France is home to some of the most scenic train rides in Europe, from the rolling hills of the Loire Valley to the rocky landscapes of the Alps. Even if you’re not planning on taking the train very often, there’s no denying that a trip on the country’s scenic rail system is a breathtaking way to see the country. The scenic train system in France is made up of a number of different lines, each of which has its own unique characteristics. Some of the most popular lines include the TGV, the high-speed train that connects many major cities in France; the high-speed line known as the Eurostar, which travels through the country’s largest cities and connects with Paris Gare de Lyon.
The string of scenic train rides in France has a variety of other spectacular train journeys that come with stunning scenery and, perhaps more importantly, a magical experience. There are more than 300 stations along the way where the trains stop, located within the Île-de-France region, which stretches from Paris to the English Channel.
We have picked the most gorgeous train journeys in France for you that will help you to rediscover the art of travel. So, sit tight and take in the view of these scenic French trains.
1. Mont Blanc Express
The Mont-Blanc Train Ride is a scenic journey in France along the French Alps where the mountains meet the sky. It is best enjoyed in springtime, as the snow melts away and reveals stunning views. You’ll start off at Chamonix, which sits at 2,942 feet above sea level. From here, you’ll travel along the famous Glacier Express route past the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, Mont Blanc, and Aiguille du Midi. Along the way, you’ll stop at various villages and towns to enjoy views of breathtaking beauty.
Connecting: Chamonix to Saint-Gervais
Route distance: 13 km (8 miles)
Journey time: approx. 45 minutes
Best attraction: Breathtaking view of Matterhorn and Mont Blanc Mountain
Best time to ride: Take this ride in the spring season from (April to June)
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2. TGV Paris – Nice
Next on our list is the French high-speed rail which is the most prominent one in the country for scenic journeys. The TGV service is a high-speed train run between Paris and the French Riviera. The train takes you through the charming city of Paris to the Mediterranean coast and the Loire Valley’s wine country. TGV train service provides excellent connectivity to famous cities like Bordeaux, Marseille, and Lyon. Apart from this, the TGV service also runs on international routes and connects France to other countries like Belgium, Italy, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
Connecting: Paris to Nice
Route distance: 687 km (427 miles)
Journey time: 7-8 hours
Best attraction: See the panoramic entrance of Côte d’Azur
Best time to ride: take their ride in between September-October for mesmerizing vistas.
3. Blue coast train
The Blue Coast train in France is the best way to witness the stunning terrain of Marseille. The French railway passes through rocky hills and tiny settlements nestled in deep limestone calanques. The road must make an abrupt turn inland due to the challenging terrain. There are ways to commute between two places in half an hour but if you want to explore the interesting locations of the city then this one and half-hour trip is all worth it.
This scenic train route in France carefully follows the coastline and frequently descends steeply to the water as it travels through 23 tunnels, two bridges, and 18 magnificent viaducts.
Connecting: Miramas and Marseille
Route distance: 44 km (27 miles)
Journey time: 1.5 hours.
Best attraction: See famous landmarks and monuments on the way.
4. Swallow Railway Line
Have you ever heard of the fabled railway across eastern France’s Jura Mountains? It is the Swallow railway Line that offers a stunning view of mountains and ocean altogether. This scenic route in France is designed by workers laboring 120 kilometers between the villages of Dole and Saint-Claude on scaffoldings so high in the sky they could see swallows flying nearby. This railway route in France is the best in the country for discovering amazing vistas from the gigantic windows.
Connecting: Dole to Saint-Claude
Route distance: 83 km (52 miles)
Journey time: 2 hours 30 Minutes
Best attraction: Stunning view of the Jura Mountains
Best time to ride: Take this ride in winter to see snow-covered mountains.
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5. Paris to Lyon
The journey from Paris to Lyon by train is a spectacular one. The scenic train ride in France will take you through the heights of the French Alps, over the French-Swiss border, and through beautiful countryside, before depositing you in the Rhône valley near Lyon, one of the most famous cities in Europe. The train ride is a must for anyone wanting to experience the French Alps or to take in the beauty of the French countryside and not pay for expensive airfares.
Connecting: Paris to Lyon
Route distance: 432 km
Journey time: Approx 2 Hours
6. Paris Métro Line 6
Paris metro line 6 is a half-circular route that links the west corner of the Charles de Gaulle Etoile station to the Nation. This half-hour ride will be the most scenic train ride in France with most of the stations built under the ground. Moreover, there are elevated tracks that make this route distinctive. During the journey, the train passed through the river Seine at two points ‘firstly on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim and secondly at Pont de Bercy’. Lift your gaze upward to see the Montparnasse Tower and the Eiffel Tower, or, as I prefer to do, look down at the streets to see the buildings and daily life of Paris as it passes by.
Connecting: Charles de Gaulle Etoile to Étoile / Nation
Route distance: 13.6 km (8.5 mi)
Journey time: approx 34 minutes
Best attraction: A special view of a special city
7. Nimes to Clermont Ferrand
Nimes to Clermont Ferrand is one of the best train journeys to experience in France, with spectacular views. The route runs through the upper end of the Allier gorge where there are no roads and drops down towards Nimes through dozens of tunnels and impressive viaducts. On your way, you will see a twisting line of Cevennes mountains and a few spectacular waterfalls flowing down from the mountains that make your overall journey prosper.
Connecting: Nimes to Clermont Ferrand
Route distance: 238 km (148 miles)
Journey time: 5h 27m
Best attraction: Waterfalls and tunnels.
Best time to ride: Take this ride between May to September for the best experience.
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8. Trieux estuary steam Heritage railway
The Trieux estuary steam railway is a tourist railway in France that still runs on steam. This rail route was built between 1894 and 1896 by the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Nord (Northern Railway Company) and is still considered part of the heritage railways in Northern France. This train in France runs along the river Trieux, following a route completely inaccessible to cars.
A part of this railway route runs along the coast of the estuary of the river Seine, which flows into the English Channel, and connects some famous cities in France.
Connecting: Paimpol and Pontrieux
Best attraction: Scenic landscapes of Paimpol & Pontrieux.
Best time to ride: This train is operational from June to September.
Here is a list of the top 8 most luxurious and scenic train routes in France. The French rail network never fails to surprise passersby with its stunning surrounding and magnificent view across the windows. If you too want to experience the best train ride in France, then don’t forget to opt for these rail routes for the best views. Moreover, you can visit the French railway website to know more about these routes and operation trains for an ideal travel experience. I am sure that adventurers will surely adore taking these train rides in France. No matter if you are traveling alone or with friends and family, you will get the best experience of life.
So why are you still waiting? For the most luxurious and gorgeous train trips in France, pack your luggage and head there. Don’t forget to tell our viewers about your experience. Tell us about your French rail journey in the comments section below.