Paris is very well connected to the rest of Europe by train. There are six stations serving Paris:
Gare du Nord, (10th), Métro: Gare du Nord – TGV trains to and from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Cologne, Germany (Thalys), and the United Kingdom (Eurostar) and regular trains from Northern Europe.
Gare d’Austerlitz, (13th), Métro: Gare d’Austerlitz – regular trains to and from the center and southwest of France (Orléans, Limoges, Toulouse the long way), Spain and Portugal and arrival of majority of the night trains.
Gare de l’Est, (10th), Métro: Gare de l’Est – ICE/TGV to and from Saarbrücken, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart, Germany.
Gare de Lyon, (12th), Métro: Gare de Lyon – regular and TGV trains to and from Southern and eastern France: French Alps, Marseille, Lyon, Dijon, Switzerland: Geneva, Lausanne and Italy.
Gare St Lazare, (8th) Métro: St-Lazare – trains to and from Basse-Normandie, Haute-Normandie
Gare Montparnasse, (15th), Métro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe – TGV and regular trains to and from the west and south-west of France (Brest, Rennes, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse the fastest way and Spain)
The SNCF http://www.sncf.com/indexe.htm (French national railway authority) operates practically all trains within France (excluding the Eurostar to London and the Thalys to Brussels) and onward to the Netherlands and Germany. All SNCF, Eurostar and Thalys tickets can be bought in railway stations, city offices and travel agencies (no surcharge). The SNCF website is also very convenient to book and buy tickets up to two months in advance. In fact, you’ll likely find significant discounts if you book early. To get the best rates, book at least four weeks ahead. And here’s a big tip: round trip tickets (aller-retour) with a stay over Saturday night can be cheaper than a single one-way ticket (aller simple). A very limited selection of last minute trips are published on the SNCF website every Tuesday, with discounts of more than 50%.
There are a number of different types of high speed and normal trains:
TER Regional trains and normal day or night trains (no special name) operate to and from most cities in France and are usually your best bet for destinations all over France. These are the trains you’ll find yourself on if you have a Eurail pass, and don’t want to pay extra for reservations.
TGV – the world-famous French high-speed trains (Trains à Grande Vitesse) run several times a day to the Southeast Nice(5-6h), Marseille (3h) and Avignon (2.5 h), the East Geneva (3h) or Lausanne, Switzerland and Dijon (1h15) , the Southwest Bordeaux (3h), the West Rennes (3h) and the North Lille (less than 1h). Eurostar to London (2h15) and Thalys to Brussels (1h20) use almost identical trains.
Thalys – a high-speed train service running daily to/from the Netherlands and Belgium – it can be a bit expensive compared to normal trains
Intercity Intercity trains leave for all parts of Europe, including overnight trains to San Sebastian in Spain, Porto and Lisbon in Portugal.
Eurostar – the Eurostar service connects Paris with London directly and Brussels indirectly, as well many other destinations indirectly through the various west European rail services. Travel time between Paris and London St Pancras International currently averages at 2 hours 15 minutes, following the opening of a new rail link in late 2007.