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How to take the train in Paris in 6 steps

Discover the secrets of Paris’s train and railway network. Do you want to take the train? Here’s how to do it like the perfect Parisian.
There are 6 steps to taking the train in Paris. Make your stay in Paris easier by finding them out!

 
Good to know:
 
There are 7 train stations in Paris : the Gare d’Austerlitz, the Gare de Bercy, the Gare de l’Est, the Gare de Lyon, the Gare Montparnasse, the Gare du Nord and the Gare Saint Lazare.
The French national railway company, SNCF has been the French state-run rail service since 1937. The train is the most popular means of public transport, both in Paris and in France in general.
 
There are different types of train leaving from Parisian railway stations :

    • Long-distance trains ( called « Main Line trains » ) leave from Paris towards the whole of France (Intercity and High speed trains) and towards Europe (the ICE, Eurostar, Talgo and night trains, such as CityNightLine, Elipsos and Thello). For those trains, you need to buy a ticket in advance (on the SNCF website ).

     

    • Trains running between Paris and its suburbs are called Transiliens. A ticket bought at the ticket offices in the station will be valid for you to use those trains. For further information about the different travel tickets, don’t hesitate to read our article on how to use the metro in Paris.

     

    1- Buying your Mainline/Transiliens train tickets

    To buy a ticket, you need to use the ticket offices or use the automatic ticket machines (Transilien or Main Line). You should be aware that the greater the distance you are traveling, the more connections you will likely need to make to reach that final destination.
     

    2- Validating your train ticket

    Before boarding the train, don’t forget to validate your ticket at the automat (see picture).
    Make sure that you’re traveling in the right direction : follow the instructions that are usually given on the automat.
     

    3-Finding the line/platform for your train

    To fidn out which line/platform your train is on, check :

    • The train number written on your ticket (for Main Line trains)

     

    • Your destination and timetable of the train you want to take (for Transiliens)

     
    You will find your train’s platform on the departure board. Trains are generally announced 15-20 min before to departure.
     
    During rush hour (8-10am and 5-8pm), trains leave from Paris approximately every 5 min. Head to the platform displayed.
     
    How to take the train in Paris in 6 steps
     

    4- Finding the coach/carriage on your train

    For the Main Line trains, take a look at the number of your coach on your train ticket.
     
    To work out where your coach will be situated on the platform, take a look at the display panel on the front coach, which indicates the position of the coaches in relation to the « letters » (from A to Z) that you can see on the platform.
    If you are traveling on a Transilien (short distance), board as quickly as possible to find a seat !
     
    How to take the train in Paris in 6 steps1
     

    5- Sitting down on the train

    Enter your coach/carriage and look for your seat indicated on your ticket on long distance trains, otherwise sit wherever you like.
     

    6- Getting off at the right station

    Make sure you get off at your destination, or at the correct station if you’re changing trains.
     
     
    If this has inspired you to take the train, read our article about day trips around Paris!