Travel by Train from Paris
by Youliana Veltcheva
February 6, 2020
With so many choices of transportation, ranging from airplane, car, taxi, bus/shuttle, even bicycles for shorter trips, to passenger trains or fast speed bullet trains, it could be sometimes overwhelming for tourists to make a decision of how to get from city to city in France without hustle, quickly, on budget, and reliably. But in reality, everything boils down to where you want to go and how much time you want to spend getting there within your budget.
Overall, the best way to get places, which is also the fastest, and fairly inexpensive, in particular when traveling between distant cities is to use the TGV trains. They are high-speed bullet trains, running on electricity and reaching speeds of up to 320 km/hr on some of the high-speed tracks, known as Ligne á Grande Vitesse or LGV.
Example trips from Paris - miles and duration of travel
We’ve picked a few destinations that are great for a day trip from Paris
and are especially well-suited to get to by train.
- Paris (Gare de Lyon) - Zurich - 4,04 hours, 304 miles
- Paris (Gare de Nord) - Brussels - 1,22 hours, 164 miles
- Paris (Gare de Nord) - London - 2,15 hours, 214 miles
- Paris(Gare de Montparnasse) - Mont Saint Michel via the city of Rennes - 1,25 hours, 224 miles
- Paris (Gare de Lyon) - Beaune, Burgundy - 2,5 hours, 171 miles
- Paris (Gare de Lyon) - Dijon - 2 hours, 194 miles
- Paris (Gare du Nord) - Chantilly (Gouvieux station) - 23 minutes, 26 miles
- Paris (Gare de l’Est Line P) - Verneuil l’Etang station - 35 minutes + Châteaubus” shuttle to Vaux-le-Vicomte - 15 minutes, 37 miles
- Paris (Gare de Nord) - Bruges 2,26hours, 180 miles
- Paris (Gare d'Est) - Strasbourg - 1,45 hours, 303 miles
- Paris(Gare de Montparnasse) - Loire Valley Orleans 1,04 hours, 81 miles
- Paris(Gare de Montparnasse) - Loire Valley Tours 1,12 hours, 147 miles
- Paris (Gare de Montparnasse) - Lourdes 4,43 hrs, 513 miles
If you've decided to travel around France and explore the beautiful French countryside you will save time for your trip and be able to fit as much as possible if you choose the TGV.
Here’s a simple guide to using the TGV:
Make a reservation at least a month, better yet three months from your desired travel dates to get the best rates.
Visit the SNCF website or Rail Europe (which costs a little more) and enter your destination and dates of travel to see the schedules and prices to choose what suits you the best.
Make sure you have passport, visa and all necessities with you at all times.
Why we favor TGV trains to other forms of transportation:
- The main train station where you depart and where you arrive, are often located close to the center of most European cities. Therefore, it is very conveniently located close to main attractions and lodging accommodations as opposed to budget European airlines, which oftentimes land at inconveniently located remote airports, that in the end cost more as you need taxis or additional transportation options to reach your destination.
- Avoid the inevitable traffic jams when entering and leaving Paris.
Driving in and out of Paris could be stressful and intimidating. Usually, traffic jams are taking away precious time from your vacation that you can be spending sightseeing or relaxing.
- Also, the train is one of the safest forms of transportation in the world
You don’t have to worry about having a car accident or dinging your rental car.
- Your departure and return times are respected.
You know exactly when you will arrive and that way you can better organize your time for specific attractions you plan on seeing or other visits.
- You travel more comfortably.
Unless you prefer to be squeezed in the back of a minibus for several hours, the train allows you to move around for a coffee at the bar car, for example.
- You arrive faster at the site of the visit. Compared to driving a car or taking the bus, train travel gives you more time to enjoy your time at your destination of choice.
For instance, the round trip to Mont St-Michel takes three hours vs eight hours if you choose to do a group tour by minibus.
- You can go to more distant places like Lourdes or Burgundy in just one day.
- You can mix in with the locals. That way you can experience the "french" way of life.
Negatives associated with TGV train travel:
To be impartial we will also list some things to be cautious when using the TGV, reported on Tripadvisor
- Service might be canceled or delayed due to strikes, train maintenance, etc with no reimbursement.
- There might not be enough room for larger bags and personnel to address issues that come up on the train.
- Some passengers report pickpocketers, cleanliness (unsanitary toilets), and service-related (rude service, etc) issues.
- Booking outside of France can be problematic as there are no electronic tickets.
- The buffet can run out of snacks for the longer duration rides.
The TGV trains reach the neighbouring countries, including Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. TGV-derivative networks link France to Switzerland (via Lyria), to Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands (via Thalys), as well as to the United Kingdom (via Eurostar). The TGV services over 110 million passengers every year and has never had an accident.
SNCF and Alstom started the development and design of the next generation of TGVs in 2016 in a joint effort to create better trainsets. Their goals were reducing purchase and operating costs and improving the interior design. In July of 2018 SNCF ordered 100 trainsets of the new design, named Avelia Horizon with deliveries expected to begin in 2023.