The French rail network offers passengers the chance to travel anywhere within the country in a matter of hours. That wouldn't be possible without the iconic TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse); one of the fastest high-speed trains in Europe.
The service, operated by SNCF (the French national rail network) are the pride of the French rail system; fast, efficient, comfortable, reliable and cheap. TGVs serve around 150 destinations across France, as well as a number of international destinations. The service offers a range of train types, including dual-level 'Duplex' trains. TGV Est are the latest trains to join the fleet.
The TGV network is formed of a number of route segments:
- TGV Est - east of France;
- TGV Méditerranée - south and south-east of France;
- TGV Lyria - international services to Switzerland;
- TGV Atlantique - west of France;
- TGV Nord - north of France, linking with the Channel Tunnel;
- TGV Paris-Germany - international services to Germany;
- TGV Sud-Est - southeast of France;
- TGV France-Italy - international services to Italy; and
- TGV France-Spain - international services to Spain.
There are three classes of travel available to passengers: Standard Class, First Class, and TGV Pro (Business Class). TGV carriages are generally very spacious and comfortable, with plenty of legroom, drop-down tables and power points.
In First Class, passengers can choose to have Solo seats, which are single seats, which each facing the back of the one in front. Duo seats are available to all classes (two seats next to each other, facing the backs of the ones in front). Pairs of seats facing each other across a table are available in all classes, whilst first class also offers single seats facing each other. First Class seats have access to electrical sockets for portable device chargine.
First Class passengers have access to extra legroom and power-assisted seats. TGV Pro customers get the extra legroom as well as a welcome service on some services, as well as access to business lounges, dedicated carriages and travel packs.
Luggage & Facilities
Food and Drink
Everyone has access to a buffet car which serves hot and cold food, as well as drinks. There tend to be meal deals available which make eating on the train a reasonably priced offer, although still more expensive than bringing your own food. There are also vending machines for snacky purchases. First and TGV Pro Class customers may choose to have their meal served at their seats, if travelling between Monday and Friday.
Each passenger is allowed to bring two bags or suitcases on board (unlimited weight), as well as one piece of hand luggage (beat that low cost airlines!). Bulkier items can also be stored at the end of carriages. Remember to label any luggage that you leave unattended though, as this is taken quite seriously.
TGV trains are well equipped for disabled passengers. Dedicated spaces are available for disabled passengers and their travel companions in the First Class section of the train. Disabled toilets are available near to dedicated disabled seating areas. Disabled passengers should request these seats at the time of booking.
Bicycles can be carried on-board some TGV services for an additional charge of around €15. Bicycle spaces must be booked in advance as space is limited. Folded bicycles may be transported free of charge.
TGV services do permit the transportation of pets. Domestic animals in pet carriers and larger dogs need a separate ticket for travel, whilst smaller pets in a pet carrier can be brought on-board for free. Each passenger can take two dogs or pet carriers on-board with them. Guide dogs travel for free.