Alternative routes for French trains

Many French trains have a limited number of seats available to pass holders. If the French train you want to take is full, you‘ll need to find a different way to make your journey.

We’ve researched alternative routes for the 10 most popular French train routes, domestic and international. We show the fastest option using trains with limited seats for pass holders, as well as some alternative options. 

Alternative routes on 10 most popular French train routes

Please keep in mind that train durations stated are approximate and include the time it takes to change trains. At certain times of the day, timetables may state that a reservation may be recommended for the 'Schnellzug'.

 

 

Fastest route

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris NordAmsterdam CentraalHigh-speed Thalys*3hr 20min

*Reservation type: Compulsory; Limited seats for passholders

Alternative route (with some reservations)

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris NordAmiensInterCités* 1hr 20min
AmiensLille FlandresRegional TER 1hr 20min
Lille FlandresAntwerp CentraalInterCity2hr 5min
Antwerp CentraalRotterdam CentraalInterCity1hr 15min
Rotterdam CentraalAmsterdam CentraalInterCity40min
   7hr 40min

*Reservation type: Compulsory; Limited seats for passholder.

 

Fastest route

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris Gare de LyonBarcelona SantsHigh-speed TGV*6hr 30min

*Reservation type: Compulsory; Limited seats for passholders

Alternative route (with some reservations)

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris AusterlitzPort BouIntercités de Nuit*10hr 25min
Port BouBarcelona Sants 2hr 36min
   15hr 15min

*Reservation type: Compulsory; Limited seats for passholders

 

Fastest route

From ToTrain typeTravel time
Paris NordBruzelles MidiHigh-speed Thalys*1hr 25min

 

Alternative (no reservations)

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris NordAmiensTER1hr 20min
AmiensLille FlandresTER1hr 20min
Lille FlandresTournaiInterCity20min
TournaiBruxelles MidiInterCity1hr
   4hr 55min

 

Fastest route

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris EstFrankfurt MainHigh-speed ICE / TGV*4hr

*Reservation type: Compulsory; Limited seats for passholders

Alternative route (no reservations)

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris EstChalons en ChampagneTER1hr 35min
Chalons en ChampagneMetz VilleTER1hr 40min
Metz VilleStrasbourgTER1hr 45min
StrasbourgOffenburgTER30min
OffenburgFrankfurt (Main) HbfInterCity1hr 45min
   8hr 40mi

 

Fastest route

From ToTrain typeTravel time
Marseilles St CharlesGenevaHigh-speed TGV*3hr 40min

*Reservation type: Compulsory

Alternative (no reservations)

From ToTrain typeTravel time
Marseilles st CharlesValence VilleTER2hr 25min
Valence VilleGeneveTER3hr 15min
   5hr 55min

 

Fastest route

From ToTrain typeTravel time
Paris Gare de LyonMilano P. GaribaldiHigh-speed TGV7hr 10min

 

Alternative route (with some reservations)

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris AusterlitzNice VilleIntercités de Nuit*11hr 25min
Nice VilleVentimigliaTER50min
VentimigliaMilano CentraleInterCity**3hr 50min
   17hr 30min

*Reservation type: Compulsory; limited seats for pass holders
**Reservation type: Recommended

Alternative route (no reservations)

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris BercyLyon Part DieuTER5hr 50min
Lyon Part DieuMarseille St CharlesTER3hr 35min
Marseille St CharlesNice VilleTER2hr 35min
Nice Ville VentimigliaTER50min
VentimigliaMilano Rogoredo 4hr 20min
   25hr 45min

Traveling 25 hours might not be something everyone is willing to do. However, instead of making the journey in one go you could also decide to make a stopover on the route and continue traveling the next day. How about having an early breakfast in Paris then have dinner in Marseille, continue your travels to Nice. Spend a bit of time discovering the beach city of Nice before continuing on to Milan. 

 

 

Fastest route

FromTo Train typeTravel time
Paris Gare de LyonZuerich HbHigh-speed TGV*4hr 5min

*Reservation type: Compulsory

Alternative route (some reservations)

From ToTrain typeTravel time
Paris EstBelfort VilleIntercités*4hr 5min
Belfort VilleMulhouse VilleTER35min
Mulhouse VilleBasel SBBTER25min
Basel SBBOltenInterCity25min
OltenZuerich HbInterCity30min
   8hr 20min

*Reservation type: Compulsory; limited seats for pass holders

 

Fastest route

From ToTrain typeTravel time
Paris MontparnasseBordeaux St JeanHigh-speed TGV*3hr 15min

*Reservation type: Compulsory

Alternative route (some reservations)

FromToTraintypeTravel time
Paris AusterlitzVierzon VilleIntercité1hr 40min
Vierzon VilleLimoges BenedictinsTER2hr 5min
Limoges BenedictinsPerigeuxTER1hr 20min
PerigueuxBordeaux St JeanTER1hr 25min
   8hr 25min

 

Fastest route

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris Gare de LyonMarseille St CharlesHigh-speed TGV*3hr 20min

*Reservation type: Compulsory

Alternative route (no reservations)

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris BercyLyon Part DieuTER5hr 5min
Lyon Part DieuMarseille St CharlesTER3hr 35min
   9hr 15min

 

Fastest route

FromToTrain typeTravel time
Paris Gare de LyonNice VilleHigh-speed TGV*5hr 40min

*Reservation type: Compulsory

Alternative route (no reservations)

From

To

Train type

Travel time

Paris BercyLyon Part DieuTER5hr 5min
Lyon Part DieuMarseille St CharlesTER3hr 35min
Marseille St CharlesNice VilleTER2hr 35min
   12hr 30min

 

With some of the alternative routes you’ll be traveling a fair bit longer and you’ll need to switch trains a few times. This might not be for everyone. If you just want to get straight to your destination, here are your options:

  • Change your itinerary around a bit. Either take a different route, try a different date of travel or visit your chosen cities in a different order.

  • Buy a full fare ticket to travel within France. You can then save your travel days to use in destinations outside of France. Buy full fare tickets at the station, online or by phone.

  • Consider using alternative transport for any routes where the seat allocation to pass holders is full, for example flying or renting a car.