France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Types of French Trains
France's train network is highly useful on any trip to France, even if you're only going to Paris, but to use the system best you must learn how it works.


Street in Nice, France

Street in Nice, France...

Serene - a novel of the Belle Époque, by Tom Brosnahan


The French National Railways (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, SNCF) operate a variety of trains in France.

Different French trains provide different services: high-speed trains, regular intercity expresses, regional, local and low-priced trains.

You need to know the types of trains in France in order to plan your trip, buy your ticket, and find the correct train platform/track (voie) in the train station.

France's rail network is a salad of acronyms. Here are the major ones:

Paris & Île-de-France Trains


Paris's RER (Réseau Express Régionale, pronounced AIR-uh-AIR) is the French capital's suburban commuter rail system. More...


Transilien means "Across the Île-de-France" (the region around metropolitan Paris) which is where this train system takes you. More...

France National Trains


Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français is France's national train network. It operates the RER and Transilien trains as well as these:

TGV inOui

Trains à Grande Vitesse (High-Speed Trains, TGV—pronounced TEH-ZHEH-VEH) connect France's major cities and connect with other European high-speed rail networks (see below) to speed you among Europe's great cities. The TGV inOui trains have a higher level of service, and an available Business Première service. More...


This independent company (pronounced EE-deh-TEH-ZHEH-VEH), 100% owned by the SNCF, sells discounted tickets on 30 main train routes in France. Tickets can only be bought or changed on the iDTGV website, must be bought well in advance, and must be printed by you to carry when you travel. Although the iDTGV website has some English-language pages, most of it is only in French, making iDTGV of limited use to non-French-reading travelers. More...


Traditional SNCF express trains connecting cities across regions in France: longer distance routes than TER regional trains, but slower than TGV high-speed trains. More...


SNCF's budget brand offers eye-popping fares as low as 10 to travel all the way across France. What's the catch? There are several. More...


Transports Express Régionaux (TER, pronounced TEH-uh-AIR) are France's regional train systems for each part of the country, connecting the major cities in each region with one another and with smaller cities and towns. More...

For cities not served by TGV trains, you typically take a TER train to reach a city with TGV service for longer trips.

International Trains

Eurostar Trains London - Paris

Trains operated by Eurostar International Ltd. connect London, England (St Pancras Station) with Calais, Lille and Paris (Gare du Nord), France, and Brussels, Belgium via the Channel Tunnel beneath the English Channel (Manche). More...

Inter-City Express (ICE)

ICE trains are high-comfort, high-speed trains of the German Railways (Deutsche Bahn, DB) connecting 80 major European cities at speeds up to 300 kmh (186 mph). More...


Thalys is an international express train company connecting Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. If you want to travel between Paris and Aachen, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Cologne, Düsseldorf or Rotterdam, consider a Thalys train. More...

TGV Lyria

TGV Lyria is the name of the joint French-Swiss train route service. If you're interested in traveling by train between France and Switzerland, consider Lyria. More...


Railteam is a joint service of seven major European railroads to facilitate fast routes and connections among the partners' countries and routes. SNCF (France) and Eurostar are partners, as are the national railroads of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland. Railteam sets standards for performance and passenger comfort, and coordinates routes going via its hubs at Brussels, Lille-Europe, Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. More...

TGV High-Speed Trains

Train Travel in France

Onboard a French Train

How to Buy Tickets

Air Travel to & in France

Car Travel in France

Car Hire/Rental

Bus Travel

Transport in Paris

Transport in France


Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Gare de Lyon, Paris, France

The palatial Gare de Lyon, Paris, France.


TGV inOui locomotive, Paris, France
TGV inOui locomotive.

Gare de Rouen SNCF, Rouen, France

The Art Nouveau Gare de Rouen SNCF,
Rouen, Normandy.  

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