Intercite de nuit couchette

A comfortable couchette...

Buy tickets online... (anyone).* (anyone)

* Can also sell sole or dual occupancy

Overnight in a couchette from €35...

It's the most time-effective way to travel.  Sleep your way from Paris to Toulouse, Perpignan, Latour de Carol, or Portbou on the Spanish border from €35.  Formerly branded Lunéa, French overnight trains are now Intercités de Nuit.  It can help to know that reservations for these trains regularly open late for booking, as SNCF are not good at maintaining the usual 90 day booking horizon for these trains.

On what routes do they run?

The French government sadly withdrew funding for all intercités de nuit in 2016, and at present the only domestic French night trains left running are:

Paris-Toulouse-Latour de Carol (with connection to Barcelona)



Paris-Perpignan-Narbonne-Portbou (daily in summer, Fri & Sun in winter)

These will continue to be funded as socially necessary for the regions they serve.  The Paris-Nice intercité de nuit (once the famous Train Bleu) was discontinued on 9 December 2017, but good news, President Macron has committed to the return of the Paris-Nice & Paris-Lourdes-Tarbes sleeper trains from 2022.

What are the trains like?  Watch the video

French Intercités de Nuit overnight trains 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  There are no sleepers, sleeping-cars with 1 & 2 bed compartments were withdrawn from all French domestic overnight trains in December 2007.  But if you want privacy you can book a whole couchette compartment for exclusive private use, see the Espace Privatif section.

1st & 2nd class couchettes...

Couchettes are simple flat padded bunks each provided with a fresh clean pillow, individual reading light and special lightweight sleeping-bag - a great idea, replacing the traditional sheet & blanket.  Each passenger gets a bottle of mineral water, earplugs (if you really need them) & tissues.  French couchette cars have been modernised with quiet carpeted interiors & soft fabric bunks.  Only bona fide passengers with tickets & reservations are allowed onto the platform, and there are minimal stops between 00:00 & 06:00 for a smooth, safe & secure journey through the night. 

1st class couchettes have 4 berths per compartment, upper and lower on each side of the compartment.  They feel much more spacious than 2nd class couchettes, as there are only 4 people not 6 in a slightly larger compartment.  Great for families or a group of friends.  If you want sole or dual occupancy of a whole compartment, see espace privatif belowCouchette numbering plan.

2nd class couchettes have 6 bunks in each compartment, upper, middle & lower on each side of the compartment.  Obviously, if you have any mobility problems ask for a lower berth, but the cosy top bunks up in the roof space give you more privacy and are my personal preference.  Having said that, although cars are air-conditioned with adjustable temperature control, bottom & middle bunks can be cooler than top bunks on a hot summer night.  Couchette berth numbering plan.  You can book a whole compartment for just 4 or 5 of you if you like, see espace privatif below.

In both classes:  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 like.  If you've children, you can ask the train staff for a child safety rail for their bunk.  Compartment doors have a security lock which cannot be opened from outside even with a staff key, and staff are on duty if you need them.  There are washrooms & toilets at the end of the corridor.

InterCite de Nuit train at Paris Austerlitz   Refurbished French 2nd class 6-berth couchettes   Refurbished French 1st class 4-berth couchettes

A couchette car on the Paris to Latour night train, at Paris Gare d'Austerlitz...


2nd class 6-berth couchettes showing sleeping bags...


1st class 4-berth couchettes with sleeping bags provided...

Reclining seats...

Intercités de Nuit also have 2nd class reclining seats, and you'll also find overnight TGV trains on some routes with non-reclining seats.  However, a couchette allows you to sleep properly lying down in a securely locked compartment, so is the recommended option and definitely worth the extra cost.  Travelling overnight in a seat is not recommended except in emergency.


Booking espace privatif in couchettes at

At you can book a whole 4-berth couchette compartment for private use...

Espace privatif:  Private use of a whole compartment...

If you want privacy, you can reserve a whole couchette compartment for your own exclusive private use.  Naturally, if you booked 4 tickets in 1st class 4-berth or 6 tickets in 2nd class 6-berth you'd get a whole compartment automatically with no need to pay any extra fee, but 1, 2 or 3 people can reserve a whole 1st class 4-berth compartment and 4, 5 or 6 people can reserve a whole 2nd class 6-berth compartment simply by paying an Espace Privatif supplement.  Note that you may or may not be offered this option on your chosen date & train.

How much does Espace Privatif cost?  If you're travelling solo, you pay whatever the cheapest 1st class couchette fare happens to be, plus a fixed supplement of €70 to get the whole 4-berth compartment to yourself.  If there's 2 of you, you each pay the cheapest available 1st class couchette fare, plus one fixed supplement of €50 to get the whole compartment to yourselves.  If there's 3 of you, you pay the 1st class couchette fare plus a €40 supplement.  Similarly, 4 or 5 people can have private use of a 2nd class 6-berth couchette compartment by each paying whatever the cheapest 2nd class couchette fare happens to be, plus a fixed-price supplement of €45.

How to book Espace Privatif online:  Go to and run an enquiry, select a first class fare for the overnight train you want.  Then select Private compartment, assuming if that option shows up.  If that option doesn't appear, then Espace Privatif is unavailable on that date & train - although you can always just book all the berths in a compartment, of course.  You print your own ticket or collect it at the station.

The Espace Privatif arrangement can also be booked online at French Railways' own site, although it's much easier at to use  However, it cannot be booked online at  It can also be booked by phone direct with SNCF in France on 00 33 970 60 99 70, lines also open evenings and weekends.

Luggage, bikes, food & drink...

You take your luggage into the compartment with you.  There's space for bags under the bottom bunks, on the rack above the window, and in the big recess over the compartment door projecting over the ceiling of the corridor.  Bikes can be taken for a small charge on some routes, these travel in a voiture service in the centre of the train, which also houses the train manager's office.  There's no cafe or bar car, so bring your own drinks & snacks (and perhaps a bottle of wine!) onto the train with you.

Evening meal before leaving Paris?

I'm not a fan of eateries at the Gare d'Austerlitz, but when heading south, why not catch an earlier Eurostar and have dinner at the famous Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon?  You can walk across the Seine from the Gare de Lyon to the neighbouring Gare d'Austerlitz after dinner in 5-10 minutes.

Couchette berth numbering plan

In 1st class 4-berth couchettes, only the lower and top berth numbers are used.

Couchette berth numbering plan

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

New colours for French intercite de nuit trains   Sleeping bag on an intercite de nuit couchette train

With the replacement of the Lunéa brand with the new Intercité de Nuit brand, yet another colour scheme has now appeared...


Each couchette has a lightweight sleeping-bag, mineral water & pack with tissue, wipe, ear plugs & (in 1st class) travel socks.

Couchette car corridor   Washroom in French couchette car   Vending machines on Intercite de Nuit overnight trains

The quiet, carpeted couchette car corridor...


Washrooms & toilets are at the end of the corridor...


The vending machines in the voiture services may now be out of service.

Bike space on French overnight trains   Reclining seats on an Intercite de Nuit French overnight train

The voiture services (on some trains) has space for several bikes, a small charge is made, see the bikes by train page.


Reclining seats on an Intercité de Nuit.  Sitting up all night in a seat is a false economy - always book a couchette.

bullet pointWatch the video...

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