InterCite de Nuit 1st class couchette, 4-berth

A cosy couchette with pillow, sleeping bag, bottled water, amenities kit, power outlet & free WiFi.

Buy tickets

www.sncf-connect.com* in €, no booking fee;

www.thetrainline.com* in €, £ or $, small fee;

www.raileurope.com in €, £ or $, small fee.

* Can also sell Espace_privatif

Overnight in a couchette from €29

It's time-effective option!  Sleep your way from Paris to Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Toulouse, Perpignan, Latour de Carol or Cerbère on the Spanish border from €29 with a bed for the night.  Formerly branded Lunéa, French domestic overnight trains are now Intercités de Nuit.

small bullet point  On what routes do they run?

small bullet point  What are the trains like?

small bullet point  Couchettes

small bullet point  Reclining seats

small bullet point  Sole occupancy of a compartment - Espace Privatif

small bullet point  Luggage, bikes, WiFi, showers

small bullet point  Food & drink, dinner before you board

small bullet point  Couchette berth numbering

small bullet point  Fares & tickets

small bullet point  Video guide

On what routes do they run?

Paris-Toulon-St Raphael-Cannes-Antibes-Nice

Paris-Toulouse-Latour de Carol with connection to Barcelona

Paris-Tarbes-Lourdes

Paris-Rodez

Paris-Briancon

Paris-Aurillac relaunched December 2023

Paris-Perpignan-Narbonne-Cerbère (daily in summer, Fri & Sun in winter, with connection to Barcelona)

Paris-Biarritz-Hendaye (for San Sebastian) only runs in July & August.

In Paris, all Intercités de Nuit use the Gare d'Austerlitz.

What are the trains like?

Intercités de Nuit have 1st class 4-berth couchettes, 2nd class 6-berth couchettes and reclining seats.  There are no sleepers, sleeping-cars with 1 & 2 bed compartments were withdrawn from all French domestic overnight trains in 2007, but you can book a 4-berth compartment for sole, dual or triple occupancy as explained here.  Below, the Intercité de Nuit to Briançon & Nice boarding at Paris AusterlitzWatch the video.

Intercite de nuit overnight train in Paris

1st class couchettes

1st class couchettes have 4 berths per compartment, two upper, two lower.  Each couchette is a flat padded bunk with a fresh clean pillow and a lightweight sleeping-bag (a great idea, replacing the traditional sheet & blanket).  Each passenger gets a bottle of mineral water, earplugs and an eye mask.  The 1st class couchette compartments are more spacious than 2nd class couchettes, not only because they have 4 berths instead of 6, they are slightly larger and have wider berths.

There are washrooms & toilets at the end of the corridor.  Compartment doors have a security deadlock which cannot be opened from outside even with a staff key, and staff are on duty if you need them.  Only passengers with tickets & reservations are allowed onto the platform, and there are minimal stops between 00:00 & 06:00 for a smooth & secure journey through the night.  A welcome feature is that the windows on these cars open.  See couchette numbering plan.

You can book sole occupancy of a whole 4-berth compartment for 1, 2 3 or 4 people, see the Espace Privatif sectionClick the images below for larger photos.

Intercite de Nuit 1st class 4-berth couchette   Intercite de Nuit 1st class couchette car corridor

1st class 4-berth couchettes.

 

1st class couchette car corridor.

Intercite de Nuit 1st class couchette made up for the night   Intercite de Nuit 1st class couchette, 4-berth

1st class couchette, set up for the night.

 

Note luggage space over door to corridor.

2nd class couchettes

2nd class couchettes have 6 bunks in each compartment, upper, middle & lower on each side.  Each couchette is a flat padded bunk with a fresh clean pillow and a lightweight sleeping-bag.  Each passenger gets a bottle of mineral water, earplugs and an eye mask.  There are washrooms & toilets at the end of the corridor.

Compartment doors have a security deadlock which cannot be opened from outside and staff are on duty if you need them.  Only passengers with tickets & reservations are allowed onto the platform and there are minimal stops between 00:00 & 06:00 for a smooth & secure journey through the night.  A welcome feature is that the windows on these cars open.  See couchette numbering plan.

You can book sole occupancy of a 6-berth compartment for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 people, see the Espace Privatif sectionClick the images below for larger photos.

Intercite de Nuit 2nd class 6-berth couchette   IntecCite de Nuit 2nd class couchette corridor

2nd class 6-berth couchettes.

 

2nd class couchette car corridor.

Intercite de Nuit 2nd class 6-berth couchette   Intercite de Nuit 2nd class couchette

2nd class couchettes, view towards corridor.

 

Cosy 2nd class couchette with water & amenities kit.

Reclining seats

Intercités de Nuit also have 2nd class reclining seats, but travelling overnight in a seat is not recommended except in emergency.  A couchette lets you sleep lying down in a safely-locked compartment, it's definitely worth the extra cost.  Click the image for larger photo.

Intercite de Nuit 2nd class seats
 

1. How the Private Compartment option appears on thetrainline.com:

Booking espace privatif in couchettes at Thetrainline.com

 

 

2. How the Espace Privatif option appears on sncf-connect.com

Espace privatif on en.oui.sncf

Private use of a whole couchette compartment

You can book sole occupancy of a whole 1st class 4-berth couchette compartment for 1, 2, or 3 people.  Or a whole or 2nd class 6-berth couchette compartment for 4 or 5 people.  There are two ways to do this:

Option 1, Espace Privatif

The Espace Privatif option doesn't always show up, but if it's available, you can book a whole 1st class 4-berth compartment or a whole 2nd class 6-berth compartment by paying the Espace Privatif fare.

How much does Espace Privatif cost?

For travel until 9 January 2024, to have sole occupancy of a whole couchette compartment:

If you're solo, you pay for the 1st class couchette fare for 1 person plus a €70 supplement.

If there's 2 of you, you pay for two 1st class couchette tickets plus one €50 supplement.

If there's 3 of you, you pay for three 1st class couchette tickets plus one €40 supplement.

If there's 4 of you, you pay for four 2nd class couchette tickets, plus one €45 supplement.

If there's 5 of you, you pay for five 2nd class couchette tickets, plus one €45 supplement.

For travel from 10 January 2024, to have sole occupancy of a whole couchette compartment:

You can book a whole 2nd class 6-berth couchette compartment for 1-6 people from €150.

You can book a whole 1st class 4-berth couchette compartment for 1-4 people from €180.

How to book Espace Privatif

You can book Espace Privatif at either www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, easy to use, in €, £ or $, small booking fee) or the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com (in €, no booking fee).

Using Thetrainline

For travel until 9 January 2024, go to www.thetrainline.com and run an enquiry with the correct number of passengers selected, find the overnight train, select a fare (1st class for a 4-berth or 2nd class for a 6-berth) and click through to buy it.  At the Seating and extras stage where it asks you to choose a top or bottom couchette, look for Extras and select Private compartment.  It only appears if it's available, see screenshot.

For travel from 10 January 2024, go to www.thetrainline.com and run an enquiry with the correct number of passengers selected.  Find the overnight train and select the 1st class fare for a 4-berth or 2nd class fare for a 6-berth.  Scroll down a bit and select Private compartment under Comfort options.

Using SNCF-Connect

For travel until 9 January 2024, go to www.sncf-connect.com and run an enquiry with the correct number of passengers selected.  Find the overnight train and select a fare (1st class for a 4-berth or 2nd class for a 6-berth).  Choose a fare for a couchette, the Seating selection panel opens which asks you to select an upper or lower berth.  At the bottom you will see the option for Espace Privatif (in French) or Private Space (in English) if it's available, see screenshotTip:  For peace of mind, double-check that this option has been selected before clicking Continue because in the following stages you'll get very little reassurance that you're booking sole occupancy (apart from the total price).  But you will indeed get sole occupancy if you selected that option!  After paying, your .pdf ticket will say Privatif.  If you don't see any Espace Privatif/Private Space option, the fall-back is option 2!

For travel from 10 January 2024, go to www.sncf-connect.com and run an enquiry with the correct number of passengers selected.  Find the overnight train and select the 1st class fare for a 4-berth or the 2nd class fare for a 6-berth).  When the fares panel opens, look for and select the fare marked Tarif Espace Privatif.  This gets you a whole couchette compartment for all the passengers you have selected when booking.

Option 2, buy extra tickets to fill a compartment

The fall-back option is to book 4 tickets in 1st class couchettes or 6 tickets in 2nd class couchettes to have sole occupancy for you and your companions.  Use phantom children as they're cheaper than adults.

Be sure to check the berth numbers you are offered, you see these before you pay.  Make sure that the first digit of all berth number is the same, for example 31, 32, 35, 36.  By default, all berths will be booked together in one compartment, but this might not be possible if the train is already pretty full and there's no point in booking random berths for phantom passengers in different random compartments!

Luggage, bikes, WiFi, showers...

Luggage

You take you bags into your compartment with you.  There's space under the bottom bunks, on the rack above the window and in the big recess above the compartment door which projects over the ceiling of the corridor.  Nobody worries about how big your bags are or how many you take, as long as you can handle it all yourself.

Bikes

Bicycles can be taken for a small charge on some routes, including Paris-Nice, Paris-Lourdes-Tarbes, Paris-Toulouse & Paris-Perpignan-Cerbère, but not Paris-Latour de Carol.  Bikes travel in dedicated bike spaces, but for some strange reason you can only book a bike space if you book a 2nd class couchette, not if you go 1st class.

WiFi & power outlets

The couchette cars now have free WiFi, and 3G/4G mobile data works fine across most of France.  Each couchette has its own power outlet (2-pin 230v) under the reading light.

Showers

There are no showers on board the train, just a toilet & washroom at the end of the corridor in each car.  However, if you're in a 1st class couchette, showers are available on arrival at Paris Gare d'Austerlitz:  There are 6 shower rooms (2 are wheelchair-accessible) in the Espace Services next to the toilets opposite platform 4.  1st class couchette passengers can use the showers for free, first come, first served.  There are no showers for 2nd class passsengers.

Women-only compartments

Men & women are mixed in couchettes as you don't normally fully undress, but women travelling alone can book a berth in a ladies-only compartment if they prefer, in either class.

Child safety rails

If you've children, ask the train staff for a child safety rail.

Bed length

I'm 6' 2" and the berths are long enough for me with room to spare. 

Food & drink

There's no catering car, you should have dinner before you board.  In the morning, you can buy a cup of coffee and a croissant from staff in a small staff compartment in one of the second class couchette cars, usually the one with the bike spaces.  You are of course free to bring your own food & drink with you, even a bottle of wine if you like!

It's possible to pre-order drinks & snacks for delivery to your couchette on some night train routes, but not all.  Go to restaurationabord.sncf-connect.com any time before 12:00 on departure day (please let me know if that link stops working), order what you want, enter your train number, car & berth number, enter your name & email, and pay.  It will turn up soon after departure.  Feedback appreciated.

Dinner before leaving Paris?

At the Gare d'Austerlitz, consider dining at the Off Paris Seine (offparisseine.com), a floating restaurant on the river Seine next to the station.  Open 7 days a week, reservation is recommended for dinner, you can reserve a table online at offparisseine.com.

The nearby unpretentious Brasserie L'Eclipse might be worth a try.  Feedback appreciated.

Alternatively, for something special, have dinner at the famous Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon.  After dinner, it's a 10 minute stroll across the Seine from the Gare de Lyon to the Gare d'Austerlitz.

Couchette berth numbering plan

In 1st class 4-berth couchettes, only the lower and top berth numbers are used, for example 11, 12, 15, 16.

Couchette berth numbering plan

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

Washroon on French overnight train   Security lock on French couchette compartment   Normal lock on French couchette compartment

Washroom.

 

Security deadbolt.

 

Normal door lock.

Bike space on French overnight train   Amenities kit on French overnight train

Some trains have space for 4 bikes, a small fee is charged, see the bikes by train page.

 

Amenities kit:  Tissue, mint, ear plugs, eye mask, refreshment wipe.

Intercite de Nuit at Paris Austerlitz

Intercité de Nuit at Paris Austerlitz.

bullet pointWatch the video


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