The Paris to Moscow train seen at Paris Est
 

The Paris-Moscow Express at Paris Est.

  Tea served on the Paris-Moscow Express
 

Your sleeper attendant can serve delicious Russian tea for a few eurocents.

  2 or 4 bed sleeper in day mode
 

A 2 or 4-berth sleeper in day mode.

More photos...

All aboard the Paris-Moscow Express...

It's the classiest way to travel from London or Paris to Russia.  Russian Railways (RZD) operate an entire train from Paris Gare de l'Est to Moscow once a week all year round, with comfortable 2 & 4 berth regular sleeping cars, luxurious 1 & 2 bed VIP deluxe sleeping-cars and a restaurant car.  You can book it for the whole journey or even for intermediate journeys such as Paris to Berlin or Berlin to Moscow.  The train runs for some 3,483 km or about 2,164 miles from Paris to Moscow, making it the second longest direct passenger train in Europe - the longest being an identical train which links Moscow with Nice every week.  These trains are jacked up at Brest to have their wheelsets changed from European standard track gauge to Russian gauge, an interesting experience.

  Train times     What's the train like?  
  How much does it cost?        Watch the video guide  
  How to buy tickets     A brief history  

Train times...

 Paris ► Berlin Moscow

 

2017 times

 Paris Gare de l'Est depart:

18:58  Fridays

 Strasbourg depart:

23:25  Fridays

 Berlin Hbf arrive:

07:08  Saturdays

 Berlin Hbf depart:

07:13  Saturdays

 Warsaw Centralna arrive:

14:25  Saturdays

 Warsaw Centralna depart:

14:30  Saturdays

 Brest arrive (2 hour stop):

20:33  Saturdays

 Minsk arrive:

01:26*  Sundays

 Moscow Belorussky arrive:

10:01*  Sundays

Always check times for your date of travel as they can vary.  You can book it between any two stations.

* = Arrives Minsk 02:26, Moscow 11:01 late October to late March as Russia has no Daylight Saving Time.

** = Departs Moscow 22:15, Minsk 06:59, late October to late March as Russia has no Daylight Saving Time.

 Moscow ► Berlin Paris

 

2017 times

 Moscow Belorussky depart:

21:15**  Wednesdays

 Minsk depart:

05:59**  Thursdays

 Brest depart:

12:03  Thursdays

 Warsaw Centralna arrive:

14:30  Thursdays

 Warsaw Centralna depart:

14:35  Thursdays

 Berlin Hbf arrive:

21:04  Thursdays

 Berlin Hbf depart:

21:09  Thursdays

 Strasbourg arrive:

04:50  Fridays

 Paris Gare de l'Est arrive:

09:33  Fridays

How much does it cost?

 One-way per person, in either direction:

Sharing

4-berth

sleeper

(2nd class)

Sharing

2-berth 

sleeper

(1st class)

Sole occupancy 

of a 2-berth

sleeper

(1st class single)

Luxury sleeper,

sharing a

2-berth

(Business class)

Luxury sleeper,

sole

occupancy

(Business class)

 Paris-Moscow bought at www.rzd.ru

245

345

381

798

896

 Paris-Moscow bought at www.loco2.com

-

291

-

674

735

 Paris-Warsaw bought at www.rzd.ru

191

345

?

798

?

 Paris-Berlin bought at www.rzd.ru

167

273

?

624

?

 Paris-Berlin bought at www.loco2.com

-

169

-

346

470

 Berlin-Moscow bought at www.rzd.ru

170

237

281

557

677

Returns are twice the one-way fare.    Children under 12 half price.    InterRail & Eurail passes are not valid on the Paris-Moscow Express at all.

Berths are sold individually, prices are for one person in one bed.  So if you book (say) one 2nd class ticket you will travel in a 4-bed sleeper sharing with three other passengers of the same sex.  There is no need to pay for sole occupancy unless you want to!

You can buy tickets for any stage of the journey, for example Paris to Berlin, Paris to Warsaw, or Berlin to Moscow, see www.rzd.ru for tickets & prices, see tips for using rzd.ru here.

There's more detailed fare information at http://moscow-paris.ru/index_en.html including discounts for honeymoons & a week either side of your birthday, with details of the generous luggage allowances and how to take pets.

Additional Berlin-Moscow trains:  Although the Paris-Moscow train reduces to once a week in December, from 17 December 2016 there will also be a twice-weekly sleeper train Berlin-Moscow, for details see the Trains from Berlin or Trains from Moscow pages.

How to buy tickets...

  • Method 2, if you live in western Europe, is also easy:  You can book the Paris-Berlin-Warsaw-Moscow train at various French Railways websites with tickets collected from any French station if your journey starts in Paris, or sent to address in your home country if it doesn't:

    www.voyages-sncf.com - if you live in France

    www.voyages-sncf.de - if you live in Germany

    www.voyages-sncf.nl - if you live in the Netherlands

    www.voyages-sncf.be - if you live in Belgium

     

    www.voyages-sncf.ch - if you live in Switzerland

    www.voyages-sncf.it - if you live in Italy

    www.voyages-sncf.es - if you live in Spain

  • Method 3, if you live anywhere in the world except the USA you can book this train at www.voyages-sncf.ch, IF you follow the advice below!

    Pros:  Easy to use, no booking fee, if your journey starts in Paris you can collect tickets from the self-service machines at any French station, if it doesn't a hard-copy ticket can be sent to any address worldwide except the USA...

    Cons:  If your journey doesn't start in Paris so tickets need to be posted, they'll go by regular unregistered post so may take some time to arrive, with a small chance of them getting lost in the post.  If you'd prefer a print-your-own e-ticket then use method 4 (easy and with good after sales service in English, but with a small mark-up) or method 5 (no mark-up, but a somewhat fiddly system).

    To book this train online with no booking fee at www.voyages-sncf.ch:

    - Go to www.voyages-sncf.ch and change Suisse to Switzerland top right. This puts it into English.

    - Do NOT be tempted to select the UK flag or any other flag top right, as you'll be diverted to their Rail Europe subsidiary.  Stick with Switzerland as this keeps you on the original French Railways site (albeit the Swiss edition) in English, which is what you want.

    - Book your train using the journey planner in the normal way.  Prices will be shown in Swiss Francs.

    - At the end, select Retrieval in a French station if your journey starts in Paris, or Delivery free by post if it doesn't, entering your address and selecting your country for tickets to be sent to.

    Booking tips:  Booking usually opens 90 days before departure.  Obviously, make sure you pick a day of the week when the direct Paris-Moscow sleeper runs!  If you leave 2nd class selected you will only be offered 4-bed sleepers, if you want a 1 or 2 bed 1st class or luxury sleeper you must select 1st class.  Single or double 'with shower' means you are selecting the luxury VIP sleeper. 

  • Method 4, anyone can book with Real Russia, also easy:  The easiest way to book any type of sleeper including 2nd class 4-berth is to use the Real Russia booking form at top right on the Train Travel in Russia page, clicking 'advanced search - type city name' and entering 'Paris in France' to 'Moscow in Russia'.  Real Russia connects to the Russian Railways ticketing system which holds all the berths and accommodation types.  It's easier to use than rzd.ru and has good English-language after-sales service if you need it.  All international credit cards accepted, and you can be emailed a print-at-home e-ticket, wherever you live.

  • Method 5, anyone can book via the Russian Railways website www.rzd.ru with print-at-home e-tickets.  This is significantly more fiddly, but it does work, see my tips for using rzd.ru in English here.  It's likely to be the cheapest way to buy tickets as there are no added fees or mark-up.  Anyone from any country can use www.rzd.ru with print-at-home tickets and prices shown in rubles.

    On rzd.ru, 2-cl = 2/4 = 2nd class 4-berth = one bed in a shared 4-bed sleeper. 1-cl = 1/2 = 1st class 2-berth = one bed in a shared 2-bed sleeper.  1-cl 1/1 = 1st class 1-berth = sole occupancy of a 1st class 2-bed sleeper.  De Luxe = VIP sleeper with shower & toilet, which is always sole occupancy whether you book one person or two.  You even get a chance to select a specific berth or berths. 

    www.rzd.ru should accept overseas cards (it accepts mine), but occasionally may be fussy with non-Russian cards, give it a try.  RZD.ru allegedly won't accept US-issued credit cards, if your card is rejected simply use Real Russia instead as in Method 3 above.

Visas...

What's the train like?

The regular sleepers:  1st class 2-berth or 2nd class 4-berth...

The train has classy modern air-conditioned sleeping-cars built by Siemens in Austria in 2014.  Each car has eight 4-berth compartments, each compartment has a washbasin and two power sockets for laptops & mobiles.  Although all compartments have four beds (two lower & two upper berths), some cars on the train are designated as 1st class 2-berth with only the two lower beds in use, others are designated as 2nd class 4-berth with all four beds in use.  The cars are carpeted, quiet and extremely smooth-riding, a pleasure to travel in.  A sleeper attendant (provodnik or provodnitsa) travels with each car and can serve excellent Russian tea for a few eurocents when required.  There's even a good hot shower in one of the toilets at the end of the corridor, but bring your own towels.  See panorama photo inside a 4-berth sleeper.  Identical sleeping-cars operate from Moscow to Vienna, Prague & Warsaw.

One of Russian Railways new international sleeping-cars   The corridor

The Paris-Moscow Express, boarding at Paris Gare de l'Est...

 

The carpeted corridor...

A 2-berth or 4-berth compartment in daytime mode   2-bed sleeper, night mode   A 4-berth sleeper with beds folded out

Sleeper compartment in day mode.  Panorama photo.

 

Used as a 1st class 2-berth.

 

Used as a 2nd class 4-berth.

The sink is under the table

 

Key cards

 

Toilet with shower

Lift the table to reveal the sink...  Note the electrical socket for laptops & mobiles, there are in fact two, one either side of the sink.

 

The compartment doors have an electronic lock, each passenger gets a key card...

 

There are two toilets at the end of the corridor, one with a nice hot shower (shown here)

The restaurant car...

A Polish restaurant car staffed by WARS, the Polish Railways dining- and sleeping-car service, is attached between Paris and Warsaw.  A Russian dining-car is attached between Brest (on the Poland/Belarus border) and Moscow.  By western standards it's not expensive.  For breakfast, freshly-cooked scrambled egg with ham & salad costs 6, a side order of smoked salmon 4.  For dinner, goulash soup costs 5, chicken breast stuffed with bacon and cheese served with potatoes and salad costs 14.  The menu is written in Russian and English.

The restaurant car on the Paris-Moscow train   Scambled eggs for breakfast   Restaurant car exterior

VIP deluxe sleepers...

The train also features several VIP luxury sleeping-cars, expensive and no doubt aimed at Russian oligarchs.  These modern air-conditioned cars feature just 4 compartments each with a sofa which converts to an extra wide lower berth by night, an upper berth folds out from the wall, there's an en suite shower & toilet with soap, towels & complimentary amenities kit, and the compartment also has a CD player & flat-screen TV.  Each sleeping-car has a small bar-lounge area at one end.  If you travel VIP class, a hot breakfast in the restaurant car is included.

VIP deluxe sleeper on the Paris-Moscow train   Deluxe sleeping-car on the Paris-Moscow train

A VIP sleeper in day mode with sofa, table & side seat.

 

VIP sleeping-car on the Paris-Moscow Express at Paris Est...

The en suite, taken standing in the shower!   VIP sleeper in night mode with beds folded out   The VIP sleeping-car has a small bar area

En suite toilet & shower...

 

VIP sleeper in night mode...

 

Each VIP sleeping-car has a small bar area...

The Paris-Moscow train at Strasbourg   Corridor outside VIP sleeper compartments

The Paris-Moscow Express en route....

 

VIP corridor...

A brief history of the Paris-Moscow Express...

  • Before World War 2, the Wagons-Lits Company ran a train called the Nord Express.  It conveyed through sleeping-cars from Paris to various destinations including one from Paris to Riga, with connections to St Petersburg and Moscow.  A change of train was necessary to reach Russia because Russian track gauge is 5', slightly wider than European standard gauge which is 4' 8.5".

  • The Soviet Railways (SZD) started a direct through sleeping-car service between Paris and Moscow in the 1960s, using dark-green sleeping-cars with wood-veneer interiors and frilly net curtains, complete with the hammer and sickle badge between the centre windows.  Usually the service consisted of just one or sometimes two through sleeping-cars, attached to other trains and cars for each part of the route.  The cars were jacked up at Brest to have their bogies (wheelsets) changed to accommodate the difference between standard gauge & Russian gauge.  Indeed, SZD ran direct sleeping-cars between many European cities and Moscow, including Stockholm to Moscow once a week, Hoek van Holland (for London) to Moscow daily in summer or three times a week in winter, Oostende and Brussels to Moscow to a similar schedule and even (for a while) Madrid to Moscow.  The latter was the only European passenger service ever to have its bogies changed not once but twice, from Iberian gauge (5' 6") to standard gauge (4' 8.5") at the Spanish/French border and from standard gauge to Russian gauge (5') at the Russian border.  The sleepers were often used by Russian diplomats - when the Nord West Express collided with a Dutch local train in 1982, six Russian envoys refused to leave the train until they were collected by car from the Russian embassy at Den Haag.  After the fall of communism, these SZD through sleeping-cars were discontinued one by one, and the Paris-Moscow service ended in 1994.

  • Aimed at newly-mobile Russian tourists rather than diplomats, Russian Railways (RZD) reintroduced a direct Paris-Moscow sleeping-car in 2007, attached to the Paris-Berlin City Night Line sleeper train as far as Berlin and then to the Moskva Express from Berlin to MoscowThis was such a success that in 2011, RZD decided to run an entire train between Paris and Moscow, to a fast day-night-day schedule.  It initially ran 3 times a week in winter, 5 times a week in summer, but the fall of the ruble and a significant drop in the number of Russian visitors to the West made them cut it back to once a week in winter, twice a week in summer, as from April 2015.  On the plus side, 2015 also saw the introduction of the excellent new Austrian-built sleeping-cars, with more space per passenger and a shower at the end of the corridor.

  • From June 2015 the Paris-Moscow Express switches to a new night-day-night schedule, which is more time-effective, allows same-day connections to and from London, and provides a convenient overnight train between Paris, Berlin and Warsaw, replacing (at least once or twice a week) the now-discontinued Paris-Berlin City Night Line train.  RZD hopes to pick up many extra passengers this way, even those not travelling to Russia.

  • The train is supposed to be called the Trans-European Express, but I have yet to see that name used anywhere on the Russian Railways website or in or on the train itself.

Lunch on the Paris-Moscow train   Brest station on the Belarus border.   Jacking up the train at Brest to chnage the wheels

Lunch...  Courtesy of Phillip Dyer-Perry.

 

Brest station, on the Poland-Belarus border. Courtesy David Smith

 

Jacking up at Brest to change the wheels.  Courtesy Phillip Dyer-Perry.

Byelorussia station in Moscow   Statue at the Byelorussia station, Moscow

Welcome to Moscow!  Arrival at Moscow Belorussky Station.  Photos courtesy of David Smith.

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