Your year abroad is to work or study but also to discover France and maybe, some European countries. You will have to be acquainted with French trains if you want to travel. So here are some tips to have nice trips in France with a small budget !
How does it work?
France has only one train network which is the SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer). There are two main types of train: TGV (Trains à Grande Vitesse) and TER (Train Express Régionaux). The latter is mainly for little journeys as they are slower than TGVs which are more adapted to long-distance destination. However, for TERs, you don’t have to buy your ticket in advance because there are no assigned seats. At contrary to TGVs where you can even choose to be next to a window or next to a place if you’re travelling with friends and want to be next to them !
You can buy your tickets directly at train stations or on the SNCF website. Keep in mind that the earlier you take your tickets, the cheaper they’ll be (even if sometimes, SNCF makes reduction for last-minute journeys) ! It is hard to give you a range of price because depending on the desired period, the frequency of the train, and other criteria, a ticket can cost you from almost nothing to 150€ and even more sometimes.
If you really have a small budget, you can take a Ouigo. This a new SNCF service and it offers tickets that can cost 10€ only! However, they only link big cities like Paris, Lyon or Marseille, and deposits, most of the time, in station farest from the downtown.
What about the trains?
Most of French trains are built on the same model : they have two floors and they make a distinction between 1st class and 2nd class. There is no big difference between the two. the color of seats is different and you have a little more space in 1st class, in addition to powerpoints and lamps. There is usually a café-bar in every TGV where you can buy drinks or food that you can either consume there or take back to your seat. There are some trains that only travel at night: they have bunks so you can sleep during the whole journey!
If you have bought your ticket on the SNCF website, you can print it. If you have a smartphone, you can download the SNCF app, buy a ticket with it and you will have it directly on your phone. If you have the paper version, don’t forget to validate your ticket, otherwise you may get a fine !
You do not have a limited number of luggage but be careful, because the spaces dedicated to suitcases are usually small and therefore, there is not always enough room for everybody’s luggage. Don’t forget to cast a glance at them ! We never know !
If you are worried about not knowing when you have to get out of the train because of your French skills, you can relax because most of TGVs are making their announcement in French and in English!
If you are still looking for a flatshare, Chez Nestor is the specialist in furnished and equipped flatshares! You will find it in five major French cities: Lyon, Paris, Lille, Montpellier, and Toulouse.