Why Travel on the TGV?All major French cities are connected by the TGV, the Train a Grande Vitesse which is the pride and joy of the French railway network. New double decker (duplex) TGV trains travel at 320km/h (199mph) at full speed while the older single level TGV trains operate at 300km/h (186mph).
The TGV is one of the most comfortable of the European trains, with spacious seats, armrests and individual tables for each passenger.
Train tickets are no more expensive than on other routes and there are good bargains to be had for the early booker.
Major Routes from Paris
You can travel to other cities from these destinations.TGV Nord from Paris Gare du Nord. Connects to the north of France, to Lille, and Eurostar to London, Lille and Brussels.
TGV Sud-Est from Paris Gare de Lyon. Connects to the south and east of France.
TGV Alpes from Paris Gare de Lyon. Connects to the east of France and is particularly useful for skiers in winter, going on to resorts like Courchevel.
TGV Méditerranée from Paris Gare de Lyon. Connects to Provence and the Cote d'Azur.
TGV Atlantique from Paris Gare Montparnasse. Connects to the south and the west of France.
Like other countries, ticket prices vary widely. Book early for good bargains, though you may have to stick to a specific time and train. If you miss the train, you may not get reimbursed.
Train ticket prices are no higher on a TGV 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. For instance if you book two months in advance to go from Paris to Nice, the second class fare can be as little as 27 euros ($35) and the first class fare 36 euros ($47).
All French train tickets can be ordered online and you can then print them out on your computer as an e-ticket, exactly as the airlines do.
At the Station
- Arrive early to find out which platform the train goes from. Paris train stations can be quite confusing.
- You will have to validate your train tickets. Look for the yellow machines (compostage de billets) usually just before you reach the platform. Insert your tickets into the slot and retrieve it. Ticket inspectors will check your ticket on the train and if it is not validated will probably fine you.
Classes on the TGV
- Standard Class offers comfortable seats and trains include a bar-buffet car, vending machines for snacks, and baby changing areas.
- First Class offers larger reclining seats with their own power point for plugging in your phone or laptop, as well as a little more legroom. On TGV Est services you can choose from a range of meals served at your seat.
- TGV Pro is for business travellers who favor the TGV over other services and train tickets are correspondingly more expensive. There are dedicated carriages for TGV Pro passengers, access to business lounges (called Salons des Grand Voyageurs)at 11 stations in France, a welcome service from Monday to Friday, the ability to pre-book taxis on board via the train conductor, travel packs and the option to pay for a meal to be served at your seat.