Trains from Barcelona to France
Did you know how easy it is to go from Barcelona to France by train? Is there a direct train from Barcelona to Paris? And more to the point, how convenient? I always love when countries collaborate to make travel easier. And in this case France and Spain have a fabulous collaboration going on, that makes it possible for you to travel from Barcelona to 13 cities in France directly.
If you are ok with changing the train once, the times are much more flexible and even more destinations are possible. But let’s focus on direct connections for now.
Is there a (high-speed) train from Barcelona to France?
Yes, there is! The spanish train operator Renfe and the French operator SNCF work together to get high speed train running from Barcelona to France 3 days a day and also 3 times a day in the reverse direction. They don’t only offer a train from Barcelona to Paris, but also to Marseille and Lyon with different stops along the way.
How long is the train ride from Barcelona to France?
That depends on where you want to go in France. The first train stop past the French border from Barcelona is Perpignan, which takes less than 1h30min. Here are some other popular destinations and times:
- Barcelona – Lyon 5h5min
- Barcelona – Paris 6h36min
- Barcelona – Aix-en-Provence 4h35min
- Barcelona – Marseille 4h50min
The cities in France with a direct train connection to Barcelona are:
- Aix en Provence
By the way, on you also board these trains in Girona and Figueres instead of Barcelona. Given how much there much there is to see and do along the Costa Brava that might be a great addition to your Europe trip. There are also some connections from Madrid, Zaragoza and Tarragona directly to France.
How much does it cost to take a train from Barcelona to Paris?
Obviouly prices change so I cannot give a blanket answer. Renfe and SNCF have understood the concept of revenue management and it is cheaper to book earlier. I did find tickets starting from 39€ from Barcelona to Paris, booking about two weeks in advance.
Essentially, there are two types of tickets: Essential (cheaper, but 50% cancellation fee) and Flexi (pricier but no cancellation fee), discount for kids under 14, kids under 4 travel free on their parents lap. Being under 25 also makes it cheaper, if you have a European Yourth Card or a ISIC International Student Card for example.
If you are travelling with Eurail or InterRail Passes, you can also use them on these trains, just need to reserve your ticket. Eurail Global Pass or One Country Spain Pass + One Country France Pass are accepted. InterRail Global Pass is accepted as well.
I compared the prices for a hypothetical journey from Barcelona to Lyon on December 8, booking 11 days in advance on all their online distributors and it came up with the exact same price on every single one (wow!):
- Train Finder: 76,50€
- OuiSNCF: 76,50€
- Rail Europe: 76,50€
- trainline: 76,50€
Is it better to fly or take the train from Barcelona to Paris?
If you’re collecting airline miles, take the plane. But I cannot think of any other reason why you want to fly instead of take the train.
1. Door to door
We see these comparisons online about how flying is faster. Is it, though? Factoring in your journey to the airport, your 2h wait before boarding, your wait for luggage and your journey to your accommodation I’d bet you end up with more than the train time from central Barcelona to your destination in France. Either way, it’s a good idea to quickly make that comparison before you choose.
And what’s the advantage of saving a bit of time at the expense of an experience, anyway? Slow travel to be more in the moment.
That goes hand in hand with being cheaper. Even if the train ticket were more expensive (which I am not saying it always is, especially if you compare amenities and luggage allowance) remember you have to factor in your transport to and from the airports.
3. Be green
Train travel is greener than air travel. Period. How shockingly more CO2 air produces for the trip you could take by train you can easily calculate yourself on the Renfe SNCF website. Let’s take Barcelona – Lyon as example: a trip that takes just under 5h on the train, prices start at 39€, produces 7.9 kg CO2 emissions. The same journey by plane causes 116.3kg of CO2 emissions, that is almost 15 times as much!
Also, even as a frequent traveller, air travel is more stressful on your body than train travel. Noise levels, radiation, air pressure changes, etc… And let’s not forget about fear of flying.
4. Better use of time
There is something meditative about long distance train rides, isn’t there? At least I have always felt that. But if you want to do more than just look out the window, the high speed trains offer free Wifi and all sorts of entertainment options on board that a short haul airplane wouldn’t dream of.
5. Luggage allowance
These days you are unlikely to find a cheap airline ticket that already includes luggage. On the train you can take up to 3 pieces of luggage with you at no extra cost. Nobody weighs it, nobody tells you to put it in the overhead locker during take-off and landing, nobody asks you to put in the sizer “just to be sure” Just bring onboard what you can carry.
Either way, remember you are crossing international borders and will need to provide documentation before you board the train. For EU citizens that means a passport, for you it may mean a visa, depending on citizenship.
What about delays?
My personal experience with trains in southern Europe has been very positive but of course there may be a day with delays.
If your train is more than 30min but less than 2h delayed, you get 25% of the ticket price back. If your train is more than 2h delayed, you will received 50% of the ticket price. You claim it with the train operator you bought your ticket from, so Renfe if the Spanish one and SNCF if the French one. Contact info is on their website.
Is there food on the train?
Yes, there is a cafeteria and you can also buy snacks and drinks from the mobile bar that comes through the train.