Madrid & Barcelona to Perpignan, Avignon, Marseille, Lyon from €29

Until December 2022, high-speed trains from Spain into France were run as a joint venture by Renfe (Spanish Railways) and SNCF (French Railways).  SNCF supplied TGV Duplex trains for Paris-Barcelona, Renfe supplied type S100 AVE trains for the daily Barcelona to Lyon and Madrid/Barcelona to Marseille trains.

In 2022 SNCF unilaterally ended their 9-year co-operation with Renfe and continued running the Paris-Barcelona TGVs on their own.  Renfe were unable to operate into France without SNCF's help, so the Barcelona-Lyon and Madrid-Barcelona-Avignon-Marseille AVE trains were discontinued in December 2022.

However, Renfe now has an operating licence for France and they reintroduced these AVE routes in July 2023.  Renfe and SNCF are now competitors, so these AVEs won't show up on SNCF's website.  AVEs & TGVs both show up on websites which connect to both SNCF & Renfe such as and

AVE is the Spanish Railways brand name for its high-speed trains, of which there are various types.  It stands for Alta Velocidad Española (Spanish High-Speed) and it's also the Spanish for bird.  The S100 AVEs were originally used on the Madrid-Seville high-speed route in the 1990s, a number of them were refurbished & equipped with the French signalling system for use on services into France.  They are spacious, smooth and comfortable, a pleasure to travel on.

small bullet point  Train times

small bullet point  What are the trains like?

small bullet point  Travel tips:  Luggage, WiFi, food & drink...

small bullet point  How to check train times, fares & tickets

small bullet point  Route map

small bullet point  Scenery & sights

Train times 2024

 Lyon / Marseille ► Barcelona 


 Barcelona ► Lyon / Marseille 

Runs all year:



Runs all year:



 Marseille St Charles depart:



 Madrid Atocha depart:



 Aix en Provence TGV:



 Zaragoza depart:



 Avignon TGV depart:



 Barcelona Sants depart:



 Lyon Part Dieu depart:



 Girona depart:



 Nimes Centre depart:



 Figueres Vilafant depart:



 Montpelier St Roche depart:



 Perpignan arrive:



 Narbonne depart:



 Narbonne arrive:



 Perpignan depart:



 Montpelier St Roche arrive:



 Figueres Vilafant arrive:



 Nimes Centre arrive:



 Girona arrive:



 Lyon Part Dieu arrive:



 Barcelona Sants arrive:



 Avignon TGV arrive:



 Zaragoza Delicias arrive:



 Aix en Provence TGV arrive:



 Madrid Atocha arrive:



 Marseille St Charles arrive:



What are the trains like?

AVE-S100 trains have 1st & 2nd class seats (called estandar and confort by Renfe) & a cafe-bar.  The train is air-conditioned with power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  It can run at up to 300 km/h (186 mph) on high-speed lines, which are built to standard gauge even in Spain, where classic lines are of Iberian gauge.

AVE S100 at Madrid Atocha

An AVE S100 at Madrid Atocha.

1st class seats on the Barcelona to Lyon AVE train   The cafe-bar on an S100 AVE

1st class seats.  Larger photo.


Cafe-bar.  Larger photo.

Luggage racks on an AVE S100   2nd class seats on an AVE S100

Luggage racks


2nd class.  Larger photo.

AVE S100 boarding at Seville

An S100 AVE, seen at Seville.

Travel tips

Times, fares & tickets

Route map

Barcelona to Toulouse, Lyon, Avignon, Marseille train route map


Click for larger map

Highlighted = High-speed trains from Barcelona.

Red = high-speed lines Black = conventional lines. 

Green = scenic routes.

Reproduced from the excellent European Rail Map with kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people.

I recommend buying a copy of the European Rail Map for your travels, with shipping worldwide.

Scenery & sights

These trains pass some great scenery.  I describe the Barcelona-Lyon & Barcelona-Avignon-Marseille routes below as if you're travelling east from Barcelona to France, but you see the same sights in either direction.  Obviously when I say something is on the left hand side, it'll be on the right hand side when going west.

X-ray baggage check at access to platforms 1-6, Barcelona Sants   Barcelona Sants

1.  Barcelona Sants is a modern station in central Barcelona with plenty of taxis and a metro to other parts of the city.  There are left luggage lockers (consigna).  More about Barcelona Sants.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

2.  Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees.  One of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline on the left hand side all the way from Girona to Perpignan, see

Fort de Salses, seen from the train   2nd class seats on the AVE from Barcelona to Lyon

3. The Fort de Salses.  Just after Perpignan, the train passes by the impressive Fort de Salses on the left, a 15th-century Catalan fortress captured in 1642 and French-held ever since, see

Watch for flamingos on the etangs in the Midi!

4.  Étangs & flamingos.  The AVEs to Avignon, Marseille & Lyon continue towards Montpellier.  on this section the train passes numerous étangs (lakes), where flocks of flamingos stand one-legged in the shallows.

5.  The Mediterranean coast.  Between Perpignan & Montpellier the train skirts the glistening Mediterranean coastline with deserted beaches & marshland.

Countless vineyards!

6.  Vineyards.  The train passes countless vineyards.  Glass o' red from the bar car, anyone?

Lunch from the cafe-bar on the train to Barcelona   The hilltop cathedral at Beziers

7.  Béziers.  After Nîmes the trains pass through Béziers.  As the train crosses the River Orb just west of the station, look left for a great view of Béziers' 13th century cathedral (yes, the photo above was taken from the train, these all were!).

The view from the train as it crosses the Rhone at Avignon

8.  If you're on the AVE from Barcelona to Avignon & Marseille.  Beyond Nîmes the AVE from Barcelona to Avignon & Marseille turns southeast.  The train crosses the River Rhône just before arriving at Avignon TGV, you can see Avignon's Palais des Papes in the distance on the left (pictured above) - although if you can see anyone dancing Sur le Pont d'Avignon, you have better eyesight than me.

Crossing the Rhone with views of the Chateau de Montfaucon

9.  If you're on the AVE from Barcelona to Lyon:  Beyond Nîmes the AVE from Barcelona to Lyon veers north and crosses the broad River Rhone (pictured above) with a great view of the wine-producing Chateau de Montfaucon on the left,

AVE from Barcelona, arrived at Lyon Part Dieu

10.  Lyon.  This is the morning AVE from Barcelona, arrived at Lyon Part Dieu.

Watch the video:  Click here

The video shows a journey from Barcelona to Paris on a French TGV Duplex, but the AVEs from Barcelona to French regional cities take exactly the same route past exactly the same scenery as far as Montpellier if going to Avignon or Marseille, and all the way to just south of Lyon if going to Lyon.

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