TGV

TGVs are the high speed trains in France, but these insights into the experience of travelling by these trains, refer to the most common type of TGVs - the single deck trains that are used across eastern France.

You can find our guides to the other types of TGV train by clicking the links below.

(i) the double deck TGVs are the TGV Duplex trains.

(ii) the TGV Atlantique trains and TGV Océane which can be found on services from/to Paris Montparnasse.

RESERVATIONS     CATERING     ROUTES

ON BOARD       BOARDING A TGV

MANAGING LUGGAGE    SUMMARY


SNCF is re-branding its standard TGV services as 'inOui'irrespective of the specific type of TGV train that is used to provide the service!

These trains up to 320 km/h on the LGV Est high speed line from/to Paris Gare de l’Est and up to 300 km/h on other LGVs (high speed lines).

On a few routes much cheaper, but more basic, Ouigo TGV services are available.

Eight things which are good to know about THIS type of TGV train:

(1) The availability of Wi-Fi is dependent on the route the train is taking.

(2) Max luggage allowance = 2 suitcases/large bags + item of hand luggage per person.

(3) Bikes spaces for NON-folding bikes are not available on ALL TGV trains/departures/routes.

Folding bikes can be taken on board as hand luggage.

(4) Power sockets are also available in the platforms/vestibules between coaches, you are encouraged to use these spaces between coaches to make mobile calls.

(5) The majority of single deck TGVs have been fitted with updated interiors designed by Christian Lacriox, but the seat layout hasn’t been altered, so 2nd class in TGVs can seem comparatively cramped.

(6) Operator SNCF has evidently adopted an attitude of providing more leg room than a typical airline, but not much more.

On occasion the price difference between 1st and 2nd can only be a couple of €s and when that is the case, the difference in space can be worth every cent.

(7) The majority of single deck TGVs also sport a recently introduced grey/red ‘Carmillon’ EXTERNAL livery - in place of the blue/grey colour scheme, but it makes little difference to the travel experience.

Though the Carmillon livery does indicate a modernised interior and therefore the theoretical availability of WiFi.

(8) Additional benefits are available to business class (Pro 1ère TGV) ticket holders - more info is available on this official SNCF guide.

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Reservations:

Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for journeys by TGV train.

Rail pass users will need to have made reservations prior to boarding (see below).

Info on how to book these rail pass reservations is available HERE.

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Catering:

There is no trolley service on TGV trains so you will need to go the bar coach if you want to purchase food and drink – though don’t over rely on it being open.

TGV Bar Menu (PDF)

Take care with food and drink, particularly un-opened bottles and drinks in cups and glasses.
When the trains corner at high speed, drinks and food can fly off the table.

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Routes:

This type of single deck TGV train (and it's variants) is used for services in eastern and northern France.

They are not used on services to/from Paris Montparnasse.

The majority of TGV services from Paris Nord use these trains and some TGV departures from Paris Est are also the single deck TGVs.

If you travel to/from Bruxelles/Brussels by a TGB service or on the TGV (France-Italy) services you will be taking one of these trains.

Also the majority of cross-country TGV services that don't originate in Lille or Paris, also comprise these trains.

There are technical differences on the trains to/from Belgium, but the passenger facilities and on board ambience is very similar to the trains that operate solely within France.

Many services operated by TGVs extend beyond the LGVs (high speed lines), so between certain cities (including Marseille – Nice, Nimes – Perpignan, Bordeaux – Toulouse; Mulhouse – Strasbourg) TGVs only use conventional tracks.

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On board:

On board announcements are in French language only, but the train conductors will usually speak English, so you can verify any questions when they pass through the train to check tickets.

If you happen to be travelling in a ‘Calme’ coach – (you may not have knowingly requested this), then the conductor will ask you to move from your seat to the vestibule between the coaches if you're speaking on your mobile.

It won’t be particularly obvious that you are sitting in a part of the train with a ‘Calme’ atmosphere - there are no signs displayed in the coaches etc.

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Boarding a TGV:

1.    Two TGV trains can be joined together for a departure, so some trains can be very long.

Therefore aim to be on the voie/platform/track station at least 5 minutes before departure -  particularly if you will be joining the train at an intermediate station.
You may have to walk some distance along the voie/platform/track prior to boarding.

2.    Before boarding check your ticket for the number of coach in which your reserved set is located.

3.    Use the zone/repére information on the voie/platform/track, to work out where to wait on the voie for easy boarding in to the coach in which your seat is located.

The coach/carriage numbers can be hard to spot, as they are on the electronic info panel set into the body work of the train by the door.

The coach numbers aren't included on the interior, so try and take your time and check that you are boarding into the coach in which your reserved seat is located.

4.    Each carriage/coach only has one door. It won’t open automatically there will be a button to the right of the door (when exiting the train you will also need to use the button to open the doors).

5.    On the grey/white liveried trains a large 1 by the door indicates a 1st class carriage, while a 2 indicates a 2nd class carriage.

On the blue liveried TGVs, a red/orange colour scheme across the door indicates that a coach/carriage is 2nd class, while a green slash indicates 1st class.
There is also a 1 or a 2 by the door.

(This the opposite of the TGV Duplex colour coding when pink/orange = 1st and green = 2nd).

6.    Whether you have luggage or not, keep your ticket where you can access it easily, so that you can check your seat number as you enter the seating area.
The sequence of numbers can seem illogical, so take your time.

The set numbers are on the arm rests between the seats (usually - they can be above the windows on routes to/from Paris Nord).

7.    What you won’t see is any indication of the stations between which the seat is reserved for, all you have to do is look for the seat numbers and match it to the seat number on your ticket.

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Managing Luggage:

When boarding, the main luggage rack will be to one side, while the seating saloon will be to the other.

If you have large items of luggage don’t be tempted to locate your seat first, and then work out where to stow your luggage.
Head for the luggage rack first, as space can be limited.

If you head into the seating area first, it’s likely that you’ll conclude that you’ll need to turn back, but now you’ll have a queue of people behind you trying to access their seats.

If you store large items in these racks by the doors, you have to accept that being able to see your bags from your seat is unlikely, but usually there is no practical alternative.

There is limited space in the seating area in which to store large items of luggage, the above seat luggage racks are particularly small, and won’t accommodate items much larger than a large handbag.

Medium size bags will fit in the space between some of the seats and on small luggage racks at the ends of the coach by the doors.

Travelling Without Luggage:

If you don’t have luggage with you hang back and be amongst the last passengers to board.

All seats are reserved, so you won’t risk having no seat to travel in, and you can avoid being caught up in the scramble for luggage space.

USING TRAINS IN FRANCE

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Catering
Availability
Restaurant
Bistro (Hot Food)
Bar (Cold Food)
Features
Availability
Double Deck
High Speed
Classes
First Class
Première/Premium/1ére
Second Class
Seconde/Standard/2nde

Rail passes and reservations


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