The distance from Paris to Barcelona is 663.8 miles. That’s almost the length of the entire state of California. It’s roughly 121 times the height of Mount Everest. It’s the equivalent of running a 10K race approximately 107 times. Needless to say, it’s a lot of ground to cover. Thankfully, the Elipsos night train is there to help you put some style behind those miles.
This is the beauty of the night train system – you will board in the evening, after a busy day exploring Paris. Take some time to relax with a leisurely dinner or cup of coffee in the dining car, after which you’ll retire to the comfort of your sleeping compartment. In the morning, you’ll have enough time for breakfast and a few minutes to charge your camera battery before heading out to explore a new city. And those 663.8 miles? What miles? you’ll ask.
The Elipsos is one of the most luxurious night trains in Europe, aptly dubbed the “trenhotel.” On board in Tourist Class, you can enjoy a gender-specific four person sleeping compartment with a washbasin and air conditioning (a must during those hot summer days). There are also reclining seats available (similar to business class on an airplane) for those adventurers on a budget.
Most travelers, however, tend to prefer a slight upgrade to Club Class, which gives you a double or single compartment complete with a wash basin, air conditioning, breakfast, and access to the Sala Club VIP lounges in the Madrid Chamartin station (should you choose to head there instead of Barcelona).
Even though these two types of compartments will more than keep you cozy and pampered, the Elipsos really owes its luxurious reputation to the Gran Clase compartments. These single or double compartments come equipped with a private bathroom (toilet, shower, and wash basin), breakfast and dinner, and access to the VIP lounges at the train station. It’s the modern day equivalent of those leisurely, grand train rides in old movies or Agatha Christie novels (murder mystery not included).
Traveling with a Ticket
The Elipsos is one of the most popular overnight trains in Europe, meaning it sells out very quickly. Booking tickets in advance is essential. The tickets are available about 90 days ahead of time, and they can be purchased online along with your other rail travel products. If the site prompts you to select specific stations when you’re searching, you will need to choose the Paris Austerlitz and Barcelona Estacio de Franca options.
Traveling with a Rail Pass
In addition to being one of the most popular overnight trains in Europe, it is also one of the most expensive, just because it truly does offer you so much comfort for your money. For this reason, it is almost always more budget-friendly to use a rail pass for this route rather than point to point tickets, even if you’ll only be taking one other train during your trip. With the rail pass, you’ll just need to purchase a reservation supplement to confirm your sleeping compartment assignment, and then you’ll be on your way. Like the point to point tickets, reservations should be purchased as far in advance as possible.
Travel Tips and Bonuses
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of this route, let’s talk about a few fun travel tips and secrets!
The first tip is for travelers who decide to use point to point tickets rather than rail passes: there is a 10% discount on Europcar rentals for holders of an Elipsos Train hotel ticket. This is perfect if you plan to make the rest of your trip by car once you arrive in Spain. Just enter the Elipsos promotion code (44813131) when you make your reservation. Your car rental must begin within 48 hours of the Elipsos train arrival and your Elipsos ticket must be presented at pickup.
As far as discounts go, there is also a discount voucher booklet called the Art Travel Pass, and it’s offered in all trains heading to Barcelona. In it you’ll find discounts to many museums and attractions in Barcelona – similar to the Barcelona Card, although the Card also offers discounts on public transport and various leisure or adventure activities. Both are worth checking out if you plan on some sightseeing.
There are also bonuses and discounts offered with each rail pass. Discounts include hotels, buses, tours, ferries, and even WIFI access in some cases. Check the “Travel Bonuses” section for your rail pass when you’re ordering it online to see which discounts and offers you qualify for.
Updates in 2013
For anyone planning a trip next spring or summer, Spain is promising a new high-speed route between Paris and Barcelona as early as April, one that will shorten the travel time between these cities even more. We will of course keep you updated as more information is released. Until then, happy traveling!