGV service has been expanded to many primary towns around the nation and the network is constantly improving. In 2019, India TGV has been initiated and offers enhanced comfort.


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