Tour France By Rail
France is the largest nation in western Europe so train travel makes sense. Happily so, France has a fast and efficient train system and the French government has invested massively in high-speed trains (the TGV train or Train a Grande Vitesse), and on high-speed lines (LGV or igne à Grande VitesseL).
There are over 1700 km (1056 miles) of dedicated high-speed lines and thousands more of main lines and smaller lines so almost everywhere is accessible by train travel in France. The French rail network links all the major towns while also linking up many small towns in rural France. With careful planning, you can get around just using train travel during your vacation. Generally, the trains are on time, comfortable and relatively cheap. However, some trains run only at certain times on certain days, so you need very careful planning if you are traveling in rural France by train.
Like many capital cities, Paris suffers from having no central railway hub, but a number of mainline termini. Here are some of the main destinations served from the main stations.
All types of trains run in France, from the impressive TGV train and other high-speed trains to smaller branch lines. While there are still some lines operating old carriages, most of the trains are now comfortable, modern and have high tech additions like WiFi. Many have massive picture windows along the sides; others have an upper deck which gives you a wonderful view of the French countryside you are powering through.
The main types of trains in France are:
TGV train technology is used by other national rail carriers in Europe
How and Where to Buy Tickets
Like most countries, ticket prices vary widely. If you can book early you will get good bargains, but you may well have to stick to a specific time. If you book that and miss the train, you may not get reimbursed.
Ticket prices are no higher on a TGV or express train than on a normal local line. And to compete with the low-cost airlines, TGV trains offer good prices for early bookings, and for the less popular times of trains. Internet booking is always a good idea.
All French train tickets can also be ordered online and you can then print them out on your computer as an e-ticket, exactly as the airlines do.
Train Station Tips
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