Barcelona to Toulouse by train

How to take a rail journey from Barcelona to Toulouse

From late March until late September there is a usually a direct train from Barcelona to Toulouse (it has yet to be confirmed for 2022), but year round there are two rail journey options available.

  1. Taking a high speed train to Narbonne and connecting there for a Toulouse (when it's operating the direct train doesn't arrive in Toulouse until after 21:45, so if you want to be there sooner, this is a good option.
  2. Taking the slower, but much more beautiful route through the Pyrenees with a a connection between two regional trains at La Tour De Carol.
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Routes

Option 1: the direct train

Travel Information

Final Destination: Toulouse

This train also calls at: Caracassone

This direct train typically departs daily from Barcelona Sants at 18:30 between late March and late September only; it isn't due into Toulouse until around 21:45.
Though it has been suspended since the start of the pandemic and is yet to be confirmed for 2022

If you need or want to arrive by train in Toulouse earlier, OR travel on the dates when this direct train isn't departing, you can either:

(1) travel via Narbonne, or

(2) take the more spectacular, but slower, route via La Tour De Carol.

Departing from Barcelona:

Aim to be at Barcelona Sants a minimum of 20 mins before departure, in order to allow time to pass through the security checks.

At Barcelona Sants station these trains to France depart from the part of the station used by the Spanish high speed trains - vias (platforms/tracks) 1 - 6.
So when you're in the station follow the signs that are pointing the way to the ' Alta-Velocidad' trains.

up to 1 x train per day

(between late March and late September)

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: 4 months ahead of the travel date - usually

It can usually be worth comparing the prices between booking agents for this journey.
 
Seat Reservations:

Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for this journey.

Rail Pass Users:

Rail pass users will need to be pay a reservation fee prior to boarding, but these reservations cannot be booked on the ticket agent's websites, but on this route you may as well as book them at Barcelona Sants station - this train won't sell out.

Or avoid the reservation fees AND have a much more scenic journey by travelling via La Tour De Carol; highly recommended!

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Trainline from €29

Trainline Guide

SNCF Connect from €29

SNCF Connect Guide

SNCF is the national rail operator in France and not so long ago it recently simplified both the range of tickets and the term and conditions of using them.
Therefore the cheapest tickets also become more flexible too.

Other improvements included a simple integration of travelling with bicycles and rail pass users being able to book reservations for national journeys, without paying booking fees.

And it also recently launched SNCF Connect as replacement for its Oui.SNCF booking service.
You can set up a low price alert to let you know when the cheapest price is available for a future journey.

Something else to look out for is that simplest way of travelling with tickets is to use the SNCF Connect App, as booked tickets can therefore be stored on your mobile device, which can then be shown to the train conductors as proof of purchase.

SNCF Connect on Google Play

SNCF Connect in the App (Apple) store

SNCF also operates RailEurope, which is in effect a dedicated online booking service for making bookings from outside of Europe.
If you reside outside of Europe you may discover that SNCF Connect rejects phone numbers or card numbers, but RailEurope won't do so.
Though RailEurope will add booking fees when making a purchase

Renfe from €29

Renfe Guide

Renfe is the national rail operator in Spain and it has recently simplified the range of tickets it sells for express and regional train journeys in Spain.
Which is convenient as there are big savings to be made if you book ahead online.

On this journey

Journey Features

High Speed (partial)

Good to Know

On Mon-Friday AVE trains are normally used, but TGV trains are most likely to be used at weekends.

The view from the high speed line north of Figueres The view from the high speed line north of Figueres
Crossing the marshes between Perpignan and Narbonne Crossing the marshes between Perpignan and Narbonne

Between Barcelona and Perpignan the train travels on a high speed line.

Then between Perpignan and to the south of Narbonne the train threads through the marshes - the sea can be seen of the right of the train, while the lagoon can simultaneously be seen on the left.

Though you'll need to be travelling by this direct train when days are at their longest, to experience this part of the journey before dusk.

Option 2: connecting in Narbonne

Travel Information

The direct train from Barcelona isn't scheduled to arrive in Toulouse until around 21:45.
It also doesn't operate at all between late September and late March.

So if you want to travel on the dates when it isn't running, OR want an earlier arrival in Toulouse, you can either take this route via Narbonne, OR take the longer, but more spectacular route via La Tour De Carol.

If you want to take this route, you can usually depart from Barcelona at 08;15 on the train heading to Lyon, or at 10:05 on the train heading to Paris.
The scheduled connection in Narbonne from either departure will then be around 55 mins.

So a plus is that making the connection can be virtually guaranteed, but a negative is that Narbonne isn't a particularly comfortable station, in which to spend that long waiting for a train; and it isn't conveniently located for the town centre either.

2 x connections per day

Change trains in: Narbonne

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: 3 months ahead of the travel date

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Trainline *

Trainline Guide

Journey Features

High Speed (partial)Coastal views

Good to Know

Final Destination: Paris or Lyon

Aim to be at Barcelona Sants a minimum of 20 mins before departure, in order to allow time to pass through the security checks.

At Barcelona Sants station these trains to France depart from the part of the station used by the Spanish high speed trains - vias (platforms/tracks) 1 - 6.
So when you're in the station follow the signs that are pointing the way to the ' Alta-Velocidad' trains.

A view from the high speed line north of Figueres A view from the high speed line north of Figueres
Another view from the high speed line north of Figueres Another view from the high speed line north of Figueres
Crossing the marshes between Perpignan and Narbonne Crossing the marshes between Perpignan and Narbonne
Another view north of Perpignan Another view north of Perpignan

Between Barcelona and Perpignan the train travels on a high speed line.

Then between Perpignan and Narbonne the train crosses the marsh land by the sea and it will seem as though the train is gliding across the water; the sea can be seen on the right, while simultaneously the lakes can be seen on the left

Journey Features

Not High Speed

Good to Know

Final Destination: Toulouse

These trains also call at: Carcassone

Option 3: connecting in La Tour De Carol

Travel Information

If you will be travelling on the dates when the direct train operating, you can reach Toulouse from Barcelona more than two hours faster.

Or on the dates when that train isn't operating, or if you want to arrive in Toulouse before late in the evening, you can travel from Barcelona to Toulouse with a change of train in Narbonne.

In contrast this route via La Tour De Carol is at least an hour longer - so why travel this way.

Two reasons:
(1) This route via La Tour De Carol doesn't go around the spectacular Pyrenees mountains, it travels through them.
So one of the most spectacular railway journeys in Spain, is swiftly followed by one of the most beautiful railway routes in France.

(2) If you will be travellling with an InterRail or Eurail pass, this route avoids the needs to pay any rail pass reservation fees; one of the few routes from Spain to France, on which that is an option.
So rail pass users will save at least €10 by taking this route.

Up to 3 x connections per day.

Tickets

If you'll need to buy tickets you won't find this end-to-end journey via La Tour De Carol for sale online, but this isn't a route, on which you can save by booking in advance.

So buy a ticket for the train to La Tour De Carol at Sants station and then either purchase a ticket for the train on to Toulouse on arrival at La Tour De Carol, or you can book this section of the journey on Oui.SNCF

Train 1

Journey Features

Scenic - YesMountain views

Good to Know

Final Destination: Latour-de-Carol

We've cheated by classifying the trains used on this route as Regional Express trains.
What they in fact are Rodalies trains, the trains used on the local and commuter routes around Barcelona.
They happen to have their regular journeys from Barcelona extended, so that they cross the border into France.

There are 4 x trains per day, but on Sat/Sun the trains operate at different timings to those on Mon-Friday.

The best of the views are around 20-30 mins from journey's end on the left hand side of the train.

Connections in La Tour De Carol:

Some very welcome news indeed is that the connections in La Tour De Carol between the arrival of these trains from Barcelona and the departure of TER trains on to Toulouse has been greatly improved!

Set off from Barcelona on these departures and the connecting time between trains in La Tour De Carol will be under 30 mins:

06:22 on Mon-Fri
07:01 at weekends
09:36 at weekends
09:51 on Mon-Fri
12:07 at weekends (4 min connection)
15:01 on Mon-Fri

Travelling from Toulouse to Barcelona:

Some of the connections have also improved when travelling in the opposite direction - from Toulouse to Barcelona via La Tour De Carol.
The connecting time between trains at La Tour De Carol is under 30 mins if your set off from Toulouse at:
07:49 daily
10:50 at weekends
13:49 daily
15:49 on Mon-Friday
15:50 at weekends

The scenery from the right of the train as it leaves Barcelone behind The scenery from the right of the train as it leaves Barcelone behind
The train crosses numerous rivers - this is a journey which showcases an atypical side to Spain The train crosses numerous rivers - this is a journey which showcases an atypical side to Spain
Most of the towns that the trains passes through are beautifully preserved Most of the towns that the trains passes through are beautifully preserved
For the final hour of the journey the best of the views are on the left For the final hour of the journey the best of the views are on the left
Towards journey's end the trains descend to the plain which houses the town of Puigcerida Towards journey's end the trains descend to the plain which houses the town of Puigcerida
For the final 15 mins the trains cross a plain with distant views of the Pyrenees in all directions For the final 15 mins the trains cross a plain with distant views of the Pyrenees in all directions

The majority of this train ride is an absolute delight
Though best of the views are around 20-30 mins from journey's end on the left hand side of the train.

Train 2

Journey Features

Scenic - YesMountain views

Good to Know

Final Destination: Toulouse

Setting off from La Tour De Carol Setting off from La Tour De Carol
For the first part of the journey the best of the views are on the right For the first part of the journey the best of the views are on the right
The train will stop at a series of charming small stations The train will stop at a series of charming small stations
One of the many evocative villagers strung along the line One of the many evocative villagers strung along the line
Crossing one of the many river bridges Crossing one of the many river bridges
The scenery has an aura of the Yorkshire Dales The scenery has an aura of the Yorkshire Dales
Looking down on Aix-les-Thermes from the left Looking down on Aix-les-Thermes from the left
Heading south to Toulouse from Aix-les-Thermes Heading south to Toulouse from Aix-les-Thermes

This train journey through the foothills of the Pyrenees between La Tour De Carol and Aix-Les-Thermes, is one of the most spectacular routes taken by any French train.

The train will follow rivers down a series of valleys, though the scenery becomes less spectacular in this direction, the further the train travels.

When setting off from La Tour De Carol the best of the views are on the right, but for the first hour of the journey the pick of the views, switches between both sides of the train; the views down on to the town of Aix-les-Thermes are on the left.

There is little of note to see on the final hour of the journey, also the train will tend to become increasingly full as it makes its way to Toulouse.

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