How to get around France

May 19, 2023 • 12 min read

Smiling man riding bike on the walkway near to Seine river.

From driving to public transit, here's how to get around when you visit France © Hernandez & Sorokina / Stocksy United

The vast majority of visitors to France choose to travel en voiture (by car). 

However, while driving is often the most convenient and comfortable way to get around – especially if you want to explore the French countryside – it’s not always the easiest or even cheapest option. The French rail network is superb, and traveling by train is often just as quick as driving, generally very reliable and quite reasonably priced. Better still, you don’t have to worry about parking, traffic, motorway tolls, or any unexpected breakdowns. 

Unfortunately, public transport in more rural areas can be patchy. Local buses fill in the gaps the rail network doesn’t reach, but French buses are rarely as reliable or frequent as trains. If you’re looking to explore beyond the larger towns, hiring a car (even if only for a few days) may be the most practical option. 

From bike to bus and train to plane, here's everything you need to know about getting around France.

A mother and son riding on a train in France

Take the train for an easy trip across France

Traveling around France by train is a joy. France’s state-owned SNCF is one of the best rail networks in Europe – fast, frequent and often very competitively priced, especially if you plan ahead and book in advance.

Practically the whole country is accessible by high-speed TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) trains, which travel at speeds of up to 300km/h. High-speed lines, or LGVs (Lignes à Grande Vitesse), radiate outwards from Paris like the spokes of a wheel, heading north, east, southeast and southwest. Various spur lines are currently planned or under construction to extend coverage even further. 

Unfortunately, while intercity services are fantastic and fast, connections between smaller towns situated on different ‘spokes’ of the network tend to be slower and less frequent. Away from the main lines, trains have to use conventional tracks, which limits their speed.

Alongside the fast TGV network, local services are provided by TER (Transport Express Régional) or Corail trains, which are less flashy and much slower. It’s worth noting that long-distance trains sometimes divide somewhere along the route, with each half of the train heading off to a different destination; check the destination panel on your car as you board, or you could wind up far from where you intended to go.

Buying and collecting train tickets

The easiest way to book train tickets is to buy them online. You need to book well in advance for the best fares. Many train services offer e-tickets, which you can download onto your phone (make sure it’s charged before you travel). If you plan to collect them at the station, you will need to bring the credit card used to make the booking and the reference number for your booking.

Most mainline train stations have automated ticket machines on the concourse where you can purchase tickets and staffed ticket booths where you can buy in person – but note that on-the-day purchases are likely to be more expensive, especially for longer journeys. 

Tips for traveling by train in France:

  • For the best fares, you need to book as far ahead as possible; check SNCF Connect for fares, train times, and online booking. 
  • Standard class is very comfortable, but if you book well in advance, you can sometimes get some great deals on First Class too. 

If you’re not too fussed about getting from A to B as fast as possible, check out the cheap fares on Ouigo Train Classique , which offers travel between several major cities (for example, Paris to Lyon, Dijon, or Nantes) for a fraction of the regular price.

A young woman using headphones and smartphone on the stop floor of a bus in France

Explore rural areas of France by bus

Various bus and coach companies compete with the SNCF's rail services, offering cheaper but much slower services between large towns and cities. These include FlixBus and the cross-Europe coach network run by EuroLines .

Buses are widely used for short-distance travel around cities, and within départements (regions), especially in areas with relatively few train lines, such as Brittany and Normandy . These can be a really useful way of getting around in places where rail travel isn’t possible. In some areas, fares are subsidized, enabling you to travel right across the region for a low flat fare.

Unfortunately, bus services in many rural areas are infrequent and slow as their timetables tend to be geared around school times – there is sometimes just one bus in the morning and afternoon, and reduced services (or no services at all) during weekends and school holidays.

Cars on the Champs-Elysees in Paris at night

Traveling by car

Traveling by car in France gives you exceptional freedom to explore, particularly in rural areas. Mooching along peaceful country lanes, passing vineyards and orchards, is one of France's greatest joys. However, driving in France isn’t always a picnic. In the cities – especially Paris and its surrounds – heavy traffic and finding a place to park can be major headaches. Theft from cars can also be a problem in France, especially in the south. 

One option is to hire a car for a short period as you need it, rather than for weeks at a time. Many larger train stations have car-hire agencies, so it's possible to combine train and car travel by picking up a rental partway through your journey. Inevitably though, shorter hire periods tend to attract higher rates.

It’s worth brushing up on French road rules before you go as there are some peculiarities that take some getting used to – particularly the priorité à droite rule, which requires you to give way to approaching cars from the right. Speed cameras are increasingly common, as are radar traps and unmarked police vehicles.

Sociétés d'Autoroutes and Bison Futé are good sources of information on traffic conditions, rest stops and service stations. Plot your route and calculate toll costs with an online mapping site such as Via Michelin . There are four types of intercity roads:

  • Autoroutes (with names beginning with A) are multi-lane divided highways that charge tolls (péages) except near Calais and Lille . The further you travel, the more you pay. It’s possible to pay via credit card or cash at toll stations. If you’re doing loads of autoroute driving, you could also consider getting an automatic toll pass (such as the ones provided by Bip&Go or Eurotunnel & Emovis ) which will charge you automatically as you pass through. Tolls are cheaper for motorcyclists, and more costly for cars towing caravans. 
  • Routes Nationales (N or RN) are national highways with divider strips on some sections. They often run alongside or close to autoroutes and pass through main towns – they’re slower but toll-free.
  • Routes Départementales (D) are local highways and roads.
  • Routes Communales (C, V) are minor rural roads.

Paying autoroute tolls

When driving on French autoroutes, you are charged for the distance you travel. When you join the motorway, you will be given a paper ticket at the automated toll booth. When you exit, you need to insert the same ticket into another toll booth (or give it to the toll attendant), and the relevant fee will be displayed, which you can pay by cash or credit card.

Different autoroutes charge different amounts per kilometer (you can calculate fees at autoroutes.fr ). Note that you need to choose the right lane when you exit the motorway – some lanes are automated, others have attendants, and some are reserved for frequent users with automated Liber-T passes. Don’t enter one of the lanes marked by a big orange ‘T’ unless you have a pass; look out for green arrows, or a picture of cash or a credit card, and you should be okay.

Car parking in France

Parking in French towns and cities can be a real pain. Assuming you manage to find a space, you will nearly always have to pay for on-street parking – look out for white markings on the street that say payant. There is usually a parking meter nearby that accepts cash and sometimes credit cards. Chargeable hours are generally 9am to noon and 2pm to 5pm or 6pm, but this does vary (times will be indicated on the parking meter).

The alternative is to park in a public car park. While these are easy to find, they can be very pricey, especially in larger towns and cities. Usually, you collect a ticket on entry, pay the fee at an automated machine when you want to leave, and then insert the ticket at the exit barrier.

Don’t expect to be able to pay at the barrier when you leave, because you won’t be able to. It can be somewhat embarrassing to get stuck there with a long queue of drivers lined up behind you beeping their horns, who then have to back up to let you back out.

A group of people riding bikes through the golden vineyards of Alsace

Explore the countryside by bike

France is superb for cycling. The countryside is gorgeous, and the country has a growing number of urban and rural bike paths and bike lanes (known as pistes cyclables) and greenways (known as voices vertes) that make for lovely, traffic-free cycling. Vélos électriques (electric bicycles) are increasingly popular too, with lots of rental companies setting up shop. 

Certain regions – the Loire Valley , the Luberon in Provence , and Burgundy – are particularly well set up for exploring on two wheels, with dedicated cycling paths, some along canal towpaths or weaving between orchards and vineyards. Note, however, that France isn’t always flat – you may well have to tackle some hills en route, though hopefully nothing that’s likely to feature in the Tour de France.

Catch a ferry to the islands

There are regular ferry services to several French ports (including Calais , Cherbourg, Roscoff, Le Havre , Brest and others). Boats also connect the French mainland with offshore islands, the Channel Islands, and Corsica (which is served by frequent ferries from Nice, Toulon and Marseille ). 

Another option is to cruise along France's canals and rivers in a rented houseboat – the Canal du Midi and the Loire are both popular options. It’s a delightful, peaceful way to explore, allowing you the freedom to stop to pick up supplies, dine at a village restaurant or check out a local château by bicycle.

Changes in altitude are taken care of by a system of écluses (locks). Boats generally accommodate two to 12 passengers and are kitted out with bedding and cooking facilities. France Afloat is a reliable rental agency and canal boat specialist.

Only fly in France if you really need to

France's fast, comprehensive rail network means that train travel between Paris and most major French cities is nearly always faster and easier than flying – especially once you factor in extra time for traveling to the airport, getting through security and making connections. Even traveling from Paris to the south or southwest of France is nearly always more swift by train.

The exception is where you want to travel between cities located on different ‘spokes’ of the TGV network, for example Lyon to Nantes or Strasbourg to Nice , though some flights connect through Paris in any case. If you want to get to Corsica, flying is faster and more convenient than the ferry – unless you want to take your own car.

It’s worth noting that smaller airports (notably Paris Beauvais , which is used by many budget airlines) are often located some distance from the city center. While there is normally some form of bus or rail link to get you into town, it adds extra time and cost.  

Air France , including its subsidiary Air France Hop, operates the lion's share of France's domestic flights. Budget carriers offering flights within France include Air Corsica , EasyJet , Twin Jet and Volotea .

Paris Metro Sign with Christmas lights on surrounding buildings

Public transport in cities is inexpensive and frequent

France's urban transport systems use a combination of métros (underground/subway systems), trams and buses (Paris also has plans for a shiny new cable car ). Usually, systems are integrated, so you only have to buy one ticket to get wherever you want to go, with changes to other forms of transport covered by the same ticket. Always remember to composter (validate) the ticket before or immediately after boarding, especially if you intend to use it later on to transfer. 

A single ticket is known as a billet à l'unité. You can also purchase a carnet (booklet or bunch) of 10 tickets or a pass journée (all-day pass). Note that tram drivers (and some bus drivers) do not sell tickets, so you may need to buy one before you board from a machine at the stop. 

Paris' public-transport network is increasingly trying to transition over to a paperless system. The old paper carnets are being replaced by credit-card style Navigo Passes, and on some buses, you can buy your ticket by SMS.

Taxis are convenient but often expensive in France

All medium and large train stations – and many smaller ones – have a taxi rank out the front. If there are no cabs parked, you'll need to phone to order one; look for a posted phone number. Cabs can also be ordered online in many cities via G7 (or their app), and rideshares are easily summoned through Uber .

In small cities and towns, where taxi drivers are unlikely to find another fare where they let you off, one-way and return trips often cost the same. Tariffs are about 30% higher at night and on Sundays and holidays. You'll usually have to pay a surcharge if you're picked up at a train station or airport, and there's a small additional fee for a fourth passenger and sometimes for suitcases.

Accessible transportation in France

France presents constant challenges for visiteurs à mobilité réduite (visitors with reduced mobility) and visiteurs handicapés (visitors with disabilities), from cobblestones and sidewalks crowded with cafe tables to a lack of curb ramps – but the French government is making significant strides in improving the situation.

The Paris metro, parts of it built more than a century ago, is not good for wheelchair users. Line 14 was built to be wheelchair-accessible, although in reality, it remains challenging to navigate. Paris buses, however, are 100% accessible. Specialist operator G7 has vehicles specially adapted to carry wheelchairs and drivers trained in helping passengers with disabilities.

Countrywide, many SNCF train carriages are accessible to people with disabilities – although it’s always worth asking ahead to make sure the help you need will be available on the train you wish to travel on. If you use a wheelchair, you and a person accompanying you may qualify for discounts.

This article was first published Jun 4, 2021 and updated May 19, 2023.

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Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

France Travel Guide

Last Updated: April 29, 2024

A huge historic French castle in the Loire Valley surrounded by grass and greenery

Wine, cheese, the Eiffel Tower, historic castles , beautiful beaches, snooty waiters — France is famous for a lot of things.

It’s a beautiful country with stunning coastlines, picturesque valleys, world-class wine, and tons of history. And despite what you might hear, the French are a wonderful people who love to stop and smell the roses.

I love backpacking and traveling around France.

There’s nothing like a picnic along the Seine or a spending day in the French countryside to make life seem beautiful. France is everything that people make it out to be and then some. Its long history means there are plenty of beautiful ruins, castles, and cathedrals worth exploring. There’s something for every interest here.

Traveling France can be expensive and those on a super tight budget may find it hard to experience everything France has to offer.

However, having traveled around France multiple times, I’ve picked up a wide variety of money-saving tips and off-beat attractions to see. In short, it’s possible to travel France without breaking the bank — and without missing out on what the country has to offer.

This travel guide can help you plan a trip, save money, and ensure you make the most out of your time in my favorite country in Europe !

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on France

Click Here for City Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in france.

A view overlooking Paris with the famous Eiffel Tower in the distance

1. Spend time in Paris

Paris has everything – the Louvre, impressionist museums, the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, magnificent parks, jazz, and great food. It’s as magical as people say and while it would take a lifetime to see it all, four or five days can give you a good idea. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve spent time living there and I think it lives up to all the hype. And, since most tourists stay in one little area, it’s easy to get out and see the city free of crowds and filled with locals living their best life.

2. Explore the Loire Valley

The Loire is lovely and picturesque, with tons of vineyards and chateaus. The region is home to some of the best wines in the world, beautiful small towns (I love Orlean), and world renowned food. It’s an area not to be missed. It’s easy to get to from Paris and you can visit a lot of chateaus here. ( Here’s a list of my favorites .)

3. Tour Marseille

Marseille is a metropolitan city that also has a rich history filled with nightlife, great restaurants, theaters, museums, and even an international soccer stadium. While the city is a bit gritty and industrial, it’s worth a visit for its beautiful waterfront and exciting mix of cultures. Visit the port, eat fresh seafood, head to Notre Dame de la Garde, and see Vieille Charite. Marseille will give you a totally different feel than the rest of France!

4. Hang out in Nice

Nice is nice (get it?). This seaside town in the south is a popular destination for budget travelers who want to soak up some sun but might not be able to afford Cannes or Monaco. I don’t think the beach here is that great, but the central location makes it easy to explore the rest of the coast (and its better beaches).

5. Drink wine in Bordeaux

Some of the best wine in the world is made in Bordeaux . While an expensive destination, it’s beautiful and worth every penny. Bordeaux has the longest shopping street in Europe, amazing seafood (eat at Le Petit Commerce), a historic center, and of course, wine. Next to Paris, it’s my favorite place in France.

Other Things to See and Do in France

1. see the d-day beaches in normandy.

On June 6th, 1944, the allies of World War II launched Operation Overlord, the largest seaborne invasion in history. Over 300,000 allied troops were involved in the operation, which took place in Normandy (some 20,000 troops died in this operation alone). Here you can learn about the D-Day landings along the beaches of northern France and see the memorials and museums detailing the history of the event. You can still see some of the old bunkers and fortifications too. Full-day guided tours of the D-Day Landings cost around 150 EUR.

2. Wander the Palace of Versailles

Located very close to Paris , this royal palace was completed by Louis XIV in 1715 and was used by the French kings until the French Revolution in 1789. Constructed at the height of French power, the complex sought to show off the monarch’s tremendous wealth. Over 10 million people visit this extravagant palace each year. After the Eiffel Tower, it’s the most popular attraction in the country. It’s as awe-inspiring today as it was back then. Tickets to the entire complex cost 27 EUR. Plan to spend the entire day — you don’t want to miss any part of this opulent place.

If you want to beat the crowds (which I highly recommend), skip-the-line tickets are available for 55 EUR. Since upwards of 10,000 people visit per day, skipping the line will save you a ton of time. The wait to get tickets can last hours.

And for a more in-depth experience, this Versailles tour is led by a local expert guide and includes round-trip transportation from Paris at a time that avoids most of the crowds.

3. Explore history in Lyon

Located around two hours south of Paris by train, this is the third-largest city in the country. The area around Lyon is home to wonderful castles and small villages. It’s great for those looking to explore the French countryside and take a trip back to medieval France. The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and truly feels like you have stepped back into the past. Don’t miss the relaxing 20-acre botanical garden, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (which dates to the 19th century), and touring the city’s Old Quarter.

4. Hobnob with the rich in Monaco

The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign city-state on the French Riviera. This tiny kingdom is home to winding streets, beautiful buildings, a world-famous casino, gigantic modern yachts, and just 39,000 people (over 30% of whom are millionaires!). Hang out with society’s well-heeled who flock to the Cote D’Azur from other parts of France during the summer. Spanning just a couple square kilometers, it’s one of the smallest countries in the world. Be sure to stop by the famous Monte Carlo Casino (where several James Bone films as well as Ocean’s Twelve was filmed), which is only open to foreigners.

5. See Alsace

This northeast region along the border with Germany is a beautiful place to visit. The mixing of Germanic and French influences characterizes the region (since it has been owned and annexed by both countries), with the old town of Colmar being the main attraction. The postcard-perfect downtown is lined with cobblestone streets and old half-timber houses — some of the which date back to the 1300s. Be sure to see the Goth 13th-century church. And if you love wine, drive the Alsace Wine Route, which you can explore over the course of a few days as you visit some of the region’s best vineyards.

6. Wander through Parc de la Villette

This Parisian park — the third-largest in the city after the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne — is host to Europe’s largest science museum and some other odd attractions. There is a large collection of architectural follies (buildings constructed for decoration), theme gardens, and open spaces for activity and exploration. It was designed for children as well as adults and is a neat place to check out. It’s in the 19th arrondissement.

7. Visit the trenches of World War I

France was ground zero during World War I (1914-1918) and there are still many indicators of the damage caused during those years around the country. For example, two important battles took place at Vimy Ridge (which marked a huge success for Canadian forces) and Verdun (the longest battle of the war that saw over 700,000 people killed or wounded). Both sites have set up excellent tourist centers and visiting facilities. It’s a moving and educational experience. You can reach Verdun from Paris in around three hours by car. Vimy Ridge is just over two hours away.

8. Explore Roman ruins

France has some of the best Roman ruins outside of Italy . Orange, Nimes, and Arles all have beautiful Roman theaters, and Nimes also contains one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the entire region of the former Empire, which dates back to around 2 CE. Personally, I loved Nimes a lot. It was an old Roman outpost and has an amazing double-tiered area that dates back to 70 CE. It’s certainly a surprise to see so many indicators of Roman rule in the south of France, and these sites are definitely worth a visit. Half-day tours around the region (including admission) cost around 80 EUR.

9. Visit the Medieval town of Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a medieval walled city. Legend has it that the town survived a siege when one of the townswomen had the bright idea of feeding the remaining food to a pig. Once they fattened it up, they threw it over the fortifications so that it appeared that they were so well-fed that they were being wasteful and gluttonous. The attacking troops gave up and went home. That’s probably not true, but this town still retains a lot of medieval character and offers plenty of interesting shops and alleys to explore. Don’t miss a tour of the castle and ramparts while you’re here!

10. Go skiing

The French Alps offer some of the best ski slopes in Europe. If you’re in Europe in the winter months and at a loss for what to do, consider getting a group together and renting a ski chalet, or staying at one of the slope-side hotels or hostels. Bring plenty of beer and wine to warm you up after a long day on the hills. Note that skiing in France is not cheap (lift passes usually cost upwards of 75 EUR per day). Some of the most popular ski resorts include La Clusaz, Avoriaz, Val d’Isère, and Chamonix.

11. See Dune de Pyla

This sand dune is located an hour outside Bordeaux in Pyla Sur Mer, a resort town where many of France’s well-to-do spend the summer. It’s the largest sand dune in Europe and the result of winds eroding one shore of the bay and blowing sand over. The dune is nearly 3 kilometers (2 miles) long and up to 110 meters (360 feet) high in some places. Visit at dawn or dusk for the best views. You can walk along the entire dune in around 90 minutes.

12. Wander the Louvre

The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world, with thousands of square feet of space and millions of artifacts and works of art (including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo). To see it all, you need at least two full days, but you can do the highlights in a full afternoon. Admission costs 17 EUR, while timed skip-the-line tickets are an additional 17 EUR. Due to capacity restrictions, you MUST get your ticket in advance. They sell out these days so if you don’t get your ticket in advance, you run the risk of showing up and being denied entrance.

13. Go diving

Diving may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of France, but Marseille is making a name for itself as the country’s diving capital. Take a trip out into the Mediterranean, where you can explore tunnels, caves, and admire colorful sea sponges, anemones, and sea fans. You can also spot moray eels and octopus as well as numerous of shipwrecks, such as Le Liban (1882) and Le Chaouen (1961). June to October, when the water is a bit warmer, are the best months for diving here. Prices start at 110 EUR.

  For more information on specific cities in France, check out these guides:

France Travel Costs

People lying on the beach in front of a palm-tree-lined promenade with the city of Nice, France rising in the background

Accommodation – Dorm rooms in hostels with 8-10 beds range from 20-75 EUR per night. In Paris (and many other major cities), expect dorms to cost 40-75 EUR per night (even more in the summer). Private rooms in hostels cost between 100-150 EUR. Free Wi-Fi is standard and many hostels include self-catering facilities and breakfast.

Budget hotels begin around 85 EUR per night for a double room with free WiFi and air-conditioning. Accommodations are cheaper outside Paris, Bordeaux, and the French Riviera. Additionally, during peak summer months, expect prices to start at around 120 EUR per night. In Paris, expect to pay at least 150 EUR in the summer.

Airbnb is widely available around the country. Private rooms start around 45 EUR, though they average double that price. Entire homes/apartments start at 75 EUR (but usually cost at least triple that — especially in Paris).

For those traveling with a tent, camping is available around the country. A basic plot for two people without electricity costs around 25 EUR per night. Wild camping is illegal in France.

Food – Food in France has a long history and is intricately intertwined with the culture. Fresh bread (especially baguettes), tasty local cheeses, and plentiful wine may be stereotypical staples of the cuisine, but they really are some of the must-eat foods in the country. Be sure to also try croque monsieur (a hot ham and cheese sandwich), pot-au-feu (beef stew), steak frites (steak and fries), and if you’re really adventurous you can sample traditional delicacies like frog legs, escargot (snails) or foie gras (a fattened duck or goose liver).

Buying your own food in France can be very cheap and the best way to experience the country’s cuisine. There are many breads, cheese, and meat shops around – and it’s how the French eat. They go to their local markets, buy food, and cook. You can make your own lunch for around 10-15 EUR for two people (including wine). Pre-made sandwiches at cheap local shops cost about 6-12 EUR.

Conversely, eating at a restaurant costs between 20-35 EUR for a meal including a glass of wine.

Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs around 10 EUR for a combo meal. A cheap meal at a casual take-out place costs around 10-18 EUR.

Beer costs 6-7 EUR while a cappuccino/latte is around 3-4 EUR. Bottled water is 1-2 EUR.

If you plan on cooking your own meals, expect to spend between 45-60 EUR for a week’s worth of groceries. This gets you basic staples like bread, pasta, seasonal produce, and some meat.

France Suggested Budgets

On a backpacker’s budget, prepare to spend 70 EUR per day. On this suggested budget, you’ll be staying in hostel dorms, cooking all of your meals, using public transportation to get around, limiting your drinking, and sticking to mostly free and cheap activities like free walking tours, parks and gardens, and free museums.

On a mid-range budget of 155 EUR per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb, eat out for most meals, enjoy a few drinks, take the train between cities, and do more paid activities like wine tours and a visit to Versailles.

On a “luxury” budget of 300 EUR or more a day, you can stay in hotels, eat out for all your meals, rent a car to get around, drink more, and tour whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

France Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

France can destroy your budget if you aren’t careful. Accommodation is pricey, eating out can get expensive, and tours aren’t always affordable. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money while you are visiting France without sacrificing your experience. Here are some money-saving tips to help you reduce your costs:

  • Have a picnic – Eating out in France is an expensive affair. Restaurants can break a day’s budget quickly. Thankfully, there’s nothing more French than a picnic. Head to the local market; buy some wonderful cheese, bread, fruits, and meats, and have a picnic and watch the day go by. You can have a great meal for less than 10 EUR.
  • Take the (slow) train – Train travel in Europe is cheap and it’s the easiest way to get around France. The TGV line can be expensive, but if you get the slow train or have a Eurail pass , you’ll save money.
  • Drink wine – In France, the wine is cheaper than water (well, almost!). While you shouldn’t skip drinking water, drink wine over other forms of alcohol to save big. A nice bottle can cost as little as 3 EUR!
  • Shop at the markets – Want great French cuisine? Do what the locals do and head to the outdoor markets. Visit the cheese guy, the fish guy, the bread guy, and everyone else to get the best local ingredients to make yourself a perfect French meal. It saves a lot of money compared to eating out.
  • Skip the clubs – Clubs in France are expensive and charge an entrance fee (it can be over 20 EUR!). Drinks cost 12 EUR or more. If you don’t want to spend 90 EUR in one night, skip the clubs.
  • Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar and catch rides with locals between cities (or countries). Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe (though sometimes rides don’t show up, which is why you need to be flexible).
  • Eat a prix-fixe meal – This is a set lunch menu where a 2-3 course meal costs about 15-20 EUR. This is a far more affordable option than just ordering off the menu. I always eat out for lunch and then cook for myself for dinners.
  • Stay with a local – If you want to save money and get some local insight into the country, use Couchsurfing. There are a lot of hosts in this country. I highly recommend using the site at least once to lower your accommodation costs, make a friend, learn local tips, and have a kitchen to cook in!
  • Take advantage of being under 26 – France has EXTENSIVE discounts for people who are under 26 if they have the ISIC card – be sure to get one!
  • Bring a water bottle – Since the tap water here is safe to drink you should bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in France

Looking for the best hostel in France? There are tons of options in every major city. Here are some of my favorite hostels in France:

  • St. Christopher’s Canal (Paris)
  • Les Piaules (Paris)
  • Generator Hostel (Paris)
  • St. Christopher’s Gare du Nord (Paris)
  • Central Hostel (Bordeaux)
  • Hostel 20 (Bordeaux)
  • Villa Saint Exupery Beach (Nice)
  • Vertigo Vieux-Port (Marseille)

How to Get Around France

The old port filled with sailboats, with the city of Marseille rising up behind it in France

Public transportation – Local transit systems are reliable and cost between 1-3 EUR per trip. Most cities and towns have extensive train, bus, and tram systems. Transportation to and from the airport into the city center is generally affordable and user-friendly.

Paris has a “carnet” of 10 single-use tickets that costs 14.50 EUR. You can get a one-day to five-day pass (a ParisVisite) for all modes of public transportation (bus, metro, trams, and suburban trains called the RER) for between 13.20-42.20 EUR. It also gives you discounts on some major Parisian landmarks. You can buy tickets at any metro station.

Expect to pay around 12 EUR to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle.

Budget Airlines – France has several major airports, and budget airlines are popular. It’s an affordable and easy way to get around the country if you’re not big on time.

Paris to Nice averages 50 EUR one way, and Paris to Marseille is also about 50 EUR one way. Book at least a month early to scoop up great deals. In the off and shoulder seasons, you can get these flights for as low as 15-25 EUR.

Just keep in mind that most budget airlines charge extra for checked baggage and often require you to print your ticket out in advance.

Buses – France has several bus operators, including:

My recommended bus company is Flixbus .

A 10-hour bus trip from Paris to Marseille costs around 15-30 EUR while a trip from Paris to Strasbourg costs 17-25 EUR. A 7.5-hour journey from Paris to Bordeaux starts around 13 EUR, while the 3-hour journey from Paris to Tours (in the Loire Valley) is around 12 EUR. A longer ride like 15 hours from Paris to Nice starts around 35 EUR.

While the bus is great, I generally prefer to travel by train in France as it’s a nicer, more comfortable experience.

To find bus routes and prices, use BusBud .

Trains – France has regular trains as well as the world-famous high-speed TGV. SNCF is France’s national railway, and you can buy tickets on their website. But even the regular train is much quicker than taking the bus!

If bought last-minute, a train trip from Paris to Nice costs 55-105 EUR. But if you buy in advance, Paris to Nice can cost as little as 25 EUR in 2nd class. A last-minute train trip from Paris to Strasbourg costs 70-80 EUR, but advance tickets in second class start around 19 EUR. Shorter trips like Marseille to Nice start around 36 EUR, while you can get from Paris to Tours for 19 EUR. Good discounts on train travel exist for travelers under 26-years-old!

To find routes and prices for trains around France, use Trainline .

You may also want to consider getting a Eurail Pass , which allows travelers to explore Europe by providing a set number of stops in a specific time period. These passes are continent-wide, country-specific, or regional.

Ridesharing – If your schedule is flexible, use a ridesharing service and catch rides with locals between cities. Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe. It’s usually cheaper than the bus too. BlaBlaCar is the most popular. There’s sometimes a language barrier but, for the most part, it’s easy to use and much more interesting than the bus or train!

Car rental – France is a great destination to rent a car and road trip (just avoid driving in cities like Paris; they can be a nightmare). Rentals start at around 30 EUR per day for a multi-day rental. Drivers need to be at least 21 years of age and usually need to have a credit card in their name.

When to Go to France

Peak season in France is the summer, when France gets incredibly crowded. Prices skyrocket during this time but the overall atmosphere and weather is great so it’s still worth visiting during peak season. Temperatures average between 16-24°C (61-75°F), though they have often climbed much higher in recent years due to climate change, reaching well into the in the 30s°C (80s°F). In the south of France, daily highs hover around 30°C (80°F) and go up from there.

Just note that a lot of the country closes down in August when people go on holidays. Make sure to plan accordingly and double check opening/closing hours.

The shoulder season is spring and fall (April-May and September-October, respectively). It’s still warm during this time but there aren’t as many crowds and prices are cheaper. This is my favorite time to visit France. The weather is good, the crowds fewer, and the prices are lower. Just make sure to bring a light rain jacket.

Winter in France is from November to February. It gets cold, even in the south. Average winter temperatures range from 0-8°C (32-46°F). On the other hand, the Christmas season is fantastic — you’ll find Christmas markets and festivals galore! While Paris is never empty, this is the quietest (and cheapest) time to visit the city.

How to Stay Safe in France

France is very safe for backpacking and solo traveling. Violent crime is rare so travelers should feel safe here, both day and night.

That said, scams and petty theft can occur (especially pickpocketing in Paris) so be on the lookout. Always keep your valuables secure and out of sight when on busy public transportation and in crowded tourist areas.

Solo female travelers should feel safe here, though the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).

One common scam in Paris is to get tourists to sign a petition against some common cause. Once you sign, they’ll pester you for a donation. To avoid getting ripped off, simply decline anyone approaching you with a petition.

When using an outdoor ATM, always check to make sure a card skimmer has not been attached to the card reader. To be safe, only use indoor ATMs.

France has a history of protesting (mainly in Paris). These can turn violent so if a protest occurs during your visit, avoid taking part.

To avoid other potential scams, you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.

If you rent a car, don’t leave any valuables in it overnight. Break-ins are rare but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Car break-ins are most common near the border with Spain as well as in Normandy around the D-Day sights.

If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.

France Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
  • BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!
  • Take Walks – This walking tour company provides inside access to attractions and places you can’t get elsewhere. Their guides rock and they have some of the best and most insightful tours in all of France.

GO DEEPER: Nomadic Matt’s In-Depth Budget Guide to Paris!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to Paris

While I have a lot of free tips on Paris, I also wrote an entire book that goes into great detail on everything you need to plan a trip here on a budget! You’ll get suggested itineraries, budgets, even more ways to save money, my favorite restaurants, maps, prices, practical information (i.e. phone numbers, websites, prices, safety advice, etc.), and cultural tips.

I’ll give the insider view of Paris that I got from living and running tours here! The downloadable guide can be used on your Kindle, iPad, phone, or computer so you can have it with you when you go.

France Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more tips for your trip? Check out all the articles I’ve written on France travel and continue planning your trip:

The 8 Best Hotels in Paris

The 8 Best Hotels in Paris

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris

13 Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to See and Do in Paris

13 Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to See and Do in Paris

The Best Walking Tours in Paris

The Best Walking Tours in Paris

Life in Paris, Part 3: Nothing Lasts Forever

Life in Paris, Part 3: Nothing Lasts Forever

The 10 Best Day Trips from Paris

The 10 Best Day Trips from Paris

Get my best stuff sent straight to you, pin it on pinterest.

  • Where To Stay
  • Transportation
  • Booking Resources
  • Related Blogs

France Trip Planner: 8 Easy Steps for Planning a Trip to France 2024

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

How to Plan a Trip to France

If you’re planning a trip to France , you will want to read this France Travel Planner. This France Trip Planner covers everything you need to know to plan a trip to France, including the best time to visit France, where to go, what to do, how to move around, and more.

Do you need help with your France trip planning? So let’s get started! Here’s how to plan a trip to France you’ll never forget in eight easy steps that works for any kind of trip — no matter how long you’re going for! Just follow this checklist, and you’ll be off to France in no time!

READ MORE – here are the best quotes about France to feed your wanderlust from home!

France Travel Planning

France Travel Planner 2024 Content:

  • Best Time to Travel to France
  • Do You Need a Visa for Your Trip to France?
  • Where to Go in France
  • Booking your Flight or Train Tickets to France
  • Don’t Skimp on Travel Insurance
  • What to Do in France
  • Itinerary and How to Get Around
  • Share Your Itinerary, Review, and Start Booking

1. Best Time to Travel to France

France Atlantic Coast

Of course, it is always a good time to travel to France! But if you are flexible with your travel dates, the best time to visit France depends on what you’d like to do.

If you want a beach holiday in the French Riviera , then it’s best to go in late spring or during the summer. Summer (late June and July) is also the lavender season in Provence , while in winter (January and February), you will find great skiing in the French Alps or the French Pyrénées.

If you’re planning a city sightseeing trip, then the shoulder seasons are best (spring or fall) as there are fewer crowds. Although it is lovely to travel to France during the festive holiday when there are some wonderful Christmas markets to explore.

If you are on a budget, avoid summer and winter holidays, bank holidays in Europe, and school holidays in France .

To help you decide on what time of the year to go, read about the seasons in France . Then, the following articles outline where to travel in France by season:

  • Best places to visit in France in spring
  • Best places to travel in France in the summer
  • Best places to visit in France in the fall
  • Best places to travel in France in winter

You can also decide to plan your French trip around one of the major events in France this year .

2. Do You Need a Visa for Your Trip to France?

EU nationals and citizens of Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland only need an ID card or passport to visit France.

For tourists from around 60 countries , visas are not required for stays of less than three months. This list includes countries like the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and Israel. For stays longer than 90 days, contact your nearest French embassy or consulate for the exact requirements and start the process as soon as possible.

Other people wishing to travel to France as tourists have to apply for a Schengen Visa . This visa allows unlimited travel throughout the entire zone for 90 days.

3. Where to Go in France

France Pattern

With France being such as diverse country – there are so many wondering things to see and do. Of course, if this is your first trip to France, then some time in Paris , the capital, is a must. However, if you’ve had multiple trips to France or you plan to travel to France for an extended holiday, then you’ll be able to choose a few different regions to explore.

You can find out more about the different regions in France in this guide to the French regions . This article will lead you to various in-depth articles about each of the regions in France.

If you need help determining where to go in France, the most popular destinations (other than Paris) are as follows:

French Riviera – Located in the South of France and with Nice as its “unofficial” capital, the French Riviera is a picturesque stretch of coastline extending from around Toulon or Saint Tropez to Menton and includes the Principality of Monaco . The French Riviera is a luxury destination known for its beaches , coves, and pretty villages.

Loire Valley – Nicknamed ‘The Garden of France,’ the Loire Valley is situated in the country’s center. The region is well known for its historic towns, Château de Chambord , and other impressive Renaissance castles , remarkable gardens, and wines. Also, thanks to its proximity to the capital, it is possible to visit Loire Valley on a day trip from Paris .

Normandy – Normandy is a region in Northern France with coastal towns and WWII sites such as the D-Day landing beaches. Other main attractions include imposing castles , the rocky island abbey of Mont Saint-Michel , Rouen with its beautiful Gothic Cathedral, and Giverny .

Alsace – This historical and cultural region of Eastern France shares a border with Germany and Switzerland.  Alsace is well-known for its wines, picturesque villages , and fairytale Christmas markets , with Colmar and Strasbourg as the most beautiful cities to explore.

Provence – From the glorious lavender fields to the UNESCO World Heritage walled city of Avignon , here you’ll find Roman history, stunning hilltop villages , and landscapes that inspired Cezanne.

Each of our French regions is truly unique – with differences in culture, traditions, heritage, gastronomy, and wine, which makes visiting them all an absolute delight!  I’ve written more on our regions in my guide here .

4. Booking your Flight or Train Tickets to France

Air France Strikes

If you are considering other means of transport in France, check out our quick guide to transportation in France .

Flight Tickets to France

Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Paris Orly (ORY) are the main international airports to travel to France.

If you don’t wish to visit Paris, check the list of French International Airports ; perhaps you can find flights to an airport closer to your final destination.

Lately, we have been using Omio to book our flights. Omio is very easy to use and has different filters – time, number of scales, departure time – so the research and booking process is straightforward.

Train Tickets to France

If you visit Paris or France from Europe, high-speed trains are a good and definitely a more eco-friendly option. Train travel is also a great way to explore the main destinations in France – check out our France by train guide .

To book train rides in France, we recommend Omio . The website is straightforward to use, it is in English, and they propose interesting promotions from time to time.

Our readers from the UK and Australia, however, prefer Trainline , probably because it has its headquarters in London, UK. Trainline is also in English and works more or less like Omio.

So there’s the Omio team and the Trainline team, but you should always find the same ticket prices.

5. Don’t Skimp on Travel Insurance

It’s important not to skimp on  Travel Insurance  when you are planning a trip to France. Unfortunately, things do happen when you least expect it, so you really need to be insured. Make sure your insurance policy covers you for things such as theft, loss of luggage, medical issues, and flight cancellation.

HeyMondo  offers travelers insurance that combines medical and travel-related coverage for single trips (leisure and business trips), annual multi-trip, and extended stays (with COVID-19 coverage included).  Use this link to get a 5% off .

SafetyWing has super affordable plans for budget travelers . While marketed as “Nomad Insurance,” you can take out a policy for as little as five days. Plus, you can sign up for insurance even if your journey has already started!

You can also compare plans, prices, and coverage with Travel Insurance Master , a comparison site that will find the perfect fit for you amongst the world’s leading programs. Travel Insurance Master is also the best place to look for senior travelers .

Schengen Area Travel Insurance

For those who require a  visa to enter France or any other Schengen country , travel insurance covering repatriation and medical expenses is compulsory. The necessary visa to enter Europe will not be issued unless you provide proof of suitable coverage – Look for the best coverage for you with Travel Insurance Master .

6. What to Do in France

Calanques de Piana - Corsica

In determining your France itinerary, you’re probably best to start with a list of all the wonderful places you want to visit. 

Perhaps you’re a wine lover and want to visit all the best French Wine Regions . In France, wine travel is immensely popular, and for good reasons, given the country produces some of the world’s best wines.

Maybe you’re interested in learning more about the history of France, in which case visiting the country’s most beautiful castles should be on your France travel plan. In France, you’ll find castles of all different architectural styles, from medieval castles to Renaissance châteaux, surrounded by manicured gardens as well as crumbling castles (my favorites!).

Of course, France also has some beautiful cities to visit , with an enticing mix of scenery, historical sites, architecture, museums, and great food. From the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel, there are also some gorgeous coastal towns in France . In these picturesque little towns, you can enjoy good food, wine, and long walks on stunning beaches.

Olympic rings Paris

In 2024, Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics . The French capital wants to share the Olympic fun with the rest of the country, with various events hosted in other French cities. So, if you’re considering a trip to France in 2024, what better opportunity to visit than during the Paris Olympics 2024?

From Nice to Tahiti, here’s the list of the Summer Olympics 2024 locations – other than Paris and its region – to combine sports with sightseeing. Check out the  Paris 2024 Schedule  for what to see and when in each of the Paris 2024 venues.

Need even more inspiration for things to do in France?  You can always start with our guide on the best 50 things to do in France . This guide covers the most iconic, popular, beautiful, fun, awe-inspiring things to do in the country grouped by geographical area.  Now all you need to do is tick a few of them off your list!

7. France Trip Planner: Itinerary and How to Get Around

Orleans France

Defining an itinerary will be one of the most important tasks while planning a trip to France.

As a general rule for planning your route, choose one destination – a city or area – for a 3-5 day trip to France. If you have a week to 10 days, then visit one to three places, ideally in different regions, for more variety.

For a 2-week trip, your France travel plan could cover three to four destinations.

Train Trip in France

Train travel is ideal if you want to visit the main cities in France, perhaps with some day trips or tours from these main cities. For more information about trains in France and how to work, check out our quick guide to Train Travel in France .

  • Check out these train trip itineraries for one week in France
  • Check out these train trip itineraries for two weeks in France

Road Trip in France

Taking a road trip in France is just about one of the coolest things you can ever do. With a car, some good tunes, and the best company, you are set for one of the most memorable adventures in your life. Check out all our road trips in France which cover all the French regions.

If you are hitting the French roads for the first time, have a look at our quick guide to driving in France , with information about French roads, requirements, and driving rules.

When we need to rent a car in France, we usually check DiscoverCars to find the best deals. Both sites cover the major and local brands (like Avis, Hertz, Europcar, and more) and compare prices for you – Check out our  best tips for renting a car in France .

If you are planning a longer trip in France and Europe, consider Auto Europe’s long-term car rentals and short-term lease options. They offer the best rates available for trips of one month or more.

If you need help crafting your French road trip itinerary, check out our France Road Trip Planner . With this e-book, we help you explore the best of France by car with the least amount of effort, and it comes with fun road trip ideas, from the wild Atlantic Coast to the pristine lakes in the Alps and the sunny villages in Provence.

easiest way to travel in france

Group Package Tours in France

Package tours of France can be a fantastic way to avoid the stress of planning your own trip. They are also great if you would like some company along the way.

Even as independent travelers, we like to browse  TourRadar  – the world’s most trusted online marketplace for multi-day tours where you can browse hundreds of package tours by different operators, and by date. Then filter by your interests and age group and read detailed reviews.

8. Share Your Itinerary, Review, and Start Booking

Sometimes, trip planning can be overwhelming, so it is good to share your itinerary with friends or family to get input and advice. Is it too much? Not enough? Are you missing something interesting on the way?

In our private Facebook Group, France Bucket List ,  you can just do that! We are locals in Paris running a Facebook group for francophiles and people planning a trip to France to share their questions, stories, photos, and memories of France.

Ask questions and get inspiration for your next French holiday, from where to go or itinerary review to things to see and do in France. If you are looking for tips for the Summer Olympics 2024, you are also welcome!

We specialize in Paris ( World in Paris ), France road trip itineraries, train itineraries, city guides, and wine travel ( France Bucket List ). You will also find the latest information about transportation strikes in France.

Once you have fine-tuned your French itinerary, start booking your hotels.

Join France Bucket List Facebook Group

When it comes to booking your bed in France, the best site to search and compare different accommodation options in Europe is  Booking.com    because you have everything from hostels to luxury hotels. What I have found quite regularly on  Booking.com  is that you can get a room in a small hotel for the same price as a hostel. Research makes all the difference! – Click here to start booking your hotels in France with Booking.com

If you want to take day tours, you can find great ideas with platforms like GetYourGuide and Tiqets . When I travel in France solo, I find it easier to book with Tiqets , as most of the proposals on GetYourGuide require a minimum of two travelers to book a tour.

There you have it, our ultimate guide on how to plan a trip to France. Whether this is your very first time in France or one of many trips to this wonderful country, this France Trip Planner 2024 will help you craft a trip to France you will never forget.

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  • Getting around France: Transportation Tips

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I would give this 6 stars if the ratings went that high! This really was one of the highlights of our vacation. Due to scheduling issues, we ended up with ...

With the most extensive train network in Western Europe, France is a great country in which to travel by rail. The national rail company, SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer), runs fast, efficient trains between the main towns. Buses cover rural areas, but services can be sporadic, with awkward departure times. If you want to get off the beaten track the best option is to have your own transport.

Canal and river trips

Tailor-made travel itineraries for france, created by local experts.

An active walking tour out of the way in France

14 days  / from 3860 USD

An active walking tour out of the way in France

Your trip starts with an in-depth introduction to France in Paris: several unique day excursions connect you with local Parisians to show you their city and way of life. Afterwards continue south to start a few days walking journey through Southern France before ending around Avignon.

Southern France – Walks in the Alpilles and Lavender fields

10 days  / from 2411 USD

Southern France – Walks in the Alpilles and Lavender fields

Start your tour in the coastal city of Marseille, exploring Cassis on the way. Around the Alpilles in Provence, you will be provided with detailed walking materials to explore the area on foot, from both Les Baux and St Remy. End your tour in famous Avignon.

Tasting Eastern France

12 days  / from 2948 USD

Tasting Eastern France

A delicious yet active journey through Eastern France. Start your trip in Lyon with some unique food tours before setting off on a 4-day walk across the Beaujolais region. Almost every day ends with a wine tasting in your guesthouse, soothing for body and soul.

SNCF (0844 848 5848) operates one of the most efficient, comfortable and user-friendly railway systems in the world. Staff are generally courteous and helpful, and its trains – for the most part, fast, clean and reliable – continue, in spite of the closure of some rural lines, to serve most of the country.

Pride and joy of the French rail system is the high-speed TGV ( train à grande vitesse ), capable of speeds of up to 300kph, and its offspring Eurostar. The continually expanding TGV network has its main hub in Paris, from where main lines head north to Lille, east to Strasbourg and two head south: one to Marseille and the Mediterranean, the other west to Bordeaux and the Spanish frontier. Spur lines service Brittany and Normandy, the Alps, Pyrenees and Jura.

Bookable online only, iDTGV trains compete with low-cost airlines and have quiet areas, a bar, facilities to watch DVDs and play computer games. Available on routes to more than 30 destinations from Paris including Bordeaux, Mulhouse, Marseille, Nice, Perpignan, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Hendaye, travel times can be changed for an additional fee. Intercité is the catch-all brand name for trains providing intercity services on routes not yet upgraded to TGV. Though not as fast, they have decent facilities including restaurant cars. Intercité sleeper services link Paris, Toulouse, the Alps and the south. Local services are covered by TER regional express trains.

Aside from the regular lines there are a number of special tourist trains , usually not part of the SNCF system or covered by normal rail passes, though some offer a discount to rail-pass holders. One of the most popular is the spectacular Petit Train Jaune, which winds its way up through the Pyrenees.

Tickets and fares

Tickets can be bought online or at train stations ( gare SNCF ). If you have language problems or there are long queues at the counter, note that touch-screen vending machines with instructions in English sell tickets for express services in most stations; separate vending machines for regional (TER) services have basic English labelling. All tickets – but not passes or computerized tickets printed out at home – must be validated in the orange machines located beside the entrance to the platforms, and it’s an offence not to follow the instruction Compostez votre billet (“validate your ticket”).

Timetables covering particular destinations are available free at stations. The word Autocar (often abbreviated to car ) on the timetable signifies that the service is covered by an SNCF bus, on which rail tickets and passes are valid.

Fares are cheaper if you travel off-peak ( période bleue or blue period) rather than during peak hours ( période blanche or white period); peak period generally means Monday mornings and Friday and Sunday evenings. One-way iDTGV fares from Paris to Nice start at around €56, and from as little as €30 one-way to Toulouse. Tickets are sold a maximum of three months in advance on national trains and four months in advance on TER. You can choose your seat on TGV; reservation is obligatory on certain Intercité services.

On certain mainline routes a limited number of discount tickets , known as tarifs Prems can be bought up to ninety days in advance; these are non-refundable and cannot be changed. Prices start at €25. It’s worth checking the Trainline.com website for last-minute offers, too.

Rail passes

SNCF offers a range of travel cards , which are valid for one year, and can be purchased online, by phone (33 892 35 35 35), through accredited travel agents and from main gares SNCF. For example, the Carte Weekend (€75) offers a discount of between 25 and 50 percent for cardholders and a companion for weekend journeys including travel on TGV trains. The Carte Jeune (€50) for 12- to 28-year-olds implements a 25 to 50 percent discount at any time. Similar deals are available for the over-60s (Carte Senior; €60) and families with children under the age of 12 (Carte Enfant +; €75).

Non-Europeans also have the option of picking up the France Rail Pass (starting from $205/$371 for three days unlimited travel in one month) before arriving in France. The pass is available for 3- to 9-day periods.

SNCF operates bus services between train stations in areas no longer accessible by rail. Additionally, private, municipal and departmental buses can be useful for local and cross-country journeys – for instance along the long coast of the Var, much of which is not served by train. If you want to see much outside the main towns be prepared for early starts and careful planning – the timetable is often constructed to suit market and school hours. As a rule, buses are cheaper and slower than trains.

Larger towns usually have a gare routière (bus station), often next to the gare SNCF . However, the private bus companies don’t always work together and you’ll frequently find them leaving from an array of different points (the local tourist office should be able to help locate the stop you need).

Most of France’s coastal islands, which are concentrated around Brittany and the Côte d’Azur can only be reached by ferry . Local companies run services, with timetables and prices varying according to season. Some routes have a reduced schedule or cease to operate completely in winter months, while in high season booking ahead is recommended on all but the most frequent services.

Arriving by air from outside Europe, you may be able to get a good deal on add-on domestic flights . Air France operates the majority of routes within the country, although competition is hotting up, with the likes of easyJet running internal discount flights from Paris or Lyon to Biarritz, Brest, Corsica, Nice and Toulouse.

Driving in France can be a real pleasure, with its magnificent network of autoroutes providing sweeping views of the countryside. If you’re in a hurry, it’s worth paying motorway tolls to avoid the often congested toll-free routes nationales (marked, for example, RN116 or N116 on signs and maps), many of which have been reclassified as routes départementales in recent years. Many of the more minor routes départementales (marked with a D) are uncongested and make for a more scenic – if slow – drive.

There are times when it’s wiser not to drive at all: in big cities; around major seaside resorts in high season; and at peak holiday migrations such as the beginning and end of the month-long August holiday, and the notoriously congested weekends nearest July 14 and August 15.

Licences, petrol and tolls

US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African and all EU driving licences are valid in France for up to twelve months, though an International Driver’s Licence makes life easier. The minimum driving age is 18 and you must hold a full licence. Drivers are required to carry their licence with them when driving, and you should also have the insurance and registration documents with you in the car.

All the major car manufacturers have garages and service stations in France, which can help if you run into mechanical difficulties. You’ll find them listed in the Yellow Pages of the phone book under “ Garages d’automobiles ”; for breakdowns, look under “ Dépannages ”. If you have an accident or theft, contact the local police – and keep a copy of their report in order to file an insurance claim. Within Europe, most car insurance policies cover taking your car to France; check with your insurer. However, you’re advised to take out extra cover for motoring assistance in case your car breaks down.

Note that petrol stations in rural areas tend to be few and far between, and those that do exist usually open only during normal shop hours – don’t count on being able to buy petrol at night and on Sunday. Thankfully, some stations are equipped with automated 24-hour pumps. Most sell unleaded ( sans plomb ), and diesel ( gazole or gasoil ); some also sell LPG and an increasing number are selling SP95-E10, a form of unleaded which includes 10 percent ethanol. Not all cars can run on this, so check with the manufacturer before using it.

Most autoroutes have tolls : rates vary, but to give you an idea, travelling by motorway from Calais to Montpellier costs roughly €65.70; pay in cash or by credit card (get in a lane marked CB at the toll-gates). You can work out routes and costs of both petrol and tolls online at the useful viamichelin.com . UK motorists can use the Liber-T automatic tolling lanes if their cars are fitted with the relevant transponder; to register in advance for a transponder and for more information see saneftolling.co.uk .

Rules of the road

Since the French drive on the right , drivers of right-hand-drive cars must adjust their headlights to dip to the right. This is most easily done by sticking on glare deflectors, which can be bought at most motor accessory shops, at the Channel ferry ports or the Eurostar terminal and on the ferries. It’s more complicated if your car is fitted with High-Intensity Discharge (HID) or halogen-type lights; check with your dealer about how to adjust these well in advance. Dipped headlights must be used in poor daytime visibility.

All non-French vehicles must display their national identification letters (GB, etc) either on the number plate or by means of a sticker, and all vehicles must carry a red warning triangle, a reflective safety jacket and (since July 2012) a single use breathalyser. You are also strongly advised to carry a spare set of bulbs, a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit. Seat belts are compulsory and children under 10 years must travel in an approved child seat, harness or booster appropriate to their age and size.

In built-up areas the law of priorité à droite – giving way to traffic coming from your right, even when it is coming from a minor road – still sometimes applies, including at some roundabouts. A sign showing a yellow diamond on a white background indicates that you have right of way, while the same sign with a diagonal black slash across it warns you that vehicles emerging from the right have priority. Cédez le passage means “Give way”; vous n’avez pas la priorité means “You do not have right of way”.

If you have an accident while driving, you must fill in and sign a constat d’accident (declaration form) or, if another car is also involved, a constat aimable (jointly agreed declaration); in the case of a hire car, these forms should be provided with the car’s insurance documents.

Unless otherwise indicated speed limits are: 130kph (80mph) on autoroutes ; 110kph (68mph) on dual carriageways; 90kph (55mph) on other roads; and 50kph (31mph) in towns. In wet weather, and for drivers with less than two years’ experience, these limits are 110kph (68mph), 100kph (62mph) and 80kph (50mph) respectively, while the town limit remains constant. Many towns and villages have introduced traffic calming and 30kph limits particularly in town centres where there are lots of pedestrians. Fixed and mobile radars are now widely used. The alcohol limit is 0.05 percent (0.5 grams per litre of blood), and random breath tests and saliva tests for drugs are common. There are stiff penalties for driving violations, ranging from on-the-spot fines for minor infringements to the immediate confiscation of your licence and/or your car for more serious offences. Note that radar detectors and SatNav systems that identify the location of speed traps are illegal in France.

To rent a car in France you must be over 21 (25 with some agencies) and have driven for at least a year. The paper counterpart of UK driving licences is now obsolete and therefore for UK licence-holders to prove to any car rental agency that they have not exceeded the maximum twelve penalty points, it is essential to go to the “ Share Driving Licence Service ” with the DVLA website prior to your rental, where you can attain the necessary evidence.

Car rental costs upwards of €80 a day and €100–250 for a week for the smallest car; reserve online well in advance to get the best price. You’ll find the big-name international firms – Avis, Hertz and so on – represented at airports and in most major towns and cities. Local firms can be cheaper but they won’t have the agency network for one-way rentals and you should check the small print. Unless you specify otherwise, you’ll get a car with manual (stick shift) transmission.

Car rental agencies

By scooter and motorbike.

Scooters are ideal for pottering around locally. They’re easy to rent – places offering bicycles often also rent out scooters. Expect to pay in the region of €35 a day for a 50cc machine. If you are over 24 years old, you don’t need a licence for a 50cc moped – just passport/ID – but otherwise you’ll need a driving licence. For anything 50cc–125cc you’ll need to have held a driving licence for at least two years regardless of your age, and for anything over 125cc you need a full motorbike licence. Rental prices are around €60–70 a day for a 125cc bike and expect to leave a hefty deposit by cash or credit card – over €1000 is the norm – which you may lose in the event of damage or theft. Crash helmets are compulsory on all bikes, and the headlight must be switched on at all times. For bikes over 125cc it is compulsory to wear reflective clothing. It is recommended to carry a first-aid kit and a set of spare bulbs.

Bicycles ( vélos ) have high status in France, where cyclists are given respect both on the roads and as customers at restaurants and hotels. In addition, local authorities are actively promoting cycling, not only with urban cycle lanes, but also with comprehensive networks in rural areas (often on disused railways). Most towns have well-stocked repair shops, but if you’re using a foreign-made bike with non-standard wheels, it’s a good idea to carry spare tyres.

You can take your bike free of charge without reservation on many TER and Intercité trains; look out for trains marked on the timetable with a bicycle symbol. Folding bikes travel free on TGV and Intercité trains if they’re packed into a bag no more than 90cm x 120cm; for non-folding bikes you’ll have to pay a €10 fee and it may be necessary to book a space in advance. Another option is to have your bicycle delivered to your destination for a fee of €80. Eurostar has similar arrangements. On ferries, bikes count as your “vehicle” and attract much lower charges than taking a car across. Some airlines, such as British Airways, will not charge an additional fee for a bicycle if it’s within your free baggage allowance; others now charge – check when making your booking.

Bikes – usually mountain bikes ( vélos tout-terrain or VTT) or hybrid bikes ( vélos tout-chemin or VTC) – are often available to rent from campsites and hostels, as well as from specialist cycle shops and some tourist offices for around €15 per day. Many cities, including Lyon, Marseille, Nice and Paris, have public self-service bike hire schemes with hire points scattered widely throughout the city.

With over 7000km of navigable rivers and canals, boating is one of the most relaxed ways of exploring France. Expect to pay between around €800 and €2500 per week, depending on the season and level of comfort, for a four- to six-person boat. There are many companies offering boating holidays or you could contact the Fédération des Industries Nautiques (01 44 37 04 00). If you want to bring your own boat, contact Voies Navigables de France (VNF) (0800 863 000), which has information in English on maximum dimensions, documentation, regulations and so forth. The principal areas for boating are Brittany, Burgundy, Picardy-Flanders, Alsace and Champagne. The eighteenth-century Canal de Bourgogne and 300-year-old Canal du Midi in particular are fascinating examples of early canal engineering, the latter being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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updated 26.04.2021

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France Travel: the best ways To Get Around The Country

Published 09 Septbmer 2022 by  Leyla Alyanak  — Parisian by birth, Lyonnaise by adoption, historian by passion

What is the best mode of France travel and transportation? Should you drive? Take the train? Or bus? Let's see what's best.

Not only is France the most visited country in the world, but it is also the largest country in Western Europe: getting around requires a bit of planning and forethought.

France has excellent public transportation, from efficient trains and buses to cheap rideshares. Choose the right transportation for France, travel across this beautiful country efficiently, and you can expect a visit you won't forget.

Let's have a look at all the pros and cons of each transportation method, from cost to total time spent travelling, all of it key information that will help you when  planning a trip to France .

NOTE: Pages on this site may contain affiliate links, which bring in a small commission at no cost to you.

COMING TO FRANCE? THESE RESOURCES CAN HELP!

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Travel France by train

Within France, train travel is actually pleasurable, with a range of high-speed and local trains that serve many small towns and 231 cities across the country. It's certainly one of my favourite types of transportation in France.

Many train routes are unbelievably picturesque, weaving across mountains or along lakeshores through scenery you might not see otherwise. Taking the train in France is also efficient: there are good connections, trains are clean and modern (most, anyway) and the cost is reasonable.

If you're traveling from another European country, trains are among the easiest ways to travel to France, especially now, with the array of available  European train passes .

Tips for train travel

Whether you intend to hop between the most beautiful cities in France or explore the more remote but gorgeous French villages , here are some essential tips for travelling by train.

France travel by train - TGV, high-speed train travel in France

  • You'll need to understand the ins and outs of how to travel France by train , from the likelihood of train strikes (high) to the location of railway stations.
  • France has a number of high-speed trains, the TGV, which are run by the national railway company, SNCF, or by a few private providers. These run between major cities, with smaller regional trains connecting towns in more rural areas. Beyond the city-to-city routes, you'll find local trains that serve smaller towns.
  • You can book your tickets online . If you intend to travel all over the country, consider getting either a France Pass or a Global Pass that includes France (in its list of 33 countries).
  • You can check your local France travel advisory or the SNCF to get information about travelling with your pet. Dogs and cats are allowed on all trains in France (except the Eurostar), with a few conditions.
  • There are no luggage restrictions when using the railway services.
  • One of the major advantages of train travel is the downtown location of most train stations, which save precious travel time.

Getting around France by car

Travelling France by car is possibly the most expensive way to get around the country – but also the one that will get you to the most places. 

Rental car prices went up after the Covid pandemic and haven't quite come down yet. Fuel is also increasingly expensive in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the energy troubles that followed, although the government has tried to subsidize gas pump prices to some extent. Tolls, too, will add up quickly. The ViaMichelin online route planner is useful to calculate the costs of your tolls and gas.

Although this may be the most expensive option, it will also give you the most freedom. France's roads are also excellent, making it a pleasure to sit behind the wheel (as long as you avoid the holiday season traffic).

Lovely countryside you will see when you travel France by car

Tips for travelling by car in France

Consider this travel advice if you are planning on travelling across France by car:

  • Having a car is the best way to get to the most remote parts of France and access the country's unique things to see and do. If you don't have a car, you can easily  rent a car in France .
  • Use Discover Cars to compare car rental prices and to get the best deals for France.
  • If you plan to rent a car, consider an agency located in a train station. This allows you to combine train and car travel, which can be a win-win.
  • Driving in France can be different from other countries, so learn as much as you can about our (sometimes strange) road rules and what to expect from other drivers.
  • Consider this: finding parking in popular cities such as Paris and Lyon can be very difficult, and some cities have blackout periods when only cars with certain pollution ratings are allowed to enter the city limits.

Travelling France by plane

Air travel, in my opinion, is probably the worst way to travel around France, with three exceptions. Here are the situations in which flying is the best way to travel in France.

Exception #1: When you're traveling cross-country 

This applies if you're traveling cross-country, from East to West or vice-versa, for example between the Alps and the Atlantic.

France is a highly centralized country and "all roads lead to Paris". So if you're trying to travel, say, from Lille to Marseille or Lyon to Bordeaux by land, you'll probably have to go through Paris. You may even have to change train stations within Paris.

Here's an example of what I mean.

Flying from Lyon to Bordeaux takes just over one hour. Add the messy airport formalities at each end and you're looking at, maybe, four hours.

The train, on the other hand, is a seven-hour journey, and at least one train change, if not two. In some cases, you may have to head north from Lyon all the way to Paris, and then head south again towards Bordeaux. I live near Lyon, and when I go to Bordeaux, I fly.

France has 34 airports suited for international travel, so you can access most of the main tourist destinations by plane.

Flying within France can be incredibly cheap if you use discount airlines and book well ahead of time, often far cheaper than the train. But you'll have to factor transport to and from the airport, which sometimes costs as much as the flight itself.

Exception #2: When you're traveling outside mainland France

Not every French destination is on the mainland.

Corsica is very close to the mainland, but the ferry takes 12 hours. This is fine if you're taking your car, but otherwise, the short flight takes an hour from Lyon and 1.5 hours from Paris.

You can always rent a car once you get to Corsica.

And then there are France's overseas territories, when flying is the only form of travel that makes any sense, with islands as far-flung as the Caribbean and the South Pacific.

Exception #3: When you want to avoid Paris

Whereas all roads may lead to Paris, many flights do not.

Take EasyJet , the discount airline. While many flights go to and from Paris, you can fly between many French cities directly, for example from Lille to Toulouse or Lyon to La Rochelle.

You can even go one step further and fly from one of the cities near a French border, like Geneva or Basel (Switzerland), which have flights into many cities in France.

Discount airlines for France travel by plane

It usually makes little sense to fly in France, outside those three exceptions.

Tips on plane travel in France

Here are some essential things to consider when flying in France:

  • Try to book your flights as far in advance as you can to get the best prices and most choices.
  • You'll usually be able to book the best deals on a Wednesday or Thursday.
  • Remember to reserve your ongoing transport: flights will only take you to large cities, but if you're going anywhere else, to a small town or a village, you'll have to continue your journey with other modes of transport.

France travel by bus

If you want to travel to more off-the-beaten-path regions , you may have to take the bus. Most regions are served by trains − but not all.

If you've ascertained there is no train where you're going, check the bus schedules. They take longer than the train, but they also go further, and travel at odd hours when trains might not be running.

For example, the mostly rural Ardèche region in central France has virtually no trains, so all transport between towns takes place on buses.

All bus companies can travel any route, so there is quite a lot of competition, which means plenty of choice and low prices. 

France travel by BlaBlaBus

Tips for bus travel in France

Here are a few tips and information to help you enjoy those bus trips across France:

  • The best way to find buses is by using a site that aggregates tickets, like Trainline , which covers the two largest companies, Flixbus and BlaBlaBus. The other option is to download the bus companies' individual apps.
  • You are highly likely to get wifi on a bus travelling between cities but always double-check with the bus provider. That said, I have been on buses where the wifi signal was very weak and unstable... but that happens on trains as well.
  • Some bus companies allow small pets free of charge. However, Flixbus and BlaBlaBus allow only guide and assistance dogs onto their buses.
  • Two dozen towns in France offer  free public transportation .

Using rideshares for France travel

When planes and trains are full, which often happens around school holiday periods, rideshares become popular (in fact, they're gaining popularity in France).

Think of it as taking a taxi but splitting the fare with another passenger.

The problem is finding someone going to your exact destination at the time and on the day you want, but this is relatively easier on the more frequented routes.

Ridesharing gives you a fantastic opportunity to get to know new people during your trip and find out about your destination if your driver happens to be a local. 

Tips for ridesharing 

Here are some essential tips to consider for ridesharing in France:

  • Ridesharing apps in France include Uber, of course, but also others such as Bolt, Heetch, FreeNow, Marcel, and MySam. Each is different – some are in Paris only, others work in cities across France, and yet others don't take your money but put you in touch with prospective ridesharers, with whom you negotiate the fee directly.
  • Keep an eye out for your driver's rating as a general safety precaution. If they speak English, this can help you gauge their services and make the trip enjoyable.
  • Keep safety in mind and make sure you tell someone which car you're going in, along with a licence plate number.
  • Like any other form of travel in France, there is always a chance of an accident, so make sure you have a reliable travel insurance.  SafetyWing has good France coverage and is easy to apply for, even once you've started your trip.

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Bonjour! I’m Leyla! I was born in Paris and now live in the bucolic mountain foothills of Eastern France between Lyon and Annecy. 

I'm rediscovering my own back yard after years of living abroad in Canada, Spain and Switzerland as a journalist and a diplomat - and I'm loving every minute.

Passionate about history and culture, I’ve created Offbeat France to seek out my country’s mysteries and legends, less-traveled destinations, along with plenty of food stops and many castles - I am French, after all!

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Everything You Need to Know About Taking the Train in France

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  • Getting Around
  • Types of Trains

International Train Services

  • How to Buy Tickets
  • Tips for Taking the Train

France is the largest country in western Europe, so train travel makes sense. Happily, 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 high-speed lines (LGV or Ligne a Grande Vitesse) .

There are over 1,056 miles of dedicated high-speed lines and thousands more main lines and smaller lines, so almost everywhere is accessible by train travel in France.

The French rail network links all the major towns and links 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 meticulous planning if you are traveling in rural France by train.

Getting Around France From Paris

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 .

  • Gare du Nord: Northeast France, London (Eurostar) , Brussels, Amsterdam (Thalys), Lille, Valenciennes, Calais
  • Gare de l'Est: Nancy, Metz, Reims , Strasbourg , Germany, Luxembourg
  • Gare de Lyon: Lyon , Dijon, Besançon, Geneva, Mulhouse, Zurich, Clermont-Ferrand, Marseille , Nice , Nimes, Montpellier , Perpignan; Italy and the east of Spain
  • Gare d'Austerlitz: Tours, Poitiers, Limoges, Bordeaux , Toulouse , Biarritz, western Spain
  • Gare Montparnasse: All western TGVs, Brittany , Brest, Rennes, Nantes
  • Gare St. Lazare: Caen , Cherbourg, Rouen , Le Havre

Types of Trains in France

All types of trains run in France, from the special TGV and other high-speed trains to smaller branch lines. While some lines are 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 that gives you a fantastic view of the French countryside you are powering through.

The main types of trains in France are:

  • The TGV Train network ( Train a Grande Vitesse ) runs to major cities in France and Europe.
  • Intercites trains cover many of the medium distance routes between cities like Amiens, Orleans, Bordeaux, Caen, Lyon, Reims, Troyes, Toulouse, and Paris. They link cities in French regions like Nantes, Bordeaux, and Lyons-Nantes-Tours.
  • TER is the French regional service running from towns and villages over 21 regional networks in France.
  • AutoTrain sleeper service runs from Paris Bercy Station down to the south of France, taking you and your car.

Other national rail carriers use TGV train technology in Europe:

  • TGV Lyria trains run through France into Switzerland
  • Eurostar runs between the UK, Lille, Paris, and Brussels
  • Thalys trains run to Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany

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 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 local line. And to compete with the low-cost airlines, TGV trains offer reasonable 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. 

Visitors from the USA can buy online with Rail Europe , and visitors from the U.K. can buy online with  Voyages sncf (formerly Rail Europe UK).

Tips for Taking the Train in France

  • Arrive early to find out which platform the train goes from. Paris train stations can be quite confusing.
  • There might not be good refreshments on the train; check in advance and, if necessary, buy your own snacks/light lunches at the station.
  • You will have to validate your ticket. Look for the yellow machines ( ‘compostage de billets’ ) usually just before reaching the platform. Insert your tickets into the slot and retrieve them. Ticket inspectors will check your ticket on the train, and if it is not validated will probably find you.

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How to Ride the High-Speed TGV Trains in France

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One Week in France: The Ultimate Itinerary

Guide to Major Train Stations in Paris

How to Travel From Paris to Montpellier

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What is the Best Way to Travel in France? A Detailed Guide for Tourists

What is the Best Way to Travel in France? A Detailed Guide for Tourists

Regardless of whether you’re a tourist or living in France , commuting is very important to fully experience what the country has to offer. So, the answer to what is the best way to travel in the country depends on certain factors. Some of them are:

  • The time you have to spare
  • The budget you’re operating on
  • The location you’re traveling to

Knowing the specifics will help you make an informed decision about the mode of travel to choose. But for this article, let’s look at the three most popular ways in which you can travel around France.

Travelling France by Bus

Prior to 2015, only international companies passing through the country used to travel by bus. However, the bus routes are now expanding their reach. The  SCNF  is now operating buses in routes where trains cannot travel.

If time is not a problem, and you want to keep commuting costs to a minimum, choose buses. Inter-city travel might take you several hours through this medium, but you will save a lot of money in the process. Do check out  https://free-lookup.net  if you’re looking for a number lookup service for any purpose.

Travelling France by Plane

If you have limited time and can shell out a fair amount of money, then taking a flight is your best bet. If you choose to travel to Paris, you will have access to two airports in the city. Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle is located 25km north of the city, and Orly is 14km to the south. Both these airports are linked by shuttle buses and railways.

If you’re planning to come from abroad, catching a flight is no doubt the best way to travel to Paris. Not only are you saving time, but you are also making the journey more convenient. Other cities like Nice, Marseille, Strasbourg, Lyon, and Toulouse have international airports. They all have good links to Paris through the flight system.

Travelling France by Train

French rail travel is the best way to travel around the country. Due to the TGV , it is very fast and convenient to travel around France by train, and it is also quite affordable if you book early. You don’t have to arrive at the station hours before boarding a train or deal with strict baggage rules.

So, taking into account the check-in and cab time in the case of flights, the actual travel time is quite high. However, this is not the case when considering trains. The railway system is the most popular way to travel around France.

The train service can become quite expensive if you’re late in securing your ticket or have an emergency. However, SCNF has implemented several schemes to make traveling more affordable for people. It has several loyalty programs that you can take advantage of, and they are as follows:

  • Avantage Jeune: for people aged 12 to 27
  • Advantage Senior: for senior citizens aged over 60
  • Advantage Week-end: for people aged 27 to 60, traveling during the weekend.
  • Advantage Familie: for family travels

So, What is the Best Way to Travel In France?

Now that we have covered the three most popular ways, you have all the information you need to decide which model is best for you. The best way to travel around Paris is surely through trains due to their accessibility. However, you can also opt to  rent luxury cars  or cab services if you want. These services can often be more convenient based on your location and destination.

But, if you’re considering inter-city travel, then choosing either one of the trains or airways will be the best option for you. Not only will you save time, but you will also have a more convenient journey. Buses can be used if you’re traveling overnight or going somewhere trains don’t operate but do keep in mind that they take several hours.

Peter

Peter is the editor of France Travel Blog. He has traveled to France many times and is ready to share the knowledge in this travel guide for France.

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Plane, Train, or Bus: What’s the Best Way to Travel around France?

easiest way to travel in france

What is the best way to travel around France? Well, there’s not really a simple answer to that question. It depends. Where are you traveling? How much time do you have? What is your budget? There are many factors that must be considered when determining the best way to travel around France. Let’s assume the starting point is Paris to make this as easy to understand as possible.

Travel France by Train

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Traveling by train is my favorite form of transportation. There are no pesky TSA agents measuring the liquids in my carry on, which means I can pack my suitcase with all the wine it will hold. I can arrive minutes before the train leaves the station, the conductor isn’t telling me to turn off my electronic devices, and there is no seat belt light. Yes, train travel, especially in France, is quite civilized.

Thanks to the TGV {the high-speed train system}, most of the time it’s fastest and more convenient to take the train when traveling around France . Consider the time it takes to get from the Paris city center to either Charles de Gaulle or Orly, check bags, go through security, and board the plane. At a minimum, you’re looking at leaving your hotel three hours before takeoff. Throw in the actual flight time, along with waiting for checked bags and a cab ride or public transport to the city center, and travel time is 5+ hours from the time you left your Paris hotel room, until you arrive at your intended destination.

plane-train-or-bus-whats-the-best-way-to-travel-around-france-by-leah-walker2

For example, let’s look at a trip to Bordeaux. Should you take the 1:05 flight from CDG to Bordeaux, considering the factors I outlined in the previous paragraph, it takes approximately four hours to get to a hotel in Bordeaux’s center. Conversely, it takes less than 30 minutes to get from the Paris city center to Gare Montparnasse. The TGV from Paris to Bordeaux currently takes 3:16. In July 2017, that trip time will be cut to just 2:04. A tram stop is directly in front of Bordeaux’s train station, and for two euros, you can be on the other side of the city in about fifteen minutes. I’m not so great at math, but a trip from Paris to Bordeaux by plane and by train both take about four hours . Though, once the new higher speed train begins service, the trip will take around three hours.

plane-train-or-bus-whats-the-best-way-to-travel-around-france-by-leah-walker7

In the Bordeaux example, the time is about the same {for now}. However, the process of getting from Paris to Bordeaux by train is less taxing . Think about it: Is three hours of walking as strenuous as three hours running? Of course, the answer is no. I’d rather spend three hours sipping red wine in my train seat and one hour in transit than one hour in a plane seat and three hours in transit. When deciding the best way to travel around France, it’s important to consider all of the pieces of the puzzle, especially time, difficulty, and cost.

Travel France by Plane

plane-train-or-bus-whats-the-best-way-to-travel-around-france-by-leah-walker3

Although nine out ten times, the best way to travel around France is by train, there are a few occasions when a flight is your best bet. Take Nice for example. The fastest flight time from CDG or Orly is 1:20. Figure in transport to the airport, check in, security, etc. and you’re looking at a travel time of about 4:30. In contrast, the quickest train from Paris’ Gare de Lyon to Nice is 5:37. Factoring in transport time to and from the train station, it will be about 6:30 before you’re basking in the South of France sun. With limited time, clearly flying is the best option from Paris to Nice .

Travel France by Bus

plane-train-or-bus-whats-the-best-way-to-travel-around-france-by-leah-walker4

Traveling within France by bus once was limited to international companies passing through the country or by inter-regional service. Since 2015, the options for bus travel in France are expanding. Often the SNCF buses cover routes in which there is no train service, a void that needed to be filled.

plane-train-or-bus-whats-the-best-way-to-travel-around-france-by-leah-walker5

If you have more time than money, the bus is a great option . I searched for a trip from Paris to Lyon. By high-speed train, the fastest travel time is 1:57 and costs around $118 {at the time I checked}. Conversely, the same route by bus takes 7:30 and costs $17. Spending 5:33 of your time will save $101. Is your time worth about $18 per hour? Only you can decide the answer to that question.

plane-train-or-bus-whats-the-best-way-to-travel-around-france-by-leah-walker9

So, what’s the best way to travel around France? As you can see, there’s no clear-cut answer to that question. Circumstances, routes, and budgets all must be considered. The most important thing is to get out of the city . As much as I love Paris, there’s so much to discover in France. I think only seeing Paris is probably the biggest mistake that travelers make. And with the country’s superior transportation options, it’s simple and affordable to get out of the City of Light {as long as there’s not a strike}.

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22 Comments

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I love taking trains in France, but for us our favourite way of travelling in France is to drive. It allows us more flexibility on timings, we can stop as often as we like to sightsee on the way, it makes it easier for us to explore places that are not directly on a public transport route, and we can buy a lot more wine to bring home. We also like to have a cool box in the back with some basic kitchen equipment and crockery so that we can buy delicious food at French markets and enjoy the occasional picnic overlooking a lovely view. We love travelling in France!

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Leah Walker

Bingo on the more wine point!

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I have never traveled around France, but I would love to. Ground transportation seems like a great way to see a lot of the country side. Great if you have the time.

Yes! Whizzing by the countryside by train is such a thrill.

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Natasha Amar

Train travel is my favorite way of travel for all the reasons you mentioned and a certain sense of romanticism that I associate with it.

Ah, yes, it is quite romantic. Plus, the train stations are usually so much prettier than airports.

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I was just weighing all the various options on the best way to get from Bordeaux to some other cities in France, like Paris and Beaune. While I hated train travel when I lived in Italy, I actually quite enjoy it in France. The trains are very nice and the high speed TGV trains do allow you to easily zip around to many places. I also really like driving though too, since you can get off-the-beaten-path and really dig in to France’s pretty villages that aren’t accessible by public transportation.

It’s so easy in France to travel by train. I think it’s only rivaled by Switzerland in terms of comfort and convenience.

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I prefer train travel, especially in France where the trains are fast and comfortable. I’m not a fan of large buses but I do like driving, as it gives you the flexibility to stop whenever you want.

I do like a car, but I don’t want to be the one driving, unless I’m in the USA. 🙂

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Chetan Jadhav

Same here, even I prefer to travel by a car. But going through your article and the experiences you had sounds pretty interesting. France seems a pleasing place to wander, surely will plan and experience all the modes of transport. Keep posting 🙂

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Marlene Marques

I once took the TGV Paris / Bordeaux and was quite a nice trip. Super fast and comfortable. As for bus traveling, I always find it more dull and normally prefer to rent a car. 🙂

I’m not a bus traveler, but it’s a great option if on a budget.

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While I love to travel by car, it’s cheaper to use the train. Plus, their trains are indeed great – and fast – like you also said, the TGV is really fast. It saves a lot of time – and money – and they have a great network 🙂

Often, yes, it’s cheaper by train, especially with tolls and the price of gas. I like traveling by car in France, as long as I’m not driving!

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Carmen's Luxury Travel

I agree – only seeing Paris is a big mistake! Lovely post and photos, thanks for sharing. Happy travels 🙂

Yes, as much as I love Paris, there are so many wonderful places to see in France.

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Aileen Adalid

Great tips! But indeed, it really also depends on the kind of trip you want to do. But given that it’s France, I like it best to either do train or go on a road trip. I get to see things more up close! 😀

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I’m really convinced that traveling around France is not an issue. I’ve never been traveling in France with a plane, hope to try it too. Thanks for the tips anyway.

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Klyn Everett

We are traveling in early October from Paris to Arles and then eventually to Nice before flying home. Do you recommend taking the TGV to Avignon and then renting a car? Any suggestions for getting from Arles to Nice? Our time is unfortunately short so we have to make the most of every minute 🙂

Thank you!! Your blog and Insta stories are on my daily radar!

I’d take the TGV to Avignon and then rent a car. I’d use the car to get to Nice, dropping it off at the airport. There’s no easy way to get to Nice, unless by plane.

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David Helton

Thank you for all the interesting information. I am leading a group of students to France for a School Exchange. Just wandering if anyone has any idea about traveling with 15 chaperons and students and the easiest/cheapest way to get my students from place to place?

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Getting Around France: Transportation Tips

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Traveling around France is easy, whether you get there by plane, train, automobile — or even boat, in the case of Corsica. So don’t feel like you’ve got to spend all your time in Paris . Get out and explore the countryside, wine regions and other sights to be found in Western Europe’s largest country.

A fast two-hour train ride from Paris will get you to Lyon, France’s gastronomic center. A 90-minute drive puts you in Champagne, where you can sip bubbly in the town where Dom Perignon perfected it. A flight to Marseilles lets you soak up the Mediterranean sun while visiting classic Provencal towns like Aix, St. Remy, Arles and Nimes. Or maybe you just want to hop a Velib’ bike and cruise the streets of Paris like a local!

Here’s our guide to getting around France.

Flying to and Around France

Chances are, you’ll fly into Paris if you’re traveling direct from the U.S. — most likely landing at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport in Roissy, though some flights arrive in Orly (ORY). There are also direct flights from the U.S. to Lyon and Nice. Air France, United, Delta, British Airways and Lufthansa fly to CDG, while OpenSkies flies to Orly.

Air France is the country’s major airline for interior flights, but other European carriers, including discounter Ryanair, also serve various airports.

Keep an eye out for strikes and work slow-downs, which seem to happen at least once a year. Check your airline’s website prior to travel for any news.

France Air Travel Resources: Momondo.com WhichBudget.com

Renting a Car in France

If you’re sticking to major cities during your trip, there’s no need to rent a car. You’re much better off transferring by train or plane — and driving in urban areas can be a hair-raising experience.

But if you’re looking to explore the little towns and villages France is famous for, renting a car will give you the freedom you need. All the major rental agencies serve France, and if you’re staying three weeks or longer, there are also lease programs from Renault and Citroen which offer fully insured, brand-new cars at very attractive rates.

Here are some things to remember when renting:

– You’ll get the best deal by reserving your car before you arrive in France.

– To rent a car in France you must be at least 21 years old (or 25 years old for some agencies) and have a major credit card.

– Some agencies may require you to have had your driver’s license for at least a year. An international driving permit is not required for American renters.

– The majority of cars in France are manual transmission; you’ll pay a premium for an automatic (these also tend to be larger cars, which will guzzle more gas).

– If you’re going to be leaving luggage in the car while visiting sights, be sure you book a car with a trunk or covered hatchback large enough to hold and conceal everything. The lowest rental-class cars often have miniscule trunks.

– Insurance coverage and collision damage waivers very widely among rental agencies. If you’re counting on using your credit card insurance coverage, reconfirm it before leaving on your trip.

– Gas ( essence ) and highway tolls are far more expensive than in the United States. Many of the France’s largest, fastest highways are toll routes. In addition to cash, Visa and MasterCard (but not AmEx) credit cards ( cartes bancaires or CB) are accepted at most toll booths. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to choose a lane with a human being in the booth. Otherwise, if you have trouble with your card processing at the unmanned booths, press the button for assistance.

– Rent or bring along a GPS, unless you enjoy getting lost (which does have its rewards in France!).

– Children under 10 may not ride in the front seat.

– Combining rail travel and car rental can be convenient, with many rental agencies in or near train stations.

– Roundabouts — intersections where several roads lead to a central traffic circle — are common in France. Don’t freak out. You can go around the circle as many times as it takes to find the street you want! But notice that drivers signal when they’re going to turn out of a traffic circle, and be sure to do the same.

– On multi-lane highways and autoroutes , the French stick to the right-hand lane, except when passing. Always use your signal, and don’t pass on the right.

Car Rental Resources: AutoEurope.com CarRental.com Citroen-EuroPass.com/en / Europcar.com RenaultUSA.com

France by Train

France created one of the earliest high-speed train systems, and continues to add destinations. The TGV ( Train a Grande Vitesse ) serves 150 cities in France and neighboring countries, at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. It’s operated by SNCF, the state-owned railway company, which also offers regular inter-city services on its 20,000 miles of rails.

Rail Europe, the SNCF’s official representative in North America, offers a wide variety of rail passes — but all must be purchased before arriving in France. If you’re 60 or above, look into senior passes, which are good for 25 to 50 percent reductions on rail travel, depending on the day and time of travel, as well as how far in advance reservations are made.

If you don’t speak French, the best option is to reserve on the Rail Europe website. If you understand French, you’ll save some cash by reserving directly via the SCNF sites. (All links are below.) You can opt for first- or second-class seating, but the second-class option is perfectly nice and costs less. If you’re picking up reserved tickets at a train station, allow plenty of time. Most U.S. credit cards don’t work in the automatic kiosks, and lines can be long at ticket windows.

Regular train tickets need to be inserted into an automatic stamping machine to be validated before you get on the train. The French verb for this is composter . You’ll see other travelers doing this before going onto the platforms, so just watch and follow suit. TGV tickets purchased online and printed out do not need to be validated.

As with air travel, keep up on any news surrounding strikes.

France Rail Travel Resources: RailEurope.com SNCF.com (for regular trains) TGV.Voyages-SNCF.com (for TGV)

Traveling by Boat in France

If you’re planning a visit to Corsica, France’s largest island (aside from lands overseas), one possibility is to go by boat. The fastest trip is on the high-speed NGV ( Navire a Grande Vitesse ), which departs from Nice. There’s also regular ferry service from Marseille, Nice and Toulon. You can even get to Corsica from Italy, with ferries departing Genoa, Livorno, Savona, Naples or Sardinia.

France Ferry Resources: DirectFerries.co.uk/sncm_ferries.htm Corsica-Ferries.co.uk

Biking in France

France was a pioneer in bike-sharing, where you subscribe, then pick up a bike in one self-service location and drop it off at another. A number of French cities offer the service, so keep it in mind for short hops. It’s a good idea to first check out the system online, since fees differ depending on how long you keep a bike, and plans vary from town to town.

In Paris, more than 20,000 bikes are available in the Velib’ system. You can buy a one- or seven-day subscription online or at any Velib’ station. Dozens of other French cities offer similar programs; check the local tourist office for information.

France Bike Resources: En.Velib.Paris.fr

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How to Get Around France: Best Transportation for Travelers

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Tram at Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux, France

Tram at Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux, France

If you are looking for a destination that offers convenient and diverse transportation, France is a great choice, and this guide will give you an overview of the best French transportation options.

Whether you want to explore the urban attractions, the historic landmarks, or the scenic landscapes, you can find a suitable way to get around. However, navigating a foreign country and its transportation systems can be challenging, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language and culture. That’s why a Zicasso travel specialist can help you plan and arrange your transportation in France, so you can enjoy your trip without any hassle.

Explore the array of transportation methods for your trip and our tips on getting around France with ease.

We Can Help You Get Around France

Travel by plane, travel by train, travel by private transfer, travel by rental car, travel by bus, travel by boat, travel using urban travel options, travel using ridesharing apps, enjoy the best ways to travel in france.

Car driving though lavender fields in Provence, France

Provence, France

France is a beautiful country with many attractions and destinations to explore. Whether you want to visit the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris , the lavender fields in Provence, the wine regions in Bordeaux, or the beaches in Nice, we can help you get around the country with ease and style.

Our travel specialists will help you find the right transportation in France for your trip, with luxury and comfort in mind. You can choose from a variety of options, such as high-speed trains, private cars, buses, or even helicopters. We will take care of all the details, such as booking tickets, arranging transfers, and providing guides. You just have to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Expert Tips for Discerning Travelers

France has one of Europe's most developed flight infrastructures, with roughly 170 airports scattered across the country. Many are small and act as regional hubs, but quickly offer access to different corners of the country.

International flights land in many of France’s best places , including Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, and Marseille, but domestic flights can connect you to most large cities and even smaller provincial towns. This makes it much faster to travel long distances when you have a limited schedule for your France tour.

Rail station in Paris, France

Paris, France

Trains are one of the best ways to travel around France. The centralized network of tracks makes a train ride scenic, fast, and comfortable when traveling between cities or neighboring countries.

A train ride inside of France is operated by the state-owned agency SNCF and includes high-speed trains, intercity trains, and slower, regional trains. When visiting different cities, a train ride gives you a broader glimpse of France, with routes often connecting via Paris.

Hiring a private driver in France is very easy and provides more than just a transfer. A private driver gives you the freedom to explore at your pace, visit certain places not necessarily connected to a familiar tourist route, and provides a personalized luxury service.

A driver may also act as a tour guide as you explore a city or region to learn more from a specific point of view, whether on a village tour of the Perigord, a chateaux tour of the Loire Valley, a wine tour of Champagne, or a private transfer around southern France .

Medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda in France's Dordogne department

Sarlat-la-Canéda, France

A car is a great way to discover the broader corners of France if you are not sticking to big cities. Renting a car is easy, but having a car can be a nightmare when you consider traffic, finding parking, and different traffic laws when visiting large cities.

However, outside of the cities, a car gives you the freedom to wander country roads, visit hidden villages, or find lesser-known vineyards. The highly developed highways and roads also make driving easy, especially on long journeys, but a train is much more efficient and relaxing.

France has a strong and well-developed long-distance bus system covering approximately 224 destinations.

A bus is an excellent alternative for sightseeing in France, but lacks the freedom of a car rental and the speed of a train. Intercity buses in France cover most cities, provide friendly service, and offer comfortable seating, with a relaxing setting in which to reach areas to which a train may not travel.

However, depending on the distance you are covering, it may be much faster and more convenient to take the train or a domestic flight.

Ferry boat leaving Corsica, France

Corsica, France

Boats are a great way to travel the coastline of France. For a different perspective of Normandy to Biarritz, or the famous beaches of the Cote d’Azur, traveling by boat can be a delight.

Ferries also connect France to other countries in Europe, such as England, Italy, and Spain. There is also a ferry to Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean Sea. Traveling in France by boat is beautiful, but it depends on your travel goals, timeframe, and love of the water.

Paris metro statin

Metro station in Paris, France

Taxis are generally the fastest and easiest way to travel within the borders of a large city like Paris or Marseille.

It is easy to hail a cab, drivers are licensed at the local level, and rules are standard across all systems. There are also taxi stations that are noticeably labeled. Certain cities like Paris, Rennes, Toulouse, and Lyon have well-tended metro systems that are easy to understand and access.

Beyond a private taxi, the metro is generally the fastest and most efficient way to travel and explore a city.

France does have ridesharing apps that make traveling in larger cities easier, quicker, and generally less expensive than using a taxi, including cars, bike-sharing, or e-scooters.

The majority of ridesharing apps are active in big cities, but not outside of those spaces. It’s also important to remember that ridesharing apps are not always cheaper or better than licensed taxis when flex pricing occurs throughout the day.

easiest way to travel in france

France has easy transportation options that make exploring the cities and countryside accessible for your schedule and budget. Historic cities, charming towns, colorful landscapes, and famous beaches make France alluring, with the best times to visit places like Paris, the wine regions, or the French Riviera different depending on the season.

Our France travel guide gives you tips on how to travel the country with your goals in mind and you can browse our collection of France vacations and tours .

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Airports & Transfers

Getting around paris, paris travel guide, paris essentials, train travel, paris arrondissements, getting around in paris – metro, bus, boat, bike, train….

Walk, peddle, ride above ground, ride underground, or go by boat. It's a relatively compact city, so combining your own two feet with low-cost public transportation is the best way of of getting around in Paris. In fact, it's one of the best walking cities in the world, and it also has one of the best public transportation systems. Have a Metro map with you and you'll never be lost.

That's what we do — we walk whenever we can, because there's just so darn much to experience. But, when we need to go farther across the city, or when we're in a hurry, we hop on the Metro or a bus. There a lot to see in Paris, and you can walk between museums, monuments and attractions in a matter of minutes! For example, the footbridge from Musée d'Orsay gets you across the river and into the Tuileries Garden in less than five minutes.

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Travel underground.

The Metro

It's one of the oldest and best subways systems in Europe and the top way for getting around in Paris. The Paris Metro is convenient, extensive, affordable and safe. One ticket gets you anywhere in Paris.

For you history buffs , the first Metro line was designed by engineer Fulgence Bienvenue and opened in July 1900. Now, 200 kilometers of rail connect 300 stations. Today, a Metro station is within a 9-minute walk of virtually anywhere in Paris. Metro tickets/cards can be used on the Metro, on city buses, on the trams that operate on the edges of the city, and on the RER (the deep underground commuter trains) within the central city.

More Metro Information

  • Learn About Metro Tickets & the Navigo Easy card …
  • Metro Maps …
  • Guide to RER Rapid Transit Trains …

Getting Around Paris by Public Bus

Public Bus

Riding the Metro is efficient, but don't ignore the city bus system . Buses are a wonderful way to travel around Paris while seeing a lot of the city. There are approximately a gazillion bus stops in the city and there will be one very near to your hotel or apartment or anyplace else you happen to be.

Each bus stop posts the routes of the buses that stop there. Most of the bus stops have displays that show you when the next bus will arrive. The newer bus stops are pretty high-tech, with interactive maps, photo shows and more.

In the daytime, buses usually run from five to seven minutes apart , so even if you miss one, another one will soon arrive. Remember, you can use your Metro ticket or pass on the bus, making it very convenient.

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Insiders metro & bus map secret.

Metro & Bus Map Secret

One of the greatest things you find at the RATP website ( Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens , the public transportation authority in Paris) is an interactive route map for the Metro, buses and RER.

You can use this to plot the best route from any one point in Paris to another. Enter either the actual street addresses, or enter Metro stops. You can choose whether to travel by Metro or bus, or let them choose the best route for you. You can enter either departure time (right from your hotel or apartment) or arrival time (at your final destination).

In short, it's a fabulous and extremely useful tool , and here's the link to the English-language route map page —

  • Metro & Bus Interactive Route Map …

10 Landmark Metro Stations in Paris

Landmark Metro Stations

The Paris Metro has been around for 120 years and there are now 14 lines and something like 300 stations in the system, which is one reason the Metro is so convenient. While each of the Metro stations has something to offer, there are a handful that are downright interesting. Let's take a ride to these 10 landmark stations.

Delicious Food Tours in Paris

Hector guimard's art nouveau metro entrances.

Guimards Art Nouveau Metro Entrances

Hector Guimard was an architect and designer whose work spanned the later 19th and early 20th centuries. Although he designed buildings, furniture, and other objets , today he is most well remembered for his entrances on the Paris Metro. He produced a slew of designs for Metro stations right from its inception in 1900. Although many of them were destroyed (sorry, we mean "replaced for progress") in later years; luckily there are dozens extant today. Let's visit them. Do you have your Metro Pass in hand?

14 Dates In The Life Of The Metro

14 Dates In The Life Of The Metro

To celebrate the opening of three new stations on ultra-modern Line 14 — on December 14, 2020 — the City of Paris compiled a list of 14 significant dates in the 120-year history of that transportation network. As is our wont, we took that idea and ran with it to create this expanded basket of Metro fun facts…

Getting Around Paris by Boat

Travel Around Paris by Boat

The Batobus is a boat service that runs up and down the Seine from May to the end of September, and it's a fun way to get around in Paris. You have the option to buy a 1-day pass or a 2-day pass, although the best deal is an annual pass, if you like Paris so much that you just can't leave!

The circuit includes eight stops —

  • Eiffel Tower – Port de la Bourdonnais
  • St. Germain-des-Prés – Quai Malaquais
  • Musée D'Orsay – Port de Solferino
  • Notre Dame – Quai de Montebello
  • Hotel de Ville – Quai de l'Hotel-de-Ville
  • Jardin des Plantes – Pont d'Austerlitz
  • Champs Elysées – Pont Alexandre III
  • Louvre – between Pont Royal and Pont du Carrousel

Two Of The Most Popular Paris Experiences

The most popular paris experience, paris transportation updates.

Paris Transportation Updates

Paris just keep getting better, and recent changes to the city's transportation system are examples of that. Let's take a look at the new, better buses from the airports, flat-rate taxis, a new name for the old RER, and improvements to the Navigo Metro card.

Les Velibs : The Paris Public Bicycle System

Les Velibs

Paris Velib , a contraction of the French for "free bicycles" (or maybe it's "bicycle freedom"), is the public bike sharing system. In just a relatively few years it has become an important part of city life.

There are Velib bike racks all over the city , where you can rent bicycles from the automated terminals, using a credit card. Online, you can buy a one to three day pass for regular or even an electric bike. Once you have a pass, bicycles are free for the first half-hour every time you use one (forty-five minutes for electric bikes), and you can make as many free trips as you want.

Velibs are not meant for touring around the city, but they are perfect for getting around from one place to another. Grab a bike from a rack near your hotel, pedal to your favorite museum (in 15 or 20 minutes) and return the bike to a rack there. When you're done at the museum, grab another bike and pedal to the Eiffel Tower , or Arc de Triomphe , or a cute bistro for lunch, and return the bike to a rack at that site. You get the idea.

  • Velib Website …

Paris Taxi

There are almost 16,000 taxis in Paris, and over the past few years it's become easier to find one. You no longer necessarily have to find a designated taxi stand to find a cab. We see people hailing cabs on the street all the time, in fact, we do it ourselves!

In general, we find Paris taxis to be cleaner and the drivers more professional than in many other cities. Taxis are also one of the most convenient ways to get from the airport to central Paris.

Find Hotel Deals for Your Dates in Paris

Trains to & from paris.

Paris Trains

The capital of France is the hub of an extensive rail network . It's very easy to travel from Paris to any of the major cities in Europe, as well as hundred of French cities. And you travel in style, as well, on high-speed trains with frequent departures, in comfortable first and second class cars.

Automobiles…

Or, how not to get around in paris.

Paris Traffic

Notice we didn't mention cars as a way to travel around Paris? That's for a very good reason. Driving in Paris can be a nightmare and finding a parking space is even worse. Except in the luxury class, there are not many hotels that offer parking for your car. But, not to worry! With all the options we've given you in this article, you'll never need a car in Paris .

We can't leave the subject without again mentioning walking. Paris is a very walkable city. Not only will you work off some of the calories from those meals you've eaten, you'll also see a lot of wonderful things you can't spot from the Metro or a car!

Paris Planning Guides

Copyright © 2010-2023 Voconces Culinary Ltd, all rights reserved. Original photos © Mark Craft, all rights reserved.

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Train advice from the Man in Seat 61...

The Man in Seat 61

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A beginner's guide to

Train travel in france.

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Train travel UK & Ireland...

Train travel in europe..., train travel in asia..., train travel in africa..., train travel in america..., train travel in australasia, paris to nice, lyon or bordeaux from €25.

The best way to travel between French town & cities is by train, in comfort at ground level.  France's world-famous TGV travels at up to 199 mph, from city centre to city centre, and if you pre-book direct with the operator you can find some really cheap fares, too.

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International trains to/from France

Station guides, general train travel information, useful country information, how to check schedules & fares.

You can check train times & fares for any journey in France at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com , called voyages-sncf.com until 2017.  There's no booking fee and if booking 1st class on a TGV you can choose your seat from a seat map.  It can be a little fiddly and has occasionally been known to struggle with non-European credit cards, but normally anyone from any country can use it.

You can also use either www.raileurope.com (formerly Loco2.com, prices in €, £ or $) or www.thetrainline.com (formerly Captaintrain.com, in €, £ or $).  These are easy to use, in plain English, international cards no problem and they sell tickets for other European operators too, not just for French Railways.  Both sites charge a small booking fee.

Maps of the French rail network

How to buy train tickets, do you need to buy in advance.

TER regional, local & suburban trains, no .

This includes all TER (Trains Express Régionaux), Paris suburban trains and all other local trains.  For example, Lyon-Grenoble or Dijon-Lyon TERs, Cannes-Nice-Monte Carlo TERs, Paris to Versailles or CDG airport by RER.

Simply buy a ticket at the station ticket office or from the self-service machines, you may still need to validate it ( composter ) in the little machines on the platform (although this requirement is being phased out), hop on the next train and sit where you like.  Or buy one online, just to save time, online TER tickets don't need to be validated.

No reservation is necessary or even possible, the train can't sell out and the fare is fixed so there's usually no price advantage in pre-booking.  There are a few exceptions to this, read more about TER ticketing .

Intercités, probably .

A few shorter-distance Intercité trains don't have compulsory seat reservation, so they can never sell out, you can always buy a full-price ticket at the station and hop on, sitting wherever you like.  Routes include Nantes-Bordeaux, Nantes-Lyon, Toulouse-Hendaye, Béziers-Clermont.  But you can still save some money by booking a cheap train-specific non-refundable prems fare in advance, so it's worth checking online.

However, most Intercités such as Paris-Limoges-Brive-Toulouse, Paris-Vichy-Clermont, Bordeaux-Toulouse-Montpellier-Marseille and Intercités de nuit require compulsory reservation, just like the TGVs explained below.

TGV high-speed trains, yes .

TGV high-speed trains are all-reserved.  All tickets for these trains come with a seat reservation automatically included and the price varies like air fares, so pre-book for the cheapest prices.  In practice there are almost always places available on most trains even just before departure, the issue is price.  On the day of departure you'd have to pay the expensive full-flex fare, for example Paris-Nice €140, but if you pre-book you can buy a cheap Prems fare, Paris-Nice from €25 upwards.  So it pays to book ahead!  Booking now opens up to 4 months ahead .

Fares explained

SNCF simplified TGV & Intercité fares in 2019 and there's now just one type of fare in 2nd class, although they call the higher prices Seconde and the cheaper prices Prems , which is SNCF's long-established brand name for cheap fares.

So you'll now see only one 2nd class price against each train, in contrast to the flexible, inflexible and semi-flexible fares they used to have.  In 1st class there are two fare types, Première & Business Première.

Prices are dynamic like air fares, cheaper in advance, more expensive closer to departure, cheaper on quiet trains, days & dates, more expensive on popular trains, days & dates.  All tickets commit you to a specific train.

All 1st & 2nd class fares are now changeable & refundable, free of charge until 30 days before travel, then there's a €5 fee until 3 days before travel, then a €15 fee until 30 minutes before departure.  You have to pay any difference in fare.

From 30 minutes before the train departs, tickets can be changed up to two times for the same day and the same journey, but they become non-refundable once exchanged.  Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable after departure.

Business première fares are totally flexible, changeable without any fee until 30 minutes after departure.  From 30 minutes before the train departs, tickets can be changed up to two times for the same day and the same journey, but they are non-refundable once exchanged.  These fares are expensive, aimed at business travellers as their name suggests.

Local and regional ( TER ) trains just have one fixed price fare, usually termed Tariff normal .  These tickets are valid for one journey on any train leaving until midnight on the day they're booked for or (in some cases) after you validate it in a little composter machine on the platform.  Sometimes there are cheaper tariffs at off-peak times, but that depends on the region.

How to buy tickets at the station

It's easy to buy tickets at the station even if you don't speak French.  For local journeys such as Paris-Versailles or Nice-Cannes, you just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on, no reservation necessary.  You can buy tickets from the multi-lingual self-service machines at main stations.  Just touch the UK flag for English.

For long-distance trains including all TGV , Intercités & Intercités de Nuit overnight trains, reservation is compulsory, but there are usually seats available even on the day of travel and you can buy a ticket immediately before the train departs.  But there are much cheaper fares if you pre-book.

In some cases you need to validate your tickets by putting them into the little yellow machines marked Compostez votre billet at the entrance to every platform - there's a fine if you don't!  Print-at-home tickets don't need to be validated, and SNCF are steadily phasing out the need to validate tickets.  You already don't need to in some regions.

How to buy train tickets online

Bookings open 4 months ahead for TGV & Intercités , 3-5 months for TER regional trains.

Over the summer, booking horizons get longer:  In 2024 sales opened on 24 January for travel until 22 May, on 7 March until 5 July, on 13 March until 11 September.

Google SNCF ticket sales opening to find the page on www.sncf-connect.com where they give current sales opening dates.

For Christmas & New Year horizons get shorter:  Dates after the mid-December timetable change usually open in mid-October.

Buy direct from SNCF at www.sncf-connect.com

This is French Railways' own website selling tickets in € with no booking fee .  You print your own ticket or can show it on your phone.

It's a little fiddly until you get used to it, it's almost as if they made it that way deliberately.  The language selector is out of sight towards the bottom of the page and their home page has just one mysterious all-purpose entry field which confuses a lot of people, instead of having from and to fields like a normal site.  However, I've set up all links to www.sncf-connect.com to go to a page in English with conventional from and to fields, at least I can help you with that!

A key advantage of www.sncf-connect.com is that when booking a 1st class ticket on a TGV or Intercité you can usually select your seat from a seat map.

Another key advantage is that it can sell all SNCF products including Billets Bambin (which gives infants under 4 their own reserved seat) and Espace Privatif (sole occupancy of a couchette compartment on French overnight trains).  It can sell tickets with the Carte Avantage discount applied (SNCF's discount card) and can sell tickets for Ouigo lo-cost trains as well as full-service TGV InOui.

The vast majority of tickets can be printed or shown on your phone.  In rare cases where www.sncf-connect.com only offers you a collect-at-station ticket you'll need a chip & PIN credit card to collect from the machines (without chip & PIN you'll need to use the busy staffed ticket counter) but if you buy at Raileurope.com or Thetrainline.com no credit card is necessary to collect tickets, just the booking reference.

www.sncf-connect.com normally works for anyone from any country, so give it a try.  In the past I've occasionally known it to reject some overseas credit cards, but if you have any problems you can simply switch to www.thetrainline.com .

Buy at www.thetrainline.com

Three young French entrepreneurs thought they could sell SNCF tickets better than SNCF themselves, and they were right.  They started a website called Capitainetrain which was later acquired by well-known UK ticket retailer The Trainline and absorbed into www.thetrainline.com .  It connects to SNCF's ticketing system and sells the same tickets at the same prices, with a small booking fee.  You can pay in €, £ or $.  Who are Thetrainline.com?

It's easier to use than www.sncf-connect.com , anyone of any nationality can buy tickets at www.thetrainline.com , international credit cards are welcome.  You print your ticket or show it on your phone.  They ask you to print in A4 size, but if you're American printing tickets on Letter size paper is absolutely fine.

Like sncf-connect, when booking a 1st class ticket on a TGV or Intercité you can usually select seats from a seat map, a big plus.

Thetrainline.com can sell Billets Bambin , Espace Privatif and tickets for Ouigo lo-cost trains , and can apply the Carte Avantage discount.

Buy at www.raileurope.com

Two young British entrepreneurs started Loco2.com, aiming to make buying train tickets easier.  Loco2 was acquired by SNCF in 2018, rebranded Raileurope.com in 2019 and sold on again in 2020.  It links to SNCF's ticketing system and sells the same tickets as SNCF at the same prices, with a small booking fee.  You can pay in €, £ or $.  Who are Raileurope.com?

It can sell Billets Bambin to give your infant under 4 their own reserved seat.

However, it can't sell tickets for Ouigo lo-cost trains or Espace Privatif on overnight trains, nor can it sell tickets with a Carte Avantage discount.  It offers a wide range of seating options including upper and lower deck on a TGV Duplex, but unlike SNCF-connect and Thetrainline it doesn't offer seat selection from a seat map.

It's easier to use than www.sncf-connect.com , international credit cards welcome.  You print your ticket or show it on your phone.  They ask you to print in A4 size, but if you're American printing tickets on Letter size paper is absolutely fine.

Which website should you use to buy French train tickets ?

Here's a summary of the features of each website, you can draw your own conclusions.  As far as price is concerned, all the sites below charge the same basic fare (give or take exchange rates).

Type = offers basic choice of aisle, window, table-for-four or (in 1st class) a table-for-two or solo seat. 

Deck = offers choice of upper or lower deck on a double-decker TGV Duplex, I recommend top deck for the best views.

Map = you can select your seat from a seat map when booking 1st class on a TGV nor Intercité.

Ouigo = Special lo-cost budget-airline-on-rails TGV trains branded Ouigo, see the Ouigo page for information .

FB = Billet Bambin , allows you to pay a few euros to reserve a seat for your infant aged 0-3, more information here .

EP = Espace Privatif , allows you to book sole occupancy of a 4-berth couchette on a French night train, more information here .

CA = Carte Avantage , can this website sell tickets if you have SNCF's Carte Avantage discount card?

* www.sncf-connect.com usually works with any credit card, very occasionally I receive an It's rejected my credit card email from overseas users such as Americans or Australians, but give it a go, with one of the other sites as a fall-back if it doesn't.

Buy train tickets by phone in the UK

If you live in the UK you can buy French train tickets by phone with a number of UK-based train travel specialists, see the list of agencies and phone numbers here .  But it's quicker and easier and cheaper to book online.

How to contact SNCF

You can call SNCF telesales & customer service on 00 33 184943635 , listen out for option 85 for English.  Lines open 08:00-20:00 French time, 7 days a week.

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SNCF's discount card : Carte Avantage

What is a carte avantage.

Carte Avantage is SNCF's discount card for leisure travel.  You buy it for a year and it gives discounts on travel.  It may justify the price even for one or two long trips, especially if you're booking close to your departure date when fares would normally be expensive.

Man in Seat 61's top tip

You can read the small print until you're blue in the face, but the only way you'll know for certain what benefit a Carte Avantage gives is by running an enquiry with and without a Carte Avantage added and seeing what effect the card has.

So before buying a Carte Avantage, run an enquiry for the specific journeys you plan to make, on the same days of the week, using either www.thetrainline.com or www.sncf-connect.com (a) without any Carte Avantage and (b) with a Carte Avantage discount added.

You can add a Carte Avantage reduction to the passenger details without entering a card number.  See what that does to prices.  If you see no difference, the discount may not apply to your particular route/train/day.  If you see a difference, do savings justify the cost of the card?

Types of Carte Avantage

Carte Avantage Adulte costs €49 at the time I write this and lasts one year, see details & buy online at sncf-connect.com .

It can be bought by anyone regardless of nationality or country of residence.

It gives 30% discount on French domestic TGV & Intercité journeys and 25%-50% on some TER regional trains if your journey is:

(a)  one-way on a Saturday or Sunday; or

(b)  a return journey on any day of the week which includes a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night away; or

(c)  one-way or return on any day of the week if accompanied by at least one child under 12.

One accompanying adult also gets the same discount - in other words, if there are 2 of you, you only need one Carte Avantage.

Up to 3 accompanying children under 12 years old get 60% off TGV & Intercité fares, and a varying amount off TER fares.

In addition, fares are capped if you have a Carte Avantage so they remain affordable even close to travel date where they'd otherwise be high.

The 30% discount also applies to some international journeys, notably the Paris-Luxembourg TGVs, Paris-Milan TGVs , Paris-Barcelona TGVs ; TGVs & ICEs between Paris & Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich; and TGV-Lyria between Paris & Switzerland.

However, there is no discount on Eurostar or Eurostar (formerly Thalys) , and no discount on TER trains in some French regions.

There is no discount on one-way journeys on weekdays (unless you're travelling with a child), or on some international journeys, so see my top tip above to check whether a Carte Avantage will work for your own specific journeys.

Carte Avantage Jeune is for anyone aged 12 but under 28 years old, see details & buy online .  This costs the same as the adult version, but the discounts apply one-way or round trip on any day of the week, without the weekend or accompanying child restriction.  However, there's no discount for a second adult.  You can buy wherever  you live and whatever your nationality.

Carte Avantage Senior for anyone over 60, see details & buy online .  This costs the same as the adult version, but the discounts apply one-way or round trip on any day of the week, without the weekend or accompanying child restriction.  However, there's no discount for a second adult.  You can buy wherever  you live and whatever your nationality.

How to buy a Carte Avantage

See details & buy online

The card is digital, you can either print it out and carry it as a .pdf document or load it into the SNCF-Connect app to show on your phone.  Either way, there's a QR code which conductors can scan.

In theory, you can upload a photo of yourself to make the card fully digital with no separate ID needed (your photo will appear on the conductor's device the moment he scans your ticket).  However, SNCF's photo upload system doesn't work and will repeatedly reject any photo you try to upload.  So don't waste your time on it, if you can't upload a photo (which you can't), you simply need to carry some alternative form of photo ID, such as a passport or driving licence.

How to buy tickets with Carte Avantage discount

As soon as you've bought your Carte Avantage, you can buy tickets with the relevant discount at either www.thetrainline.com (small booking fee) or www.sncf-connect.com (a little more fiddly, no fee).

When using www.thetrainline.com , don't click Add railcard as you'll only see UK railcards, first set up a journey with a French origin and/or destination, then click Add loyalty and railcards, then click SNCF - Discount cards .

You can also use your Carte Avantage if buying French train tickets at Omio.com .  Unfortunately, you can't use a Carte Avantage at www.raileurope.com .

What are French trains like ?

Trains à grande vitesse (tgv).

TGVs or Trains à Grande Vitesse are SNCF's premier high-speed trains.  They run on major routes covering most of France at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  In fact, they run at up to 320 km/h (198 mph) on the new TGV-Est route from Paris to Reims, Strasbourg, Metz, Luxembourg & Basel, opened in 2007.  Smooth & quiet even at high speed, it's a very relaxing way to travel.  All but a handful of shorter-distance TGVs have a cafe-bar, and all have power outlets, free WiFi, toilets, wheelchair accessible spaces and luggage space.

Seat reservation is compulsory on TGV services, and all tickets come with a seat reservation automatically included.

SNCF's full-service TGVs are branded TGV InOui , to distinguish them from the no-frills lo-cost Ouigo trains .

See the TGV page for more photos, tips & information about travelling by TGV .

SNCF used to have a subsidiary company called iDTGV to run special cheap TGVs, but iDTGV was discontinued in December 2017.

Intercités is the name given to SNCF's remaining non-high-speed long-distance express trains.  They come in two varieties, Intercités with compulsory reservation and Intercités without compulsory reservation.

Intercités with compulsory reservation are mostly smart locomotive-hauled trains running at up to 125mph, many using stylish air-conditioned cars formerly branded Téoz like the ones shown below, although SNCF has ceased using the Téoz branding.  New electric units are slowly coming on stream for Intercité services to replace the locomotive-hauled cars.  All seats have access to power sockets.  Intercité routes include the Paris-Limoges-Brive-Toulouse (POLT) route and Nantes-Bordeaux-Toulouse-Perpignan-Marseille.  All tickets for these trains come with a seat reservation for a specific train automatically included.  See seating plan .

Intercités without compulsory reservation usually use similar locomotive-hauled coaches with a plainer interior.  There are only a few routes left now, Nantes-Bordeaux, Nantes-Lyon, Toulouse-Hendaye, Béziers-Clermont.  Most other routes in this category have now been handed over to the French regions and have become TER, notably Paris-Boulogne-Calais & Paris-Normandy.  As the name suggests, you don't need a reservation for these trains, you can just turn up, buy an open ticket which can never sell out, get on and sit where you like.  Seat reservation is an optional extra if you want it.  Although these trains don't need to be pre-booked, if you book in advance you can often find cheaper train-specific prems fares which save money over the on-the-day full-flex price.

All Intercités have plenty of room for luggage, toilets, and often some form of catering - either a trolley service or a cafe-bar.

Some routes formerly branded Intercité have become TER (for example, Paris-Amiens-Boulogne-Calais), whilst Paris-Normandy Intercités have been rebranded Train Nomad with modern unit trains replacing or about to replace the old locomotive-hauled carriages.

Tip: It's possible to pre-order drinks & snacks for delivery to your seat on most Intercités.  Go to www.sncf-connect.com/train/services-train/restauration-intercites (please let me know if that link stops working), order what you want (the cut-off seems to be just hours before departure), enter your train number, you car & seat number, your name & email, and pay.

Intercités de Nuit

SNCF's overnight sleeper trains are called Intercités de Nuit .  Taking an overnight train with couchettes can be great fun and the most time-effective way to travel, in effect faster than flying.  Sleep your way to the south of France in a comfy couchette, from Paris to Cannes, Nice, Narbonne, Perpignan, Toulouse, Rodez, Briancon or Latour de Carol for as little as €29 each way booked at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com .  You can book sole or dual occupancy of a couchette compartment as explained here .

For more information, photos & a video guide see the Intercités de Nuit page .

Trains Express Régionaux (TER )

Trains Express Régionaux (TER) come in all shapes and sizes, typical single-deck & double-deck TERs are shown below.  TERs are local regional trains, there are no seat reservations, you just sit where you like.  Some TERs are double-deck such as the Cannes-Nice-Monaco-Ventimiglia TERs and a few use locomotive-hauled mainline carriages including the Paris-Dijon-Lyon and Marseille-Nice TER trains.  All TER trains have space for luggage on various racks (or it simply sits on the floor) and many carry bikes too.  They generally have toilets.

TER ticketing :  TER trains have affordable fixed-price open tickets, so you may as well just buy at the station on the day - although you will now find some cheap train-specific tickets if you book a few days or weeks in advance and commit to a specific departure.  TER trains can never 'sell out' as Tarif normal tickets should always be available, but see the following paragraphs!

Can TERs sell out?   On 95% of TER routes there are no reservations, Tarif normal tickets are fixed-price with unlimited availability and can be used on any TER train that day.  But since the pandemic, SNCF sometimes plays a dirty trick, some TER departures can be shown as 'full' ( complet in French) on trains they think will be very busy.  This has often backfired, it makes it difficult for people to buy tickets and has lead to photos of half-empty 'complet' trains posted on social media!

The workaround :  It's simple!  Buy a full-price Tarif normal TER ticket for any TER train before or after the 'full' train on the same day, a Tarif normal ticket is good for any train that day, so you can use it on the train that was shown as Complet .  Simples.

TERs with compulsory reservation:   There are exceptions to every rule!  TERs on a few routes in Normandy have compulsory reservation, such as Paris-Caen-Cherbourg.  Some longer TER routes in the east (notably Paris-Strasbourg) will have them at some point in 2024.  These TERs can indeed sell out.

Travel tips

Maps of the French rail network:   See the maps section on the Train travel in Europe page .

Printing your ticket :  These days you'll often get a print-at-home ticket for a French train journey.  You should print it out full-size on normal A4 paper, but if you're American it's absolutely fine to print on US Letter Size paper which is very similar.

Collecting your ticket :  Some tickets can't be self-printed so need to be collected from the self-service ticket machines at any French station.  If you bought your tickets online at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com or any Rail Europe site, all you need is the booking reference and lead passenger name, you don't need the credit card you used.  However, if you bought online at www.sncf-connect.com (any version) you'll need to insert the original credit card, which will need to be chip n PIN for the machine to work.  If your credit card isn't chip n PIN and you bought from www.sncf-connect.com you'll need to collect from the staffed counter, rather than from the machines.  See photos showing how to collect tickets .

Ticket validation (compostage) :  Originally, all French train tickets had to be validated just before you boarded your train, by putting them into the small yellow machines marked Compostez votre billet at the entrance to each platform.  There was a fine if you didn't!   This process is being phased out and machines removed, it's already unnecessary for TER tickets in some regions of France, and unnecessary if you have a train-specific ticket for a TGV or Intercité.  And of course you can't validate an e-ticket on your phone!  But the need to validate still exists with some tickets in some regions, so be aware of it and if in doubt where there's a machine, validate your ticket.

Language problems :  First-time visitors often think this will be a problem, but it hardly ever is.  At stations, signs are usually in English as well as French, or easy-to-understand pictograms are used.

Food & drink on French trains :   Most long-distance trains have a cafe-bar, serving tea, coffee, wine, beer & snacks.  French domestic trains no longer have restaurant cars, though a few key Monday-Friday business services offer pre-bookable at-seat meals in first class.  However, feel free to bring your own food and drink (even a bottle of wine, if you like) onto the train, there's no rules against that on the rails!

A meal at the Gare de Lyon?   If you're passing through Paris via the Gare de Lyon, consider dining at the famous Train Bleu restaurant inside the station .  It was originally the Gare de Lyon's grand buffet, opened in 1903 and decorated in a sumptuous art nouveau style.  It's not the cheapest restaurant around, but the food is superb and the surroundings are perhaps the most spectacular you will ever eat a meal in.  It's an experience in itself, and well worth it!  The restaurant's website is www.le-train-bleu.com , just email them to book a table.  You can also use their bar section to wait for your train while you have a coffee or beer, far better than waiting for your train at one of the draughty cafe tables downstairs on the concourse!

Luggage on trains :  You don't check your bags in, you simply take them with you onto the train, placing them on the racks at the end of each car, or above your head.  More about luggage on trains .

Luggage limits:   Since February 2024 SNCF has had a more formal luggage policy for its TGV InOui trains which will be enforced from September:  There are no weight limits, but you must be able to carry it yourself in one go.  You can carry either 1 hand luggage + 2 suitcases or 1 hand luggage + 1 suitcase + 1 specific item.  Your hand luggage can measure up to 40 cm x 30 cm x 15 cm.  Your suitcase(s) can measure up to 90 cm x 70 cm x 50 cm.  Your specific item (musical instrument, pushchair, bike in cover, folded bike, scooter) can measure up to 130 cm x 90 cm.  Bikes, musical instruments, snowboards, and skis must be under a labelled cover.  You can travel with your pair of skis, without a maximum size, one pair per person.  If you exceed these limits there's a €50 fee, but it's not yet clear how tough staff will be.

Left luggage at stations :  Major French stations including Paris Gare du Nord, Paris Gare d'Austerlitz Est & Paris Gare de Lyon have left-luggage lockers in various sizes, up to suitcase-sized.  Expect to have your bags X-rayed before entry to the locker area.  More information on left luggage lockers including current prices .

Bicycles :  You can take a bike with you free of charge on suburban & regional trains.  On Intercités de Nuit overnight trains & TGVs on a few routes, you can take them for a small fee, about €10.  On other TGVs, you'll need to place you bike in a zip-up 'bike bag' & they then travel free.  For more information, see the bicycles by train page .

Dogs & pets:   Dogs can be taken on all French trains, sometimes free, sometimes for a small fee.  For more information, see the dogs & pets page .

Can I book a seat facing direction of travel?   Only on some routes, and then only if you book through the right website!  You can book a seat facing the direction of travel on a handful of TGV routes where the trains have been equipped with a special seat numbering system.  On these trains, each seat has two possible numbers and the relevant one lights up depending on the direction of the train.  Routes equipped with this system where you can choose a seat facing direction of travel include TGV-Atlantique Paris-Brittany, Paris-Bordeaux/Biarritz/Lourdes/Spanish border and most TGV-Est trains Paris-Reims-Nancy-Strasbourg, Paris-Luxembourg and also the Paris-Italy TGVs Paris-Turin-Milan.  Choosing a facing seat is not possible on TGV Duplex, or on routes such as Lille-Lyon-Avignon/Marseille/Bordeaux/Montpelier, Paris-Avignon-Marseille-Nice, Paris-Lyon, Paris-Nimes-Montpelier.  But if there are two of you and you choose dual face to face in 1st class, or a table for 4 ( family or facing ) in 2nd class, you'll know you always have at least one seat facing.  See this comparison table to see which websites can book a forward-facing seat where it is an option, and which sites can't.

Can I book a reserved seat for my baby or infant?   Infants under 4 go free on French trains, no ticket necessary, just buy tickets for yourself and bring your infant along without a ticket.  However, they don't get their own seat if they go free, so they'll have to sit on your lap.  You may want a seat for your baby carrier or wriggly 2 or 3 year old, I know I would!  No problem, on French domestic TGV and Intercité trains you can pay an extra flat €9 for a Billet Bambin and get a reserved seat for your infant next to yours, in either class.  You can only buy Billet Bambin at www.raileurope.com , www.thetrainline.com or at www.sncf-connect.com .  If you want a Billet Bambin, simply add a passenger with age 0-3 and it will be added automatically.

How to change trains & stations in Paris

Which station in paris .

The Gare du Nord serves trains to the north:  Lille, Amiens, Boulogne, Calais, Dunquerque, London, Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Cologne.

The Gare de l'Est serves trains to the east:  Nancy, Strasbourg, Reims, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, sleepers to Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Moscow

The Gare de Lyon serves TGV trains to the south-east:  Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo, Nîmes, Montpellier, Narbonne, Perpignan, Turin, Milan, Geneva, Bern, Lausanne, Basel, Zurich.

The Gare d'Austerlitz serves Téoz trains to Limoges, Toulouse, & overnight couchette trains to Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo, Toulouse, Perpignan, Narbonne, Lourdes, Biarritz, Madrid & Barcelona.

The Gare Montparnasse serves TGV trains to the southwest: Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Biarritz, Lourdes, Brest, Rennes.

The Gare St Lazare serves Dieppe and the immediate north.

The Gare de Bercy , a little known station down the road from the Gare de Lyon, now handles most trains to Clermont Ferrand.

Charles de Gaulle airport has its own station, served by TGV high-speed trains on the Paris by-pass line and by RER express metro trains into central Paris, see the section below .

Disneyland Paris is right next to Marne La Vallée station.  This is linked to central Paris by frequent turn-up-and-go RER express metro trains, just buy tickets at the station on the day.  Marne la Vallée is also served by mainline TGV high-speed trains on the Paris by-pass line, carrying trains from Brussels & Lille in the North to Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Nimes & Montpellier in the south, for times & tickets use www.thetrainline.com .  For park information & tickets see www.disneylandparis.com .

Places not served by the main rail network

Mont St Michel has no station, the nearest station is Pontorson-Mont St Michel which is about 5 miles away.

Option 1, cheapest & easiest, but slower, total journey from Paris around 4h30:  Take a regional train from Paris Montparnasse to Pontorson-Mont St Michel then an integrated connecting bus to Mont St Michel.  You can book from Paris to Mont St Michel as one transaction at www.thetrainline.com or www.sncf-connect.com , you'll get a through ticket covering both the train and the connecting bus.  There aren't many departures per day, typically one morning service out and one late afternoon service back, allowing day or weekend trips from Paris.  If these don't suit you, buy a ticket to/from Pontorson-Mont St Michel station and use a taxi between the station and Mont St Michel. 

Tip:  When selecting your seating options on www.thetrainline.com , don't panic when it says 'no places available' against the bus (or in French 'car').  That just means there are no allocated seats, you can sit where you like.  It does not mean the bus is full!  And yes, it's a bus between Pontorson and Mont St Michel, not a train, whatever it looks like in the data.

Option 2, faster, total journey from Paris around 3h:  Take a high-speed TGV from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes in 1h30 then a connecting Keolis bus from Rennes to Mont St Michel in around 1h10.  From April to September there are 3 buses a day between Rennes & Mont St Michel in each direction, see keolis-armor.com .  Book a suitable train to/from Rennes at www.thetrainline.com or www.sncf-connect.com .  Buy the bus ticket at Rennes bus station, see keolis-armor.com for prices & more info.

Option 3, between May & September there's also a daily bus from St Malo to Mont St Michel, journey time 1h20, see keolis-armor.com for dates, times, prices & more info.  St Malo is linked by ferry to Portsmouth with www.brittany-ferries.co.uk and with Paris by train.

St Tropez:   Take a train to St Raphael.  Bus 876 links St Raphael bus station (next to the railway station) with St Tropez bus station every hour or so, journey time 1h25, fare around €3, check times and buy tickets using the Zou regional transport phone app at zou.maregionsud.fr .

The Nice-Digne railway is a private and very scenic line linking Nice (CFP station) with Digne.  Highly recommended, see www.trainprovence.com .

Corsica:   Corsica can easily be reached by comfortable ferry from a variety of ports in Southern France, including Marseille, Toulon or Nice.  The principal ferry operators are www.corsicalinea.com (formerly SNCM and Corsica Ferries ( www.corsicaferries.com ).  For train service on Corsica see cf-corse.corsica .

Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport station

For journeys between CDG Airport and central Paris, simply use the frequent RER express metro - RER Line B has stations at both Terminal 1 & Terminal 2.  RER trains run every 6 to 15 minutes, journey time into Paris around 50 minutes, fare around €10 valid to any RER or metro station in central Paris.  No reservation is necessary or possible for the RER, just buy a ticket at the station on the day.  For more info see http://easycdg.com .

Charles de Gaulle Airport also has its own TGV station , which is on the high-speed line that by-passes Paris.  It's served by TGVs to Lille & Brussels in the north and to Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Perpignan, Cannes, Nice, Rennes, Nantes, Le Mans, Poitiers, Bordeaux, Toulouse to the south.  You can check TGV times & prices and buy tickets from CDG to destinations across France at either www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com .

Remember that TGV tickets are only valid on the specific TGV you book.  Cheap tickets become worthless if your flight is late and you miss your train, so I recommend allowing at least 3 hours between your flight's scheduled landing time and any TGV leaving CDG station.

You'll find more frequent trains to these destinations from the relevant station in central Paris , often with greater availability of cheaper tickets, so if you don't see a convenient departure with an attractive price leaving direct from CDG, use www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com to check train times & prices from central Paris to your destination, leaving Paris at least 4 hours after your flight lands, and simply hop on the RER express metro to the relevant central Paris station as explained above.

You can't reach every French destination from CDG TGV station - If you're bound for Normandy, Limoges, Brive, Cahors or Clermont Ferrand for example you'll have to take the RER into central Paris as explained above and then take a train from the relevant station in central Paris .

Railpasses for France

By all means check out the Interrail pass for France (for European residents, see the Interrail pass information page ) or Eurail passes for France (for non-Europeans, see the Eurail pass information page ).  However, passes have lost their convenience factor as all TGV, ex-Téoz Intercité de jour, & Intercités de Nuit overnight trains now require a seat reservation before boarding.  A €10 or €20 reservation fee needs to be paid on top of the pass price for each long-distance journey which must be factored into your budget - the €10 seat reservations have a limited quota, when it sells out the fee becomes €20.  For one or two specific journeys, you may find it easier just to book regular cheap advance-purchase tickets at www.raileurope.com or www.thetrainline.com .

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Or buy in the usa from amazon.com.

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters or areas you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website , from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.

European Rail Timetable & maps

Traveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy online

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map .  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

Custom-made tours of France

Railbookers, railbookers.co.uk.

Railbookers are a train travel specialist who can put together a tour or short break for you as a package, including rail travel, hotels & transfers.  On their website you'll find a range of suggested tours & holidays which can be varied or customised to your own requirements.  And as you're booking a package, they'll take care of you if anything happens to one part of the itinerary such as a strike or delay.  They now have offices in the UK, USA & Australia.

UK flag

Tailor Made Rail, tailormaderail.com

Tailor Made Rail can arrange tours of France by train based on your own requirements, they welcome complex itineraries.  As it's a package, they'll take care of you if anything happens on one part of the trip, for example, a national strike.  They're TTA-protected - like ATOL, but not only for agencies that sell air travel.

Call their dedicated seat61 phone line 020 3778 1461 and quote seat 61 when booking.  From outside the UK call +44 20 3778 1461.  Lines open 09:00-17:30 Monday-Friday.  Their website is www.tailormaderail.com/destinations/france .

Find hotels in Paris & France

Hotels near the gare du nord & other paris stations:.

If you need to stay over between trains, here are some suggestions that are both very close and get good reviews:

Hotels near the Gare du Nord with good reviews:  Libertel Gare du Nord Suede (5 min walk from Gare du Nord, 2-star), 25 Hours Terminus Nord (formerly the Mercure Terminus Nord, now refurbished in a decidedly funky style, 3-star, directly across the road from the station);  Art Hotel (3-star);  Avalon Hotel (2-star);  Hotel Cambrai (5 min walk from Gare du Nord, 1-star).

Hotels near the Gare de l'Est with good reviews:  Libertel Gare de l'Est Français (opposite the station, 3-star);  Libertel Gare du Nord Suede (350m from the Gare de l'Est, 2-star);  OKKO Hotels Paris Gare de l'Est (2-star).

Hotels near the Gare de Lyon with good reviews:  Citizen M Hotel (just along the road from the station, 4-star, great reviews), Hotel Terminus Lyon (right in front of the station, 3-star);  Mercure Paris Gare de Lyon (on the station itself, 4-star);   Novotel Paris Gare de Lyon (opposite the station, 4-star);  Mistral Hotel (800m from Gare de Lyon, 1-star);  Hotel 26 Faubourg (5 min walk from Gare de Lyon, 2-star);

Hotels near the Gare Montparnasse with good reviews:  Mercure Paris Gare Montparnasse (150m from the Gare Montparnasse, 4-star);  Best Western Sevres Montparnasse (15 minute walk to Gare Montparnasse, 3-star);  La Maison Montparnasse (10 min walk from station, 2-star);  Hotel du Maine (5 min walk from station, 2-star).

A special hotel for that romantic break in Paris

There's the famous & flashy Paris Ritz in the Place Vendôme of course (over €900 a night) or the similarly-priced Le Meurice , but if you want a really special hotel for a luxury break or romantic weekend and can afford to splurge around €280 a night, I'd recommend the small, sumptuous and intimate L'Hotel .  It's on the bohemian left bank, walking distance from the Seine, the Ile de la Cité & Notre Dame.  Oscar Wilde spent the last days of his life here in room 16, and the hotel has been used by many famous people from Sinatra to Mick Jagger.  Rooms are on the cosy side, but they are beautifully decorated and have character that other hotels lack.

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com

www.hostelworld.com :  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.

Travel insurance & other tips

Always take out travel insurance.

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here .  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

US flag

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a European mobile data package and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list .  There's no need to buy a physical SIM card!  Maya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data .

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:   1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android .  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card , they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When travelling you may use free public WiFi which is often insecure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explained .  ExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using this link you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I also get some commission to help support this site.

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, hotel bookings and Interrail or Eurail passes are often now held on your mobile phone.  You daren't let it run out of power, and you can't always rely on the phone's internal battery or on being near a power outlet.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Buy from Amazon.com .

Touring cities?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!

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20 Beautiful Places to Visit in France — From Normandy to the French Riviera

The best places to visit in France range from iconic landmarks to charming villages.

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

easiest way to travel in france

Eduardo_oliveros/Getty Images

Many things entice travelers to visit France — food, wine, fashion, architecture, and natural beauty among them. There’s something wonderful to eat, drink, see, and do in every corner of this Western European nation. It’s hard not to fall in love with Paris . The glamorous beaches along the Côte d'Azur are legendary. Provence also packs a punch with fragrant lavender fields, the hilltop villages of the Luberon , and vineyards. Vines and grand chateaux mix in the Loire Valley . Truth be told, the number of dazzling places within the country is actually quite dizzying, but we’re more than happy to help point you in some of the most photogenic directions. Scroll on for 20 of the best places to visit in France.

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Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful small towns in the world , Gordes draws heaps of tourists who descend upon this idyllic Luberon village in the hopes of capturing the perfect shot of its cobbled lanes, time-worn churches, and 12th-century Sénanque Abbey framed by lavender fields.

Palace of Versailles

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Whether you’re a film buff, love history, or simply want to tick one of France’s most famous landmarks off your sightseeing list, the grandeur of Versailles never fails to impress. The palace is home to the Hall of Mirrors, the Royal Chapel, and many other opulent rooms. Outside are the magnificent gardens, fountains, and sprawling park.

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Camargue doesn’t look or feel like anywhere else in southern France. This wild region between the Mediterranean Sea and the two branches of the Rhône River delta brims with the untamed natural beauty of salt marshes, reed beds, free-roaming white horses, and hundreds of bird species — most notably, pink flamingos.

Eiffel Tower

Built for the 1889 World's Fair, the Eiffel Tower is an enduring symbol of Paris. It’s one thing to see the famous landmark in films, television shows, and photographs, but it’s quite another to get a close-up look at this incredible feat of ingenuity in real life. The twinkly lights at night only add to the romance of it all.

Île Sainte-Marguerite

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Located about half a mile offshore from tourist-laden Cannes, Île Sainte-Marguerite reflects a more low-key side of the French Riviera with lovely scenery at every turn. The largest of the Lérins Islands has beautiful rocky beaches, turquoise waters, and a eucalyptus forest, plus an underwater sculpture museum.

Châteaux of the Loire Valley

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Part of the historical and architectural fabric of the country, the châteaux of the Loire Valley are an enduring reminder of Renaissance resplendence. Impressive from both a design and landscaping perspective, these regal landmarks range from palaces with sprawling gardens (like Château de Chambord) to smaller castles.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

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Tucked on the eastern side of a forested peninsula, the exclusive commune of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat has long captivated artists such as Henri Matisse, writers, and well-heeled holiday-goers with its spellbinding beauty. Expect exquisite villas hidden by lush vegetation, breathtaking beaches with clear waters for snorkeling, hiking trails, and a yacht-filled harbor.

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Situated just south of Colmar in the Alsace region of France, Eguisheim looks like a medieval village you’d see on the cover of a storybook with a concentric plan of narrow streets, half-timbered houses, bubbling fountains, centuries-old castles, and wine caves.

Louvre Museum

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No list of the best places to visit in France would be complete without mentioning the Louvre. The most patronized museum in the world is a historic landmark in its own right with an eye-catching exterior and rooms filled with priceless works of art including the "Mona Lisa" and the Venus de Milo.

Strasbourg Cathedral

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Strasbourg Cathedral is widely regarded as one the most outstanding examples of Rayonnant Gothic architecture (though, for accuracy, the remaining parts of the original structure are Romanesque). It’s a beautiful landmark with heaps of history and visual appeal that’s well worth visiting while in the Alsace region.

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Straddling the French-Italian border and extending into Switzerland, Mont Blanc (which translates to “White Mountain”) rises 15,771 feet, making it the highest mountain in the Alps and the second most prominent peak in Europe. People come from near and far to go skiing, ride the Aiguille du Midi cable car, and even attempt to climb to the summit.

Valensole Plateau Lavender Fields

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Lavender fields have come to define Provence. This purple-hued visual is splashed across the front of virtually every postcard in the region. Many of those photos were taken on the Valensole Plateau, which erupts in a fragrant and vibrant bloom each summer.

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The charming hilltop district of Montmartre in Paris’s 18th arrondissement feels more like a small village than a big city. Cobbled streets, sidewalk cafes, windmills, and performances from local musicians give it a quaint atmosphere. Its crown jewel, the iconic white-domed Sacré-Cœur commands attention.

Saint-Tropez

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Few places shine quite like Saint-Tropez. Celebrities, artists, and jet setters have been flocking to this cinematic holiday hotspot on the French Riveria since the 1960s. The glamorous beach clubs, mega yachts, and charming old fishing quarter keep the crowds thick every summer. 

Belle-Île-en-Mer

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The largest of the islands off the coast of Brittany in northwest France, the aptly named Belle-Île-en-Mer is a beautiful destination with uncrowded beaches, enchanting villages, and rugged cliffs. The jagged rock formation known as Les Aiguilles de Port Coton even inspired Monet to pick up his paintbrush.

Porquerolles

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While it’s impossible to pick a favorite spot along the French Riveria, there’s a lot to love about Porquerolles. The largest of the Îles d'Hyères offers peaceful beaches, calm waters, rolling vineyards, cycling paths through the countryside, old forts, and an off-the-beaten-path vibe.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne House

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For fans of bubbly, few things are as fabulous as a trip to the Champagne region of France. Founded in 1772, Veuve Clicquot tops the list of the most significant and celebrated producers. A visit to this world-famous house in Reims entails touring the historic cellars and, of course, sipping the finest sparkling wine.

Arc De Triomphe

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Everyone who visits France’s capital for the first time heads over to the Arc De Triomphe for that “I went to Paris" photo. It’s worth joining the masses in admiring this famous monument that stands tall at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.

Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

Courtesy of Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc

Admittedly, an overnight stay at the luxurious Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc at the tip of Cap d’Antibes isn’t in the budget for most travelers. But that shouldn’t preclude you from visiting. Reserve a terrace table at the restaurant to savor Mediterranean cuisine alongside stunning views of the sea and the rock-framed infinity pool.

D-Day Landing Beaches

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Normandy is closely associated with WWII — specifically, the fateful day the Allied troops made landfall at the D-Day beaches, an operation that ultimately led to the liberation of France (and eventually Western Europe) from Nazi occupation. Today, travelers can visit the many museums and memorials along the 50-mile stretch of coastline.

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Ultimate guide to train travel in France (plus where to buy tickets so you don’t get scammed!)

France · travel

As an American, when I think about taking a trip somewhere, I first think of flying or driving to my destination. But in France, train travel is actually one of the most popular ways to get from point A to B.

Whether you’re a commuter or looking to go on vacation, France’s railway system is a well-connected and efficient way to travel around France and to other destinations in Europe. Before considering train travel in France, keep reading to learn what you need to know before you go (and where to buy France train tickets)!

Quick guide to train travel in France

Other than commuting to work back in the US, I didn’t have much experience traveling by train. That all changed when I moved to France. From short regional trips to much longer journeys, traveling by train has a lot going for it.

Let’s get into what you need to know before you buy a train ticket in France.

easiest way to travel in france

Photo credit: www.depositphotos.com/ursula1964

Table of Contents

Train travel destinations from France

France’s national state-owned railway company is called the SNCF, which stands for Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français. The SNCF was founded in 1938, and runs all rail traffic nationwide as well as in Monaco. This also includes TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) service, the high-speed rail network. France has 27,483 kilometers of railway lines (only second to Germany) making train travel in France a popular option. (via Statista as of 2019).

All of France’s big cities are accessible via train, with Paris being a major hub. In Paris alone, there are six train stations that will get you to other areas of France and Europe: Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare d’Austerlitz, Gare Montparnasse, and Gare Saint-Lazare.

In addition to big cities, you can take the train to smaller towns and even more rural areas. Train travel is great for weekend trips from Paris as well. If you’re looking to travel to other areas of Europe via train, you’ve got options. Travel to London, Brussels, Amsterdam and more via SNCF service!

Must-know tips for your first trip to France >>

where to buy train tickets in france

Photo credit: www.depositphotos.com/Boarding2Now

Types of trains and service in France

Train service in France runs like a well-oiled machine with a wide variety of routes nationwide that include big cities, small towns, and even rural areas. As of 2019, the entire SNCF network has over 27,000 kilometers of railway lines, 58% of which were electrified. Over 15,000 commercial trains run daily, transporting more than 5 million passengers and more than 250,000 tons of goods, reported the SNCF.

Let’s talk about the different types of passenger trains available:

TGV INOUI : The TGV is France’s most well-known train, which stands for Train à Grand Vitesse which translates to high-speed train. They can hit speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph). The TGV services 200 destinations and has been operating since 1981. TGV Europe also services destinations in Germany, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, and Belgium. The TGV is the train you take when you want to get from point A to B as quickly as possible.

TGV Lyria : High-speed service that connects France to destinations in Switzerland.

OUIGO: OUIGO is all about low-cost train fares on the TGV. Be sure to book early to score these offers! Small pets travel for free, a piece of luggage is included in the fare, and they’re a steal if your destination is one of the 41 they service. Kids 0-11 years old travel for 5€ one way.

One drawback of OUIGO service is that you have to arrive 30 minutes in advance so staff can check tickets. In addition, extra luggage and seats with a power outlet cost extra and there’s no dining car. Seats tend to be a bit smaller and less comfortable, so take all of that into consideration. None of these were dealbreakers for me when I’ve taken OUIGO trains, though they may be for some people.

As of April 2022, the SNCF launched the OUIGO Train Classique. It is a slower service debuting between Paris and Lyon and Paris and Nantes. The fares are between 10 and 30 euros each way (5€ for kids) and are a great budget-friendly option for those of us who don’t mind a longer trip. The fares are fixed – even for last-minute travel. Note that these fares are only sold online.

INTERCITÉS : Services 150 French destinations, some of which don’t require reservations in advance. They also offer overnight trains on some routes.

TER: France’s regional trains that operate in 11 regions and also connect to the main lines. These are not high-speed trains.

Thalys: High-speed service to Cologne, Amsterdam, and Brussels.

Eurostar : High-speed service to London from Paris, Lille, or Brussels.

Transilien and public transport in the Paris region: This includes the Paris metro and RER trains, bus lines, and more (operated by the RATP). Transilien refers to commuter service in the Paris area.

train tickets in france

Photo credit: www.depositphotos.com/anrymoscow

Where to buy train tickets in France

You have a couple of options for how to book train tickets in France. You can buy them in person at any train station either at the automated machine terminals or face to face at the ticket window. If you go the ticket window route, take note that they are generally open during French business hours and not 24/7.

Also be aware that there are different types of ticket machines. Some are only for TER train tickets in France, as shown above, and others are for TGV tickets, etc. 

Your other option for where to buy train tickets in France is to do so online. This is the only option for many of us if we’re not currently in France. It’s so important to buy from the French SNCF directly to avoid fees and extra hassle. If you do a quick web search for, “How to book train tickets in France,” the official site is often not the first one that comes up and I’ve heard from many of my readers how they’ve been ripped off.

As I mentioned, France’s railway network is called SNCF and the official website/app to buy train tickets is now called SNCF Connect (formerly known as OUI.sncf). The new site has easier route mapping, integrated commuter support and so much more that makes planning a trip a breeze. It’s also available in English.

You can buy tickets for all the types of transport listed above from your computer or phone via their website or the app. You then have the option of printing out a paper ticket or saving the digital version to your phone. The direct website for French train tickets:

easiest way to travel in france

There are also other sites called Rail Europe and others geared toward English-speaking foreigners where you can buy France train tickets. They are third-party resellers that are not official sites. Prices are often elevated, so I don’t recommend ever using them. Always go the official route. It’s the best way to buy train tickets in France.

On SNCF Connect , in addition to actually buying/exchanging your France train tickets, you can also plan your trip, find the best door-to-door route, get traffic updates and alerts in real time and buy and renew regional cards and passes. You can also access bus lines and ride sharing offers.

If you travel frequently, are a student, or a senior citizen, it may be cost effective to look into special train passes, so see if you qualify to save a few bucks.

Just like with flights, train ticket prices in France fluctuate as well. You can usually get a much better deal well in advance, while last-minute tickets are usually the most expensive.

BIGGEST MISTAKES tourists make in Paris >>

luxury france train travel

Empty first class TGV seats. Photo credit: www.depositphotos.com/Pixavril

Expert tips for train travel in France

1. Buy tickets early for the best price and availability. If you’re looking to travel by train and know your plans well in advance, it pays to buy the tickets well in advance. You’ll get the best price. Another reason why you’ll want to book early whenever possible is because trains in France sell out since all seating is reserved.

This can be especially true during the peak summer months, during school vacation periods, and on popular routes. As I recommended above, be sure to only use the official site SNCF Connect for the most accurate information and cost-effective tickets.

2. Book a seat that makes sense for you. All TGV seating is reserved. TGVs and longer trips require you to book a specific seat and there are different configurations. Most are two by two and you have the choice of an aisle or window seat. There are also “family” seats called carré (square) which are 4 seats in a two-by-two configuration but facing each other with a table in between (imagine sitting at a 4-person dinner table).

That means two are riding backwards. It can be a little awkward facing a stranger the whole ride. Also, riding backwards isn’t always comfortable for people prone to motion sickness, so pay close attention to what seat you’re choosing.

In addition, some trains are double deckers and have an upstairs level accessible by a staircase. If you have several pieces of luggage or aren’t able to easily climb stairs, upstairs may not be the best option. The booking system will assign you a seat that is easily changed before finalizing your reservation, so again just be sure you’re comfortable with the seat you’re selecting.

3. Consider first class. Along with the above, it might make sense to book a ticket in first class. Sometimes they’re only slightly more expensive than regular second class fares, especially when booked in advance. For more comfortable seats with a little more leg room, more luggage storage, a plug for electronics, and more, first class might be a good choice for business travel or long trips where comfort is important.

Overall, I’ve found that first class seats on the TGV aren’t that different from second class so they aren’t worth a splurge if the difference in fare classes is steep.

4. Show up early. If you’re not used to taking the train in France, be sure to give yourself enough time to navigate the station and get to the right platform and track (called voie in French. You’ll see tracks noted as Voie A, for example).

Paris stations are big and it can be confusing if you’re not used to how things are organized. Spare yourself the added stress that comes along with rushing or having to rebook a missed train and get there on the early side.

5. Note the number of your train car and line up on the platform accordingly. This is a VERY IMPORTANT tip . For trips with reserved seating, it’s imperative that you look closely at your ticket and mentally note the specific train carriage number in which you’ll be seated.

Then find the black display sign on the platform titled “Composition des Trains” that tells you where to stand for your specific car number. It looks like a lit up outline of a train and will usually have a “You are here” dot so you can gauge how far left or right you need to walk to get into position.

TGVs and other international trains can be quite long with 20 or more cars or even two trains that are attached. Because stops are often only a couple of minutes long, you need to be in the vicinity of your assigned seat because you won’t have time to run the length of the platform if you’re near car 4 and yours is actually car 18. This happened to my aunt and uncle in Marseille. They couldn’t get to their train car in time with all their luggage and missed the train.

You can’t just get on and walk between the cars because they aren’t always connected and with the crowds and luggage, it’s not feasible. In some cases, as I mentioned, two separate trains might be connected as they depart Paris but at some point they split and go to different final destinations.

It’s really important you check that you’re in the right seat and in the right car! Definitely take extra care when it comes to lining up ahead of time and then finding your seat once on board.

A final note on the Composition des Trains display sign: There won’t be an employee directing you and it’s not required to line up in any specific place. It’s just that the Composition des Trains display is there for a reason, so be sure to take a look so you aren’t on the opposite side of the platform when the train comes. That way you’ll be in the general vicinity of your assigned seat and won’t have to run.

6. Note the train number. Each train has a specific number so when you look up at the big board or screen in the station that lists out all the departures, you’ll see a train number that corresponds to the destination and time.

Several trains may be going to or coming from the same place so it’s important to know you’re on the train you actually bought a ticket for.

Must-know travel phrases for your France trip (with audio) >>

europe train travel

The yellow machine is where you validate your paper ticket prior to boarding. Photo credit: www.depositphotos.com/ursula1964

7. Don’t forget to validate your ticket. All paper tickets for Europe train travel need to be validated before you get on the train in France. To do this, look for the yellow machines with a ticket slot in the train station. There are several usually at the entrance, on the platform, and around the ticket machines and are marked “Compostez votre billet” (validate your ticket).

You insert your ticket into the machine and two seconds later it spits it out with a stamped line of text validating that the ticket is now used. You’ll need to show it to the train employee (contrôleur in French) when he or she checks your ticket after boarding (or in some cases before you board).

Along with that, be sure to have a photo ID with you even for regional trips. In the case of buying your France train ticket online, it’ll be in your name and sometimes they check ID as well. Keep in mind there is no validation process required for e-tickets because they have a special QR code that is scanned directly from your phone. Just the paper ones require the stamp from the yellow machine.

As you’d expect, ID is always checked for TGV and other international trips. Another note on tickets is to always play it safe and buy a train ticket. While the conductor doesn’t always check all tickets, fines are heavy if you try to get a free ride.

Another important tip I should mention is make sure your phone is charged if you have an e-ticket since you’ll need it on and functional to show your ticket.

8. Keep your voice down. Train cars tend to be on the quieter side in France and Europe. People tend to keep their voices low when having private conversations and phone calls are not allowed in some cars. It goes toward respecting the public space and not disturbing those around you. The general attitude for train travel in Europe is to keep your voice down.

American social norms that don’t translate to French cultur e >>

Pros of train travel in France

Easy and efficient way to travel. While France train travel isn’t perfect, it’s a pretty stress-free way to travel. You can easily book your ticket online, arrive at the station, and go. Voilà!

The country is extremely well connected and whether you’re traveling within France or to neighboring European countries, SNCF Connect has you covered. Also, train travel in France doesn’t require you to arrive hours early like air travel does.

Comfortable seats. Compared to regular economy class on most airlines, trains in France are quite comfortable. You have more legroom, big picture windows to take in the view, decent sized bathrooms, and more.

You can head to the bar/food car on some trains where you can buy something to eat or drink. You’re always welcome to bring your own food as well. Many newer trains also have free Wi-Fi.

Lots of options in terms of timing. Most routes have several trains per day (even hourly!) so you have your pick as to whether you leave in the morning or evening or somewhere in between. Train travel is extremely convenient and that’s a top pro.

france train routes

Cons of train travel in France

Possibility of strikes and delays. Like air travel, train travel in France isn’t without its drawbacks. Strikes and delays are not uncommon occurrences. The bright side is strikes are usually announced in advance so you can plan ahead but delays come down to luck.

Weather, technical issues, and more play into whether your trip will be delayed so it just comes with the territory. I take the train regularly and I’m happy to say I’ve only been inconvenienced by strikes and big delays a handful of times in 10 years.

Trips can be long and routing isn’t always direct. If you’re in a rush, train travel may not be for you. TGV and other international high-speed options aside, if you’re trying to get from Angers to Perpignan like I had to when my flight was canceled a couple of years back, be ready for a long day. Routes aren’t always direct and many go through Paris.

In my case I had to change train stations (not just the train!) in Paris which required a taxi. Then my second train was a very slow one that made all the stops. I think the trip was over 8 hours total (flight would have been an hour and 20 minutes).

If you’re in a rush or hate long trips, train travel may not make sense for your specific situation depending on your route.

Not great if you have a lot of luggage. Unlike air travel where you can check large pieces of luggage, when you go by train, you’re responsible for hauling your suitcase(s) onto the train and stowing it in the luggage area. Depending on where you’re seated, this can mean lugging it up or down stairs.

This can be even a bit more challenging on crowded trains when luggage areas are already full. While there aren’t firm luggage limits on regular fare trains, it can get really cumbersome when you have two or three suitcases.

If you are traveling solo and have two or more pieces of luggage, keep in mind that trains only stop for a few minutes so take steps to make the whole on/off process run as smoothly as possible. This includes booking a ticket on the lower level so you can avoid stairs and making sure that you line up on the platform in the area that corresponds to your reserved seat, as we talked about above.

Also, when it’s time to get off, start getting your suitcase out of the luggage area a few minutes before the train arrives in the station. People who got on after you might have boxed your suitcase in so leave yourself time to get organized.

Have you taken a French train? How was the experience? I hope my guide to train travel in France was helpful! Buy your French train tickets and bon voyage!

Traveling to France soon and want to be prepared? Check out my eGuide titled “ 75 Beginner France travel tips for a standout trip! ”

Need some tips on how to dress like a French woman? This is my no BS guide on how to dress in France .

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between SNCF Connect and Oui In France. All opinions are my own.

PIN my France train tickets and French train travel post:

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April 22, 2022 at 5:34 pm

Hey Diane, Great article! Good timing as I’m on a Thalys heading Paris-Amsterdam. I have a question about seats. I did switch seats online when I bought them but I’m stumped as how to make sure I’m not sitting backwards. There’s nothing on the seat map that shows if you’re going the correct direction of train or backwards. Am I missing something? Thanks and be well!

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April 23, 2022 at 11:32 am

I’ve been traveling a lot by train in France for the last 2 weeks mostly using the SNCF connect app. The TER tickets I’ve bought with the app are only available on your phone. You can’t print them. The OUIGO and inOui tickets are on the app and sent as PDFs by email so they can be printed if you have access to a printer. The OUIGO tickets can’t be printed at the station if you bought them using the app. The only downside I’ve found is that scanning the tickets is sometimes necessary to get to the platform and it doesn’t always work from the phone. I and a lot of other people had to get assistance from an SNCF employee. That employee was very helpful but only spoke French. Overall I think the app works very well.

If you’re over 60 and book the tickets more than a day in advance you get a 10% discount even without buying a loyalty card.

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April 23, 2022 at 2:54 pm

When traveling via TGV, is there a way to tell which end of your car has the luggage racks? We were a group of 7 in December and sometimes boarded on the end opposite the racks. That made life a little challenging! Also, when booking three sets of TGV tickets for 7, I couldn’t get SNCF to register me. It said I had created an account and would receive an email but nothing ever arrived! Therefore, I couldn’t look up my account to see my tickets. Luckily I had the confirmation numbers and could find them that way. A little frustrating. But the train travel itself was wonderful! We did Paris-Reims-Strasbourg-CDG.

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April 24, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Hi ! Racks for luggage can be at several places. It depends if your train is TGV, a TER ou another type of train. In TGV (INOUi and OUIGO), racks are most of the time at both end of the seated areas and in the middle of them. You can also slide under your seat your luggage if it’s not too big.

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April 23, 2022 at 6:25 pm

Nice article. I always use trains in Europe, as they are faster than using an airplane. I tried to take your advice and tried to sign up for sncfconnect. After entering my credentials, I received an email that says click on Activate my account. Upon doing so, I received

Unauthorized url: https://www.sncf-connect.com/app/en-ww/account/activation , for application: ccl

Upon replying to the email asking for assistance, it was returned as Undeliverable.

Using the Chat feature on the website got me a See our FAQ.

I’ve always used Rail Europe for tickets. While they may be a touch more expensive, at least you can reach a real person if there’s a problem or issue.

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April 24, 2022 at 8:40 pm

Now this was really interesting , I love train travel just don’t have a reason to take a train anywhere.

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April 29, 2022 at 11:42 pm

Great article. I wished there were more photos of things you talked about. I found it hard to find the right car (several years ago so maybe the signage has changed) and when I asked an employee, he was less than helpful, a bit irritated (it wasn’t because of my French; I’m bilingual). I had a hard time finding the right car. Also is the lining up new? I don’t remember having to line up for my car by a sign. I would love to see that photo. Anyway, great practical advice. And safe travels to you and your family. Looking forward to reading about it when you return

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April 30, 2022 at 5:55 am

Hi Jacqueline, thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it! Sorry for any confusion about the composition du train display. It’s not required that you line up anywhere and there isn’t an employee who will direct people to the right spot on the track. It’s just there to help people get to the right spot more or less so they aren’t on the opposite side of the platform when the train comes (thus increasing the chance of missing their train). It was just my tip to take a peek at the display to get close to the spot where your particular car will come to a stop? Does that make sense? I will update the post with a line clarifying that (and add a pic of the display after I next take the TGV). Thx again & bon week-end !

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June 8, 2022 at 6:49 pm

This was an awesome guide to the French trains and systems. I will save it for when we get to go for a few months, maybe next spring. Thanks so much for this and other blogs and videos that you do. They are helpful for us who plan on visiting in the future as well as those there. One question I have is about pets…I think I have read that you can take dogs on the trains except for the TGV high speed. We will have our little 14lb papiillon with us when we travel, so will need to plan accordingly.

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July 23, 2022 at 9:54 pm

Thank you for this article, I found it quite useful. Do you happen to know, if I pre-purchase TER tickets on the SNCF Connect app, am I able to retrieve them while offline? Or would a screenshot do the trick? I will not have cellular access while travelling in Europe (just wi-fi at my destination), and I want to be sure that I can show the conductor my ticket when he/she comes around 🙂

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Early morning in #istanbul when the streets are still calm. Something that caught us by surprise was the fact that cars and scooters really don’t slow down much for pedestrians and they get really close to you when they pass. Definitely use the sidewalk whenever you can! Lots of fun shops and cafes here near the Galata Tower where we’re staying.

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Best places to visit in france.

France is home to some of the most lively cities, bucolic villages and renowned wine regions on the globe. U.S. News considered factors like variety of attractions, lodging, weather and culinary scenes to create this ranking of the best places to visit in France. Whether you're seeking an action-packed sightseeing adventure or a relaxing wine retreat, you'll find a fun French vacation here. To influence next year's ranking, vote below for your favorite destinations in France.

Mont Saint-Michel

Montpellier, french alps, chamonix-mont-blanc, aix-en-provence, loire valley.

easiest way to travel in france

As the world's best place to visit , it's no surprise that the electrifying City of Light tops this list. France's capital city is a year-round tourist destination with iconic attractions like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and incredible architecture (think: the dazzling Basilique du Sacré-Coeur). Not to mention, Paris offers unparalleled dining and shopping scenes and more museums than you could hope to visit in one trip. Keep in mind, Paris is often flooded with tourists and room rates can be pricey. If you're looking for a deal, travel in winter or early spring.

easiest way to travel in france

The capital of the Alsace region offers the perfect mix of French and German culture thanks to its location on the France-Germany border. While here, travelers should see Strasbourg's Gothic-style cathedral and stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Petite France quarter with its half-timbered houses and postcard-worthy waterways. Plus, those with an interest in politics can tour several important European institutions during their visit, including the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. For an extra dose of charm, arrive in December to see one of Europe's oldest Christmas markets.

easiest way to travel in france

Rising above the sea like a castle in a fairy tale, Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy is one of France's most-visited sights. Legend says the archangel Michael, the island's namesake, repeatedly appeared to Bishop Aubert of Avranches in dreams, telling him to build a church on top of the island in A.D. 708. Since its completion, it has become an important pilgrimage site for Christians and European intellectuals. Visitors can tour the picturesque abbey and admire its incredible medieval architecture or wander its surrounding streets, which are lined with tiny shops and quaint cafes.

easiest way to travel in france

Dubbed La Ville Rose due to the prominence of distinctive clay bricks in its architecture, Toulouse is a feast for the eyes. Throughout this city, which is located in the South of France, you'll find marvels like the neoclassical Le Capitole on the main square, the stately Basilica of Saint-Sernin (an 11th-century UNESCO site) and the Hôtel d’Assézat, which houses a noteworthy art gallery. What's more, several canals with shady footpaths pass through the city, including the idyllic Canal du Midi. For some of the best views of Toulouse, take a cruise on the River Garonne, or just sunbathe on its banks.

easiest way to travel in france

Sunny Montpellier glows with a combination of old world charm and a trendy university lifestyle. This city in the south of France evokes Parisian appeal with Haussmann architecture and stylish promenades. And like Paris, adornment is everywhere in Montpellier, from fashionable boutiques to street art to France's oldest botanical garden. Plus, since Montpellier is located 7 miles from the coast of the Mediterranean, a beach break is close at hand. Once the sun sets, take part in the city's youthful nightlife scene, which includes everything from music halls to dance clubs.

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It's easy to see why Colmar, located in the heart of Alsace's wine region, is considered one of France's most beautiful cities. Colorful houses that look as if they belong in a fairy tale line the Little Venice district, where you can take a boat tour through Colmar's canals or reach boutiques and eateries on foot. The setting is picturesque regardless of when you vacation here, but for even more charm, visit Colmar at night when lights illuminate the city during annual events like the Colmar International Festival, Alsace's wine fair and Colmar's Christmas market.

easiest way to travel in france

To see some of France's most spectacular art and architecture, head to Avignon. This city in southeastern France is full of stunning structures, including the 14th-century Palais des Papes, the largest Gothic palace in the world, and the arched bridge, Pont d'Avignon. A number of can't-miss museums are spread throughout Avignon as well, such as the Musée Angladon, which houses works by highly regarded artists like Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. Visit in July to attend the Festival d'Avignon, one of the world's largest performing arts festivals.

easiest way to travel in france

If your ideal French vacation involves a little more nature and a little less city, head to the French Alps . Here, you'll find some of the best ski slopes in Europe, as well as beautiful scenery that rivals any work of art or architecture. In summer, the typically snow-covered mountains thaw just enough to create perfect conditions for hiking and biking. Enchanting villages sit at the base of the range, offering several places to unwind when you've had enough fun on the slopes or trails.

easiest way to travel in france

Despite its war-filled past, this region in northern France is also a place of great beauty and culture. Étretat's white cliffs are a great place to take in the area's natural scenery. Then, visit the region's capital city, Rouen, to admire works of art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts and stroll past the quaint half-timbered houses. Be sure to sample some of the city's culinary specialties to see why it is now a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Or, see some of the remnants of Normandy's heavy history at the D-Day Landing Beaches and The Bayeux Tapestry.

easiest way to travel in france

Glamorous Nice occupies a picturesque spot along the French Riviera. Beach bums and culture hounds alike will enjoy the city's pebbly shores, engaging museums, boutique shops and Baroque-style palaces. Be sure to stroll along the coastline's Promenade des Anglais and pick up some fresh flowers and produce at the vibrant Cours Saleya market, located in old town. You'll likely spend a pretty penny on lodging and beach access, but experiencing Nice is worth it. To save some coin, travel between mid-March and April or from September to October, the area's shoulder seasons.

easiest way to travel in france

Often called "France's Isle of Beauty," Corsica features diverse landscapes and a unique culture that make it seem like a miniature continent. The Mediterranean island's clear blue water and white sand beaches are ideal for sunbathing, snorkeling and kayaking, while its mountainous terrain and dense forests provide ample opportunities to hike trails like the highly regarded (albeit challenging) GR20. Those looking to take in some history can visit the Maison Bonaparte museum to see Napoleon's birthplace. What's more, Corsica offers a one-of-a-kind food scene that showcases various local delicacies, such as lonzu (dry-cured ham) and brocciu (cheese).

easiest way to travel in france

While it may not be as well known as big-name cities like Paris, Lyon competes with the best of them. Despite being the third-largest city in France, Lyon is much calmer and less touristy than other similarly sized destinations. The streets are filled with public art, including the city's famous trompe l'oeil murals, and there are museums that focus on everything from movies to history. Plus, it's surrounded by hundreds of wineries and home to 4,000-plus restaurants, several of which boast Michelin stars, making it especially appealing to oenophiles and foodies.

easiest way to travel in france

If you love to ski, chances are you'll enjoy shredding powder at Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. In the bustling Chamonix (the main place to stay if you want to ski at Mont Blanc), you'll have easy access to the longest off-piste run in the world (Vallée Blanche) and rugged, challenging slopes. But this destination, which hosted the 1924 Winter Olympics, offers more than just top-notch skiing. Chamonix is also a great place to go hiking, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. For some family-friendly fun, visit the town's adventure park to zip down its Alpine coaster and various slides.

easiest way to travel in france

Quaint, charming Aix-en-Provence is a university city known for its tree-lined boulevards, cute cafes and lively markets. Life moves at a more leisurely pace here than in other French cities, meaning it's the perfect place for travelers to get lost in the scenic streets. Make sure to add Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur and Le Grand Marché – two of the city's top attractions – to your itinerary. You can also see where artist Paul Cézanne (an Aix-en-Provence native) painted some of his masterpieces at Atelier de Cezanne, or venture outside of the city to see the Provencal scenes that inspired him.

easiest way to travel in france

Vincent Van Gogh fans may recognize the streetscapes of Arles: This small city in Provence inspired some of the artist's best-known works with its bright colors and rustic feel. Art aficionados can walk in Van Gogh's footsteps and explore his favorite haunts on a walking tour through this romantic city or visit the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles. Beyond this noteworthy connection, Arles is renowned for its Roman ruins, including a two-tiered amphitheater, the Alyscamps necropolis and the Constantine Baths. And as the gateway to the Camargue region, Arles is a great base for visitors looking to explore this marshy, flamingo-filled area.

easiest way to travel in france

Another popular wine region, Burgundy is home to rolling hills, superior cuisine and an array of vineyards. Those visiting Burgundy must spend time exploring the medieval villages, historical abbeys and museums that call this area home. Dijon, the region's history-rich capital, makes a great home base for touring the area. And, of course, you can't leave without trying the region's wine, which mainly uses the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, and dining on some of its rich cuisine.

easiest way to travel in france

Northwestern France's Brittany region stands out from the rest of the country in more ways than one. Locals are proud and protective of their Celtic heritage, including their unique language, traditions and festivals. As a result, visitors will find many well-preserved historical sites throughout the area, including prehistoric megaliths and medieval towns like Saint-Malo, a popular port town with a 12th-century citadel. Brittany also features breathtaking coastlines with fantastic beaches that are known for their phenomenal waves for surfing, dive spots and dolphin-spotting opportunities. 

easiest way to travel in france

As the capital of France's Champagne region, Reims is a must-visit destination for both history buffs and those who love bubbly. The city offers many Champagne cellars where visitors can learn about how the popular wine is produced before tasting it. Additionally, Reims features breathtaking Gothic architecture at attractions like the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Reims, where 25 French monarchs were crowned between 1223 and 1825, and the adjacent Palace of Tau, the former residence of France's archbishops. No visit would be complete without perusing the exhibits in one of Reims' museums, which cover a range of topics from war history to art and automobiles.

easiest way to travel in france

The gateway to the Loire Valley, Tours is perfectly situated for touring the region's wineries. But with Tours' historical elements and prime location along the Loire River, you may just want to stay in town. Place Plumereau, a medieval marketplace that remains one of the city's oldest squares, exudes irresistible charm with half-timbered houses, while churches like the Saint-Gatien Cathedral stun with their stately façades. Visitors will also have their pick of green spaces, from parks like Prébendes d’Oé Garden to riverside guinguettes (open-air cafes) at Tours sur Loire. What's more, several of the region's famed châteaux (including the Château de Villandry) sit just outside the city.

easiest way to travel in france

For a romantic escape, visit the Loire Valley in central France. Situated along the Loire River, the area is peppered with châteaux, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, farms and wineries renowned for their sauvignon blanc. The region itself is even a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beauty and historical villages. Plan to spend some time in a few of the valley's laid-back cities and towns, such as Orléans and Saumur, and you can't miss the emblematic Château de Chambord.

easiest way to travel in france

This wine-producing hub woos travelers with its riverbank location and surrounding countryside. With nearly 300,000 acres of vineyards, Bordeaux offers ample choices for those looking to sip some of the best (typically bold red) wines in the world. In the city center, marvel at the Gothic-style Basilique Saint Michel, walk across the Pont de Pierre (a beautiful stone bridge), snap a photo of the iconic Place de la Bourse and enjoy the Jardin Public's pathways and flora.

easiest way to travel in france

Located on the French Riviera just 8 miles from Nice, the tiny hilltop village of Èze makes for an excellent daytrip. The best way to spend your time in this medieval town is meandering through its cobbled streets that look as though they've been pulled from a postcard. In doing so, you'll find picturesque views of the coast, as well as luxury hotels and shops from another era. Top sights include the Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption and Jardin Exotique d'Èze, as well as the walking path of Nietzsche, who was inspired to write here. Before leaving town, stop by the Fragonard Parfumeur factory for a fragrant tour.

easiest way to travel in france

Located 35 miles northeast of Montpellier, Nîmes delights history buffs with some of the world's best-preserved Roman treasures like its emblematic arena and La Maison Carrée, a temple dating back to 10 B.C. Museums throughout Nîmes also cover its past. But lest you get the wrong impression, Nîmes is anything but stuffy. The city embraces the joie de vivre of the South of France with countless festivals, from structured events like the concert lineups of the Festival de Nîmes to lively Ferias de Nîmes – multi-day celebrations that occur twice a year at Pentecost and in September, and center around bullfighting, dancing and music.

easiest way to travel in france

France's oldest and second-largest city has become an exciting, up-and-coming tourist destination. Marseille has a number of sights to see, including the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde and Château d'If, the ominous prison made famous by Alexandre Dumas' "The Count of Monte Cristo." When the weather is nice, the rocky cliffs and secluded beaches of the Calanques are excellent for swimming, boating and hiking. No trip to Marseille would be complete without a stop by the Mucem, a museum dedicated to Mediterranean civilization. Plus, its rooftop terrace makes the perfect vantage point to admire the city.

easiest way to travel in france

Famous for its annual film festival in May, Cannes is just as impressive (and much less congested) other times of the year. Cannes is another French Riviera hot spot that welcomes travelers looking for a little relaxation (think: sun-soaked beaches and meandering walks through the steep streets of Le Suquet, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods). Visitors can sightsee as they stroll along La Croisette, a 2-mile-long promenade, or sit down for an exquisite meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Feeling lucky? Stop by one of Cannes' casinos.

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The Only 10 Foods You Need to Eat in France

Posted: March 3, 2024 | Last updated: March 3, 2024

<p>Ratatouille is a popular dish worldwide that has its origins in Provence in the <a href="https://mydolcecasa.com/the-absolute-best-south-of-france-cities-and-towns-to-live-in-2023/">South of France</a>. The dish gets its name from two French words – <em>rata</em> meaning “casserole” and the verb <em>touiller </em>meaning “to stir.”</p><p>Ratatouille is made by gently simmering sliced eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and zucchini in olive oil and flavoring the dish with garlic and herbs. Ratatouille is very versatile, and can be eaten hot or cold, as a main dish or side.</p>

Très bon appétit

French cuisine is world famous and many of its classic dishes are included in the repertoire of chefs in hotels and restaurants around the globe. Dining out in France is fun, as there are restaurants for everyone — from fine dining in elegant surroundings to cozy, cheerful bistros packed with locals at tables that spill out onto the pavement during  good weather .

Traditionally the French eat their main meal of the day at lunchtime and take a two-hour break from work between noon and 2 p.m. Many restaurants offer a special lunchtime set menu that is an amazingly good value.

The menu is usually written on a blackboard and is called a variety of names, including  Formule  or  Menu Midi . It is made up of three courses and often includes a carafe of local wine. The price for this gastronomic delight is usually between $12 to $20. It is best to book a table though — not surprisingly, restaurants offering this are extremely popular.

The following are the top 10 most famous French dishes best served in their country of origin: 

<p>Bouillabaisse is a delicious fish stew that has its roots firmly in <a href="https://mydolcecasa.com/best-french-beach-towns/">the port of Marseilles</a>, where the recipe was created by fishers as a clever way to use up leftover fish from the day’s catch. The word comes from the Provençal Occitan dialect and means “to simmer.” The fish traditionally used for Bouillabaisse was rascasse — a bony rockfish that was almost impossible to sell.</p><p>The fish stew should include at least three fish such as bream, mullet, and hake — plus shellfish such as prawns, mussels, and sea urchin. A variety of vegetables including tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and celery are used to make a tasty broth, and the fish are added one by one.</p><p>In Marseilles, the broth and fish are served in separate bowls. Bouillabaisse is traditionally served accompanied by arouille, a sauce made with olive oil, saffron, garlic, and cayenne pepper served on grilled slices of French bread.  In 1980, 10 Marseilles chefs drew up the Bouillabaisse Charter to protect the heritage of this dish in French cuisine and define the ingredients that should be used, including the bony rascasse.</p>

Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a delicious fish stew that has its roots firmly in  the port of Marseilles , where the recipe was created by fishers as a clever way to use up leftover fish from the day’s catch. The word comes from the Provençal Occitan dialect and means “to simmer.” The fish traditionally used for Bouillabaisse was rascasse — a bony rockfish that was almost impossible to sell.

The fish stew should include at least three fish such as bream, mullet, and hake — plus shellfish such as prawns, mussels, and sea urchin. A variety of vegetables including tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and celery are used to make a tasty broth, and the fish are added one by one.

In Marseilles, the broth and fish are served in separate bowls. Bouillabaisse is traditionally served accompanied by arouille, a sauce made with olive oil, saffron, garlic, and cayenne pepper served on grilled slices of French bread.  In 1980, 10 Marseilles chefs drew up the Bouillabaisse Charter to protect the heritage of this dish in French cuisine and define the ingredients that should be used, including the bony rascasse.

<div class="rich-text"><p>Quiches became widely popular in the 1960s. But unlike other vintage food trends, this one really stuck around for the long haul. And for good reason! It’s light, filling and easy to transport as it’s good both warm and room temperature. Find this recipe for Quiche Lorraine on <a href="https://www.forageddish.com/blog/2017/10/12/crustless-quiche-lorraine">Foraged Dish</a>.</p><p>Did we miss your favorite childhood dish?</p></div>

Quiche Lorraine

Another classic in French food is this savory tart made with a pastry case filled with a classic mixture of eggs, cream, and bacon. The recipe originates from the Alsace Lorraine region and dates from the 16th century. Every village soon had variations of the recipe. The quiche was originally prepared with a case made from a layer of dough — not unlike a pizza base — but today is made with either shortcrust or puff pastry.

It was not until the 1950s that the recipe spread to Paris and other large French cities, and then abroad. The traditional recipe was adjusted and either Emmental or Parmesan cheese was added or crème frais. Today, ready-made quiche is sold in British and American supermarkets in a variety of flavors. Quiche Lorraine is versatile, and can be served warm or cold.

<p>Cassoulet comes from the Languedoc region, in the southwest of France. The dish takes its name from the “cassole”‘ dish it is cooked in, a large earthenware pot left to simmer gently for many hours.</p><p>This popular rustic dish is made with white haricot beans cooked with pork, confit (duck), and sausages and is said to have first appeared in Castelnaudary during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). Legend tells how villagers would amass all their scraps of meat and stretch them to feed more people by adding plenty of white beans to the pot. Legend also says that French soldiers felt so strong after eating plenty of cassoulet that they chased the English back to the English Channel.</p><p>Traditionally, Cassoulet should be cooked overnight, allowed to cool and cooked again. This delicious dish is one of the original “one-pot meals” and should be served straight from the pot with plenty of slices of baguette and some full-bodied red wine.</p>

Rustic cassoulet

Cassoulet comes from the Languedoc region, in the southwest of France. The dish takes its name from the “cassole”‘ dish it is cooked in, a large earthenware pot left to simmer gently for many hours.

This popular rustic dish is made with white haricot beans cooked with pork, confit (duck), and sausages and is said to have first appeared in Castelnaudary during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). Legend tells how villagers would amass all their scraps of meat and stretch them to feed more people by adding plenty of white beans to the pot. Legend also says that French soldiers felt so strong after eating plenty of cassoulet that they chased the English back to the English Channel.

Traditionally, Cassoulet should be cooked overnight, allowed to cool and cooked again. This delicious dish is one of the original “one-pot meals” and should be served straight from the pot with plenty of slices of baguette and some full-bodied red wine.

<p><a href="https://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-french-onion-soup/">Get the recipe here!</a></p>

Soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup)

This classic soup recipe first appeared in France during the 18th century. According to local folklore, King Louis XV was staying at his hunting lodge when he became really hungry. All he could find to eat were yellow onions, butter, and Champagne. He cooked the sliced onions in the butter and added the Champagne — and voila! The king had made the very first French onion soup!

The modern version of the soup, considered by many as the national dish of France, is still made with caramelized yellow onions, beef broth, and white wine. The soup is flavored with bay leaves and thyme and served  topped with slices of French baguette topped with melted Gruyère cheese and sprinkled with parsley.

<p>This signature French dish comes from the verb <em>souffler</em>, which means “to blow.” This is famous French food at its best! Soufflé is made with beaten egg whites. When these are baked in the oven, the air inside the egg whites expands and the mixture becomes incredibly light and fluffy.</p><p>The dish first appeared in France in the early 18h century, created to use up leftovers. Soufflés often contain other ingredients to flavor, either herbs, cheese, or vegetables for savory flavors and chocolate, banana, and other fruits for sweet soufflés.</p><p>A good soufflé should taste crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. After it is removed from the oven, it will collapse gently after a while. There are a number of recipes that include gelatin so the soufflé can be served cold in perfect condition.</p>

This signature French dish comes from the verb  souffler , which means “to blow.” This is famous French food at its best! Soufflé is made with beaten egg whites. When these are baked in the oven, the air inside the egg whites expands and the mixture becomes incredibly light and fluffy.

The dish first appeared in France in the early 18h century, created to use up leftovers. Soufflés often contain other ingredients to flavor, either herbs, cheese, or vegetables for savory flavors and chocolate, banana, and other fruits for sweet soufflés.

A good soufflé should taste crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. After it is removed from the oven, it will collapse gently after a while. There are a number of recipes that include gelatin so the soufflé can be served cold in perfect condition.

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Boeuf bourguignon

Like many famous French dishes, the recipe for boeuf bourguignon was invented during the Middle Ages as way to make tough pieces of beef more edible. The dish originates from the Burgundy region, well known for its excellent red wines, and the beef is cooked slowly in red wine with shallots, mushrooms, chopped carrots, celery, and garlic.

Boeuf bourguignon did not get international attention until it appeared in a cookbook by French chef and restaurant owner Auguste Escoffier published in 1903.

The best beef to use for this recipe is beef that has plenty of fatty marbling, as this helps prevent the meat from drying out. The dish should be served with mashed potatoes, pureed carrot, and green vegetables — plus a fine glass of Burgundy, of course!

<p>This delicious casserole that tastes so good with the addition of local herbs has long  been a good way to cook an old rooster! The recipe can be traced from Roman times.</p><p>The meat is placed in a large casserole with shallots, mushrooms, carrots , finely chopped garlic, and  plenty of hearty red wine and a measure of French cognac. The casserole is cooked for several hours to develop the flavor, which is enhanced with bay, rosemary, and thyme.</p><p>When the meat is tender, the casserole is ready to serve, with creamy mashed potato and French beans. Modern variations of this dish are made with chicken thighs and legs.</p>

This delicious casserole that tastes so good with the addition of local herbs has long  been a good way to cook an old rooster! The recipe can be traced from Roman times.

The meat is placed in a large casserole with shallots, mushrooms, carrots , finely chopped garlic, and  plenty of hearty red wine and a measure of French cognac. The casserole is cooked for several hours to develop the flavor, which is enhanced with bay, rosemary, and thyme.

When the meat is tender, the casserole is ready to serve, with creamy mashed potato and French beans. Modern variations of this dish are made with chicken thighs and legs.

Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a popular dish worldwide that has its origins in Provence in the  South of France . The dish gets its name from two French words –  rata  meaning “casserole” and the verb  touiller  meaning “to stir.”

Ratatouille is made by gently simmering sliced eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and zucchini in olive oil and flavoring the dish with garlic and herbs. Ratatouille is very versatile, and can be eaten hot or cold, as a main dish or side.

<p>Tarte Tatin is a delicious upside-down fruit tart containing caramelized apples. Considered one of the best French foods, it was given its name by the sisters who invented the recipe. Tarte Tatin (pronounced <i>tar tah-TAN</i>) was created by Caroline and Stephanie Tatin, who ran a restaurant in the village of  Lamotte-Beuvron in the Loire Valley in the late 19th century.</p><p>The story goes that one Sunday during hunting season, the restaurant was particularly busy and Stephanie, who did all the cooking, got into a panic and placed the apple tart she had made into the oven upside down! When the tart had cooked she did not know what on earth to do, as she hadn’t time to make another. So she simply slid it onto a serving plate and served it warm and upside down. The tart proved an instant success! Some years later, <a href="https://maxims-de-paris.com/en/restaurant-2">Maxim’s in Paris</a> added Tarte Tatin to the menu. The rest is history.</p>

Tarte tatin

Tarte tatin is a delicious upside-down fruit tart containing caramelized apples. Considered one of the best French foods, it was given its name by the sisters who invented the recipe. Tarte tatin (pronounced tar tah-TAN ) was created by Caroline and Stephanie Tatin, who ran a restaurant in the village of  Lamotte-Beuvron in the Loire Valley in the late 19th century.

The story goes that one Sunday during hunting season, the restaurant was particularly busy and Stephanie, who did all the cooking, got into a panic and placed the apple tart she had made into the oven upside down! When the tart had cooked she did not know what on earth to do, as she hadn’t time to make another. So she simply slid it onto a serving plate and served it warm and upside down. The tart proved an instant success! Some years later,  Maxim’s in Paris  added Tarte Tatin to the menu. The rest is history.

<p>The name of this delicious dessert means “burned cream.” It first appeared in the recipe book Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois by François Massialot in 1691. Many believe the recipe was his version of a traditional dessert made in the Catalana region of northern Spain, which lies close to country’s border with France. The <a href="https://mydolcecasa.com/top-10-most-famous-spanish-dishes/">Spanish dish</a> was first mentioned in the 14th century. Other chefs believe that the recipe has its roots in a similar English recipe known as Crême à l’Angloise.</p><p>Crème brûlée was not a particularly popular French dessert until the 1980s, when it started to appear regularly on Parisian menus. The dish is usually made in individual ramekin dishes. It is a smooth custard made with egg yolks, cream, and vanilla topped with demerara sugar, which is caramelized with a culinary blowtorch to create a crisp top layer that gives the dessert a truly decadent taste.</p><p>Enjoying famous French food in a local restaurant frequented by local people really is the best way to enjoy the typical foods from France. The specially priced lunchtime menus make trying excellent French cuisine really affordable. You are not required to tip waiters or waitresses in French restaurants either, as a 15% service fee is included in the price of each item in all cafés, restaurants, bars, etc. Having said that, it is common practice to round up the money you pay to give the staff 20 to 30 cents if you bought a drink, or a few euros if you have enjoyed a good meal.</p><p>Craving the French life? Start planning your life abroad with more great <a href="https://mydolcecasa.com/category/countries/france/">insights on moving to and living in France</a>.</p><p><i>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://mydolcecasa.com/top-10-most-famous-french-dishes/">My Dolce Casa</a> and was syndicated by <a href="https://mediafeed.org">MediaFeed.org</a>.</i></p><h2><b>More from MediaFeed:</b></h2><ul><li><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/25-american-customs-that-make-you-look-like-a-jerk-abroad/ss-AA12UPRY">25 American customs that make you look like a jerk abroad</a></li><li><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/funny--sometimes-tragic-real-celebrity-names/ss-AA174n30">The funny & sometimes tragic real names of celebrities</a></li><li><a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/39-things-you-may-not-know-about-cannabis/ss-BB1fR6Hn">39 surprising things you may not know about cannabis</a></li></ul><h2>Like MediaFeed's content? <a href="https://www.msn.com/en-us/community/channel/vid-ckv6hf6hjif65e0cjnm83s7yb2y0w5xmun0j4refire0ev6727is">Be sure to follow us.</a></h2>

Créme brûlée

The name of this delicious dessert means “burned cream.” It first appeared in the recipe book Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois by François Massialot in 1691. Many believe the recipe was his version of a traditional dessert made in the Catalana region of northern Spain, which lies close to country’s border with France. The  Spanish dish  was first mentioned in the 14th century. Other chefs believe that the recipe has its roots in a similar English recipe known as Crême à l’Angloise.

Crème brûlée was not a particularly popular French dessert until the 1980s, when it started to appear regularly on Parisian menus. The dish is usually made in individual ramekin dishes. It is a smooth custard made with egg yolks, cream, and vanilla topped with demerara sugar, which is caramelized with a culinary blowtorch to create a crisp top layer that gives the dessert a truly decadent taste.

Enjoying famous French food in a local restaurant frequented by local people really is the best way to enjoy the typical foods from France. The specially priced lunchtime menus make trying excellent French cuisine really affordable. You are not required to tip waiters or waitresses in French restaurants either, as a 15% service fee is included in the price of each item in all cafés, restaurants, bars, etc. Having said that, it is common practice to round up the money you pay to give the staff 20 to 30 cents if you bought a drink, or a few euros if you have enjoyed a good meal.

Craving the French life? Start planning your life abroad with more great  insights on moving to and living in France .

This article originally appeared on My Dolce Casa and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org .

<p>Travel may not be back to what it was before COVID-19, but seeing new hotels open up worldwide is a significant sign of hope for the travel industry. If you’re planning a vacation this year, the right <a href="https://financebuzz.com/best-travel-credit-cards">travel credit card</a> might help you offset the cost of your trip. Depending on the card you choose, you could even end up <a href="https://financebuzz.com/how-to-stay-at-hotels-for-free">staying at hotels for free</a>. If you aren't loyal to a particular hotel brand, a general travel card like the <a href="https://financebuzz.com/chase-sapphire-preferred-review">Chase Sapphire Preferred</a> could be an option worth considering. You can use <a href="https://financebuzz.com/chase-ultimate-rewards">Chase Ultimate Rewards</a> to book travel through the Chase portal or transfer them to over a dozen airline and hotel partners, including Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, and IHG Rewards Club.</p><p>However, you can also use the <a href="https://financebuzz.com/best-cash-back-credit-cards">best cashback credit cards</a> to earn cash rewards on everyday purchases. Then it’s a simple matter of putting the cash you earn toward any travel reservations you make in the future, whether it’s for a flight, hotel stay, rental car, or other travel-related expense.</p><p>  <b>More from FinanceBuzz:</b> </p><ul>  <li>   <a href="https://financebuzz.com/1000-in-your-checking-account-m?utm_source=mediafeed&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=1k_bank">    <b>8 clever moves when you have $1,000 in the bank</b>   </a>  </li>  <li>   <p>    <a href="https://financebuzz.com/apps-changing-how-we-bank-m?utm_source=mediafeed&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=banking_apps">     <b>5 must-have apps that will completely change how we bank</b>    </a>   </p>  </li> </ul><p>  <i>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://financebuzz.com/hotels-that-opened-in-2020">FinanceBuzz.com</a> and was syndicated by <a href="http://mediafeed.org/">MediaFeed.org</a>.</i> </p>

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IMAGES

  1. The Easiest Way to Get Around Paris

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  2. France Travel Guide

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  3. Ultimate and Printable Guide: Basic French for Travelers

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  4. Travelling To France

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  5. France Travel Tips: 28 Things to know before visiting France

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  6. 11 Reasons why a trip to France is an amazing experience

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VIDEO

  1. A different way to explore southern France #travel #cruise #shorts

  2. Париж

  3. Speaker SNAPS on Pierre Poilievre and has him REMOVED

  4. The easiest way to get Europe visa

  5. Daily Transport for Foreigners Working in Lausanne Switzerland, leaving in Evian France#shortsfeed

  6. Travel France / How to make simple French food #frenchfoodrecpes #travelinfrance

COMMENTS

  1. How to get around France

    The vast majority of visitors to France choose to travel en voiture (by car). However, while driving is often the most convenient and comfortable way to get around - especially if you want to explore the French countryside - it's not always the easiest or even cheapest option. The French rail network is superb, and traveling by train is ...

  2. France Budget Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    France Travel Costs. Accommodation - Dorm rooms in hostels with 8-10 beds range from 20-75 EUR per night. In Paris (and many other major cities), expect dorms to cost 40-75 EUR per night (even more in the summer). Private rooms in hostels cost between 100-150 EUR.

  3. Traveling to France for the First Time by Rick Steves

    France for First Timers. By Rick Steves. Admire the skill of ball-tossing boules players in village squares — or join a game for maximum joie de vivre. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli) Lingering in outdoor cafés is the norm in France — eat long and well. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli) On my most recent visit to Paris, I kept ...

  4. France Itinerary: Where to Go in France by Rick Steves

    Rick's Best Three-Week France Trip by Car. While this trip is doable in 22 days, most will appreciate adding an extra day here and there to rest their engine. Day 1: Fly into Paris (save Paris sightseeing for your trip finale), pick up your car, and visit Giverny en route to Honfleur (sleep in Honfleur) Day 2: Morning in Honfleur, afternoon ...

  5. France Travel Planner: Step-by-Step Guide

    Check out this guide to train travel in France. Speed Between Paris and London in 2 hrs, 15 mins - The trip from London to Paris, and to Lille and Brussels on Eurostar is a great way to travel. Take the TGV - French TGV (Trains de grande vitesse or express trains) are the wonder of Europe.

  6. How to Get Around in France (A Practical Guide)

    Buses. Planes. 13 Tips For Getting Around France. Tip #1 - Prioritize Public Transportation in Cities. Tip #2 - Stay Aware of Strikes. Tip #3 - Prepare for Driving in Advance. Tip #4 - Allow Extra Time. Tip #5 - Budget for Extra Costs. Tip #6 - Consider Worst-Case Scenarios.

  7. France Trip Planner: 8 Easy Steps for Planning a Trip to France 2024

    As a general rule for planning your route, choose one destination - a city or area - for a 3-5 day trip to France. If you have a week to 10 days, then visit one to three places, ideally in different regions, for more variety. For a 2-week trip, your France travel plan could cover three to four destinations.

  8. One Week in France: The Ultimate Itinerary

    Day 6: Lyon. Grab an early breakfast, then hop on the high-speed TGV train from Aix-en-Provence to Lyon. The journey takes about an hour and 10 minutes. Lyon, nestled in the Rhone Valley and surrounded by spectacular vineyards, is one of France's most-important cities in terms of both population and cultural history.

  9. Getting around France

    Non-Europeans also have the option of picking up the France Rail Pass(starting from $205/$371 for three days unlimited travel in one month) before arriving in France. The pass is available for 3- to 9-day periods. By bus. SNCF operates bus services between train stations in areas no longer accessible by rail.

  10. France Travel: The Best Ways To Get Around The Country

    Consider this travel advice if you are planning on travelling across France by car: Having a car is the best way to get to the most remote parts of France and access the country's unique things to see and do. If you don't have a car, you can easily rent a car in France. Use Discover Cars to compare car rental prices and to get the best deals ...

  11. Everything You Need to Know About Taking the Train in France

    The TGV Train network (Train a Grande Vitesse) runs to major cities in France and Europe.; Intercites trains cover many of the medium distance routes between cities like Amiens, Orleans, Bordeaux, Caen, Lyon, Reims, Troyes, Toulouse, and Paris. They link cities in French regions like Nantes, Bordeaux, and Lyons-Nantes-Tours. TER is the French regional service running from towns and villages ...

  12. What is the Best Way to Travel in France? A ...

    French rail travel is the best way to travel around the country. Due to the TGV, it is very fast and convenient to travel around France by train, and it is also quite affordable if you book early. You don't have to arrive at the station hours before boarding a train or deal with strict baggage rules. So, taking into account the check-in and ...

  13. Plane, Train, or Bus: What's the Best Way to Travel around France?

    Although nine out ten times, the best way to travel around France is by train, there are a few occasions when a flight is your best bet. Take Nice for example. The fastest flight time from CDG or Orly is 1:20. Figure in transport to the airport, check in, security, etc. and you're looking at a travel time of about 4:30.

  14. Getting Around France: Transportation Tips

    Here are some things to remember when renting: - You'll get the best deal by reserving your car before you arrive in France. - To rent a car in France you must be at least 21 years old (or ...

  15. How to Get Around France: Best Transportation for Travelers

    Corsica, France. Boats are a great way to travel the coastline of France. For a different perspective of Normandy to Biarritz, or the famous beaches of the Cote d'Azur, traveling by boat can be a delight. Ferries also connect France to other countries in Europe, such as England, Italy, and Spain. There is also a ferry to Corsica, a French ...

  16. Getting Around in Paris

    Getting Around in Paris - Metro, Bus, Boat, Bike, Train…. Walk, peddle, ride above ground, ride underground, or go by boat. It's a relatively compact city, so combining your own two feet with low-cost public transportation is the best way of of getting around in Paris. In fact, it's one of the best walking cities in the world, and it also ...

  17. Train travel in France, a beginner's guide

    Paris to Nice, Lyon or Bordeaux from €25. The best way to travel between French town & cities is by train, in comfort at ground level. France's world-famous TGV travels at up to 199 mph, from city centre to city centre, and if you pre-book direct with the operator you can find some really cheap fares, too.

  18. 20 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in France

    Eiffel Tower. Eduardo_oliveros/Getty Images. Built for the 1889 World's Fair, the Eiffel Tower is an enduring symbol of Paris. It's one thing to see the famous landmark in films, television ...

  19. Ultimate guide to train travel in France (plus where to buy tickets so

    Expert tips for train travel in France. 1. Buy tickets early for the best price and availability. If you're looking to travel by train and know your plans well in advance, it pays to buy the tickets well in advance. You'll get the best price. Another reason why you'll want to book early whenever possible is because trains in France sell ...

  20. 25 Best Places to Visit in France

    Mont Saint-Michel. #3 in Best Places to Visit in France. Rising above the sea like a castle in a fairy tale, Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy is one of France's most-visited sights. Legend says the ...

  21. The Only 10 Foods You Need to Eat in France

    Soupe à l'oignon (French onion soup) This classic soup recipe first appeared in France during the 18th century. According to local folklore, King Louis XV was staying at his hunting lodge when ...

  22. Likely dates for Travis Kelce to visit Taylor Swift in Europe

    Swift will play shows in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy from mid-June to mid-July. That could be when Kelce arrives in Europe. The European leg of the "Eras Tour" runs ...