How to travel by train in France

For those that don’t know much about how it goes to travel by train in France, then this article comes just in time! 😀 This is about the travel by train in France, things to know !

I know that the train rules vary depending on the countries you travel too, I myself experienced difficulties while my travels abroad… Therefore, it’s always best to know the basics before starting your adventure in France! I gathered here for you the big points to know and be sure to not find yourself into difficult situations 😉


All you need to know


I will first do a quick presentation about our French railway firm: SNCF. It was created in 1937, and since then has become the most important train firm in France! It offers different kind of trains and services, and I’ll explain all the main details for you to know in the following texts. SNCF has a bad reputation of being late… So do not be surprised if your train is delayed!! But I don’t mean it’s a habit to take! Be sure to be on time for the departure of your train.


1rst Point: TGV and TER

tgv france
Alright! I don’t know about your country, but here in France we have 2 types of trains.

First, the TGV, abbreviation from Fast Train (goes to 320km/h), would be the most common I would say, to make long distance trips!

And then there’s TER, which means Regional Express Transportation. So, for this train which is usually way cheaper than TGV, you’ll use it for shorter distances, and there’s tiny little differences. (first, the speed!). These points, I’ll mention them in the next point!


2nd point: The specific rules, and what to do


– Validate your ticket:

  • First of all, know that before boarding into any kind of train, you need to validate your ticket! (TGV: long tickets; or TER: square little ones “composter un ticket)). There’s always a yellow electrical plot in the railway stations… Usually they are placed at the shop areas, or close by the office 😉 .
  • Keep in mind that once you have validated your ticket, you won’t be able to exchange it or get refunded!!
  • Also, if you don’t compost it before boarding the train, you may find yourself with a fine… But luckily, usually there’s an announcement to warn you and offer you to find the train’s controller as soon as you can, he will compost the ticket inside the train for you!


Third point: Watch on the display screen

  • The next point is about the display screen… One thing to know is that if your stop is a small one, it won’t show on the screen… For the Departure screen, it will present the last stop of your train! And for the Arrival one, it will show the first stop (from where it comes from) …
  • If you’re not sure about the train, you can check the time of your train and compare it with the screen’s schedule, then you’ll need to look at the number of your train on your ticket, and see if it’s the same as the one you see on the screen… In the worst case, ask for someone working at the Railway Station! They will be happy to help you 😉 .



  • Once you’re done, next to your due train appears the number of the Gate, go for it! We usually work with numbers as it’s pretty easy to find… You just need to follow the signs and know that they are classed by order!


Ticket details:

  • Otherwise, when you’ve done this previous point, in TGV’s case, you need to find in which wagon (“voiture”) you need to enter! Have a look at your ticket (there’s a letter written on it) and direct yourself towards the letter that is most likely to be indicated on the dock (it goes to A-Z).
  • Now that you’re in the train, it’s time to get yourself comfortable!!  Your attributed sit (“place”) is also indicated on your ticket, which is really easy to find! 😉
  • For TER’s, the only thing for you to do is hop on the first wagon and try to find yourself an available sit as fast as possible! (if it’s crowded around I mean )

ticket train france

About tickets:

  • Finally, once all of that is done and your train has already started to move, the controller might come to check on the validity of your ticket.
  • You can either present your printed ticket, or there’s also an online application through the phone: “OuiSNCF”, that allows you to directly have the ticket on your phone! (If you’re worried about the battery of your phone, in most of the trains there’s plugs included near your sit 😉 , it saved me many times!!)


Some other advices



  • Finally, if by chance you are travelling by bike, in TER it’s free! There’s quite some space near the doors for you to place it there…
  • As for TGV’s you’ll need to pay an extra 10Eur for it!



  • If you have a pet, your precious companion will need a ticket too! The prices will however depend on the size of your animal.


Others useful infos: 

  • For TER, even though you buy a ticket with a specific time on it, know that you can use your ticket whenever you wish within the same day!! Makes it quite flexible for you right?


Now that you are comfortable in your train, you can just relax and look at the French landscape outside the window! But don’t forget to get down at the right stop.

Did you know that there’s a TGV going directly from Paris to Dol de Bretagne? It’s really new and makes it easy for travelers to come to us! Otherwise, you can always take a TGV to Rennes, and then a TER to Dol de Bretagne (St Malo’s direction). Depends on the train you take, but it usually only takes 3 hours altogether! Easy right? When you get down at Dol de Bretagne, Edd Hostel will be at the right hand side exit in the underground! You’ll find the building just behind the parking .




If you want to know more about backpacking through France to discover our local regions, you’re welcome to check this article! : Click here 😉




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