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)

uk.voyages-sncf.com (UK residents)

www.capitainetrain.com (anyone)

www.raileurope.com (USA*)

www.raileurope.ca (Canada*)

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.

Introducing the TGV...

TGVs (Train à Grande Vitesse) are the pride of SNCF (French railways), running at up to 186 mph (300 km/h) on a network linking towns and cities across much of France.  In fact, trains now run at up to 199 mph (320 km/h) on the new TGV-Est route from Paris to Reims, Strasbourg, Metz, Luxembourg and Basel, which opened in June 2007.  Smooth and quiet even at high speed, it's a very relaxing (and if you're working on a laptop, productive) way to travel.

Fares & tickets

France by TGV - Watch the video

This video gives you a good idea of what TGV travel is like.  It starts at Paris Gare de Lyon boarding a TGV for the south of France...  The grey-green seats are 2nd class, the red & grey seats 1st class.  The rather impressive at-seat meals are only offered in 1st class on a few key business trains, but a cafe-bar with snacks, drinks, beer & wine is available on most TGVs.

 

TGV 1st class...

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 are luggage racks above the seats and at the end of the car for larger items.  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 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...

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, and baby changing facilities in the 2nd class coach at the end of the train.

Food & drink on board TGVs...

All TGVs (except a few very short-distance ones, notably Lille-Paris) have a café-bar serving hot & cold drinks, sandwiches, a few hot dishes such as quiche or lasagne, small bottles of wine & spirits.  The café-bar is located in the centre of the train between the 1st & 2nd class.  The coffee is good, credit cards are accepted as well as cash.  There is a standing area where you can eat & drink, or you can take your purchases back to your seat.  Alternatively, on all European trains you are free to bring your own food and drink (including beer or wine) on board if you like.  Or, if you're changing trains in Paris and have time for a drink or meal whilst waiting at the Gare de Lyon, why not use the famous (and fantastic) Train Bleu restaurant?

Tips for travel by TGV...

TGV 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.


Single-deck TGVs...

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

TGV 1st class.  There are two 'club duo' seats on the left, a bay of 4 'club quatre' on the right, and many 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.

Christian Lacroix designer interiors...

Many 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 are already refurbished...  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...

Refurbished TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, first class   Refurbished TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class

TGV 1st class, refurbished.  Panorama photo...

 

TGV 2nd class, refurbished.  Panorama photo.

Meal bought from the TGV bar car   TGV bar car

Food on board...  You can bring your own food and even bottle of wine on board, perhaps bought at the station, or go to the bar car.  The café-bar sells drinks and snacks, and usually microwaved hot dishes like this, often as set menu combinations with drink and roll...  See sample TGV bar menu.

Watch the video - inside a TGV with Christian Lacroix interior


Double-decker TGVs:  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 www.raileurope.co.uk.  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.

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!

Inside a first-generation Duplex...

These operate on French domestic routes including Paris-Lyon, Paris-Marseille, Paris-Nice.  There are power sockets at all first class seats, but usually not in 2nd class on these first-generation duplex.

An impressive TGV Duplex at Nice station.  All aboard for Paris & London!   First class on board a TGV Duplex

TGV Duplex.  This is a morning TGV from Nice to Paris, boarding at Nice.  Change in Paris for London!

 

1st class:  TGV Duplex 1st class upper deck.  Note the 'club duo' on the left & 'club quatre' seats on the right.

Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.     The bar on the upper deck of a TGV Duplex

2nd class:  TGV Duplex 2nd class upper deck.  There is a mix of face-to-back and face-to-face seating.

 

Cafe-bar:  The upper-deck bar on a TGV Duplex,  selling wine, beer, tea, coffee, soft drinks & snacks.

Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.   A TGV Duplex about to leave Paris Gare de Lyon for St Raphael, Cannes, Antibes & Nice

Stairs...  The upstairs landing on a TGV Duplex showing the stairs down to the entrance door.

 

A double-deck TGV Duplex.  This is an afternoon TGV from Paris to Nice, about to leave the Gare de Lyon.  You can easily travel from London to Nice in a day by Eurostar & TGV, a relaxing day catching up on your reading over a bottle of wine.  And it isn't even expensive if you follow the advice on this page!

Inside a second- & third-generation Duplex...

TGV Duplex trainsets of the latest generations (known technically as dasye & euroduplex) have revised interiors, with power sockets at all seats in both classes.  These types are found on the international routes from Paris to Munich, Basel, Zurich, Barcelona, some trains to Geneva & Frankfurt, Marseille-Frankfurt and on some French domestic routes such as Paris-Nice.

Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.     The bar on the upper deck of a TGV Duplex

2nd class seats on the latest TGV Duplex upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating and some tables for four like this...

 

The cafe-bar in a TGV Duplex upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks and microwave-style hot meal dishes....

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An impressive TGV Duplex.

1st class seats on TGV Duplex upper deck.  That's a 'club duo' on the left & a 'club quatre' on the right.

 

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

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


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