High-Speed Trains From Paris That Take You To The Rest Of France

With the most extensive railway network in western Europe, Paris trains can get you to all of the other parts of France — quickly and in comfort. But the excellent rail service is confined to France. From the Paris gares high-speed trains depart for London, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the rest of Europe.

There are various categories of trains from run from Paris under a somewhat confusing passel of monikers — Eurostar, Thalys, TGV, Elipsos. All we ever remember, though, is that the trains taking us to distant locations are all high speed and all comfortable. That's all you really need to know. Nonetheless, we'll give you a bit more information about them and the stations they depart from.

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Train Stations in Paris

Hall 1 at Gare de Lyon in 2006, photo by Mark Craft Gare de Lyon in 2006, photo by Mark Craft

There are six major Paris train stations, where you can board trains to all other parts of France and the rest of Europe. Each of the Paris gares his connected to the Paris Metro as well as the RER urban train system. Each station specializes in specific destinations.

  • Gare de l'Est services eastern France, including the Champagne country, and beyond to Germany.
  • Gare de Lyon is the hub for destinations in the southeast, like Lyon, Avignon, Marseilles, Nice.
  • Gare d'Austerlitz will get you to Tours, Toulouse, Orleans and even as far as Barcelona and Madrid.
  • Gare Montparnasse provides service to southwestern cities, including Bordeaux.
  • Gare du Nord destinations include London, Amiens, Brussels, and Cologne
  • Gare Lazare serves Normandy destinations like Caen, Rouen, and Cherbourg.

Glossary of Paris Trains

Eurostar

Paris Trains, Eurostar

These fast, first-class trains get you to London &or Brussels from Paris in record time. There is also Eurostar service to Ashford, Lille, Calais, Avignon, and even (apparently) Disneyland Paris. The Eurostar station in Paris is Gare du Nord.

Thalys

Paris Trains, Thalys

These high-speed trains provide direct service to sixteen cities in northern Europe. Imagine Paris to Brussels in less than ninety minutes. It's recommended you book your tickets in advance to get the best available discounts. The Thalys trains can get you to and from — Aix-en-Provence, Marseilles, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, Liege, Dusseldorf, and a dozen other destinations in France and Europe.

TGV

TGV

We use the TGV all the time when we're in France, to get from almost any place in the country to any other place in record time. High-speed TGV trains offer premier service, connecting to more than 200 French cities. For the best deal, book your TGV tickets as early as you can. TGV train stations include Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, and Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Renfe – SNCF Elipsos

Elipsos

This cooperative project between Spain's Renfe and France's SNCF gets travelers to and from Spain. Not only will you save money on a hotel by choosing an Elipsos package, you'll travel in comfort from Paris to Barcelona or Madrid. You arrive in the center of those cities, with no need to transfer from airports.

Paris Trains – Tips

Hall 1 at Gare de Lyon, photo by Mark Craft Gare de Lyon departures board, 2017, photo by Mark Craft

You must validate your train tickets (except print-at-home or e-tickets) just before you board your train. Place your ticket into the small yellow machines marked "Composez votre billet" found at the entrance of the platform. You could face a fine if you don't validate.

Always carry valid identification like your passport when traveling on French trains. You could be asked to present it to the conductor.

Most trains have a café/bar offering sandwiches, wine, beer and snacks. However, our favorite thing to do is to bring our own sandwich with us along with a bottle of wine. It's one of the only countries that allows this. Vive la France!

You don't check your bags before you board. There are no baggage fees or weight limits, however, you have to be able to carry on your own luggage. Store your luggage on the racks at the end of each car. Carry-on-size luggage can be placed above your seat on the overhead storage.

Bring your bicycle along for free on most suburban and regional trains. On Intercités de Nuits (overnight trains) and certain TGVs you will have to pay a small fee. Fifi, your poodle, can accompany you on all trains. There may be a small fee.

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