France has the second largest network of high-speed rail in Europe. This means that you can cover large distances in short periods, but it also means that a lot of trains require a seat reservation. These reservations can be quite expensive and often sell out in advance. Therefore, here are some tips to either avoid seat reservations, or use them as efficiently as possible:
- If your destination is less than 400-500 kilometres away, use the ‘no seat reservations required’ filter in the DiscoverEU Travel App. For more information on how to avoid seat reservations, check out this article.
- Try and book direct trains as much as possible. If you only travel on one train, you only have to pay for one seat reservation (even if you travel a very large distance on that train).
- If no direct connections exist, check if you can get close to your destination by a direct high-speed train. To do this, check Google Maps for the closest major city to your destination. Then, check if there are train connections without seat reservation requirements between this city and your destination. You can do this by entering this route in the DiscoverEU Travel App, and using the ‘no seat reservation required’ filter. If this works, then save both the high-speed and the local train to your Pass, and make the necessary seat reservation.
- International high-speed trains are often more expensive than domestic ones(and sell out quicker). Therefore, if you're travelling to a different country without going too far from the French border (e.g. to Brussels, Frankfurt, or Amsterdam), check if you can find a train to a French city close to it, and use local train connections from there to your destination.
- Example:If you're travelling between Paris and Brussels (or Amsterdam), you can check for high-speed connections to Lille (France). Then, you can look up train connections from Lille to Brussels using the ‘no seat reservation required’ filter in your app.
- Some high-speed trains bypass Paris. There are direct high-speed trains from Brussels and Lille to many cities in the south, east and west of France. To check whether this is useful to your itinerary, use the filters in the DiscoverEU App and check major cities close to your starting point/ destination. Note that these trains often sell out sometime in advance.
- Be sure to check out France's night trains. Please check out this page for their route network. Their reservations are relatively affordable, and travelling overnight will also save you money on accommodation costs. For more information about travelling overnight with your DiscoverEU Interrail Pass, check out this article.
- If you're travelling between France and Spain, check out this article.
You can make seat reservations through the DiscoverEU Travel app. If you’re already in France, you can also make your seat reservations in-person at the train station. This can be done at a ticket desk, or at an SNCF vending machine (instructions can be found on the bottom of this page). If you want to book a seat reservation at a ticket desk in France, tell them that you’re an Interrail Pass holder. We advise to make your seat reservations as early as possible, especially when travelling in summer.
Kindly note that you also need to have a valid ticket in the app, along with the aforementioned seat reservation. To create a valid ticket in the app, simply add the journey to the activated travel day. Then, slide the button next to the train in the My Trip section to create the QR code. This code can be found in the My Pass section of your app. For more information on this, check out this article.