The SNCF runs an excellent rail network throughout France and the TGV, (high-speed trains) are fast, comfortable and generally run on time. There are adequate buffet cars, although for long journeys it may be wise to take some food and drink. If a change is necessary, local links are good. Ticket reservations can be made at SNCF stations and travel agents. Before you board the train, always stamp your ticket at the little yellow composteurs (ticket-stamping machine) located on the platforms. Inspectors can impose hefty fines if you are caught without it.
The principal stations in Paris link with most regions in France, they are:
- Gare du Nord (188.8.131.52.)
- Gare de l'Est (46.07.17.73.)
- Gare de Lyon (184.108.40.206.)
- Gare d'Austerlitz (220.127.116.11.)
The stations are open June-October 8am-9pm, November-March 8am-8pm except for the Gare d'Austerlitz, which opens 8am-3pm all year. All stations are closed on Sundays.
The RER (Réseau Express Regional) is a high-speed urban and suburban railway that interconnects with the metro at major stations. Service starts at 5.30am-12.30am. and trains run every 15 minutes (more in the center). Metro tickets are valid on RER journeys within Paris. For journeys into the Ile-de-France and airports, purchase a separate ticket. It is useful for trips outside the city including Versailles, Fontainebleau and Disneyland.
The metro is easy to use and covers the whole city. There are 13 lines and each direction is indicated by the last stop on the line. They open daily from 5.30am and run until well after midnight with the last train leaving end lines at 12.45am . Some of the Art Nouveau stations are worth a visit in their own right. Tickets can be bought at all metro stations and one ticket will take you anywhere on the metro. A carnet or block of ten tickets is relatively good value at about 10.50 euros.