Traveling with SNCF
Discover the main railway company in France
SNCF, whose acronym stands for Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français, is the French railway company and, as a consequence, the only provider you can find if you want to travel France by train. On Wanderio, you can find schedules for the over 14.000 daily routes and purchase your train tickets.
The company was established in 1937 and since then it has been operating in all the related activities, from infrastructure to station management, from the regional railway network to the high-speed one, within the French boundaries and in Europe. Whether you want to get from Paris to Bordeaux on a high-speed train or you prefer exploring the small, picturesque villages in the Provence region and travel from Nimes to Arles to discover the places that took Vincent Van Gogh’s heart, you will find SNCF trains to your destination.
SNCF routes and schedules
With SNCF you can travel by train in France in different ways: from regional trains that get you to the smallest cities of the country (which are often hidden gems) - as you can realize by taking a train from Strasbourg to the Alsace pearl of Colmar - to TGV, the French high-speed trains__. These are more and more popular not only among French people, but also among those tourists that need to move fast from one city to another so as to enjoy a few hours more their next destination.
You can get a TGV to travel from Paris to Marseille, which are more than 700 km away one from the other, in just 3 hours - and tickets start from only € 38! If you want to taste great wines instead, just take a train to Bordeaux from the capital; booking at least one month earlier, you can find tickets at just € 19.
Willing to see more than France? Get on an international train to another European capital. Traveling from Paris to London by train is not just a dream anymore, but a beautiful experience that will get you to the most thrilling city of all Europe via the tunnel under the English Channel. Otherwise, if you prefer the hot temperatures and the warmth of Spanish people, you can take a train from the capital to Barcelona. What about a quick visit to Italy? Thello trains leave from Chambéry, Lyon and Paris and arrive at Milan, Turin or the smaller city of Vercelli, Piedmont.
Train connections in France are definitely a lot during the day, both for long-haul routes, thanks to TGV, and for smaller destinations you can reach by high-frequency regional trains. For instance, if you want to go to Montpellier from the capital, you will find 11 daily routes from 06:07 am to 08:15 pm that get to your destination in 3.5 hours. Then, if you want to reach Nimes from Montpellier and discover more about its history, you can choose from more than 30 daily TER and TGV connections, with departures from 05:23 am to 10:04 pm.
Find all SNCF schedule on Wanderio and plan your trip at ease: booking your train tickets has never been easier.
TVG - inOUI
You might have already heard of TGV, French high-speed trains (the acronym stands for Train à Grande Vitesse in fact) - recentrly recalled inOUI.
French high-speed rail network is spread over all the regions of the country and serves millions of passengers every year. Among the most popular routes within the national boundaries, you can find the Paris to Lyon route and the Paris to Strasbourg one. Lyon is in the center of the country and is the third biggest city of France, while Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament.
The low-cost version of the TGV is Ouigo, the high-speed train that can cost as low as € 10, especially when booked in advance. Thanks to this cheap service, you can get to more than 25 French cities, from Marseille to Avignon, the former Pope residence, Lyon and, of course, Paris.
The Intercité network is widespread over all the regions of the country, with 325 daily trains that connect more than 300 cities. These trains are not as fast as TGV, nonetheless they are quite comparable to them. For instance, if you want to get from the French capital to Lourdes, the Catholic pilgrimage destination, it will take about 6 hours on a TGV, but if you choose to travel on a night Intercité, you will be able to sleep and you’ll get there just a couple of hours later. This last option is generally cheaper; moreover, there’s the chance to find a train with no need of reservation.
TER trains (“transport express régional” in French) constitute the regional transport network. As you might expect, you are able to reach even the smallest towns of the country from the big cities. Reservation is not mandatory and prices are fixed, as for regional trains in Italy - unlike for TGV, there are no price variations even when booking at the last minute or if buying your ticket at the station.
However, as it is possible to book up to 4 months before the departure, we recommend you to do so in order to better plan your trip. For instance, you can use a TER if you want to travel along the French Riviera and get from Nice to Antibes by train - there are trains at € 4.60 every half an hour that can take you to your destination in less than 30 minutes.
SNCF onboard services
On a SNCF high-speed train, there are many services you can enjoy - your trip will be definitely pleasant! When booking your tickets then you can choose which class you want to travel on: the higher the class, the better the service.
Pets on a SNCF TGV train
Pets are welcome aboard French high-speed trains; however, you should be aware of some differences. You have to pay € 6 for small-sized pets that weigh less than 6kg; once on the train, they must travel inside a kennel no bigger than 45 x 30 x 25 cm. If your dog or cat is bigger, you have to pay a charge which is equal to a half-priced second class ticket.
Traveling on a TGV means that you don’t have to care about luggage. In fact, you can bring up to two suitcases (no limits of size and weight are specified) and a hand luggage. You only need to label your pieces of baggage.
Bikes on board
You can bring your bicycle on every SNCF train at no extra cost, as long as it is folded and put into a bag of maximum 120 x 90 cm. If your bike is not foldable, you can still take it with you on board, but you must pay € 10 for it in case you are traveling on a TGV or on an Intercité. On the contrary, it is free of charge on regional trains.
Wi-fi connection is only available on certain high-speed trains.
You can purchase magazines and movies at the train café for your entertainment or use your electronic devices - thanks to the individual sockets onboard, you won’t have to worry about batteries and charges!
Onboard food and restaurants
There’s a café for buying snacks, fresh food, magazines or DVDs on each high-speed train, at the fourth and fourteenth coaches. For those traveling in Business Class then, there’s the PRO Première restaurant car.
Seats and assistance to the disabled
On each train first class compartment, there are three seats for people on a wheelchair and two more seats specifically for their accompanying people; toilets are close by. It is enough to purchase a second class ticket to access them.
SNCF tickets information
You can purchase your tickets at the ticket office, in a travel agency or online, either on the company site or via agencies like Wanderio. Buying your tickets online, you can decide whether to collect them at a train station in France, have them sent home or, more easily, print them. One last option is to use the e-ticket which you don’t have to validate. If you have downloaded the Wanderio App, you can quickly access your tickets in the “My trips” area. Easy enough!
For small travellers under 4
Children under 4 years old travel for free on all SNCF trains, provided that they seat on their accompanying person’s lap during the whole journey.
Especially on high-speed trains, you can choose from different options when buying your tickets that mean different conditions on changes and refunds.
This is SNCF most flexible fare, which lets you change your ticket even after the departure of the train (within 30 minutes if you have an e-ticket and up to 2 hours later if you want to change it at the station). If you need to cancel your reservation, you can do it up to two hours after the train leaves. You can purchase tickets at this fare starting from 90 days before the day you intend to travel.
A good compromise is the Loisirs fare, that gives you the chance of modifying or canceling your reservation before the departure date. This kind of tickets is available even earlier than three months in advance.
This is the cheapest fare for TGV and Intercité trains, however, their availability is limited and you can only buy tickets at Prem’s fare for some routes and trains. Of course, the earlier you book the more you save. For this reason, the company itself suggests buying your tickets at least 90 days in advance.
Promotional fares and special fares (elderly people, children and families)
You can change or cancel your special fare reservation for free up to two days before the departure, otherwise, you will have to pay a € 5 surcharge in addition to the price difference between the old and the new tickets (if any).
Regional train (TER) fares
If you buy the ordinary fare regional train tickets, you can change them or have them refunded for free before the departure or even up to 60 minutes later if you are at the station. Actually, you can modify or cancel your booking within the following two months, but there is a fee equal to the 50% of your ticket. Otherwise, if you bought a special fare ticket (e.g. for young, elderly people, big families or for weekend journeys), you can only change or have your tickets refunded before the departure and not later.
Available classes on a SNCF train
Especially on high-speed trains, you can choose from different classes based on your needs.
In order to access Business Class services, you just need to purchase a Pro fare first class ticket. This way you will have access to the SNCF Grand Voyageur Lounge, to the taxi reservation service and to the exclusive restaurant car (meals are not included though), apart from having all the comforts provided to those traveling in first class.
In the first class, each seat is equipped with a table, a reading light and sockets. First class coaches are also particularly quiet.
Traveling in second class on a TGV is definitely comfortable. You have large seats and individual sockets at your disposal, but also wi-fi connection (this is not available on all trains though). Moreover, you can find a café and a family-friendly area on board.
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