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.trainline.eu (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 Trainline.eu, so compare prices before before buying. Choice of seating & no fees at Trainline.eu, too.

Booking usually opens 92 days ahead...

A guide to travel by 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-Rhin-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.  From 2017 you'll progressively see French domestic TGVs marketed under the new brand name, inOui, which means unheard of...

  Fares & tickets

  Seating, luggage, WiFi, power sockets, food & drink...

  TGV travel tips

  Photo guide to single-deck TGVs & video guide

  Photo guide to double-deck TGV Duplex & video guide

  Example TGV cafe-bar menu

Fares & tickets on TGVs...

TGV 1st class seats...

TGV 2nd class seats...

  Ticket validation machine at a French station
 

Compostez votre billet!  Before boarding your train, don't forget to validate your ticket in one of these yellow compostez validation machines near the entrance to each platform.

Luggage, food & drink, WiFi, smoking, wheelchairs, baby-changing...

TGV travel tips...


Single-deck TGVs...

Most TGVs have been refurbished with interiors by designer Christian Lacroix, including all single-deck TGVs on the TGV-Est route from Paris Est to Reims, Strasbourg, Metz, Luxembourg & all TGVs on the TGV-Atlantique route from Paris Montparnasse to Tours, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lourdes, Rennes.  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

Video guide:  On board a TGV with Christian Lacroix interior

The latest TGV colour scheme & interior...

Another TGV refurbishment is in progress, so you'll see interiors like this starting to appear along with a new grey, silver & red TGV livery...

TGV 1st class seats, latest interior... TGV car in latest livery

TGV 1st class latest interior colour scheme.

TGV 2nd class, latest interior colour scheme.

TGV in latest livery TGV 2nd class seats, latest interior...

TGV 1st class latest interior colour scheme.

TGV 2nd class, latest interior colour scheme.

Older interiors...

There are still some unrefurbished TGVs knocking about, and these 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 4 face-to-face seats, ask when booking.


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

On what routes do they operate?  These impressive 186mph double-deck high-speed trains now operate most Paris-Cannes-Nice trains, most Paris-Lyon trains, many Paris-Bordeaux-Biarritz-Hendaye/Lourdes trains, many Paris-Avignon-Marseille trains and even a few Lille-Lyon-Avignon Marseille trains.  They also operate some or all services from Paris to Basel, Zurich, Geneva, Stuttgart, Munich & Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Marseille.  SNCF is no longer buying single-deck TGVs, all future TGV construction will be Duplex.

On board the train...  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.

Upper or lower deck?  When reserving, you can usually choose a seat on either upper or lower decks if you buy online at www.loco2.com or www.trainline.eu or book by phone, although you're not given a choice of deck if you buy tickets at some other sites or on the route to Barcelona.  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.trainline.eu (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!

TGV Duplex with new Océane interior...

At present you are most likely to travel in a 2nd or 3rd generation Duplex with the interior shown in the following section, but 3rd generation trains with the new TGV Océane interior are beginning to enter service in 2017, initially on the TGV Atlantique route from Paris Montparnasse towards Brittany, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Lourdes & the Spanish border at Hendaye & Irun.  Externally they are identical to previous generations of TGV Duplex, but they carry the latest grey, silver & red TGV colour scheme and feature an all-new fully-redesigned interior, which may be retrofitted to earlier TGVs in due course.  You'll probably find free WiFi on an Océane - WiFi is being fitted to all TGVs (slowly) but the Océanes are likely to have it first.  All seats in both classes have power sockets (1st class seats also have USB ports).  A major innovation on the new Océane trains, most 1st class seats rotate to face direction of travel, or to create a face to face bay of 2 or 4 seats if you like.  To rotate the seats, press the small pedal on the aisle side of the seat plinth, under the seat.

TGV Duplex Oceane arrived at Bordeaux   TGV Duplex Oceane at Bordeaux

A TGV Duplex Océane from Paris arrived at Bordeaux St Jean.  These TGV Duplex carry the latest grey, silver and red TGV colours and have an all-new interior.

TGV Océane cafe-bar   TGV Océane 2nd class seats

TGV Océane cafe-bar, upper deck car 4 (or 14)

 

TGV Océane 2nd class seats...

TGV Océane 1st class seats   TGV Océane 1st class seat   TGV Océane 1st class drop-down table

TGV Océane 1st class seats.  An innovation on TGV Océane, all 1st class seats (except the very end ones) rotate to face the direction of travel, or can be rotated to make a face-to-face group of 2 or 4 seats.  The drop-down tables open to reveal USB and 2-pin power sockets.

Second & third-generation Duplex...

TGV Duplex trainsets of the 2nd & 3rd 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.  Many are still painted blue & silver, but they are progressively being repainted in the latest grey, silver & red TGV colours.

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 hall to upper deck. Just 9 wide shallow steps 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 1st class seats, but usually not in 2nd class on these first-generation trains.  The first-generation trains are not equipped to run on international routes.

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.

Video guide:  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 Autumn 2017.

Click the image to enlarge.

Typical TGV bar menu


Sponsored links...

 


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