The Thello sleeper train from Paris to Venice

 
 

  Buy Thello tickets here from 35...

  Booking usually opens 120 days ahead.

  Anyone can buy tickets here, it's ticketless, you simply quote the PNR number on board.

  Yes, if you book 2 tickets for a 2-bed sleeper or 6 tickets in 6-berth couchettes, you'll normally all be together in the same compartment.  See berth numbering plan

  If there are 3 of you and you want sole occupancy of a 4-berth compartment (for example), simply book 4 tickets in 4-berth, re-using a name and passport number.

  Children under 4 sharing a bed go free on Thello, children under 12 go at the child rate.

  You're buying from www.italiarail.com, who connect directly to the Trenitalia ticketing system.  Their booking fee will be refunded if you email them your PNR at seat61@italiarail.com.

  Buy onward train tickets to other Italian destinations at www.italiarail.com.

Who or what is Thello?

Pronounced Tell-O, Thello is a partnership between Trenitalia (Italian Railways) and Veolia, a private transport company, formed to run overnight trains between Paris and Italy.  Thello's Paris-Milan-Verona-Venice sleeper train started running on 11 December 2011, replacing the lacklustre sleeper train run by Artesia, a consortium of Trenitalia and French railways.  Thello started a Paris-Florence-Rome sleeper train in December 2012, but this was discontinued again on 15 December 2013.  You can also travel from Paris to Italy by higher-quality daytime high-speed TGV train, see the Paris-Italy TGV page.

On this page...

Thello train times

How much does it cost?

What are the sleeping-cars like?

What are the couchettes like

What is the restaurant car like?

The Man in Seat 61's opinion of Thello

How to buy tickets

Luggage, bikes & dogs on Thello

UK to Italy using Thello   

Video guide to the Thello sleeper train

Thello train times 2014...

 Paris ► Milan, Verona, Venice  

 by Thello sleeper train Runs
every day
 Paris Gare de Lyon depart, day 1 19:59
 Dijon depart 22:41
 Milan Centrale arrive 06:00
 Brescia arrive 07:10
 Verona arrive 07:52
 Vicenza arrive 08:43
 Padua arrive 09:06
 Venice Mestre arrive 09:23
 Venice Santa Lucia arrive, day 2 09:35
   
 Connection for Bologna & Florence by Frecciarossa
 Milan Centrale depart 07:15
 Bologna Centrale arrive 08:17
 Florence SMN arrive 08:55
   
 Connection for Rome & Naples by Frecciarossa
 Milan Centrale depart 07:00
 Rome Termini arrive 09:59
 Naples Centrale arrive 11:20

The Paris-Florence-Rome Thello train was discontinued from 15 December 2013.  You need to take the Paris-Milan-Venice Thello sleeper, and change trains at Milan Centrale for an onward high-speed Frecciarossa train to Bologna, Florence, Rome or Naples as shown.

In Paris, the Thello train to Venice usually leaves from platform M at the Gare de Lyon.

Alternative daytime trains:  A higher-quality alternative to Thello is to book one of the three daily Paris-Turin-Milan TGVs, then an onward train from Milan or Turin to Florence, Rome or Venice, see here for details.

 Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan ► Paris   

 by Thello sleeper train

Runs
every day
 Venice Santa Lucia depart, day 1 19:20
 Venice Mestre depart 19:32
 Padua depart 19:50
 Vicenza depart 20:13
 Verona depart 20:50
 Brescia depart 21:33
 Milan Centrale depart 22:55
 Dijon arrive, day 2 06:35
 Paris Gare de Lyon arrive, day 2 09:30
   
 Connection from Naples, Rome, Florence, Bologna by Frecciarossa
 Naples Centrale depart 17:00
 Rome Termini depart 18:20
 Florence SMN depart 20:00
 Bologna Centrale depart 20:38
 Milan Centrale arrive 21:40

What's it like on board the Thello train?

All passengers on the Thello sleeper train get a sleeping berth in either a proper sleeping-car or more economical couchette car.  There are no ordinary seats.  The berths convert to seating for evening and morning use.  The trains are entirely non-smoking, and there's a restaurant car for waiter-service meals, drinks & snacks.  Incidentally, these trains travel a huge distance at up to 100 mph, and can arrive an hour or so late on occasion, so allow for this in your schedule and any onward connections.  Luggage, bikes & dogsThe Man in Seat 61's opinion of Thello.

Sleeping-cars:  1, 2 & 3 bed sleeper compartments...

 

Thello berth numbering plan

...for sleepers & couchettes

   
 

Watch the video...

...a video guide to the sleepers, couchettes and restaurant on board the Paris-Venice Thello train.

A sleeper offers fully-made-up beds in small but cosy private compartments.  Each compartment has an upper, middle and lower bed and can be used for single, double or triple occupancy.  Each bed comes with a soft pillow and duvet, an individual reading light and its own 220v 2-pin socket for laptops & mobiles.  There's a washbasin in the corner and each passenger gets a towel, a small bottle of mineral water and a complimentary toiletries pack containing soap, toothbrush & toothpaste, mouthwash, disposable slippers and (if you really feel you need them) ear-plugs.  There are toilets at the end of the corridor which will be unlocked shortly after departure. 

For the evening & morning part of the journey, the beds fold away to form a private sitting room with sofa.  The seat back of the middle part of the sofa lowers to form a table if you need one.  There's room for luggage on the rack above the window and in the big recess above the door projecting over the corridor ceiling.  The compartment doors have a security deadlock that cannot be opened from outside even with a staff key and there is Closed Circuit TV in the corridor for your safety.  If you like, your sleeper attendant can lock your compartment door while you go to the restaurant car. 

The sleeper attendant will take your ticket and passport soon after departure so you are not disturbed by any ticket or passport checks during the journey, and he or she will give you a voucher for a complimentary light breakfast in the restaurant car next morning. 

Sleepers are ideal for couples or business travellers, but beds are sold individually so passengers travelling alone may book one bed in a 2 or 3-bed compartment and share with other civilised sleeper passengers of the same sex.  Sharing has been quite normal for over 100 years, and once in bed you can't see anyone above or below you, giving you sleeper comfort without expensive sole occupancy.  If there are 4, 5 or 6 of you, you can book a pair of adjacent sleeper compartments with an inter-connecting door, although a 4 or 6 berth couchette is a much cheaper option.  Sleeper compartments with a connecting door will have berth numbers sharing the same first digit, for example 21 & 25 have a connecting door to 22 & 26, see the berth numbering plan.  If you book 4 or more sleeper berths the online system should automatically allocate connecting compartments if possible.

Refurbished sleeping-car on the Thello sleeper train from Paris to Venice   1 2 or 3-bed sleeper, in evening mode, on the Paris-Venice Thello overnight train...   2-bed sleeper, night mode, on the Paris-Venice 'Thello' overnight train...

A sleeping-car on the Thello sleeper train from Paris to Venice.  A sleeper is the most comfortable way to go...

 

A sleeper with the beds folded away, sofa out, sink closed..

 

2-bed sleeper with beds out, washbasin open...

Couchette cars:  4 & 6 berth couchette compartments...

 

Thello berth numbering plan

...for sleepers & couchettes

   
 

Watch the video...

...a video guide to the sleepers, couchettes and restaurant on board the Paris-Venice Thello train.

Couchettes are the economy option, providing basic flat padded bunks at night for 4 or 6 people per compartment, arranged as upper, middle and lower bunks on each side of the compartment.  Each bunk has a reading light and comes with sheet, pillow & fluffy duvet which you arrange yourself.  In the evening and morning, the lower & middle bunks fold away, converting into seats with armrests and small table.  A small complimentary bottle of mineral water is provided for each passenger.  The compartments are air-conditioned with adjustable temperature control.  The sexes are normally mixed in couchettes as you do not normally fully undress, but women travelling alone can reserve places in a 4-berth ladies-only compartment if they wish.  There's plenty of room for luggage under the seats, on the luggage rack and in the big recess above the door projecting out over the corridor ceiling.  An attendant is on duty for every pair of couchette cars, who will take your passport and tickets (if it's not an e-ticket) after the train leaves Paris and return them to you next morning, so you are not disturbed by ticket checks or passport control at the Swiss or Italian frontiers during the night.  As well as the normal lock, the compartment door has a red security deadlock which cannot be opened from outside even with a staff key, so you'll be safe and snug.

Top tips:  It's worth paying the extra to travel in a 4-person compartment as this gives you much more space than 6-person occupancy, allowing you to spread out and enjoy your evening on the train.  Middle bunks are probably the best choice, as they are cooler than the top bunks and easier to access, but significantly wider than the narrow bottom bunks.  If you don't want to use the restaurant car, why feel free to bring along your own picnic and bottle of wine, it's allowed!  Note that 4-berth couchette compartments are identical to 6-berth, in fact they have 6 bunks, it's only the number of people per compartment that's different.  A sleeper is a significant step up in comfort from a couchette, but given the price difference a 4-berth couchette is probably the best option for a family of 4, rather than an expensive pair of 2-berth sleepers.

A couchette car on the new Thello sleeper train at Paris Gare de Lyon   4 or 6-berth couchette compartment, with seats folded out, on the Thello sleeper trains from Paris to Venice...

Hello Thello...  A couchette car on the new Thello sleeper train from Paris to Venice, seen at the Gare de Lyon platform 'M'.

 

A 4 or 6 berth Thello couchette compartment in seats mode...

Restaurant car...      See sample restaurant car menu

The Thello sleeper train features a waiter-service restaurant car, and enjoying a meal in the restaurant as the sun sets over the French countryside and the train speeds into the night is one of the pleasures of overnight train travel to Italy.  Artesia's food got poor reviews, but Thello have new staff and new caterers (a subsidiary of the German airline Lufthansa, no less) and having tried it I'd say it's not bad, even if service can be slow at busy times and paper plates have already replaced the real china shown here.  They have a habit of running out of things, though!  A 3-course dinner costs 28 or 2 courses cost 24, including a complimentary 'welcome drink' of sparkling Prosecco, or you can eat la carte.  MasterCard, Visa, Amex and Diners Club credit cards are accepted in the restaurant car, although taking cash is a good idea as I've occasionally known on-train credit card machines to be out of action.  You can't book tables for dinner in advance, simply go along to the restaurant car half an hour after departure to find a seat.  On departures from Paris, expect service to start around 20:30.  The restaurant car also has a buffet counter complete with proper expresso coffee machine serving drinks and snacks which you can take back to your couchette or sleeper, see photo.  A light breakfast in the restaurant car of juice, fresh croissant or pain au chocolat and real coffee is included for sleeper passengers, just go along when you're ready.  Breakfast service starts at 5am on the southbound train, in time for that early arrival into Milan.  If you're in the couchettes breakfast costs either 6 or 9 depending on which option you want.  Enjoy the contrast in scenery between dinner in France and breakfast in Italy!  However, if you'd rather not use the restaurant car, feel free take your own picnic and bottle of wine to eat and drink in your sleeper or couchette, there are no rules against this on the rails, or have an early dinner before boarding.

A table on the thello sleeper train to Venice, laid out for dinner   At dinner in the restaurant car of the Paris-Venice Thello sleeper train.

Dinner in the restaurant as the overnight Thello train to Venice speeds south across France.  See sample menu

 

The tables in the Thello restaurant car are smartly laid out in green or burgundy...

Dinner on Thello:  Salmon steak & rice   Dinner on Thello:  Dessert   Complimentary light breakfast for sleeper passengers on the Thello train from Paris to Venice

Grilled salmon steak with white and wild rice and vegetables, washed down with a nice Chianti...

 

Raspberry & chocolate fondant cake for dessert...

 

Complimentary light breakfast for sleeper passengers...

The Man in Seat 61's opinion of Thello...

The daytime TGVs from Paris to Italy get great reviews, especially from those who have lunch at the amazing Train Bleu restaurant then take the afternoon TGV to Turin or Milan, who rave about this as a way to get to Italy.  But the Thello sleeper train gets very mixed reviews, some OK, many not so good.  Indeed, I reckon Thello easily qualifies as the Most Complained About train in Europe.  A great shame, as there's huge demand for a quality overnight sleeper train between Paris and Italy. 

Paradoxically, I find that it's those who book a cheap 35 or 55 couchette, bring along a bottle of wine, a picnic and a positive 'camping on rails' attitude who usually have fun and enjoy the Thello experience.  Those who pay for an expensive sleeper often have hotel-standard expectations which simply aren't met, and they may end up complaining about missing toilet seats, faulty air-conditioning or the microwaved food and paper plates in the restaurant car.  You should certainly not expect cordon bleu chefs, bar cars with pianos or sleeper compartments the size of tennis courts.

Thello is unfortunately not the best-run or best-maintained sleeper train in the world, although I enjoyed travelling on it and I might use it myself if I needed to go to Italy time- & cost-effectively.  Realistic expectations are vital.  Thello is not a luxury tourist experience, it's run on a tight budget with minimal staff.  It has inherited the same elderly rolling stock as the previous Artesia service, though most things have improved somewhat over its poor-performing predecessor (just as well, as I had stopped recommending Artesia at all...).

When I tested the Thello train it left on time, and from the far more accessible Gare de Lyon, rather than (as with Artesia) the poorly-equipped Gare de Bercy.  It arrived on time, staff were friendly and helpful, the beds themselves clean and comfortable, the air-con worked (mostly) and the ride in the sleeping-cars was smooth and quiet unless you opened the window.  I enjoyed dinner in the restaurant and the Chianti was excellent, but remember that the meal is microwaved, and already plastic cutlery and paper plates have replaced the proper china that I experienced on my own trip.  With just one member of staff the service can be slow when the restaurant gets busy.  So if you're fussy, eat before boarding or bring your own picnic and bottle of wine onto the train with you.

Thello has inherited sleeping-cars built in the early 1970s which were modernised by Trenitalia several years ago, adding useful features such as LED lighting, CCTV for security and power sockets for laptops & mobiles, but ironically making the cars less comfortable by removing carpet in favour of crude synthetic grey flooring and using cheap materials which have not worn well, such as shiny sticky-back-plastic instead of a proper glass mirror and cream fascia that can show the dirt.  The photos on this page are real photos of the actual train, what you see is what you get.  No pianos or cordon bleu chefs, no sleeper suites taking up half the car, just a cosy room big enough to sleep in and sit comfortably in, and if you're lucky, the air-con will be working...

In terms of punctuality, I've seen Thello arrive in Venice spot on time, I've seen it at Verona 40 minutes down, and I've known it an hour late.  For some reason the Venice train has always performed better than their (now withdrawn) Florence & Rome train did, and always generated less complaints, perhaps the depot in Venice does a better job!

How much does it cost?

Fares in detail...

 Paris to Venice or Verona

 by Thello sleeper train (per person):

 In a couchette

 In a sleeper

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

1-berth

 Smart fare (prices from)

35

55

-

-

-

 Go fare

80

96

112

145

-

 Flexi adult fare:

110

130

140

180

275

 Flexi child fare

70

84

98

126

-

 

 Paris to Milan

 by Thello sleeper train (per person):

 In a couchette

 In a sleeper

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

1-berth

 Smart fare (prices from)

35

55

-

-

-

 Go fare

64

77

112

145

-

 Flexi adult fare:

90

106

140

180

275

 Flexi child fare

63

74

98

126

-

All fares are one-way.  Return journeys are made with two one-way fares.

Smart & Go fares = advance-purchase fares, limited or no refunds or changes, valid for adult or child.

Flexi fare = refundable & flexible.  There are no senior or youth reductions.

Flexi child fare = Child 4-11 years with own berth.  Children under 4 free if they share a bed.

 Connecting Frecciarossa tickets to/from Milan:

 Milan to Bologna or Florence starts at 19. 

 Milan to Rome or Naples starts at 29.

How to buy tickets for Thello...

Luggage, bikes & animals on Thello trains...

You simply take your luggage onto the train with you and put your bags in your compartment, under the lower berth in couchette compartments or on the various racks in both the couchettes and sleepers.  There are no baggage weight limits, you can take pretty much what you like as long as you can carry it, although a limit of two large suitcases plus hand-luggage is quoted by Thello at www.thello.com.  Thello also quote a maximum total dimension (height + length + width) of 160cm, although this is largely irrelevant as (a) nobody will measure your bags unless you are obviously taking the Mickey, and (b) in any case there's free access to the train so you may not even see a member of Thello on-board staff between entering the station and entering in your compartment on board the train, so who's to stop you?  Unlike airlines, trains aren't strict about such things.

Bicycles:  Bikes can be carried only if they are semi-dismantled and placed in a special zip-up bike bag as ordinary luggage.  The 160cm maximum total dimension (height + length + width) then theoretically applies, and of course most adult bikes in typical 120cm x 90cm bike bags will exceed this, but reports suggest Thello staff don't worry about this and many people do indeed take bikes in bike bags on board Thello with them.

Dogs & pets:  Dogs, cats and other small animals weighing less than 5Kg are carried free if they are in a basket, cage or container no bigger than 50cm x 30cm x 25cm and as long as the other passengers sharing your compartment don't mind (if they do, staff will try to re-accommodate you, although it may be better to reserve a whole compartment).  Dogs weighing between 5Kg and 50Kg are carried for a 50 fee paid to the staff on board, but you must then have booked a whole compartment for you and those with you, you cannot share with other passengers.  They must be on a lead and muzzled when outside your compartment.  Pet passport, microchip and Rabies vaccination required.  For full details see the on board / pets section on www.thello.com.  Guide dogs are accepted free of charge.  Left luggage offices at stations in Paris & Italy.

Surfboards, skis:  Surfboards and skis aren't carried at all.


Watch the Thello video guide....


More Thello sleeping-car photos...

Thello sleeper complimentary toiletries   Thello sleeper corridor, showing cctv for safety   Thello sleeper compartment, corridor side

Complimentary toiletries pack in sleepers...

 

CCTV in sleeper corridor...

 

Sleeper, showing luggage space above the door.

More Thello couchette car photos...

Thello couchette compartment   Thello couchette compartment, corridor side   Thello couchette car corridor

6 or 4 berth couchette compartment...

 

Compartment, corridor side...

 

Couchette car corridor...

 

Buffet car food....

 

The Thello office in Paris...

Food in the Thello sleeper train's buffet car   Thello has a ticket office at Paris Gare de Lyon
Snack selection in the bar part of the restaurant car.  Or feel free to bring your own picnic and wine for the journey...   Thello has its own ticket office at Paris Gare de Lyon, located to the side of the station, off the main ticket hall.


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