Key points about this information item Train / rail routes to Midi-Pyrenees and southern France - travel informationInformation Description:
Train routes to Midi-Pyrenees | SNCF | TGV | TER | Eurostar
The rail connections in Europe are some of the best in the world, allowing great distances to be covered in a relatively short time. From boarding a train in London to sitting in the centre of Toulouse could be achieved in about eight hours.
The railway system in France is split into several separate services, covering national and regional areas, plus the high speed services.
SNCF is the national operator with a website that allows route planning and online booking. There is also an English language website. In the UK, RailEuroupe is the official SNCF ticket distributor. Please use the RailEurope route planner at the bottom of the page.
SNCF TER is the regional operator, also with an online booking service.
Eurostar operate a number of services from London, Ebbsfleet and Ashford that link up with the SNCF network at Paris and Lille, allowing easy access to the south of France. The Eurostar website has up to date timetables.
Taking the Eurostar to Paris or Lille gives good access to the SNCF network and a choice of routes to the Midi-Pyrenees.
Paris is the hub of TGV services and the service from Paris to Toulouse will whisk you south in a little over five hours. The TGV (train a grande vitesse) travels at up to 320kmh / 200mph in commercial services, but has reached 574.8 km/h (357 mph) in trial conditions. The service offers four destinations in Midi-Pyrenees, Toulouse, Montauban, Tarbes and Lourdes in addition to the nearby towns of Pau, Agen, Carcassonne and Narbonne.
This is the high speed network connecting Paris to Marseilles, Avignon and Toulon.
Why not use the SNCF overnight service which provides an ideal way to arrive at you holiday destination ready to go. Some services have a restaurant car, providing breakfast and dinner, check their website for details.
This is the SNCF major towns network running at lower speeds and with more stops than the TGV. Paris to Toulouse on this network is likely to take six and a half hours, but there are variations and it can be achieved an hour quicker.
Two classes are provided, first and second and the first class seats can be reserved. First class seats are each provided with a reading lamp and a power socket for recharging mobile phones or laptops.
Motorail and Autotrain
The Motorail service has six destinations in the south of France and operates between May and September. The route to the Midi-Pyrenees connects with Brive la Gaillarde, Toulouse and terminates at Narbonne. Sleeping compartments of various standards are available and taking this route avoids the stress of driving long distance. In addition, the tolls, cost of fuel and wear and tear of the vehicle are eliminated, allowing you to arrive at your destination ready to start your holiday.
The Autotrain service operates all year round and allows you to put your car on the train and then follow on later on a seperate train. This allows you, for example, to put the car on the train in Paris, spend a few days exploring Paris, where a car is not essential and then catch up with your car in the south of France later.
This is the official SNCF ticket distributor in the UK and can supply tickets for the whole network including Eurostar. The site is in English and can be used to plan and purchase tickets for your complete trip.
The SNCF also has an information website - Voyages SNCF.
- It is usually easier to book your travel in advance and for the TGV it is essential as you cannot simply turn up at the station.
- Before you board a train, your ticket must be validated in the ticket punching machine on the platform. They are painted orange, so should be easy to find, but if you forget, you may be fined if your ticket is inspected.
- A couple of useful sites for finding station information
- Cats and dogs may travel with you, but there is a charge and conditions apply.
Online plant sales, based in Escanecrabe, Midi-Pyrenees, France