Berlin to Paris by train

How to take a train journey from Berlin to Paris

What may not be obvious when looking up the train journey from Berlin to Paris on the ticket booking websites is that the journey options follow two routes:

  1. An ICE train from Berlin to Koln hbf and then connecting there for a Thalys train on Paris, the Thalys trains arrive at the Gare Du Nord.

  2. An ICE train from Berlin to a station where connections are possible into the 'DB-SNCF trains to Paris, which arrive at the Gare de l'Est.
    Connections between trains can be a available at different stations including Frankfurt (Main) hbf, Mannheim hbf and Karlsruhe hbf -as per the route guide below.
    The ticket agents will offer a combination of connections which provide for the fastest end-to-end journey time.
    However, it's easier to make the transfer between trains at Frankfurt (Main) hbf, at that station all the platforms/tracks are on the same level, so making the connection there simply involves walking from one train to the other.

In times of distance travelled this combination of trains is further than the options via Koln/Cologne, but the high-speed lines and the fastest connections mean that journey times can be similar; if you're willing to gamble on making connections of under 30 minutes.
However, DB offers its 'Europa Spezial' ticket deals on this route, so this routing is usually cheaper
DB doesn't do this on the route via Koln as it doesn't operate the Thalys trains.

Share

Routes

Option 1: Arrive at Paris Est

Travel Information

Two things which are good to know about taking this journey option which arrives at Paris Est:

  1. Booking tickets:

DB Bahn tends to offer the cheapest train tickets for journeys between the German and French capital, but it's cheaper Super Saver Fare Europe tickets are only seemingly available on this route.

2: Choosing Your Connection:

However, a complication of taking trains on THIS route via Frankfurt (Main) is that the standard connections between trains that will be offered by the ticket agents are generally less than ideal.

When looking up the journey, if you DON'T adjust the connection time between trains then the options either involve;

  • making one connection of less than 15 mins – which is a gamble when travelling long distance by train in Germany, OR,
  • making two connections, both of which are under 30 mins and making those connections can’t be guaranteed either.

In the event of missed connections due to late running trains, the tickets/reservations can be transferred free of charge to alternative later departures, but the train service between Germany and Paris Est isn’t particularly frequent.

Therefore ShowMeTheJourney recommends that when looking up journeys on DB increase the connecting time between trains to more than 30 minutes.

Do so and there will only be one viable option, departing Berlin at 08:30, but this option involves spending more than 1hr 30mins at Karlsuhe Hbf between trains.
However, because this connection can be virtually guaranteed, SMTJ has used this option for the journey time above.

Change trains in: Karlsruhe

Tickets

Book in advance and save: YES

Online bookings usually open: 6 months ahead of the travel date.

To find the optimum journey, that has been referred to above, increase the 'duration of transfer, on DB Bahn to at least 30 mins and then look for the 08:30 departure from Berlin.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
DB from  €54.90

DB Guide

DB is the national railway operator in Germany, so its website can be used for booking journeys by German express trains; the ICE and IC trains and it doesn't charge booking fees.
It also sells tickets for journeys by direct trains on all international routes from Germany regardless of whether DB is operating the train service.

It also sells an extensive range of end-to-end journeys which involve making connections both within Germany and in neighboring countries, but journeys between Germany and Britain cannot be booked on DB.

A key feature of DB website worth keeping mind is that it offers 1st class ticket purchasers complimentary seat reservations on journeys both within and to/from Germany.
Seat reservations for daytime in both 1st and 2nd class can also be booked separately from tickets.

Two types of ticket have recently been made available;

  1. Cheaper 'Young' tickets which can only be booked by those aged 15-26 on the travel date.
  2. Flexi Plus tickets, which are now the most expensive type of ticket, but they're the only type of 2nd class tickets which DO include a seat reservation.

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

It is a journey of five distinct phases:

  1. One of the highlights of the journey comes right at the beginning of the trip when the train travels on a viaduct across Berlin with great views over the city centre
  2. Then between Berlin-Spandau until around 10 mins before arrival in Braunschweig the train will be on a high speed line across dull farmland.
  3. Shortly after Hildeshiem until Fulda, the train will make use of Germany's first high speed line; this is the part of the journey with a wow factor as the trains will travel across dozens of viaducts and bridges, which occur as flashes between numerous tunnels.
  4. The train will reverse direction on departure from Frankfurt (Main) Hbf.
  5. Between Frankfurt (Main) and Karlrsruhe the train will race through a string of towns.

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

Between Karlsruhe and Strasbourg the train will be travelling comparatively slowly, particularly between the German border and Strasbourg when it shares the railway with local commuter trains.

Shortly after departure from Strasbourg the train will move on to the high speed line and won't leave it until the outskirts of Paris, trains travel exceptionally fast on this route, speeds in excess of 300 km/h will be reached on some parts of the trip

Option 2: Arriving at Paris Nord

Travel Information

Take this route and you will arrive at Paris Nord station.

The connecting time between trains at Koln Hbf will be around 34mins, so it's likely that you will make the connection, but this isn't guaranteed.
(See the Ticket Information below)

Trains on THIS route via Koln are not available on the DB website, as it does not sell tickets online for journeys by Thalys trains, which also involve making connections.

3 x connections per day

Change trains in: Koln/Cologne

Tickets

Book in advance and save: YES

Online bookings usually open: around 3 months ahead of the travel date.

On Trainline look for the options which have a journey time of 8hr 16min AND both the ICE and Thalys logos.
You will have to pay a booking fee on Trainline.

Missing a booked connection at Koln Hbf:

If  the ICE from Berlin arrives too late in Koln to make the booked connection into the Thalys train on to Paris, you should be able to transfer your tickets to subsequent departures - IF you have booked the end-to-end journey in a single transaction.

If a delay causes you to miss a connection in Koln/Cologne, it's likely that the quickest alternative option will be to take an ICE train on to Bruxelles/Brussels and then connect there for a Thalys train on to Paris.

If you have booked the end-to-end journey in a single transaction, the Reisezentrum desk in Koln Hbf SHOULD now re-issue tickets/reservations for connections which involve taking a Thalys train on from Bruxellles/Brussels to Paris.

The alternative ticket booking options:

If you want to minimise the risk of encountering this potentially awkward scenario, then an option is to book separate tickets for the Berlin to Koln and Koln to Paris journeys - ensuring that you select an earlier ICE from Berlin, so that you will have more than 1hr 30mins to make the connection at Koln Hbf.

Booking separate tickets for each part of the journey can also be a money saver; because the discounted prices for the Thalys train don't seem to be available when booking end-to-end tickets which combine both trains into one transaction.

But if you do opt for that, keep the connecting time between trains front of mind, because by making a separate booking per train, you will forsake any protection against having to re-book, in the event of a train delay causing a missed connection in Koln/Cologne.
Meaning that if a delay causes you to miss the Thalys train on to Paris that you have booked tickets for, you may have to re-purchase tickets for that part of the journey.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Trainline *

Trainline Guide

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination: Koln Hbf/Dusseldorf Hbf or Koblenz Hbf

Departing From Berlin:

These trains commence their journey at Berlin Gesunbrunnen station - which is to the north of the city centre.

They also usually depart from the lower level (tief) in Berlin Hbf.

*If your journey is commencing in West Berlin, the quickest option is to take a Regio or S-Bahn train from Berlin Zoologischer Garten station to Berlin-Spandau station and join these trains to Koln there.

Check your connections in Berlin on this public transport map.

The train heading to Koln or Koblenz will be joined to another train heading to Dusseldorf.
The trains are separated on arrival at Hamm (West).

So check the electronic departure screens on the gleis/platform at Berlin Hbf, so that you're waiting in the right zone for easy boarding into the part of the train heading to Koln/Cologne.

Trains travel at more than 250 km/h on the high speed line between Berlin-Spandau and Wolfsburg.

But aside from that this is an exceptionally uneventful journey, so having something to read or watch with you, is recommended.

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed (total journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination: Paris Nord

Journey description:

For virtually the entire train journey from Koln to Paris the trains, will either be travelling at up to 290 km/h on purpose built high speed lines, or up to 200km/h on section of railway, that has been re-engineered to allow trains to travel faster.

It is a journey of seven distinct phases:

  1. Between Koln and Aachen the trains travel at up to 200 km/h on a re-engineered stretch of railway.
  2. Then for most of the the 25 min journey between Aachen and Liege the train will travel at up to 290 km/h on a high speed line; this is also the most scenic part of the trip.
  3. Then for around five minutes after departure from Leige, the train will travel fairly slowly on a route which ascends from the city.
  4. Next up is the HS2 Belgian high speed route as far as Leuven, in theory the ICE and Thalys trains can accelerate back up to around 290 km/h on this part of the trip.
  5. From Leuven to just north of Brussel-Nord station the maximum speed is 200 km/h.
  6. For most of the journey between Brussel-Nord and Brussel-Zuid the railway crosses the city centre in a tunnel.
  7. Between the suburbs of Brussels and the outskirts of Paris the train will race along a high speed at line at speeds of up to 290 km/h

Please support ShowMeTheJourney

This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.
We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.

Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.

So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please go here to say thank you.

Take the stress out of your journey Everything planned to your specification, so sit back and relax… Try Concierge
hand-money

Please support ShowMeTheJourney

Help keep us advertising and paywall free!

Donate

This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.

We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.

Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.

So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please consider saying thank you.

See if there’s a unique journey guide for your trip, featuring info on the trains, tickets & stations.
Leaving From
Going To
ShowMeTheJourney

This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.