Getting Around France: Transportation Options

by Christine Cantera on August 14, 2009

by Christine Cantera | August 14th, 2009  

francemapA large country by European standards, France is about the size of the state of Texas, but with many more varied landscapes, types of cheese and wine regions than the Lone Star state. If you’re like most people who visit France, you’ll book flights to Paris and then explore the country from there. This means you’re probably wondering about transportation options in France and the best way to get from, say, Paris to Normandy or from Paris to the South of France. Here is a run-down of your different options for getting from point A to point B when traveling in France:

Train Travel in France

France is extremely well connected via rail. Laced with high-speed train networks (called the TGV, or Train à Grande Vitesse) that connect easily to regional and local trains, France is incredibly accessible for those who don’t want to drive. In fact, traveling by train is almost always the fastest and easiest way to get around – and there are great deals to be had, too.

>>Read more about the difference between the TGV and local/regional trains and more in traveling by train in France.

Driving in France

While driving will almost always take you longer than taking the train, renting a car in France allows a lot more flexibility when traveling. Also, some small villages do not have a train station nearby, and are mostly easily accessible by car – so you can really get to the nooks and crannies of France when you drive. Driving is also great if you’re free and easy and want to take the leisurely route, stopping at villages and markets as you travel, hopping between small towns and avoiding even the suggestion of a fellow tourist in your path.

One thing though – avoid driving in or around Paris. It can get pretty hairy, and first-timers driving in a foreign country are going to get frustrated before they even get out of town! If you are planning on hanging out in Paris and then renting a car, I would recommend taking a train to a smaller city and picking up the car there.

>>Read more about Driving in France and Renting a Car in France

Bus Travel in France

While France has an extremely well connected highway system that laces the country, there is no national bus system in France. This means that while you can travel regionally by bus in France, it is not possible to travel inter-regionally by bus in France. There are some companies like Eurolines that offer international bus routes that go through France as part of a longer route, but you can not travel domestically on bus in France.

>>Read more about regional, inter-regional and international Bus Travel in France

And just because I like you and want you to have fun, here is a whole bunch of location-specific travel options for France:

How to get from Barcelona to Nice

How to get from Paris to Avignon

How to get from Paris to Nice

How to get from Paris to the Loire Valley

How to get from Paris to Normandy

How to get from Paris to Mont St.-Michel

How to get from Paris to Rennes

How to get from London to the South of France

How to get from Lyon to Milan

How to get from Paris to Burgundy

How to get from Paris to Bordeaux

How to get from Paris to Marseille

And if you need anything else, just let me know!

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