Taking the train in France is convenient, easy, and now very, very fast on most lines. Below is a map of the major rail lines in France.
France Rail Travel Toolbox
From Paris, or any city on the map that has a red line, you can take a fast TGV train between cities. For example, From Paris Gare de Lyon station the TGV train gets to Lyon in 2 hours and 40 minutes. The Eurolines bus is slightly cheaper, but takes over 7 hours making the same trip.
A Wine Itinerary by Train from Paris, For Example
Can you see the great vineyards by train? Why yes, and the trip I'm going to tell you about features dramatic scenery and some of the most famous vineyards and wine regions in France. You don't need to plan much, just buy your tickets at the stations and ride. Let's go.
From Paris, you can head for Dijon, which is in the north of Burgundy. The trip should take a little over an hour and a half to the station called Dijon Ville.
From there you can take a short hop to either Beaune or Chagny (Beaune has a TGV station as well). If you are traveling on a limited day Eurail pass, don't use a day of it for short trips like Dijon to Beaune. Beaune is a fine place to make a hub for your Burgundy visit. Stop into the Beaune tourist information tourist office on the ring road at 6 Bd Perpreuil and check out your options.
Further down the train line you'll find Chalon-sur-Saône. It's marked on the map. This brings you to the heart of the Côte Chalonnaise, with famous appellations like les Mercurey, Rully, and Montagny.
If fine old burgundies aren't enough, you can resume your southern journey toward France's culinary capital, Lyon, whose historic center is a UNESCO world heritage site. The Beaujolais region lies to the north of the city and the Côtes du Rhône region to the south.
The northern Cotes du Rhone region is located between the towns of Vienne and Valence, between the larger cities of Lyon and Avignon, all worthy of a visit--or indeed a full vacation. But by the time the train rolls into Tournon you will be entirely taken by the scenery. You are in the bottom of a valley and up the steep slopes you will see the vineyards of Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage, each block marked by huge signs denoting the legendary names of the producers. Stop here and explore Tournon sur Rhone and the Hermitage Vineyards.
Then a train trip across the French Riviera on to Italy perhaps?
Other Places to Go on the Train
From Paris you can head east towards Brittany, Normandy and that little bump in the tidal marsh called Mont Saint Michel, which you access from the Rennes TGV station.
From Paris heading west you can take the train to Alsace, another famous wine and food region. Paris to Strasbourg takes a mere 2 hoursa nd 20 minutes on the train.
The possibilities are darn near endless.
Paper Maps Available Online
France IGN Maps (Best for Trekking)
Rail Pass Information
If you must drive: Rental and Lease Cars: France offers an option to lease a brand new car with great insurance if you are staying three weeks or longer.
Hotels in France
For finding a hotel in France, see the booking box below (or use the recommendations on the map by clicking the hotel links.