April 21, 2013

Getting Around France: Trains vs. Cars

For spring break I decided to head up north to my old haunting grounds, Lille. I wanted to see my friends and eat delicious French fries.

Who wouldn't want to visit this?

The problem with going anywhere from Troyes is two-fold. The first problem is that Troyes is not on the TGV (trains de grandes vitesses, or high speed trains). The second problem is that, by train, one must always go to Paris first, and then to the subsequent destination.

In between Troyes and Paris there are roughly 180 km/111 miles. In between Paris and Lille there are 220 km/136 miles.

However, the train ride from Troyes to Paris is about 1 hour and 30 minutes, while the train from Paris to Lille is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Image ©Google Maps.

Despite traveling farther, it’s actually quicker to get to Lille thanks to the TGV.

Taking into account lay over time, getting my butt up North by train was looking like at least a 4 hour ordeal. It was also looking quite pricey.

Luckily, the train is not the only way to get around France. I did something I have never done before. I signed up for covoiturage.fr, a carpooling website.

Image ©Bla Bla Car.

I highly recommend it to my fellow travelers out to explore France. It was cheaper than the train, and got me to Lille faster (only 3.5 hours by car). My driver was on time, very friendly, and we had a very agreeable voyage (journey). We didn't even have to pass through Paris!

The point of zero kilometers (where the roads from Paris are measured from) sits in front of Notre Dame Cathedrale in Paris.

It would seem that all roads no longer go from Paris, but instead all trains do.


  1. Thanks for the tip. It's always been a bugbear that flights are very cheap, but living in the north (Valenciennes) the TGV to Paris (as Roissy only place can fly to Belfast from) is often 3-4 times the price of flights, for the return journey. I jokingly say the price of the TGV is a conspiracy by the Parisians to keep us provincials out of the city. Salut biloute!

    1. You're welcome! It's a really great alternative to the TGV. I learned about it from the other French students at my school as a lot of them use it to get home instead of having to pass through Paris, and it is indeed both a time and money savor. Good luck in your travels!

  2. Good article - I guess the web has replaced the old fashion thumb.

  3. Glad to see that you had the occasion to come back to our Red Bricks a little bit ^^

    And yes even for me that doesn't really make sense to go to Paris then to your destination. That's a problem and want it fixed but it seems that SNCF is not to keen of that idea.


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