True Travel By Train From And To Paris

Travel By Train From And To Paris

Our guide to traveling to and from Paris by train includes tips and info on how to travel to the city centre when arriving by train - and which station you'll need to head to when travelling away from the French capital.

Click on these links for shortcuts to info about...

USING THE METRO  l   USING THE RER

USING THE BUSES  l   DEPARTING FROM PARIS

CROSSING THE CITY  l   DAY TRIPS BY TRAIN

Also click the links contained within the text to access more info about the trains, journeys and stations, as there's already (ahem) more than enough text on this article - but hopefully it's all highly useful.
Travel by train from and to Paris
THE SEVEN MAIN STATIONS IN PARIS:

In common with London, the French capital was already a large city before the advent of the railways, so Paris city centre is ringed by seven train stations

(1) Austerlitz  l  (2) Bercy  l   (3) Est  l   (4) Lyon

(5) Montparnasse  l   (6) Nord  l   (7) St Lazare

All of these seven stations are terminus stations, meaning that long distance trains to and from Paris, don't travel through the city, 

So if you're end-to-end train journey involves travelling via Paris, you have to make a transfer between these stations.

ARRIVING BY TRAIN IN PARIS:
 

Specific information for how to navigate each major station in Paris when arriving by train is available on our station guides - click on the names of the seven stations above.

Here are our GENERAL tips for using public transport to continue your journey on to your final destination in the city - no matter which mainline station in Paris your train has arrived at.

Using The Metro:

Our Top 16 things to keep if your considering using the Métro to travel on from a mainline station in Paris are:
 

(1) Work out your route to your final destination in the city before you arrive at the station in Paris.

Metro maps and other route info can be harder to track down at stations than you might expect.

() So if you’re going to be spending time in Paris, it can be worth downloading the RATP app to your phone.

RATP manages the public transport network in central Paris and its app has an English language route planning function.

(3) Most Paris Metro stations are closely spaced.

If your final destination in the city is only two or three Metro stops from the station your train will have arrived at, it’s likely that it will take less than 15 mins to walk there.
 

(4) Think twice about using the metro if you have heavy luggage etc, steps are the only means of transferring between the trains and street at the overwhelming majority of stations.

This includes the transfer between the station concourse and the Metro at some mainline stations.

Paris doesn't have a particularly deep level metro, so most of the staircases you will have to use are fairly short, but they can be a hassle if you’re carrying bags or managing small children etc.
Using the Metro when arriving in Paris by train
(5) In particular avoiding journeys with transfers between Metro lines, if you have heavy luggage etc.

Most interchanges between trains will involve having to negotiate more than three sets of steps.

(6) If you're going to be spending a couple of days in Paris on a multi-city itnerary, it can be a good idea to split your luggage - particularly if where you'll be staying in the city is some distance from the station you're train is arriving at.

Leave your large, heavy bags in a left luggage office and then travel light on to where you will be staying in the city.
 

(7) We have tried to track down a list of the few stations that are equipped with escalators, but it has proved elusive.

Partially because the view of Parisians themselves is that there’d be no point in such a list - because the escalators can’t be 100% relied upon.

Though when they are available at a station they're more likely to be working than not.
 

(8) Ticket gates that can be opened by staff at are very rare.

Wider gates that are compatible with large items of luggage can also be tricky to track down.

The normal scenario involves pushing your bags through an opening in the gate-line and then leaving it there while you use a nearby ticket gate.

So you won’t have your hands on your bags at all times – take note if you are a wary traveller and will be travelling alone.
 

(9) The coaches on metro trains are comparatively small and they don’t have luggage racks etc.


Try to keep your bags away from the doors and putting bags on seats will be frowned on by Parisians – and won’t even be an option at busy times.

(10) Also guaranteed to incur the wrath of Parisians, is sitting on the fold down seats by the doors when the trains are busy.
 

(11) If it’s feasible, avoid using the metro in rush hours, between 07:45 – 09:45 and between 16:00 and 18:30.

Allow more time if have to travel at these times - you may not be able to board the first or second train to arrive.
Not all Paris Metro lines are under ground

(12) In contrast to the older Métro lines, the newer Line 14 has escalators and/or elevators which provide the access between the train and street level and its stations.


So if you will be arriving in Paris at the Gare De Lyon, Bercy or at St-Lazare, check if Line 14 will connect you to your final destination.

It’s particularly useful if you will be heading to the areas around Pyramides or Madeleine stations.

 

(13) The destinations of the trains is important, as the signage on the metro uses these stations at the end of the lines, and not north/south etc, to indicate direction.
 

(14) Some of the Metro stations at the mainline stations can be exceptionally large, with the Metro lines being some distance from the entrance to the Metro


 At Saint-Lazare line 12 is further from the main station than the other lines.


At the Gare De Lyon the quickest access to Metro Line 1 is different to the shortest route to line 14.

At Montparnasse station lines 4 and 12 are much further from the mainline station metro entrance than lines 6 and 13.
Transferring to main line trains at Montparnasse from Metro Line 4
(15) You won't usually need to use your ticket to open the ticket gates in order to exit from the platforms, but keep your ticket on you until you have left the station.

(16) If you don't consider short flights of stairs to be an obstacle, then taking the Metro can be a fast, efficient and relatively cheap means of reaching your final destination in the city.
 

Metro tickets:
 

The excellent parisbytrain website has all the info you will need about metro tickets.

In particular, what's worth knowing is that the Paris Visite Passes can be a good deal.

If you will be planning on making some other journeys by Metro on the day of your arrival, then buy one of these passes in the Metro at the station when you first arrive in Paris.

You can then use it to travel from the station to your final destination in the city.

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Using The RER Trains:
Using the RER when arriving in Paris by train
The RER in Paris is a system of main line trains which also cross the city centre in tunnels, so in central Paris these trains are below ground like the Metro.

In the city centre think of them as express Metro lines, as the same central Paris tickets/passes can be used on both the Metro and RER trains.


So they can be a better option than taking the metro - they’re faster and are bigger trains, so travelling with luggage etc on them is less of a hassle.

Another big plus is that most city centre RER stations are connected to street level by escalators and/or elevators – though avoid having to 100% rely on them.

Six other things also worth knowing about the RER:

(1) The only mainline stations in Paris directly connected to the RER are Austerlitz, the Gare De Lyon, the Gare Du Nord and St-Lazare.
 

(2) If you’ll be arriving in Paris at the Gare De Lyon, then RER Line A is a better option than the Metro for reaching many areas of central Paris.

Particularly if your final destination is near Auber or Charles-De-Gaulle-Étoile stations.
 

(3) If you will be arriving at the Gare Du Nord and heading to the Left Bank area of the city, the south bank of The Seine, then the RER line B is a better option than taking the Metro.


Line B stops at St Michel-Notre Dame - where connections are also available to RER line C, which stops at the Musée D’Orsay and Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel.
 

(4) RER Line C provides the quickest access from Austerlitz to locations in central Paris on the south bank of the River Seine.
 

(5) RER Line D provides the best public transport connection from the Gare Du Nord to the Gare De Lyon and from the Gare De Lyon to the Gare Du Nord.
Take RER line D between the Gare Du Nord and the Gare De Lyon

(6) Taking RER Line E is the easiest means of transferring between the Gare Du Nord and St Lazare.

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Using the buses:

When arriving in Paris by train, taking the bus can often be a better option than taking the Metro on to your final destination in the city centre.

(i) They’re easier to manage if you have luggage, or will be travelling with small children.
(ii) Tickets can be purchased on board.
(iii) They can take you to areas of the city, which aren’t served by direct Metro lines from the station.
 

The RATP app can be a big help with showing you at which stops you'll need to board and leave the bus.
 

The Paris bus map is here, however note that a new bus network will come into operation in around April 2019.
 

Some particularly useful routes are:
 

From Austerlitz:

Line 24 to St Lazare via Place de la Concorde and Madeleine
Line 91 to Montparnasse
 

From Paris Est:

Line 32 to St Lazare (there is no direct Metro line between these two stations)
Line 39 to the Louvre
Line 65 to the Gare De Lyon


From Paris Lyon: (from the stops on Boulevard Diderot)
 

Line 20 to St Lazare via the Grands Boulevards
Line 29 to St Lazare via the Pompidou Centre
Line 65 to the Gare De L’Est and the Gare Du Nord
 

From Paris Montparnasse:

Line 91 to Austerlitz
Line 94 to St Lazare
 

From Paris Nord: (from the stops on Rue de Dunkerque, directly outside the station)

Line 26 and Line 43 to St Lazare
Line 65 to the Gare De Lyon

From Paris Nord: (from the stops on Rue de Saint-Quentin)

Line 39 to the Louvre
Line 65 to the Gare De Lyon

From St Lazare:
 

Line 24 to Austerlitz via Madeleine and the Place de La Concorde
Line 26 and Line 43 to the Gare Du Nord
Line 32 to the Gare de l’Est (there is no direct Metro line between these two stations)
Line 94 to Montparnasse

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DEPARTING BY TRAIN FROM PARIS:

Much of the info above re: using public transport in Paris also applies if you will be heading to a mainline station to take a train from the city.

But there are two other things in particular to look out for, if you use the Metro or RER to arrive at the station your train will be leaving from.
 

(i) If you will be connecting into a long distance train, follow the signs within the Metro/RER marked ‘Grande Lignes’.
Grande Lignes signs within the metro
(ii) Also check that you’re looking at the electronic departure screens marked ‘Grande Lignes’ - other electronic screens will only show the regional or RER trains.

Click the destination links below for access to guides on how to make these train journeys from Paris.

(1) Trains from Paris Austerlitz
Travel to and from Paris by train
Trains from this station go to:

Brive  l   Limoges   l    Orléans

Toulouse (by IC trains)  l  Tours (by IC trains)

Faster TGV trains to Toulouse and Tours depart from Paris Montparnasse - see below.

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(2) Trains from  Paris Bercy Bourgogne - Pays d'Auvergne (Paris Bercy)
The stations in Paris

Trains from this station go to:

Dijon (by TER trains)  l   Clermont-Ferrand   

Lyon (by TER trains)  l  Nevers   l    Vichy   

Faster TGV trains to Dijon and Lyon depart from the Gare De Lyon - see below.

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(3) Trains from  Paris Gare de l’Est (Pari Est)

Trains from this station go to:

Belfort  l   Colmar   l    Frankfurt   l    Luxembourg   

 Metz  l   Munchen  l   Mulhouse (by IC trains) 

Reims   l    Strasbourg 

Stuttgart    l    Troyes

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(4) Trains from  Paris Gare De Lyon (Paris Lyon)
By train to and from Paris
Trains from this station go to:

Aix-en-Provence  l   Aix-les-Bains   l    Annecy

Antibes  l   Avignon  l    Barcelona

Basel/Bale  l   Bern   l   Besancon   l    Béziers

Cannes  l   Chambery   l  Dijon (by TGV train) 

Geneve  l   Grenoble  l   Lausanne  

Lyon (by TGV train)  l   Marseille  l   Menton

Milano  l   Monte-Carlo  l   Montpellier

Mulhouse (by TGV train) Narbonne  l   Nice 

Nimes  l   Padova/Padua  l   Perpignan 

St Etienne  l   Torino/Turin   l   Toulon

Valence  l  Venezia/Venice

Vintimille/Ventimiglia  l  Verona  l  Zurich

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(5) Trains from  Paris Montparnasse
Travelling to and from Paris by train

Trains from this station go to:

Angers   l   Angouleme    l   Bayonne   l    Biarritz   

Bordeaux   l   Brest  l   Chartres    l   Futurescope

Hendaye   l   La Rochelle  l   Le Mans 

Lorient   l   La Rochelle  l   Lourdes  l   Morlaix

Nantes   l   Poitiers  l  Quimper  l   Rennes

St Malo  l  Tarbes  l  Toulouse (by TGV train)

Tours (by TGV train)

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(6) Trains from  Paris Gare du Nord (Paris Nord)
How to travel to and from Paris by train
Trains from this station go to:

Amiens   l  Amsterdam    l   Antwerp/Anvers

Beauvais   l  Boulogne   l  Bruxelles/Brussels   

Dortmund   l  Koln/Cologne   l  Lille    l   Rotterdam

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(7) Trains from  Paris Saint Lazare
Arriving and departing from Paris by train

Trains from this station go to:

Bayeux   l  Caen    l   Cherbourg

Deauville  l  Le Havre   l   Rouen

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TRAVELLING BETWEEN MAINLINE STATIONS IN PARIS:

Having to transfer between stations in Paris, when making an end-to-end journey by train, is a scenario that’s best avoided.

However, what visitors to France can be unaware of, is that it’s often possible to avoid central Paris when travelling in France by train.

(i) From Lille you can take direct TGV trains to:

Aix-en-Provence; Angers; Angouleme; Antibes; Avignon; Bordeaux; Cannes; Dijon; Lyon; Marseille; Montpellier; Mulhouse, Nantes; Nice; Nimes; Poitiers; Rennes; St Pierre des Corps (Tours); Strasbourg and Valence*

(ii) From Lyon you can take direct TGV trains to:

Bruxelles; Le Havre; Lille; London; Nantes; Rennes and Rouen.


(iii) From Nantes and Rennes you can direct TGV trains to Lille, Lyon and Strasbourg

However, when making the transfer between stations in Paris can’t be avoided, you can find the details of how to take these journeys on some our station guides.

Simply click on the name of the station below and then scroll down the page that you will be linked to.

Est  l   Lyon  l   Montparnasse  l   Nord 

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14 DAY TRIPS BY TRAIN FROM PARIS:
 

Paris also makes for a great base for exploring northern France by Train.

We’ve ranked these day trip ideas by journey time from the station in Paris, in which you’ll be commencing your journey.

(i) Click the name of the destination for access to online guides to each location
 

(ii) When they're available, click the Read More buttons to access a guide to making this train journey.

(iii) Book tickets online in advance to save money on the journeys we have marked with (*)

Though to save money, you will have to select specific trains for you outward and return journeys.

For journeys which don't have that symbol, you can buy tickets last minute at the station, without any financial penalty or journey constraints –  and take any train back to Paris.

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(1) FONTAINEBLEAU - 43 mins from the Gare De Lyon.

You will be taking a local* or TER train to Fontainebleau-Avon station, where a shuttle bus to the chateaux will meet the trains


Visite Paris cards are valid on these trains and they can also be used on the bus, but if you don’t have a card, the bus ticket will cost €2.
 

Between 09:00 and 13:00 trains to Fontainebleau-Avon depart from Hall 1 in the Gare De Lyon every 30 mins.

The final destination of the train will usually be Montargis, Monterau or Laroche-Migennes.


*For some reason the train numbers for the local trains begin with ‘RER’, but these are not typical RER trains.

They don’t cross Paris, and you won’t find Fontainebleau-Avon station on the RER route map.

At the Gare De Lyon they don’t depart from the part of the station, which the other RER trains use.

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(2) REIMS in 45 mins from the Gare de l’Est (*)

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(3) VERSAILLES in 45-50 mins from St Michel-Notre Dame station


To visit the palace you need to take a train on RER Line C route C5 to Versailles-Château-Rive-Gauche station, which is a terminus station.

So on the departure screens check that the train will be heading to this specific station.


Versailles-Château-Rive-Gauche station is a 13 min walk from the entrance to the Versailles Palace complex.


These trains on line RER C also makes stops at these stations in central Paris – Invalides; Musée D’Orsay and Champs de Mars-Tour Eiffel.


They also call at Paris Austerlitz main line station.
 

Trains to Versailles-Château-Rive-Gauche depart every 15 or 20 mins, but take care that you don’t board a train to Versailles-Chantiers – that station is in Versailles town centre.

Visite Paris cards are valid on these trains.

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(4) DISNEYLAND PARIS in 48 mins from Chatelet Les-Halles station

You need to take a train on RER Line A route A4 to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy station, which is located across the street from the entrance to the park.

These trains on RER Line A route A4 also make stops at these other stations in central Paris -  Charles-de-Gaulle Étoile and Auber.

They also call at Paris Lyon.

Trains to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy station depart at least every 12 mins, though take care NOT to board trains heading for Boissy-Saint-Leger.
 

Visite Paris cards are valid on these trains.
 

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(5) ORLÉANS in around 1hr from  Austerlitz station

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(6) GIVERNY in around 1hr 15 mins* from St-Lazare station


A day trip to Giverny needs to be planned with care, as the connections from Paris aren’t particularly frequent.

The first stage of the journey is to take a train to ‘Vernon-Giverny’ station, but there can be gaps of more than two hours between departures .

So it’s worth looking up this journey online - even if you don’t want to book tickets in advance.
 

Though you will only save around a euro if you do also book your train tickets in advance online.
 

At St-Lazare you'll be looking for the train that will be likely terminating at Rouen, then on arrival at Vernon-Giverny, you will need to take the bus that is scheduled to meet the trains.

*The journey time includes the train journey and the bus transfer.
 

Your train ticket won’t include the bus ride and you can buy tickets from the driver, the return trip from and to the station will cost around €6.50.

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(7) CHARTRES in around 1hr – 1hr 15mins mins from the Gare Montaparnasse.

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(8) AMIENS in around 1hr – 1hr 15mins mins from the Gare Du Nord. (*)

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(9)  LILLE in around 1hr 10mins mins from Paris Gare Du Nord (*)

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(10) ROUEN in around 1hr 10mins – 1hr 25 mins from Paris St-Lazare (*)

There are fewer fast trains between Paris and Rouen on Sundays.

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(11) TOURS in 1hr 12 min – 1hr 30 mins from Paris Montparnasse (*)

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(12)  BEAUVAIS in around 1hr 15mins from the Gare Du Nord.

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(13)  FUTURESCOPE in around 1hr 50mins from Paris Montparnasse (*)

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(14) MONT ST MICHEL in around 3hr – 3hr 15 mins* from Paris Montparnasse (*)

*The journey time includes the bus transfer from Rennes station to Mont St Michel.


There are two different routes if you want to travel by train + bus from Paris to Mont St Michel (1) via Dole and (2) the route we have singled out via Rennes.


We suggest travelling via Rennes because:

(i) it’s usually cheaper, particularly when booking in advance;
(ii) the connections are more frequent;
(iii) the end-to-end journey will be around 15 mins faster.

For the inside track on how to take many of these day trip suggestions, we highly recommend taking a look at this great guide on Savvy Backpacker.

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OTHER USEFUL PAGES:

Tips and info using stations in France:


How to use French trains:


How to travel around France by train:


All you need to know about French train tickets and rail passes:


London to Europe by train via Paris: