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8 French night trains to take this summer

French train operator SNCF is offering sleeper train services between Paris and eight cities across the country this summer, part of a growing network of European night trains.

8 French night trains to take this summer
The Paris-Nice night train. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

Night trains are officially back – with more and more European routes opening up (Paris-Vienna is also available this summer) it’s an increasingly popular way to travel for people who are either concerned about the planet or simply prefer to enjoy a more relaxed travel experience.


SNCF is running 8 Intercité services this summer, they depart from Paris and go to;

  • Toulouse – aka la ville rose, the lively university town in south west France
  • Nice – the night train to the Riviera resort evokes (some of) the glamour of France’s famous train bleu
  • Briançon – perched in the Alps, this is France’s highest city
  • Albi – world heritage site and birthplace of painter Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi is situated in south-west France
  • Argeles-sur-Mer – another seaside resort, this is in the Pyrénées-Orientales
  • Ax-les-Thermes – the spa resort in Haut-Ariège still offers water ‘cures’
  • Cannes – the Riviera’s glitziest destination
  • Lourdes – if you’re going on a pilgrimage, why not travel in style?

Journey time

The night train is slow – deliberately so, nobody wants to be woken up in the middle of the night because you have arrived at your destination.

It uses the slower Intercité routes rather than the high-speed TGV.

The journey from Paris to Nice takes more than 12 hours (compared to 6 hours if you take the daytime TGV), setting off from Paris Austerlitz at around 8.48pm and arriving the following morning in the Mediterranean city at 9.25am – but travellers can sleep through most of the journey that’s more environmentally friendly, cheaper and arguably more relaxing than a flight.


Travellers can book seats with a footrest and adjustable headrest, with a personal night light from €19; the cost of a “couchette” bed, from €29, comes with use of a duvet and pillow, as well as bottle of water, cleaning wipes, earplugs and tissues.

The standard couchette has either four or six bunk beds to a compartment, but if you don’t fancy the idea of sharing with strangers, SNCF also offers the option of hiring out an entire four or six-berth sleeping compartment in first or standard class. All you have to do is mention the “Private Space” service. This service costs from €45 on top of the cost of the couchettes and is not available during busy periods.

Women travelling by themselves can book a berth in a compartment for women only. Tick “Espace Dame Seul” when booking online or mention it when booking tickets at the station or SNCF shop.

All compartments are equipped with locks and there are few or no intermediate stops between 12 midnight and 5.30am.

Showers are available to first-class passengers arriving at Paris Austerlitz and Toulouse Matabiau stations.


You can book night trains via the usual SNCF website or app, or at station travel centres.

When booking a ticket via SNCF Connect, and after selecting your destination and date of travel, click on Types de Train and select the Intercités des Nuits option.

A guest appearance from Hercule Poirot cannot be guaranteed. 

Member comments

  1. I was excited to try one of the newly available night trains last fall from Toulon to Paris. I am sorry to report that it was a very disappointing experience. The birth was quite uncomfortable and sleeping was impossible. I probably will not take a night train again.

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France’s SNCF announces October date for Christmas rail tickets sale

Mark your calendars, as French rail operators have announced that ticket sales for the Christmas holiday period will open soon.

France's SNCF announces October date for Christmas rail tickets sale

France’s national rail service, SNCF, announced on Friday that tickets for the Christmas period would go on sale starting October 4th. 

SNCF high-speed train tickets typically become available about three months in advance. As of Friday, for example, you could only book with the domestic TGV (high-speed train) service up until November 8th. 

TGV InOui (premium high-speed trains) tickets for the period of December 10th to January 9th will be available here

Intercité (classic) train tickets for the same period will be available here

Low-cost OuiGo tickets will be available for an even larger period, from December 10th to July 5th, and can be booked here

If you are unsure of which kind of train is suitable for your journey (or even just goes where you want it to go), check the SNCF website for further details on prices and itineraries. 

Eurostar tickets for the Christmas period are already on sale. 

What about the rest of the year?

If you want to book tickets from mid-January 2024 and onwards, you are going to have to wait for a little while (unless you are travelling on a OuiGo train). 

Sales for TGV InOui and Intercité services will open progressively for services between January 9th to February 9th. 

If however you want to book trains for the February school holidays, you set a reminder for November 15th, which is the date that tickets for TGV InOui and Intercité services will go on sale for the period of February 10th to March 24th.