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Paris by train from Europe: how to plan your trip

by Paola Bertoni
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I have often been to the French capital for tourism and business, and over time, I have learned how to travel by train in Paris on a budget. Although it can be reached by any means, the best way to visit Paris from many European cities is definitely by train, and in this article, you can find out how to find train tickets at discounted rates.

How to get to Paris: train, plane or car

You can get to the French capital by any means, but after trying them all, I can confirm that my favourite is the train. Driving in Paris traffic is a terrible experience. Just think that mopeds overtake you from all sides in the roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe. Plus parking spaces and garages where you can leave your car are expensive.

Save money in Paris with the Paris City Card or the Paris Museum and Experiences Pass. Get free entry to major museums, climb the Eiffel Tower, and enjoy a Seine cruise and tourist bus.
To stay connected in France, remember to buy an Airalo eSim online, with data and phone coverage for your trip to Paris.

As for the plane, it is not always the best solution. Although it is a shorter journey than the train, travel time is longer because you must arrive at the airport at least an hour and a half earlier for baggage and document control. Moreover, most low-cost airlines land at Orly, much further away and worse connected to Paris than Charles de Gaulle airport.

Travelling by train from nearby European cities like Bruxelles, Milan, Luxembourg City, or even London can be slightly longer than taking a plane. Still, it offers the advantage of arriving directly in the city centre. The train may be more advantageous in terms of both time and cost. Moreover, booking in advance can help you avail of very affordable high-speed train fares, which are comparable to the price of a low-cost plane ticket.

Paris by train: TGV, Frecciarossa, night trains

Several trains, such as the French TGV or Italian Frecciarossa, connect Paris to European cities. Whether for tourism or business, high-speed trains offer greater convenience than flying. The overall travel time, including check-in and disembarkation, is practically the same, and you save on costs and travel time from the airport to the city centre.

Night trains were also an excellent option for leisure travel, although they are unfortunately no longer available from some places, like northern Italy, where I live now. Despite the higher ticket cost, they allowed me to save on two nights in a hotel and arrive in Paris in the morning, ready to explore museums and attractions.

Interior of the Paris Gare de Lyon train station
Interior of the Paris Gare de Lyon train station

How much a train ticket to Paris costs

Discovering Paris by train is an exciting adventure, and you might be wondering about the cost of a train ticket. Ticket prices to Paris can vary based on factors like the time of booking, class preferences, and availability.

To get the most accurate and up-to-date information, consider checking with the relevant train service provider or utilising online platforms that facilitate ticket booking for your specific travel route. This way, you can plan your journey efficiently and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience exploring the City of Light.

A train trip to Paris can be very cheap. If you find the right offer, you can travel to Paris on a high-speed train for only around €30. To spend so little, you must book in advance because tickets with the promotional fare run out quickly.

For example, for the trip to Paris with my son, I bought Frecciarossa tickets more than three months in advance, in December, to travel in March. The discounted tickets sell out almost immediately as they are cheap, and the only way to save is to buy them as soon as they become available. In the box below, you can search for the best travel deals.

How to save on train tickets to Paris

In general, consider that the cost of a train ticket to Paris depends on various factors:

  • Class of travel: first or second-class prices can be very different
  • Travel period: in high season, such as Christmas or long weekends, prices are generally higher than in low season
  • Passenger age: specific categories of passengers can benefit from discounted fares, such as people over 60, children or teenagers.

Buying tickets with promotional fares in advance is the best way to spend little. Apart from the Christmas holidays, some discounted tickets are always offered. The trick to travelling with discounted fares is buying tickets as soon as they become available because they run out quickly.

Where to book cheap train tickets for Paris

Instead of looking for tickets on your national railway’s websites, check prices on sites that allow you to compare the prices of different rail companies. Sometimes, TGVs can be cheaper than Frecciarossa trains, or vice versa.

For a small purchase fee on the site, you can find the ticket at the best price, and in the total cost of the trip, you can save a lot. The train booking sites that I do well with are:

Where to stay in Paris

Sleeping in Paris can be expensive, prompting you to consider staying outside the city centre. In such a case, before selecting a hotel, I suggest you read my article on the best and worst neighbourhoods to stay in Paris.

I’ve visited Paris on several occasions for leisure and work, and I recommend a few places I’m familiar with. If you’re looking for a unique stay, Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte, built inside a 17th-century convent and located in the Marais district, is an excellent choice.

To save money, opt for the more affordable Hotel Bloum, situated close to the Opera and decorated with customised furnishings. Alternatively, the Aparthotel Adagio Paris Montmartre offers contemporary, self-catering apartments, perfect for families looking for more space in their rooms.

Now that you know all about trains to Paris, all you have to do is make your reservations and start imagining your fantastic stay in the French capital. Comment if you have already travelled, or at least considered, to Paris by train.

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