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Transportation In France

 Unquestionably the French Railroad Network is excellent. Trains leave from everywhere going to everywhere at all hours of the day and night. Further, when a train pulls into a station which serves a small town, then there is a bus waiting at the train station to take you to that small town. I have always been amazed at this level of coordination. They really have it organized beyond belief.

Planning Map 

The city of Strasbourg has their own web page about getting around in their region. You may want to visit it HERE. It is really neat.

Transportation Overview

Major efforts have been made since World War II to improve and modernize the extensive French transportation system and to lessen its historical focus on the Paris metropolitan area. Train service, provided by the state, is fast and efficient, especially on the more than 12,000 km (7,456 mi) of electrified track. The French National Railways' Trains à Grande Vitesse (TGV, "high speed trains") are world famous. In 1988 a consortium of French and British construction companies began work on the English Channel Tunnel or "Chunnel," completed in 1993, which established the first direct rail link between France and Britain. Airlines are also state run; Air France is one of the world's largest airline companies.

France's road system provides access to all parts of the nation. The network of expressways (7,000 km or 4,350 mi) is in the process of being expanded. In 1990 there were 23 million passenger cars and more than 5 million trucks and buses. Waterways carry much of the nation's bulk freight; the three principal waterways deep enough to accommodate the 1,500-ton barges common in Europe are the Rhine River, the Seine between Le Havre and Paris, and the canalized section of the Moselle below Metz. MORE


Fret SNCF s’appuie sur une longue expérience du transport de marchandises et sur une connaissance toujours plus fine des besoins de ses clients. Elle bénéficie également des synergies issues de son appartenance au groupe SNCF.

Ces atouts lui ont permis de développer et de valoriser des savoir-faire spécifiques en matière de :

Fret SNCF mobilise de très importantes ressources pour l’innovation. L’objectif est à la fois d’améliorer les équipements et de mettre en place des technologies permettant de faciliter le traitement et le suivi des commandes.
Qualité de service pour le client, qualité des équipements, de la formation du personnel, des processus : Fret SNCF s’engage dans des démarches d’amélioration continue.

Le transport ferroviaire dispose d’atouts indéniables en matière de respect de l’environnement par rapport aux autres modes de transport.
La sécurité est une exigence permanente : il s’agit de garantir la sécurité des marchandises que nous confient nos clients, mais aussi la sécurité de tous.


Yahoo Directory

Major airlines serve Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), which is 14 mi/23 km north of Paris, and Orly Airport (ORY), which is 9 mi/14 km south of the French capital. Air France, Air Litoral and small, low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and EasyJet have frequent domestic flights. Cruise lines often stop in Nice. Car and passenger ferries cross the English Channel regularly.

Excellent rail service, both internal and international, serves the country. Many of the main lines in France are now high-speed trains -- TGV -- going 185 mph/300 kph. The high-speed routes extend from Paris to Dijon, Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Lille and the Brittany region. Internationally, high-speed trains connect France to London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Geneva. There are several trains a day (fewer on Sunday) to choose from. It is also possible to use the Train/Auto service, where the car travels with the passenger. Married couples can get a free Couple Card from any rail station (photo required), which gives one spouse a half-price fare when the other pays full fare on most off-peak trains.

The highway system is excellent but can be expensive (most freeways require tolls). Escorted, hosted and fly/drive programs, barge cruises, hiking and bicycling are the primary means of seeing the country.

Paris has taxis, buses and a fabulous metro (subway) system that goes to most areas of interest in the city and surrounding areas. (The boast is that no point in central Paris is more than 660 yd/600 m from the nearest metro station.) Route maps are available at metro stations. Weekly or monthly metro passes (also good for bus travel) can be purchased in Paris if you're going to be spending a lot of time there. MORE


Public Transportation in France is fantastic.  Bus transportation goes into even the smallest places. Trains go everywhere as well. Me, I prefer the trains and busses. More


Not too many people fly into Nice more than once. It seems on landing that you will put down on the Mediterranien Sea. The airport is right at the edge of the water. HERE is a link to their web page. It is a beautiful airport.

HERE is a link to the where you will find personal accounts of trips to France.


total: 31,939 km (31,940 km are operated by French National Railways (SNCF); 14,176 km of SNCF routes are electrified and 12,132 km are double- or multiple-tracked)
standard gauge: 31,840 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 99 km 1.000-m gauge (1998)

Trains, unlike road traffic, drive on the left.

See also: TGV, high-speed train, French railway history, Chemins de Fer de Provence, Eurotunnel.

Underground railway systems:

Paris Metro, operated by the RATP (R駩e Autonome des Transports Parisiens) and the RER

Lille, VAL (V騩cule Automatique L駥r, "Light Automatic Vehicule"), operated by Transpole.


Marseille, operated by the RTM (R駩e des Transports de Marseille)

Rennes, VAL

Toulouse, VAL




Tramway and light rail:

This mode of transportation started disappearing in France at the end of the 1930s. Since the 1980s, several cities have re-introduced it.
List of cities operating a tramway or light rail system:


Grenoble, since 1987


T1 between Saint Denis and Bobigny, since 1992

T2 between La Defense and Issy Plaine, since 1997

Lille - Roubaix - Tourcoing

Lyon, since 2001



Nantes, since 1985




Strasbourg, since 1994


total: 893,300 km
paved: 893,300 km (including 10,300 km of expressways)
unpaved: 0 km (1998 est.)

Waterways: 14,932 km; 6,969 km heavily traveled

Pipelines: crude oil 3,059 km; petroleum products 4,487 km; natural gas 24,746 km

Seaports and harbors: Bordeaux, Boulogne, Cherbourg, Dijon, Dunkerque, La Pallice, Le Havre, Lyon, Marseille, Mulhouse, Nantes, Paris, Rouen, Saint-Nazaire, Saint Malo, Strasbourg

Merchant marine:
total: 55 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,155,286 GRT/1,693,030 DWT
ships by type: bulk 3, cargo 5, chemical tanker 6, combination bulk 1, container 5, liquified gas 4, multi-functional large load carrier 1, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 16, roll-on/roll-off 6, short-sea passenger 4, specialized tanker 1 (1999 est.)
note: France also maintains a captive register for French-owned ships in Iles Kerguelen (French Southern and Antarctic Lands) (1998 est.)

List of French Airports: 474 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 267
over 3,047 m: 14
2,438 to 3,047 m: 30
1,524 to 2,437 m: 92
914 to 1,523 m: 74
under 914 m: 57 (1999 est.)

Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Roissy, near Paris is one of Europe's principal aviation centers. It is also France's main international airport. Paris' other important airport is Orly Airport.

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 207
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 76
under 914 m: 127 (1999 est.)

National airline:

Air France


Heliports: 3 (1999 est.)


France naturally has a system of large, navigable rivers, such as the Loire, Seine, and Rhone that criss cross the country and have long been essential for trade and travel.

The first important human improvements were the Roman roads linking major settlements and providing quick passage for marching armies. These routes these roads followed are copied today by many modern highways and railroads.

Throughout the middle ages improvements were sparse and mediocre and transportation became slow and cumbersome. The early modern period saw great improvements. There was a proliferation of canals connecting rivers (like the Canal du Midi). It also saw great changes in oceanic shipping. Rather than expensive galleys, wind powered ships that were far faster and had far more cargo space became popular on the coastal trade. Transatlantic shipping with the New World turned cities such as Nantes and Bordeaux into major ports of international importance.


(see also French railway history)

Even in France, where, because of water transport, railways were of lesser import than in other nations, railways were still an extremely important area of economic development. Despite already having a well developed water transport system, by 1875 railroads were carrying four times as much cargo as canals and rivers combined.

French railways started later, and developed more slowly than those in other nations. While the first railway built in France was in operation in 1832, not long after the first line had opened in Britain, French progress failed to keep pace over the next decade.

After the war of 1870 the French rail system was overhauled and made far more efficient. By 1914 the French rail system was a match for Germany's and played a crucial part in France's victory in the First World War.

In the 1930s L鯮 Blum's socialist government nationalized the French rail system, along with many other industries, and the transportation system was successful in World War Two.

After the war the French train system began a slow movement to electric trains. Eventually high speed trains, such as the TGV were introduced providing extremely quick links been France's urban centers.

My personal favorite is the run from Paris to Basel. In winter when there is a light dusting of snow on the tracks, the train makes sort of a cloud which turns golden color at the right time of the morning as the train flashed along. Spectacular. Once I took that route three days in a row just for that experience.

MORE on trips in France. Click HERE for Beaux Voyages.

Beaux Voyages (pronounced “bo' vwa' yahje”) guests are people who are curious
about life and culture, enjoy fine dining, excellent wine, history, art, and being outdoors
and active.  In that spirit we offer personalized tours to
Normandy, Dordogne, Rhone Valley
and Provence
, Alsace, as well as the Tour de France 2005. (Note- we have two Tour de
France tours:
Tour de France Bike Tour 1 and Tour de France Bike Tour 2).   Cycling tours,
hiking tours
, culinary, and wine tours are offered.  No other France tour operator can offer
the personal service or the long-to-be-remembered “French Experience” as can Beaux
Voyages.  We have lived and worked in France, speak the language, know the people, and
love to share all this and more with our guests.

Click HERE to continue.


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