France's premier high-speed train:  The 186 mph TGV ...

TGVs now run all over France, the smooth, relaxing & less-environmentally-damaging way to travel...

Buy TGV tickets from €20 at:

www.loco2.com (anyone from any country, no fees)

www.capitainetrain.com (anyone from any country, no fees)

uk.voyages-sncf.com (UK residents, no fees)

www.raileurope.com (USA*, fee charged)

www.raileurope.ca (Canada*, fee charged)

www.raileurope-world.com (Australia, NZ, Asia, Africa)

* = I've seen the US & Canadian Rail Europes charge significantly higher prices than Capitainetrain, so compare prices before before buying. No fees & choice of seating at Capitainetrain, too.

Booking usually opens 92 days ahead...

Introducing the TGV...

TGVs (Train à Grande Vitesse) are the pride of SNCF (French railways), running at up to 300 km/h (186 mph) on a network linking towns and cities across much of France.  In fact, trains now run at up to 320 km/h (199 mph) on the newer TGV-Est & TGV-Rhone-Rhone routes.  Smooth and quiet even at high speed, it's a very relaxing (and if you're working on a laptop, productive) way to travel.  Some TGVs are single-deck, an increasing number are double-deck TGV Duplex.

Fares & tickets

TGV 1st class seats...

  • First class on all TGVs has spacious seats with armrests and power-recline, arranged one-abreast on one side of the aisle, two-abreast on the other side of the aisle.  Each seat has either a drop-down table big enough for a laptop (face-to-back seats) or a fixed table with table lamp (face-to-face seats). 

  • All first class seats have power-points for laptops & mobiles with European-style two-pin sockets.  There is a small bench seat outside each main seating saloon if you need to make a private mobile phone call. 

  • When making a reservation, two seats facing each other across a table are referred to as Club duo or (in English) Dual face to face, and four seats around a table in first class are Club Quatre or (in English) Club four.  Two seats side by side facing seat backs in front are Duo, and single seats facing a seat back in front are Solo.

TGV 2nd class seats...

  • Second class on all TGVs has comfortable seats with armrests, arranged two-abreast on both sides of the aisle.  There are drop-down tables big enough for laptops (face-to-back seats) or fixed tables (face-to-face seats), although laptop/mobile power sockets are not always fitted in 2nd class.  There are two toilets for each pair of coaches. 

  • When you book, the tables for 4 are usually shown as family or facing or sometimes in French as carré.

Food & drink, smoking, wheelchairs, baby-changing...

TGV travel tips...


Single-deck TGVs...

Most TGVs have been refurbished with interiors by designer Christian Lacroix.  All TGVs on the TGV-Est route from Paris Est to Reims, Strasbourg, Metz, Luxembourg & the TGV-Atlantique route from Paris Montparnasse to Tours, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lourdes, Rennes have the Christian Lacroix interior...  Incidentally, SNCF's in-house designer still hasn't forgiven Christian Lacroix for breaking the long-standing unwritten 'rules' and using warm colours in 2nd class, cooler colours in 1st class, so see what you think...

Seat numbering plans:  There are several types of TGV, you can find plans of the seating layout on various TGV types on the train seat numbering page.

Meal bought from the TGV bar car   A TGV Atlantique at Paris Montparnasse

Food from the cafe bar...

 

A TGV Atlantique at Paris Montparnasse.

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV 1st class by Christian Lacroix

2nd class with a mix or unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats are 2+2 across car width.  Panorama photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & tables for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  Panorama photo.

Boarding a TGV   TGV bar car

Boarding a TGV at Paris Gare de Lyon...

 

Cafe-bar...  See sample TGV bar menu

Watch the video:  Inside a TGV with Christian Lacroix interior

 

 

 

 

Older interiors...

A few unrefurbished TGVs remain, and yet another refurbishment is under way.  The older interiors often don't have power sockets in 2nd class.

TGV 1st class seats... TGV 2nd class seats...

TGV 1st class with two club duo seats on the left, a bay of 4 club quatre on the right, and rows of solo & duo seats behind.

TGV 2nd class.  Most seats are face-to-back, but there are some bays of four face-to-face seats, ask when booking.


Double-deck TGV Duplex...    Watch the TGV Duplex video guide

These impressive 186mph double-deck high-speed trains now operate most Paris-Cannes-Nice trains, most Paris-Lyon trains, many Paris-Marseille trains and even a few Lille-Marseille services.  They also operate some or all services from Paris to Basel, Zurich, Geneva, Stuttgart, Munich & Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Marseille.  You board the train through a wide sliding external door into a small hall at one end of the lower deck.  An internal door opens into a lower deck seating area, and a wide, short & easy flight of stairs leads to a landing at one end of the upper deck.  You walk along the train from car to car at the upper level, and the café-bar is also at the upper level.  There are toilets both upstairs & downstairs.  When reserving, you can choose a seat on either upper or lower decks if you buy online at www.loco2.com or www.capitainetrain.com or book by phone, although unfortunately you're not given a choice of deck if you buy tickets using uk.voyages-sncf.com.  If you have major problems climbing stairs the lower deck might be best, but for anyone else the top deck is strongly recommended for the best views of the scenery, as you'll be able to see over the top of the occasional sound barrier along the high speed lines.  For couples, an upper deck first class 'Club duo' (in English 'Dual face to face') table-for-two is as good as it gets!  Families can book a 'club quatre' (Club four) in first class or 'carré' in 2nd class (also shown as 'family or facing'), both terms mean a table for four.

Seat numbering plan:  TGV Duplex seating plan.  Seat numbers 11-58 = lower deck.  61-128 = upper deck.

How to tell if your TGV will be a Duplex:  Run an enquiry on www.capitainetrain.com (after signing up for an account) and find the train you're planning to travel on.  Select any fare, click the 'Seating' link and click the drop down box that says 'No preference'.  If the options include upstairs and downstairs, it's a Duplex!

Second- & third-generation Duplex...

TGV Duplex trainsets of the latest generations (known technically as dasye & euroduplex) have blue and purple interiors, with power sockets at all seats in both classes.  TGV Duplexes of this type operate all departures on the international routes from Paris to Stuttgart, Munich & Barcelona, and some services from Paris to Geneva, Basel, Zurich & Frankfurt, also Marseille-Frankfurt.  2nd & 3rd generation TGV Duplex work alongside 1st generation TGV Duplex on French domestic routes such as Paris-Nice, Paris-Avignon-Marseille & Paris-Lyon.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris with Nice, Marseille, Munich, Barcelona & Switzerland...

 

2nd class table for 4 on TGV Duplex upper deck...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwave-style hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats, this is upper deck seating.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

TGV Duplex:  Stairs to upper deck   TGV Duplex:  Power outlets   TGV Duplex:  Luggage racks

The stairs from entrance vestibule to upper deck. Just 9 steps, wide, shallow with double handrails.  Not usually any problem!

 

Power sockets:  All 1st class seats have power sockets, 2-pin 230v.  2nd class seats have power sockets on 2nd & 3rd generation Duplex, but may not have on 1st generation Duplex.

 

Luggage racks.  You take your bags on board with you and place them on the racks.  There are racks both upstairs and downstairs, both at the car ends and (as here) between the seats, which I personally prefer.

First-generation Duplex...

The first-generation TGV Duplex operate on French domestic routes including Paris-Lyon, Paris-Marseille, Paris-Nice, where they work alongside newer 2nd & 3rd generation trains.  There are power sockets at all first class seats, but usually not in 2nd class on these first-generation trains.

TGV Duplex, 1st class upper deck, first  generation   TGV Duplex, upper deck 2nd class, first generation

1st class:  TGV Duplex 1st class upper deck.

 

2nd class:  TGV Duplex 2nd class upper deck.

TGV Duplex at Nice Ville   TGV Duplex cafe-bar, first generation

A TGV Duplex at Nice...

 

Cafe-bar, upper deck in car 4.

Watch the video:

Inside a TGV Duplex

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sample TGV café-bar menu...

This photo of a TGV bar menu gives you an idea of what's on offer in a typical TGV cafe-bar.  Prices are from November 2012.

Typical TGV bar menu


Sponsored links...

 


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