If you look for trains between France and Spain, it is very likely that the Planner will suggest the international high-speed train to/ from Barcelona and Madrid. While this train is definitely a nice experience, the seat reservations are quite expensive and often sell out in advance. Therefore, you'll be pleased to know that there are alternative and cheaper ways of travelling between France and Spain.
There are three alternative routes you can consider. These are usually less expensive, and the availability of seats is often higher. You will need to plan and add all Spanish trains to your Pass manually, as these do not appear in the app's Planner. For more information on travelling in Spain, check out this article on our website.
You can choose to travel through the following border stations:
Portbou (also spelled as Port-Bou): This town lies on the eastcoast of the Iberian peninsula, between the French city of Perpignan and the Spanish city of Figueres. If you're travelling between most of France's major cities (including Paris, Lyon and Marseille) and Spain, travelling through this city will be very convenient. You can plan your journey as follows:
- Within Spain: You take a regional train between Portbou and Barcelona, which you can plan using the Renfe website. For onwards connection further into Spain, check out these steps to plan your journey.
- Within France: Your journey between Portbou and the rest of France can be planned in the Planner on your DiscoverEU Travel App. Do allow enough change time between the connecting trains, and don't forget to make seat reservations should you connect to a high-speed train within France!
Latour-de-Carol (spelled La Tor de Querol in Spanish): This town is located in the Pyrenees mountain range, close to the micronation of Andorra. This route is less known, butoffers a very scenic connection between Barcelona and the south of France. Make sure to allow for enough change time between the Spanish and French trains, to cover for any disruption along the way.
- Within Spain: You can use the website of the Catalan regional train services to plan the regional train between La Tor de Querol and Barcelona (use the Spanish spelling). You can then add these trains manually to your Pass. For onwards connection further into Spain, check out these steps to plan your journey.
- Within France: You can use the Planner in your app to plan your connections to/ from France.
Tip: There is a night train service between Paris and Latour de Carol, for which the price of a couchette is around €25 only (so about as cheap as a night at a hostel). For more information about using overnight trains, check out this article.
Hendaye (spelled Hendaia in Spanish): This route is well-suited for connections between the France and the north of Spain. Note that the train from Hendaye to/ from Spain is not included in your Pass. However, it should not cost more than €10-€15 euro's to cover the distance to a nearby major city in Spain, from where included train services can be used.
- Within Spain: Trains to/ from Spain can be found using the website of the regional Basque railway service between Hendaia and Irun, San Sebastian or Bilbao. For onwards connection further into Spain, check out these steps to plan your journey.
- Within France: You can plan your connections between Hendaye and the rest of France using the Planner in the app.
Note: Please note that onward high-speed trains in Spain might need seat reservations. For more information on how to plan your travels in Spain, check out this article with tips.