Travelling on a TGV train
At a glance
- High speed train
High-speed Trains à Grande Vitesse or TGV trains are the comfortable, modern flagships of the French high-speed rail network. TGV trains run mainly on high-speed lines at speeds of up to 350 km/h. An increasing number of TGVs are double-decker trains, referred to as TGV Duplex.
The TGV is the fastest way to reach hundreds of destinations in France. TGV trains speed from Paris to major French cities including Bordeaux, Avignon, Lyon, Nantes and Nice. Operated by SNCF, the French national railway company, there are also inter-regional TGV services and direct TGV trains from France to a dozen cities in Germany and a handful of stations in Italy and Spain. Fast, double-decker TGV Europlex trains are used when travelling between Paris or Toulouse and Barcelona, while AVE S-100 trains run on the routes from Lyon and Marseille to Barcelona. Read more about travelling between France and Spain in our France-Spain High Speed train guide.
©Pierre-Antoine Pluquet / SNCF
Before you board
There are no check-in or customs procedures before boarding TGV trains. However, ticket control and passport checks take place once onboard international services. Express check-in is available (around 10 mins).
Before boarding any train at a Spanish mainline station, travellers are required to put their luggage through an X-ray security check.
Air conditioning comes as standard on TGV trains. There is good luggage space on board, but bear in mind that your luggage has to be labelled. On TGV Duplex trains, choose a seat on the upper level for better views.
Free wifi is available in both Standard Class and First Class on TGV inOUI and AVE S-100 trains and all TGV trains offer power sockets in both classes too.
There are toilets, sometimes with baby-changing facilities, at the end of most carriages.
A bar-bistro carriage, called 'Le Bar TGV', is part of every TGV (although it may not be open on some short-distance services or at the very start or end of some longer journeys). It offers hot and cold snacks, sandwiches, breakfast, salads, cakes, hot and cold drinks, beer and wine. There is also a mobile food and drink cart that passes through the train carriages.
Booking and printing options
TGV tickets are open for bookings 90 days in advance (TGVs used on the France-Spain High Speed rail routes are open for bookings 120 days in advance, with summer tickets released at the end of February).
A reservation is needed to travel onboard all TGV trains.
TGV train tickets have no hidden fees and they include the price of your seat reservation.
Get the lowest prices on TGV trains by booking early and don’t wait until the last minute as cheaper seats sell out quickly.
Opt for off-peak TGV trains when you have to travel at short notice. Off-peak TGV trains are more affordable than ones running mornings and evenings along with those running around the holidays, Fridays and Sunday afternoons.
Classes of service
TGV trains offer seated accommodation in two classes: Standard Class and First Class
TGV First Class
Seating in TGV First Class is more spacious with three seats across the aisle rather than four. Some seats are arranged in groups of two or four across a table, others are airline style. On a small number of very new TGVs these airline-style seats can be reversed to face the direction of travel. For couples travelling together, a pair of seats across a table (called a 'Club duo') is a great choice.
A small number of TGVs now offer wifi in First Class, and SNCF plan to enhance connectivity as older trains are refurbished. All TGVs have power points for First Class passengers (European two-pin norm). Seats recline for added comfort and there is plenty of space for luggage.
TGV Standard Class
Seating in TGV Standard Class is arranged in pairs of airline-style seats across a central aisle in open-plan carriages. There are some groups of four seats around a table, while others are arranged in pairs, either facing or with your back to the direction of travel. A novelty on some of the newest TGVs is that these airline-style seats can be turned to face the direction of travel.
A small number of TGVs now offer wifi in Standard Class, and SNCF plans to enhance connectivity as older trains are refurbished. Most, but not all, TGVs have power points for Standard Class passengers.