Prepare to spend time researching your travel options. Since the train system in France is so expansive, you may find that certain trains will take you through various towns and villages within France, on your way to a destination, while other trains may be a more direct route. Your travel plans will depend on your preferences, so be prepared to spend some time deciding which trains to take.
Go to the Rail Europe website. (See Resources.) Once you are on the website, choose France as your destination and select your destination cities. The website will provide you a list of options.
If you do not have Internet access, then call Rail Europe at 1-800-622-8600. A live customer service agent is available every day during normal business hours and for extended hours on weekdays. They will be able to provide the same schedule information to you over the phone. To call from Canada, dial 1-800-361-7245. From Mexico, call 011-800-726-1936.
Determine whether you will be taking French National Railways (SNCF) or Rail Europe. SNCF is a division of Rail Europe and both trains systems offer local travel through France. Rail Europe also offers travel between France and other European countries. Plan out several different versions of your trip. If you are going round-trip, look for alternative times and dates to travel just in case trains are delayed or your travel plans change. The type of train you take will largely depend on your trip preferences.
Decide if the train schedules you are checking will require a reservation. If you are traveling through France via SNCF, you will need to purchase a seat reservation. This only applies if you choose to purchase a rail pass rather than a ticket. Seat reservations are required in France.
Print out copies of the train schedules and your planned itinerary whenever possible. If you are collecting information by phone, or if printing is not an option for you, then write down information about the location, time and duration of each train.
Tips and Warnings