The key things worth knowing about taking the train from and to the airports in Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Paris, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
The only French airports, which have stations served by long-distance trains directly linked to the terminals are, Paris Charles de Gaulle; and Lyon St Exupéry and the services at the latter are comparatively limited.
Strasbourg is the only other international airport in France which a railway station connected to its terminal, so the other airports listed below are connected to their nearest rail stations by dedicated airport bus links, people mover systems or trams.
Though when taking a long-distance train from an airport be aware that discounted Prems, Seconde and Premiére tickets will all only be valid on the specific departure selected when booking, so you will need to re-purchase the tickets(s) if you experience a flight or airport delay and miss the train.
However, if you will be taking a local or regional TER train to and from the airport, tickets booked last minute at the station, will either cost the same price as booking in advance, or will only be a a few euros more expensive.
At some time in 2023 Bordeaux Airport will be linked to the city's tram network, though a connection will be required by route/line A which will serve the airport and lines/routes C and D which stops at the city's main rail station Bordeaux-St Jean.
So the tram will be an alternative to taking the dedicated bus service between the airport and the station.
Bordeaux St-Jean has TER train services to and from multiple destinations including Agen, Angouleme, Arcachon, Bayonne, Biarritz, La Rochelle, Libourne, Perigueux and Toulouse.
However, journeys should be planned with care by using SNCF Connect as the train timetables don't have fixed patterns, so there can be gaps of more than two hours between trains and the final trains of the day may leave Bordeaux before 21:00.
The fact that St Exupéry airport is one of the only two European airports to boast of a station on a high speed railway line is more of a result of luck rather than design.
When the main north-south high speed line in France was extended to Marseille, the shortest distance was to take a route to the east of Lyon, which is where the city's airport happens to be located.
But despite the investment in constructing one of Europe's most fantastic stations, the majority of the trains which use the railway, race through the station at Lyon-St Exupéry.
Hence there being no mention of taking a train from and toSt Exupéry on the airport website.
Though trains do call at Lyon-St Exupéry and they are:
Therefore Paris Gare De Lyon station typically has more than 10 trains per day to/from Lyon-Saint Exupéry.
The journey by train between St Exupéry and the area around Gare De Lyon is therefore typically less than 20mins slower than travelling by train between the Gare De Lyon and the CDG airport in Paris, and the journey is direct.
Between the airport and the city centre
Lyon-St Exupéry is unique among European airports because it is only served by long-distance high-speed trains, so there are no local trains between the airport and the city centre.
Hence the city centre rail link being provided the Rhone-Express tram service.
It stops outside Lyon-Part Dieu rail station, where transfers are available with comparatively frequent local and regional trains to/from Chambéry, Dijon, Geneve, Grenoble and St Etienne.
The journey time to Lyon-Part Dieu is 28 minutes.
To and from the French alpine ski resorts
On Fridays to Sundays during the winter sports season there are comparatively frequent trains linking Lyon-Part Dieu with Albertville, Aime, Bourg St Maurice, Les Arcs and St Gervais (connect for Chamonix).
Though journeys to/from these stations should be looked up on SNCF Connect, as there can be gaps up of up to two hours between these trains.
The railway station which serves Vitrolles - Aéroport Marseille Provence is linked to the air terminal by a public bus service, route 13, which departs from bay/dock 5 in the airport's bus station.
Tickets can be purchased on board this bus.
Keep this need to make the bus transfer front of mind, particularly when planning a journey to the airport.
There are typically 3 or 4 bus departures per hour, but they are not timed to make optimum connections to and from the trains, plus the bus journey takes around five minutes.
So you should allow a minimum of 20-25 minutes to make the transfer from the station to the airport terminal.
Only TER trains call at the railway station named Vitrolles Aeroport Marseille, and tickets for these trains aren't any more expensive if you buy them just prior to boarding from the station's ticket machines - they have multi-lingual options.
Or you could book them in advance of your travel date on SNCF Connect.
The trains provide direct links to and from:
(1) Marseille-St Charles station
1 - 3 x trains per hour
Journey time = 25 minutes
Connect in Marseille for trains to/from more easterly destinations including Toulon, Les Arcs and St Raphael; also for trains to Aix-en-Provence and Gap
Also connect in Marseille for high speed trains to Valence-Ville and Lyon.
Note that the final train of the day to Marseille typically departs at around 22:00 on Monday to Saturday and at around 23:00 on Sunday.
(2) Avignon-Centre station
Typically 1 or 2 x trains per hour
Journey time = 58 mins - 1hr 40mins; the slower trains will typically be heading on to Avignon TGV station, so avoid them unless you will be travelling to Avignon TGV in order to connect to an onward TGV or Ouigo train service.
Additional connection to Nimes and Montpellier will be available at Avignon-Centre station.
Most trains continue beyond Avignon to Valence-Ville station; journey time to the town centre station in Valence = around 1hr 50mins
Note that the final train of the day to Avignon typically departs at around 21:00.
(3) Arles station
Typically 1 train per hour
Journey time = 48 mins
(4) To Nîmes and Montpellier
There are typically four daily direct trains to Nimes and Montpellier which usually depart Vitrolles Aeroport Marseille station at 08:37; 12:37*; 16:37* and 18:37*.
*= these trains continue beyond Montopellier to Beziers, Sete and Narbonne.
Additional connections to Nimes, Montpellier, Beziers, Sete and Narbonne are available by changing trains in either Arles or Avignon.
A dedicated shuttle bus service links Nantes airport to the city's railway station in a journey time of around 20 minutes.
Monday to Saturday
Every 20 minutes,
From the railway station from 5:30am to 10:30pm.
From the airport from 6:15am to 11:15pm.
Sundays and public holidays
Every 30 minutes
From the railway station from 6:20am to 10:50pm.
From the airport from 7:00am to 11:15pm.
Nantes has TER trains, on which tickets will cost the same price when booked last minute to the station, to a range of destinations including Angers, Lorient, Rennes, Samur, St Nazaire and Vannes.
Though connections need to be planned in advance, because there can be gaps of more than hour between trains when travelling to and from all of these locations
Nice Airport is connected with the city centre by line 2 of the Nice Tramway.
The city centre tram stop is at Jean Médecin and the journey takes less than 30 minutes on trams which typically depart every 8 minutes.
Though the trams on line 2 don't provide a direct link with the main railway station in Nice.
Connections at Nice-Saint Augustin station
After departing from the airport terminals the first calling point of the trams is at the Grand Arenas stop and it's located adjacent to the newly relocated Nice-Saint Augustin station.
This station is therefore within around a 5-10min walk from the airport's Terminal One, but taking the tram is the only viable option for a transfer between Terminal Two and Nice-Saint Augustin.
This station is served by local TER trains, on which tickets will cost the same price when booked last minute at the station. the ticket machines are multi-lingual.
There are typically one or two trains per hour (with a twice hourly service being more common) to and from:
There is also typically an hourly train connection to/from Grasse in a journey time of 62mins.
Though something to be aware of is that the final trains of the day on these local routes are typically scheduled to depart some time before the final flight arrivals.
To/from St Rapahael, Les Arcs, Toulon and Marseille
On Monday to Thursday seven direct trains per day; and on Friday to Sunday eight direct trains per day typically link Nice-St Augustin with St Raphael, Les Arcs, Toulon and Marseille with the final train of the day usually departing at 19:32.
Though when travelling to and from St Raphael, Toulon and Marseille additonal journey options will be possible by making connections between trains in Antibes
So for journeys by train between the airport and these more distant westerly locations its a good idea to look up the connections on SNCF Connect.
In contrast to the likes of London, Rome, Stockholm and Vienna what Paris currently lacks is dedicated express rail links with its primary airports as both Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly are connected to the city centre by line B of the RER local train network.
However, the access to/from Charles de Gaulle (CDG) should be transformed from 2027 with the launch of the CDG Express service.
Though a tick in the box for CDG is that it is one of only three European airports to have a station on a high-speed rail line.
Paris Charles De Gaulle airport has two two stations:
(1) Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1 is linked to the Terminal One of the airport by the CDGVal people mover which departs every 4 minutes and has a a journey time of 8 minutes.
The station is also around a 10 min walk from Terminal 3.
Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1 is only served by RER trains, but the CDGVal also goes to the station at Terminal 2
(2) Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 TGV station which is also known as Charles de Gaulle Etoile.
The station is located in the centre of the massive Terminal 2, and its sub-terminals are linked to the station by a different people mover shuttle system
Route N1 runs every 10-15 mins and provides the link with, sub-terminals A, B, C, D and E; note that sub-terminals A and B are particularly distant from the station.
Route N2 runs every 5 mins and provides the link with terminal 2G.
Within the station the voies (platforms/tracks) used by the RER trains are beside those used by the TGV trains.
Escalators and less obvious lifts / elevators link the station concourse and the voies (platforms/tracks)
The rail service between central Paris and Charles-De-Gaulle airport is provided by line B of the RER; which is the system of local trains which cross the city.
The ticket cost is less than €12.
In addition to the Gare Du Nord these line B trains also call at:
Eight trains per hour are typically provided, though all day at weekends and during the middle of the day on Monday to Friday, half of the services are faster by around 7 minutes, because they skip some stations.
Though on Monday to Friday when when heading away from the airport before around 08:45 and after around 16:00; and when travelling to the airport before around 09:50 and after around 16:40 on Monday to Friday, all of the trains call at all of the intermediate stations.
So when heading to the airport on Monday to Friday between 16:40 and 18:40 in particular, the trains in effect become busy commuter services that serve the nine stations between the Gare Du Nord and the airport.
Hence available seats can be hard to find during these times, particularly when boarding at the Gare Du Nord.
The journey time between the airport and the Gare Du Nord, on the northern edge of the city centre, is 31mins by the faster trains and 38 mins by the slower trains.
Note that all of the services are provided by standard RER trains, which happen to be serving the airport. there are no dedicated airport express trains.
So there is a lack of enhanced on board provision such as additional luggage racks or wi-fi, or charging points, though the trains are air-conditioned.
From March 20 to June 16 (except March 24, April 10, May 1-8-29 and June 1-2) on Monday to Friday after 22:45, major maintenance work will cause the interruption of traffic between Châtelet-Les Halles and Aeroport CDG.
During this period at this time replacement bus services will be operating.
At the airport:
At the times when the fast and slow trains are operating, the fast trains tend to be those which are terminating at Massy-Palaiseau.
Though the fast trains won't overtake the slower services.
From the city centre:
Note that some trains will be heading to Mitry-Claye and these trains don't serve the airport, so take your time and check the destination info, avoid rushing to hop on the next train to depart.
When the faster RER services heading to Charles De Gaulle are available, they tend to depart only three minutes ahead of the trains which call at all of the intermediate stations.
So it's more than likely that the next train to depart will be one of the faster services, but it's best to take the next train regardless, the next faster train won't overtake a slower service.
By train between the other main stations in Paris and Aeroport CDG
Note that most of these transfers are not step-free.
The high speed railway which was constructed to the east of Paris enables direct TGV trains and Ouigo trains to connect destinations to the north of Paris, primarily Lille , with other cities in France and all of these trains call at Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 TGV station
However, as there is a limited number of people per day who wish to take high speed trains between Lille (and Bruxelles) and French cities other than Paris, no other city has a regularly timetabled rail link with Paris Charles de Gaulle, such as hourly trains, or trains in every other hour.
Hence long-distance rail journeys to and from CDG need to be planned with care; they can be looked up on SNCF Connect without having to purchase a ticket.
Avoid assuming that there will be a train service available which will connect with your flight departure and/or arrival.
Also factor in check-in time and the time required to transfer between the station and the airport terminals when planning a rail journey.
Because discounted Prems tickets for the TGV trains can't be transferred to an alternative departure* in the event of a delayed flight arrival or other airport delay, many travellers evidently opt to purchase tickets when they get to the station.
When SMTJ was at CDG on a Friday afternoon there were more than 20 people queuing at every ticket machine.
*= If your flight has been delayed you can transfer Prems to a later train up to 30 mins prior to the departure of the train your are booked on to, a €19 charge will apply per ticket.
Summary of long-distance train services to/from Paris CDG
to/from Bordeaux and Poitiers:
= 2 x TGV trains per day; 1 x Ouigo train per day
to/from Lille Europe:
= 13 x TGV trains per day
to/from Lille Flandres:
to/from Montpellier St Roch and Nimes:
= 2 x TGV trains per day
to/from Montpellier Sud de France and Nimes Pont-du-Gard:
to/from Nantes and Rennes:
= 2 x TGV trains per day
= 3 x trains per day
A people mover system named Orlyval links the airport terminals with Antony station, which is on line B of the RER; which is the system of local trains which cross the city.
The journey time on the Orlyval is around 9mins between Antony and the stop which serves Terminal 4.
The transfer between the airport and the stop which serves airport terminals 1, 2 and 3 is around 6 minutes; though terminals 2 and 3 are some distance from the access with the Orlyval - terminal 3 is at the opposite end of the main terminal building.
Tickets for the ride to/from Antony cost more than €9 and tickets which combine the Orlyval and the RER are also available.
Though the final Orlyval shuttle of the day to Antony typically departs the airport at around 11:30.
Seven trains per hour typically depart from Antony to the city centre, the trains heading to Charles De Gaulle airport during the middle of the day on Monday to Friday and at weekends, are faster by around 6 mins because they skip some stops.
Note that RER line B connects Antony to the stations at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport, allow 1hr 15mins to make the end-to-end transfer between Orly abd CDG
When heading to the airport take care to avoid the trains heading to Robinson!
In the city centre the trains call at:
The journey time between Antony and Châtelet–Les Halles is 21 - 26 minutes.
The alternative route to and from stations on RER line C
Tram line/route T7 links Terminal 4 at Orly to Rungis - La Fraternelle station which is served by four trains per hour on RER line C; so when travelling from the city you need to take trains heading to Massy-Palaiseau.
RER line C serves multiple stations on the Left/South bank of The Seine in central Paris including:
Connections to/from TGV trains at Massy
All trains heading in the opposite direction to the city centre from Antony station and from Rungis - La Fraternelle station call at Massy-Palaiseau station, which is linked to Massy TGV station.
This station is served by infrequent direct TGV trains to/from multiple towns and cities across France, including: Aix-en-Provence TGV, Angers, Avignon TGV, Bordeaux, Bruxelles, Le Havre, Lille, Lourdes Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Nimes, Poitiers, Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
Journeys via Massy need to be planned with care and it's a good idea to add at least an hour of contingency when heading to or from Orly due to the infrequent services.
However, this route can be a much easier rail alternative to travelling through one of the main stations in central Paris.
By train between the other main stations in Paris and Orly airport
Note that most of these transfers are not step-free.
Strasbourg Airport has a link from its terminal building to Entzheim-Aéroport station which is on the local railway route between Strasbourg and Rothau through Molsheim.
Hence the station which serves the airport typically has 2 or 3 trains per hour to and from the city centre station; where comparatively simple connections are available to Colmar, Mulhouse and over the border to Offenburg in Germany.
The journey time between the airport and Strasbourg station is only 8 - 12 minutes and tickets can be purchased at the stations.
Though the final train of the day from the airport typically departs before 21:00.
A shuttle bus service which costs €9 connects Toulouse airport to the city's main railway station.
The journey time is around 25 minutes and the buses depart every 20 minutes.
The tram system in Toulouse doesn't serve the main station, so taking the bus is the best option when transferring to and from train services.
Toulouse-Matabiau station has TER trains, on which tickets will cost the same when booked last minute at the station, to/from a range of destinations including Agen; Beziers*, Carcassonne*; Foix, Narbonne* and Perpignan.
*= These destinations are also served by slightly faster Intercités trains on which all seats are reserved.
Intercités trains also link Toulouse with more distant destinations including Bordeaux, Montpellier and Nîmes.
Discounted Prems tickets are available for travel by these Intercités trains, so they can be a good option, particularly when heading to the airport.
Because if a flight or airport delay, causes you to miss the specific departure you are booked on to with a Prems ticket, you'll need to transfer your ticket to an alternative departure at least an hour prior to the train's departure time; and a fee will apply.
None of the rail routes to and from Toulouse have regularly timetabled departures, so journeys should be planned with care.
You can look up the timings on SNCF Connect without having to commit to a ticket purchase.
I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.
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.
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