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How To Buy Train Tickets in France | Guide To Buying French Train Tickets

What you need to know about booking train tickets in France and tips for getting the cheapest prices.


France has one of the best and most developed train networks in Europe so it’s an excellent way to explore the country. To make your trip even easier I’ve created this guide about how to buy train tickets in France so you can get the best train tickets at the cheapest price.

Travel Tip: Most train tickets in France are now electronic so having reliable high-speed data for your phone is super helpful. Here are a few articles I’ve written to help you get cheap mobile data in France: Guide To Mobile Data Plans and Smartphone Phones in Europe, How To Buy A SIM Card and Mobile Data Plans in Europe, and Guide To Buying SIM Cards and Mobile Data Plans in France

Buying Train Tickets in France: A Quick Guide

Buying Train Tickets in France

The official French rail website is SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer). You can buy train tickets from but the website is plagued with all kinds of weird technical issues—like randomly not accepting non-French credit cards, strange redirects, and odd translation issues.

In short: I recommend avoiding as there are other more user-friendly options which I’ll cover below.

There are two third-party booking services that I use when booking my French train tickets:


Omio is my favorite online rail booking service. Omio sells the exact same French train tickets at the same price as SNCF but it’s much more user-friendly—there are no issues using a foreign credit card, no translation issues, etc. I also like their mobile app which keeps all your train tickets organized and easily accessible.

In most cases you’ll receive an e-ticket sent to your phone (via email or their app)—just show it to the train conductor. If e-tickets aren’t available, you can print/collect your tickets at the train station.


Trainline is another online booking platform that sells the exact same French train tickets at the exact same price as SNCF but they’ve made the whole buying process simple and user-friendly—no issues using a foreign credit card, no translation issues, etc.

You can use Omio & Trainline to book any kind of train ticket in France—from high-speed to local trains.

Buying French Train Tickets At The Train Station

SNCF France Train Ticket machine

You can also buy train tickets in France from any French train station.

The quickest way is via the automated ticket machines (the machines all have English options). However, sometimes these machines don’t accept foreign credit cards.

You can also buy tickets from the ticket window but the lines can get long during busy times. Many of the ticket sellers will speak passable English but not always. That said, they can accept any credit card so that won’t be an issue.

Tips For Booking French Train Tickets

Tips For Booking French Train Tickets

Still a little confused about train travel in France?

In this section, I take a deeper look at different aspects of the booking process to help you better understand the ins and outs of France’s rail network.

How To Find Routes and French Train Schedules

Finding train routes, times, and prices is simple—just plug your cities into Omio or Trainline and they’ll tell you what tickets are available.

While routes between major cities don’t often require changing trains (i.e. it’s a non-stop journey), you should still pay attention when booking your ticket because some routes might require a change.

However, on longer routes or routes connecting smaller towns, you’ll often be required to change trains in a bigger city.

Types Of French Trains (And How To Get The Best Ticket Prices)

In France, the trains are roughly classified as either High-Speed/Long-Distance, & Regional. They each serve a different purpose and have different pricing structures.

TGV High-Speed Train Ticket Fares

The TVG high-speed trains reach speeds of almost 200mph. The major cities in France are connected by high-speed trains so it’s most likely you’ll ride one of these trains if you travel a longer distance.

I recommend booking these train tickets as soon as possible since these tickets get more expensive the closer it gets to the departure date. For example, some routes can start at around €25 and then cost €100+ if booked a same-day ticket.

OuiGo Train Ticket Fares

A few years ago the French National Railways created a new low-budget TVG high-speed train line called OuiGo. It basically connects Paris with a handful of popular French destinations but it does it at a cheaper fare than the normal TVG train.

OuiGo is no/low frills so there are bag limits, no food available, and there are a few extra charges.

Intercités Medium-Distance Train Fares

Intercités (IC) trains are medium-distance trains that often connect both major and medium-sized cities. I also recommend booking these as early as it is convenient to get the best price.

TER Local/Regional Train Fares

Local and regional trains connect small towns to big/medium cities. These tickets have a set price so there is no reason to book early—simply show up and buy tickets at the station.

Do You Have A Rail Pass? You’ll Need A Reservation For High Speed Trains

If you’re traveling on a rail pass you’ll need to pay a little extra to make a reservation for all high-speed and long-distance trains in France. You can make this reservation from any train station. These can cost anywhere from €5-€35.

Pay Attention To Train Stations

Most large cities in France have multiple train stations (Paris has seven) so pay attention to the station names.

Learn More About Rail Travel in France

Read my super in-depth guide France Train Guide that covers everything you need to know about traveling through France.

More Europe Travel Tips From The Savvy Backpacker

Here are a few of my most popular articles about traveling Europe:

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