Madrid to Marseille by train

How to take the rail journey Madrid to Marseille

The direct trains between Madrid and Marseille have been removed from the new rail timetable which will be in place after December 11th and into 2023.

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Routes

Until Dec 10th: From Madrid Atocha/Puerta De Atocha to Marseille-Saint-Charles

Travel Information

Final Destination: Marseille

This train, which is the only direct train from Madrid to destinations in France arrives in Marseille too late to travel on to any destination to the east beyond Toulon.

The train also calls at: Montpellier; Nimes; Avignon TGV and Aix-en-Provence TGV.

1 x train per day

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: up to 4 months ahead of the travel date

This trains is usually scheduled to depart from Madrid Atocha daily at 13:25 - so target that time when looking up this journey

It can be worth comparing the prices between booking agents for this journey.
 
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 websites.

If you want the peace of mind of reserving before arriving at a Spanish station, you will need to use the Eurail and InterRail booking services to reserve your seats - and pay the booking fee for doing so.

Though you can avoid a booking fee if you do reserve at a Spanish station.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Trainline *

Trainline Guide

Renfe *

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.

SNCF Connect *

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

On this journey

Journey Features

High Speed (partial journey)
You will be travellng more than twice as fast as the traffic on the freeways - hence the cars and trucks become blurs You will be travellng more than twice as fast as the traffic on the freeways - hence the cars and trucks become blurs
Near Zaragoza the landscape which can be seen from both sides of the train has an other worldly quality Near Zaragoza the landscape which can be seen from both sides of the train has an other worldly quality
There are frequent distant view of mountains from both sides of the train There are frequent distant view of mountains from both sides of the train
From the high speed line between Figueres and Perpignan From the high speed line between Figueres and Perpignan
Between the sea and the lagoons north of Perpignan Between the sea and the lagoons north of Perpignan
The view of Beziers from the left of the train The view of Beziers from the left of the train

This journey showcases European train travel at its best.
With its fantastic contrasts between the sweeping vistas across the Spanish plains and the coastal views in France - though you won't see the latter if you make this journey between October and March.

This is also a journey of three distinct parts.

  1. Between Madrid and Perpignan the train travels on two high speed lines.

From Madrid to Barcelona:

From Figures to Perpignan:

  1. Between Perpignan and Montpellier the train follows the coast, don't expect incredible seascapes, but there are some nice views as the train threads through the lagoons. particularly north of Perpignan.

Though you'll need to travelling when days are longer to experience this landscape as the train travels by the coast after 18:00.

3: Between Nimes and Marseille  the train then switches back to the high speed line.

After Dec 11th: From Madrid to Marseille by train

Travel Information

The French national rail company SNCF and the Spanish rail company Renfe have opted to terminate their partnership which jointly managed the service of high speed trains between France and Spain.
As a result the long-standing direct trains between Madrid and and Marseille have been withdrawn, without any adjustment to any other train times, to provide an equivalent indirect journey on a similar schedule to what had been available.

1 or 2 x connections per day

Tickets

No ticket agent will seemingly offer this end-to-end journey on single booking, but Trainline will sell a Madrid to Barcelona journey and a Barcelona to Marseille journey via Nimes.
Both journeys will typically be available from four months ahead of the travel date.

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

Final Destination: Barcelona-Sants or Figueres

The train which typically departs Madrid at 06:30 is due into Barcelona Sants at 09:20 and a train which departs Madrid at 07:00 and is non-stop to Barcelona where it usually scheduled to arrive in Barcelona at 09:30.
Both of these trains aren't seemingly available on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The train on to France will typically be departing from Barcelona at 10:32.

A daily train to Barcelona usually departs from Madrid at 09:30 and is due to arrive into Barcelona at 12:37, nearly two hours before the departure of a train on to France.

This train is scheduled to depart from Madrid-Charmartin at 07:15 on Mon-Fri only.

This train is second class/Turista class only.

Note that this train departs from Chamartin station in Madrid and NOT from Atocha station - which is where the AVE trains to Barcelona to depart from.

Final Destination: Barcelona Franca

This train also calls at: Barcelona Passeig Di Gracia

If you'll be headong to central Barcelona, don't leave this train at Barcelona Sants station, remain on the train until it arrives at the next station Passeig Di Gracia.

Journey Features

High Speed (partial journey)Coastal views

Good to Know

Final Destination: Paris Gare De Lyon

The connecting time between trains in Nimes will typically be around 1hr 5mins.
The connection at Nimes is suggested because there are brasseries and cafes right by the station, which are suitable places to await the onward train.
Or there will be the option of waiting for the onward train on the voie (track/platform), the train from Marseille will typically arrive on the same voie that the train on to Marseille will be departing from.

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
The view of Beziers from the left just before Beziers station The view of Beziers from the left just before Beziers station

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

2. Between Perpignan and Montpellier the train follows the coast, don't expect incredible seascapes, but there are some nice views as the train threads through the marshes - particularly north of Perpignan.

The videos were filmed from a train travelling in the opposite direction.

Journey Features

Not High Speed

Good to Know

Final Destination: Marseille-St Charles

Take the connections which are typically available on any day, but Tuesday and Wednesday and the arrival time into Marseille will typically be at 16:37.

Or if you take the usually available daily connections, the arrival time into Marseille will be around 21:30

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