France has an excellent rail network from Paris to all the major french cities with TGV connections, using dedicated high speed lines (up to 270 mph on the Est line to eastern France) as well as conventional track. Trains can get very busy at peak times so it is advisable to reserve seats. Prior reservation is compulsory on the TGV services and is included in the ticket price.
If customers are travelling on rail passes they will have to pay for a reservation for the TGV trains.
Reservations are also compulsory on all overnight trains; most convey couchettes and reclining seats only (sleeping cars are only conveyed on international trains). A certain number of couchette compartments are reserved for women only or those with small children; otherwise, couchette accommodation is mixed. There is a minimal bar/trolley service on most long distance trains. Larger stations have left luggage facilities.
Changing stations in Paris
In Paris there are seven main railway stations. The station that you will need will be clearly marked on your rail tickets. The Paris underground system will take you to these stations.
Gare du Nord - Eurostar trains arrive and depart from this station.
Gare de I'Est - this station is a short walk from Gare du Nord.
Gare St Lazare - on a dierct RER line from Gare du Nord.
Gare de Lyon - on a direct RER line from Gare du Nord
Gare de Bercy - one Metro stop from Gare de Lyon, and then just a short walk from the Metro station
Gare d'Austerlitz - on a direct Metro line from Gare du Nord
Gare Montparnasse - this station is around 25 mins from Gare du Nord on the Metro system.
Using the Metro system and RER network in Paris
This is very similar to the London Underground network. Just work out which line you need, and check the end destination of the train, to make sure you are going in the right direction.
Metro lines are identified by numbers
RER lines are identified by letters.
The are also taxi ranks at all the main stations.
Scenic Rail Routes in France
Aurillac to Neussargues (Mountain and Gorge)
Bastia to Ajaccio (Mountain)
Bourg en Bresse to Bellegarde (Mountain)
Chambery to Bourg St Maurice (Mountain)
Chambery to Modane (Mountain and Lake)
Chamonix to Martigny (Mountain and Gorge)
Clermont Ferrand to Beziers (Mountain and Gorge)
Clermont Ferrand to Nimes (Mountain, Gorge and River)
Gap to Briancon (Mountain and Lake)
Geneve to Aix les Bains (Mountain and River)
Grenoble to Veynes and Marseille (Mountain)
Marseille to Ventimiglia (Coastline)
Mouchard to Besancon and Montbeliard (River)
Nice to Digne (Mountain)
Nice/Ventimiglia to Cuneo (Mountain and Gorge)
Perpignan to Latour de Carol (Mountain and Gorge)
Portbou to Perpignan (Coastline)
Sarlat to Bergerac (River)
Toulouse to Latour de Carol (Mountain)
Valance to Veynes (Mountain)
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