02 Sep Explore France and Beyond from the Comfort of the Train
Here at Coverontrip Travel Insurance we love nothing more than hopping on a train and exploring a different country. And one of the best countries to explore by rail is without doubt France. Our near neighbour has the second largest railway network in Europe, sleeper trains, and the iconic TGV high-speed service. That’s not to mention the Eurostar which whisks you from St Pancras to Paris in less than 2 and a half hours.
Before we trundle along the tracks with the today’s post, why not check out some of our other Sherpa Diary posts. Learn why Lyon is one of France’s most beautiful cities, discover which European cities we think are the best for mini-breaks, and find out why the EHIC is no replacement for travel insurance.
Let’s get our bearings before setting off. The French railway network consists of the following types of lines and services:
- TGV – which is high-speed long-distance routes
- Intercités – which are non-high speed long-distance routes
- Intercités de Nuit – which are long-distance sleeper trains
- TER – which are short and medium distance routes
The world-famous TGV now runs at a top speed of 199 mph on some routes. From Paris, you can travel to many of France’s biggest cities including Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Cannes and the Loire Valley. One of the longest journeys, Paris to Nice, takes 5 hours 45 minutes, allowing you to sit back and watch the world go by.
Many of the trains are now double-deckers, which is always a novelty for us Brits. And most have a buffet car serving food and drink that’s of a much higher quality than anything you would find on a British train.
For the long-distance routes not served by the TGV, you need to use the Intercités. While slower by comparison (if you can call 125mph slow!), they allow you to explore over a hundred towns and cities that you might not otherwise discover if you just travelled by TGV.
Intercités de Nuit
The legendary French sleeper trains are now called Intercités de Nuit. Also known as a couchette (this is actually the name of the bunk beds in the compartments), the service has unfortunately been reduced since 2016. But the following services remain in operation:
- Paris-Toulouse-Latour de Carol (with a connection to Barcelona)
- Paris-Perpignan-Narbonne-Portbou (daily in summer, Friday & Sunday in winter)
You can choose between a first-class couchette with 4 berths or a second class couchette with 6 berths
The TER is the network or urban and regional lines that connect many of France’s smaller towns and suburban areas. When it comes to tourism, ten of the TER services are designated as trains touristiques, which are scenic routes. For example the Month Blanc Express takes you through the stunning alpine scenery of the Mont Blanc and the Trient Valley.
International train travel from France
If you want to travel by train to explore other countries, France also has you covered. The country’s rail network offers high speed routes to most neighbouring countries. From Paris, you have the option of going to:
- Brussels, Antwerp and Liege. The train to Brussels takes a mere 1 hour 22 minutes.
- Bruges and Ghent (changing at Brussels)
- Amsterdam, in just 3 hours 18 minutes
- Luxemburg, in just 2 hours 14 minutes
- Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Basel and Zurich. Geneva can be reached in 3 hours 10 minutes
- Milan and Turin. Going all the way to Milan takes 7 hours.
- Barcelona, in just 6 hours 20 minutes
Many of these routes have the option of sleeper trains as well. Check out this excellent summary of international train travel from France for more information.
Travel insurance for France
Don’t forget the importance of travel insurance, even when you’re travelling close to home such as France. Many travellers think the EHIC will provide all the cover they need when in the EU, but the EHIC is no substitute for travel insurance.
With a France travel insurance policy from Coverontrip, you’ll receive loads of cover as standard, including emergency medical, baggage and money cover, and trip cancellation cover.
And with prices starting from just £4.14 for 3 days travel insurance to France, based on a 25 year old, get a quote from Coverontrip today, then sit back and relax on your train journey adventure.