French railway stations are considered one of the best in the world. There are thousands of rail lines throughout the country, including over 1,056 miles of tracks dedicated to high-speed trains. These are very fast, efficient and very easy to travel across France.
Modern rail system
The French government has invested huge amount of finances to keep the rail system in France modern and up to date. Most carriages offer comfortable seating, wireless internet access, and upper decks to enjoy excellent views.
You can easily purchase tickets online or in automated machines which are available at all platforms to validate your ticket prior to boarding. It is worth to be noted that France’s capital city, Paris, does not have one centralized train station. Instead, France rail travel lines run through one of several stations located throughout the city, depending on their departure and/or their destination.
Types of trains in France
There are four main types of trains in France rail system. Transport express regional (TER) is a system of 21 regional networks that connect smaller towns and villages via shorter distances. Nine of these lines are known as Tourist Trains, such as the Train des Merveilles, running throughout the French Riviera. Intercités trains connect slightly longer distances between larger cities, such as Bordeaux, Lyon, and Amiens. Intercités are non-high speed trains that run on the standard rail network. A sleeper train called the AutoTrain carries passengers and cars from Paris to the south of France.
The most popular and well-known type of rail travel in France is called the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). These trains run for long distances at high speeds and connect large cities throughout France. For this kind of trains there are special high speed lines (LGV – Ligne à Grande Vitesse).
Some TGV extend into other European countries. For example, the Eurostar runs to London and the Lyria runs to Switzerland.
The structure of rail travel in France is currently undergoing some major changes to make it more competitive with low cost airlines. From April 2013, specially designated high-speed trains called “Ouigo” will offer lower prices on second-class seats. To cut costs, there will be no food offered on board, and other amenities like extra baggage and internet access will only be available for an additional fee.