Paris may be the big draw for first-time visitors to France, but the magic of Provence draws visitors back again and again. Rolling from the Alps down to the French Riviera, Provence stretches from the banks of the Rhône to the Italian border and encompasses some of France’s most compelling coastal destinations.
Getting from Paris to Provence by train is fast and convenient. Nice is a headline destination for many, so we’ve devoted a separate guide to reaching Nice. In this guide, we look at how to reach three other remarkable cities by train, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, each with its own distinctive Provencal charm.
Paris to Avignon by Train
Briefly the papal seat in the 14th century, Avignon is a small city with an outsized history. Added to the TGV high-speed network in 2001, it is just a few hours from Paris by train.
The city’s appeal speaks for itself. Avignon’s medieval center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting the magnificent Palais des Papes, a 12th-century Romanesque cathedral, and one of France’s oldest (partially) surviving bridges, Pont d’Avignon. Home to the acclaimed arts festival, Festival d’Avignon, and a thriving cultural landscape, Avignon is every inch a destination par excellence.
Travelers should note that there are two stations in Avignon: an out-of-town Avignon TGV station and the smaller Avignon Centre.
Many TGV trains only stop at the designated TGV station, while a handful head directly into the city center. As Avignon TGV is just a 5-minute TER (regional) train ride into the center, both stations are convenient. A TER train into Avignon Centre can usually be booked on the same ticket for no extra cost.
There are numerous options to travel from Paris to Avignon by train, including a choice of budget and premium high-speed TGV trains. In addition to departures from Paris Gare de Lyon, there are also several high-speed services from Marne La Vallee Chessy. If you don’t recognize that station, you may know the destination it serves: Disneyland Paris.
If you plan to fly into France and skip Paris entirely, up to 4 daily TGV services also head directly from Paris Roissy-CDG 2 Airport to Avignon TGV.
The variety of services and departure points underlines Avignon’s allure. Out of season, this is good news for travelers who can easily find TGV fares on SNCF Connect from €10. Low prices are available on Paris to Avignon trains during the summer but disappear quickly.
Those low fares are available because there are two types of TGV Paris to Avignon services: the no-frills Ouigo or the classic and more salubrious inOui trains.
Despite some sizeable differences in price, both are high-speed services. In fact, the fastest TGV from Paris to Avignon is a budget Ouigo, clocking in at 2h35 directly into the city center. If time matters, compare all services as journey times vary considerably.
Journey times are affected by the number of stops. All TGV trains from Gare de Lyon to Avignon follow a scenic route that skirts national parks and passes through the Rhône Valley before the alps loom onto the horizon. The slower trains usually stop in Valence and Montélimar, home to one of France’s sweetest delicacies, Montélimar nougat.
Meanwhile, TGV trains from Marne La Vallee Chessy join the same line but detour into Lyon. If you’ve spent time visiting Mickey and friends, or you happen to be staying in the eastern suburbs of Paris, this service is highly convenient for both Lyon and Provence.
Price and speed may influence your decision, but another factor to consider is comfort. Ouigo trains are stripped-back carriages that lose nothing in speed yet cram in more seating. This is achieved by removing the café-bar and first-class carriages, relegating comfort to an afterthought.
The budget airline model that inspired Ouigo services means only one piece of bulky luggage is included. Each additional piece costs €5, excluding hand luggage.
Wi-Fi (or Ouifi – the marketing team was enjoying themselves) is €3, and you can choose your seat, opt for a charging point, and skip the line for a supplementary fee. You can bundle it all for €7 (excluding additional luggage) and still make significant savings compared to inOui trains.
inOui TGV trains from Paris to Avignon incur no additional charges. There is still a first-class option, and food and drink are available. inOui trains are all about comfort. New rolling stock is allocated to inOui routes, while older carriages are relegated to the Ouigo routes.
Complementing the high-speed Paris to Avignon trains is a mix of indirect regional services. There is little to recommend them, as there are more than enough TGV options for every travel itinerary.
High-speed trains from Paris to Avignon TGV continue onto Marseille, and the frequency of services opens up the possibility of a fleeting stop in Avignon. It’s just 35 minutes for the onward journey from Avignon TGV to Marseille.
Local TER trains also connect the city centers. Ideal for a laidback trundle through sun-dappled Provencal vineyards and olive groves.
Avignon’s historic center is 1 km (0.6 miles) from Gare d’Avignon Centre.
The roads leading from the station to Avignon center are home to the city’s finest restaurants. Arrive early to see the main sights and still have time to savor Provencal delights like pissaladière and ratatouille.
Paris to Avignon by Train Details
- The lowest TGV fares from Paris to Avignon start from €10 on Ouigo trains. Additional charges are applied for flexible tickets, extra luggage, Wi-Fi, and seat selection.
- Fares on the more comfortable inOui trains start from under €27 when traveling to Avignon TGV (including onward travel to Avignon Centre.) First-class fares add as little as €6.
- Book online with SNCF Connect in advance to find the best fares and compare the multiple services. Fridays and weekends are often more expensive, including on a return train from Avignon to Paris.
- Up to 26 trains from Paris to Gare d’Avignon Centre or Gare d’Avignon TGV. Trains depart from Paris Gare de Lyon and Marne La Vallee Chessy (Disneyland Paris.)
- Up to 4 daily TGV services also depart from Charles de Gaulle International Airport (Aeroport Cdg2 TGV Roissy) to Avignon TGV.
- Duration: Journey times on Paris to Avignon trains vary depending upon departure station, but most journeys are between 2 hours and 35 minutes and a little over 3 hours.
Paris to Aix-en-Provence by Train
Rivaling Avignon for Provencal character is the erstwhile capital of the region, Aix-en-Provence. Founded by the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus in BC 123, the university city boasts an evocative old town and some compelling local hikes.
The birthplace of Paul Cézanne is a place to kick back and sample Provencal cuisine. Émile Zola and Ernest Hemingway frequently visited, attracted by Aix’s down-to-earth charms and dynamic intellectual climate.
Catching the train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence involves much the same options as traveling to Avignon, as Aix-en-Provence TGV station is the next stop for most services (except those terminating in Avignon Centre.)
Low-cost Ouigo and premium inOui fares are offered on a Paris to Aix-en-Provence train departing from Gare de Lyon or Marne La Vallee Chessy.
The TGV train Paris to Aix-en-Provence stops at a designated TGV station outside the city. Unlike Avignon, there are only buses into the city center.
Alternatively, you can travel on a TGV Paris to Marseille (St Charles) and then connect with a TER regional service into Gare d’Aix en Provence. However, the TGV and bus option is quicker and usually cheaper.
Marseille is a central hub of Provence. If you plan to visit France’s second-largest city, the TGV/TER combo may work for you. Jump to the next section to learn more about the Paris to Marseille trains.
Paris to Aix-en-Provence by Train
- A Ouigo TGV Paris to Aix-en-Provence starts at €13.00. One piece of bulky luggage is included in the fare; each additional piece costs €5.00. Added flexibility and other services are available for additional costs.
- inOui TGV trains from Paris to Aix-en-Provence start from €49.50. First-class upgrades can be added as little as €6.00, but availability at this price is limited.
- As ever, booking ahead (within 4 months) online with SNCF Connect yields the cheapest fares. Fridays and weekends are often more expensive.
- Frequency: Up to 16 daily direct and indirect services to Aix-en-Provence TGV departing from Paris Gare De Lyon and Marne La Vallee Chessy.
- Duration: Direct TGV trains from Marne La Vallee Chessy and Paris Gare De Lyon to Aix-en-Provence TGV take from 2 hours 57 minutes to 3 hours 34 minutes.
Paris to Marseille by Train
Completing our trio of Paris to Provence train journeys is the busy route to Marseille. It may be France’s second-largest city, yet the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is a world away from Paris.
The ancient Roman port city — home to the rebellious La Marseillaise that inspired the catchy national anthem — is a melting pot of international cultures. Blending urban grit and Mediterranean swagger, the charismatic city is viewed by many as the enfant terrible of French cities.
Visitors are lured by modern museums, a bustling old port, and some of the region’s finest cuisine. Everything that makes Provencal remarkable is distilled into the bustling city.
Marseille is also the gateway to Provence, and the frequent Paris to Marseille high-speed trains play a vital role in regional tourism. Consequently, there are numerous options when traveling from Paris to Marseille by train.
Frequent direct TGC trains depart Paris Gare de Lyon and the Disneyland Paris station, Marne La Vallee Chessy. Vying for your vacation money are high-end InOui trains and cost-cutting Ouigo trains. Whichever TGV Paris to Marseille you catch, the journey will take less than 4 hours.
As ever, the key differences are price and comfort. Journey time is comparable on all high-speed Paris to Marseille trains, but big savings are found on the Ouigo trains. Services depart from Gare de Lyon and Marne La Vallee Chessy. Plan ahead to find options for every budget at different departure times.
If Paris is not on your travel itinerary, there are up to 6 daily direct TGV services from CDG International Airport (Aeroport Cdg2 TGV Roissy) to Marseille St Charles.
The high-speed rail line from Paris to Marseille superseded one of France’s oldest rail lines. TGVs follow a similar route through Lyon, crossing multiple rivers, including the Rhône. Trains sweep through vineyards, the Morvan national park, and the TGV stations at Avignon and Aix-en-Provence.
Whether you go for functional Ouigo trains or upgrade to inOui, the journey is one to savor as you hurtle from northern climes to the sunny south. And you should still have time to sip a pastis or two before the sun sets.
Another Paris to Marseille train to consider is the intercités de nuit. The night train departs Paris Austerlitz for Marseille Blancarde at 21:21 every evening, and journeys take just under 9 hours. Passengers can choose second-class seating and couchettes or first-class berths.
Is the night train a worthwhile journey? If you have rail adventures on your vacation scorecard, the answer is maybe.
Comfort levels are middling, especially compared to newer generation night trains. Yet second-class fares are low, and the experience is unique. There are currently only four overnight rail routes in France. And although the trackside views are forfeited, you’ll arrive in Marseille to see the sunrise.
Paris to Marseille by Train Details
- Ouigo TGV rail fares on a Marseille to Paris train or from Paris to Marseille start from €13. Trains depart from Paris Gare de Lyon or Marne La Vallee Chessy. Additional luggage, extra flexibility, and supplementary services can be purchased.
- inOui trains from Paris to Marseille start from €49.00, departing Gare de Lyon and Marne La Vallee Chessy. First-class upgrades can be added as little as €6, but availability at this price is limited. Flexible tickets cost more.
- Book up to 4 months ahead on SNCF Connect for the best fares.
- Frequency: Up to 21 daily direct TGV trains from Paris Gare de Lyon and Marne La Vallee Chessy to Marseille St Charles.
- Duration: Direct high-speed trains from Paris to Marseille take between 3 hours 8 minutes and 3 hours 49 minutes.
Paris to Provence by Train FAQ
Can I reach Provence from Paris in one day?
Yes – Provence is three to four hours away from Paris by TGV, depending on where you alight.
Are there high-speed trains from Paris to Provence?
There are many daily high-speed trains from Paris to Provence, including budget Ouigo and more comfortable inOui services.
How long is the train from Paris to Provence?
Put aside three to four hours to reach Provence by train from Paris, depending on the destination.
How much do train tickets cost from Paris to Provence?
With the growth in budget Ouigo TGV trains, it is possible to travel from Paris to Provence for as little as €10.00 when booking online in advance. Ticket prices increase as seats are sold, and more traditional inOui TGV services are more expensive.
What major cities in Provence can I reach by train from Paris?
Most popular cities in Provence can be reached directly on high-speed trains from Paris, including Marseille, Nice, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence.