Transportation in France is fantastique. Locals tell us you'll have an option of buses, metros, intercity trains, and more. It can feel a bit overwhelming, which is why, with some local advice, we created this guide to French transportation.
Navigate with confidence by having a local plan your trip. Our trip planners are French locals who can provide detailed instructions on how to use "le metro"—and give advice on where to pick up the best croissants. Learn more.
It’s easy to see why SNCF (France’s rail system) is a popular way to travel between all the wonderful places to visit in France. SNCF services nearly every major city and operates one of the fastest trains in the world—the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse).
SNCF serves 150 cities within France and her neighboring countries and can get you from Paris to just about anywhere in the nation in a matter of hours. Paris to Nice, for example, is just a 5 ½-hour journey—and the ticket costs just €45. Locals note that SNCF is noted for its on-time performance and comfortable trains.
If you’re taking some long-distance rides or traveling to numerous cities, locals tell us that a Euro Rail France Pass gives you great flexibility and a great value. Alternately, single tickets are your best bet for occasional short trips. Save money with local insights—our trip planners tell us that you can save up to 50% on point-to-point tickets if you book in advance.
Locals tell us that the best option is to buy your tickets online in advance. This way, there's no language barrier and you don’t have to figure out how to use the ticket machine or search for a ticket office. You can then print your tickets, download your ticket to your smartphone, or write down the reservation code to redeem it at a train station, ticket machine or travel agent.
Alternately, you can use a ticket machine; in Paris, there’s a single type of ticket machine for local (Île-de-France) and regional trains. This can be a little confusing and a good place to get some local insights. Our trip planners note that there are different machines for national (Grandes Lignes) and international trains.
Finally, you can always find a ticket agent. Stations in most big cities and large towns have human ticket agents you can buy a ticket from. And (at least in big cities like Paris) they'll most likely speak English.
Machines and ticket agents only take chip-enabled credit cards or euros.
If you arrive in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport, you may have to transfer to Orly Airport for your domestic flight. Air France operates a free shuttle for passengers between the two airports—or you can take a local train, taxi, or Uber.
Locals tell us that getting around France is by bus is easy and budget-friendly.
Buses also run on a regional level and most cities have a coach station.
If you’re sticking to the big cities, locals say that trains and air travel are the best ways to get around.
But if you want to explore smaller towns and villages (where locals say you'll find many of the best things to do in France, like eating fresh oysters in Cancale), getting a rental car is a good idea.
Here are some tips for renting a car:
If you don't want to rent a car but need to get between cities or towns, check BlaBlaCar. This car-sharing service matches drivers with passengers and it's popular with locals.
Just watch out for pickpockets in any crowded metro station (and take a look at this article on safety in France for more info).
If you're taking the RER train in Paris, hold onto your ticket—if you're going outside the 1st zone, you'll need to swipe it again to exit.
While there is Uber in France, it’s most prevalent in Paris—where you also have the option to take a traditional taxi. Your choice just boils down to individual preferences.
You can hail a taxi on any city street or, in Paris, you can call for a cab at 01 45 30 30 30 (try adding the French country code, +33, if the number doesn't work). If you use a taxi, make sure it’s a licensed taxi. Taxis in Paris are metered and all have the same standard rate. Their rate may be higher than Uber, but they can use the bus lanes to get through heavy traffic—Ubers can’t. Not all taxis take credit cards, so make sure to ask before you jump in. The Taxi G7 app is a great option because you can order a taxi ahead of time and they take credit cards.
Getting an Uber in Paris is a piece of cake (er, gateau). They are usually cheaper than taxis but Uber uses surge pricing, so it can cost be more than a taxi at certain times. Also, real Parisians may hate you for using it.
Locals say that biking around France is easy and cheap.
You'll find self-service pick-up and drop-off stations all over major cities. In Paris, more than 20,000 bikes are available using Velib, a bike rental system with over 1,800 stations dotted across the city. You pay a fee of €1.80 for a day-long ticket or €8 for a week-long ticket—and the first 30 minutes are free!
Navigate with confidence by using local tips. Our trip planners offered these insights for getting to and from airports in France:
The airport is 18 miles northeast of Paris in the suburb of Roissy.
Orly is about 11 miles south of Paris.
The airport is 12 miles east of Lyon.
The Marseille Provence airport is 6 miles from Marseille.