Traveling in France

By | October 6, 2021

Airplane: all major cities in France have their own airport. Air France operates most of the domestic flight and offers flights between Paris and Marseille and between Nice and Toulouse. The biggest competitor for domestic air traffic is the TGV, which sometimes offers faster connections, for example between Paris and Marseille or Lyon. Information and tickets for domestic flights are available in French travel agencies and in Air France offices and on the company’s website.

Ship: if you want to travel to France by boat, you can do so on a trip along the numerous navigable canals and rivers. Most boats that are available for hire offer four to twelvePassengersSpace and are equipped with sleeping and cooking facilities. Anyone over 18 can steer a boat. A special driver’s license is not necessary. The prices vary depending on the rental period and the size of the boat.

Rail: France’s rail network reaches almost every part of the country. Towns and villages that are not connected to the train and bus network of the French national railway SNCF are served by the bus routes of the respective department.

France’s most important railway lines radiate out from Paris across the whole country. Apart from these routes, the rail connections are rarer. French trains are divided into first and second class wagons. There are sleeping and couchette cars on night trains.

The fares for travel by train vary depending on the time of day, day of the week and seasons. Traveling by train is more expensive during rush hour and holiday periods. There are regular discounts that can be requested. Tickets are available in the SNCF offices, on the State Railways website or at ticket machines. In large train stations there are often separate counters for international connections, long-haul lines (Grandes Lignes), suburban lines (Banlieue), advance sales (Achat à Lavance) and for the sale of goods for journeys on the same day (Départ du Jour). Before boarding the train, tickets must be validated at a composteur, a yellow-marked station on the platform.

Since it was put into operation in the 1980s, the TGV – the Train à Grande Vitesse – the great pride of the SNCF. The high-speed train travels at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour. There are special TGV routes. The TGV Sud-Ouest Atlantique and the TGV Atlantique Ouest connect Paris with western and southwestern France, including Brittany. Stops are Rennes, Quimper, Brest, Nantes, Tours, Poitiers, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Biarritz and Toulouse.

The TGV Est connects Paris with Strasbourg and then with Germany, Austria and Eastern European countries. TGV Nord, Thalys and Eurostar connect Paris with, among others, Brussels, Amsterdam and London. TGV Sud-Est and TGV Méditerranée run from Paris to south-east France. Stops are among others Dijon, Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Nice and Montpellier. The various TGV lines are also interconnected, making traveling to different regions easier.

Trains that are not TGV are also known as Corail, Classique or TER (Train Express Regional.

Car: if you travel to France with your own car or motorcycle, you will have a lot of fun thanks to good roads and breathtaking landscapes, but you have to set on increased costs. This applies not only to fuel costs for example, tolls and high fees.
France has with Belgium has the densest motorway network in Europe. There are four types of intercity roads: Autoroutes (toll highways such as the A14), Routes Nationales (N, RN), Routes Départementales (D) and Routes Communales (C, V). A speed limit of 50 km / h applies within built-up areas. A speed limit of 90 applies on roads marked with N and D, and 80 km / h in the rain. Depending on the section, the speed limit is 130 or 110 km / h on motorways and 100 or 60 km / h in rain and ice. During holidays and long weekends, travelers across France can expect congested roads.
If you travel to France with your own vehicle, you should provide it with the appropriate country code. Drivers need a valid driver’s license, ID card or passport, vehicle registration document and proof of liability insurance.
Gasoline is expensive; the highest prices are paid by drivers along the motorways. Gasoline is cheapest at supermarkets. Many small gas stations close on Sunday afternoons.

Anyone wanting to rent a car in France must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver’s license and an internationally valid credit card. Those who rent a flight and rental car package often pay significantly less.
Major car rental companies based in France include ADA, Avis, Budget, Easycar, Europcar, Hertz, OTU Voyages and Sixt.
Drivers should note that some ferries, for example to Corsica, do not transport rental cars for insurance reasons. All rental cars are specially marked with a number on the license plate and are therefore easily recognizable for thieves. Therefore, when leaving, no valuables should be left in the car, not even in the trunk.

When entering France, liability insurance is compulsory for all cars, regardless of whether you are the owner. An international insurance card is used as proof. Liability insurance is included in the rental car package; However, users should compare the amount of their own contribution in the event of an accident before signing a contract.

Bus: if you want to travel to different regions in France by public transport, you should rather take the train, as national bus routes are limited. For short trips, however, buses are often deployed and used. They are also placed in rural regions that are only equipped with a few railway lines, for example in Brittany and Normandy, an important means of public transport. In recent years, the French State Railways (SNCF) have also closed some unprofitable routes and replaced them with SNCF buses.

Local transport: France’s cities usually have excellent local transport systems. In larger cities like Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille and Toulouse there are underground trains (Metro). There are modern trams in Paris, Grenoble, Nantes, Lille, Strasbourg, Lyon, Nancy and Bordeaux. Detailed information and timetables are available from the local tourist offices and local bus companies.

Taxi: Taxi ranks can be found at all large and medium-sized train stations as well as at many smaller ones. There are four types of tariff, each set by the local prefecture.
Taxi rides are more expensive at night as well as on Sundays and public holidays. Trips less than 20 kilometers will be charged according to time. There may be an additional baggage charge for trips to and from the airport or train station.

Bicycle: France’s roads usually offer good conditions for cyclists. The network of special cycle routes is continuously being expanded, especially in cities. There is a bike rental service in many cities. In the dark, the wheels must be equipped with a white light from and a red light at the rear as well as reflectors on the pedals.
Bicycles are not allowed on most buses and trams. Transport in trains is possible, in some cases free of charge. Corresponding pictograms on the train timetables provide information about this. The SNCF offers a special luggage service (Sernam) for bicycles.

Traveling in France