Swiss Railways train in Zurich Station
Below is a detailed map of the railways of France. You can zoom in by using the +/- buttons or by using the wheel on your mouse whilst hovering over the map.
The map has been extracted from the Railway Map of Europe with kind permission of the publishers.
You can purchase copies of the full map, as well as rail timetables, from The European Railway Timetable website
Under Napoleon, France developed a highway network linking Paris to all corners of the Hexagone. Two generations later, the French government of the day drew up plans for a standard-gauge rail network centering on the capital and six companies were formed to deliver those plans. This led to Paris having six grand termini – which it still has today – and express trains to all major cities of the country, most of them a long way from Paris.
The railways were nationalised as Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais (SNCF) in 1938 and this remains the case today. From the 1980s high speed lines were opened, largely radiating from Paris but also including some inter-regional sections (e.g. Rhin-Rhone). The high-speed trains (Trains a grande vitesse, or TGVs) using these routes generally start and finish their journeys on the conventional network. For example, a high-speed train from Paris to Nice uses the high-speed line from the outskirts of the capital down as far as Marseille and then the traditional route along the coast.
Reservations on all TGVs (called TGV INOUI) and most other long-distance trains called Inter-Cites are compulsory. TGVs have a bar-buffet as do some conventional long-distance trains. Tickets can be bought from a variety of sources, including booking offices in main stations, travel agents, the internet and ticket vending machines. They are not sold on the train. You must validate your ticket or “composter votre billet” before boarding the train and you can expect it to be checked by on-board staff. This can be done using the machines on the platforms and around the station concourses.
SNCF has introduced some low-cost high-speed trains called ”Ouigo”, but so far open access services have not been introduced in France.
REGIONAL SERVICES: French regional councils have contracts with SNCF to run local and regional trains, which are branded with the name of the region. The quality of these, especially in terms of frequency, is variable. Those in some regions such as Hauts de France, Grand-Est and Auvergne Rhone – Alps are especially good and have steadily improved in recent years. There is also a comprehensive suburban network covering the Greater Paris Region known as the Ile de France. Some regions offer rover tickets, though usually only during the summer holidays in July and August. One exception is the Occitanie Rail Tour which is valid from 2 to 8 days at a cost of only 10 Euros per day, covering a large region including “Le petit train jaune” in the Pyrenees. For further information see: https://www.ter.sncf.com/occitanie/decouvrir/rail-tour-traduction-anglaise .
There is room for improvement of the cross-border links between France and Spain. For example, the high-speed line from Perpignan, southwards to Barcelona was only used by two TGVs a day (three in summer). However, RENFE restarted their Madrid – Marseilles and Barcelona – Lyon services in July 2023. That at least will help improve matters.
Pro-public transport associations in Catalonia and Occitanie, on either side of the border, have also argued for a number of years to adjust timetables on the classic routes via Cerbere/Port Bou and Hendaye/Irun to enable additional regional connections to be made across this important border.
BICYCLES: Cycles can generally be taken free of charge without a reservation on local & regional services. TGV and Inter-Cites trains have limited space for bicycles and you must have a reservation and pay a small fee.
MOBILITY ASSISTANCE: This can generally be arranged via phone, online or at most stations with ticket offices. For Long Distance & International trains look out for “Access Plus”, for local & regional trains look out for “Access TER” and in the Greater Paris Region look out for ” Access Plus Transilien”.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: See SNCF link below
TG February 2023
All train services are run by Corsican Railways:
(A) The main line links Ajaccio, Bastia and Calvi. Services are slow due to the terrain but often follow a very scenic route. They are not that frequent – twice daily to Calvi and 4-5 times daily between Bastia & Ajaccio.
(B) A suburban service from Bastia to Casamozza.
(C) A suburban service from Ajaccio to Mezzana.
(D) A “coastal resorts” service from Calvi to Ile Rousse.
See link below for the Corsican Railways website but note this is only in French and Corsican so you may need to use google translate.
Tickets can be bought at stations or on the train. Single tickets valid for 2 days, return tickets valid for 7 days. Bicycles can be taken on the train for 15 Euros. Reservations only available for groups of more than 10.
NP August 2021