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The Best Ways to Travel Around France

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Tram at Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux, France

France is a fantastic country to visit, as getting around is very easy. Visiting a new country and learning the dynamics of different transportation systems can feel daunting,  

Exploring the cities, iconic sites, and the beautiful countryside can be done with ease as there are options to suit any traveler. 

Best for Long Distances: Trains & Flights

Paris rail station

Trains:

Trains are one of the best ways to travel around France. The centralized network of tracks makes a train ride scenic, fast, and comfortable when traveling between cities or neighboring countries. A train ride inside of France is operated by the state-owned agency SNCF and includes high-speed trains, intercity trains, and slower regional trains. When visiting different cities, a train ride gives you a broader glimpse of France with routes often connecting via Paris.

Flights:

France has one of Europe's most developed flight infrastructures, with roughly 170 airports scattered across the country. Many airports are small and act as regional hubs but quickly offer access to different corners of the country. International flights land in cities like Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, and Marseille, but domestic flights can connect you to most large cities and even smaller provincial towns. This makes it much faster to travel long distances when you have a limited schedule for your France tour.

Best for Short Travel: Private Chauffeur, Cars, and Buses

Cozy street in Montmartre, Paris, France

Private Chauffeur:

Hiring a private driver in France is very easy and provides more than just a transfer. A private driver gives you the freedom to explore at your pace, visit certain places not necessarily connected to a familiar tourist route, and provides a personalized luxury service. A driver may also act as a tour guide as you explore a city or region to learn more from a specific point of view whether on a village tour of the Perigord, a chateaux tour of the Loire Valley, a wine tour of Champagne, or a private transfer from the airport to your hotel.

Car Rental:

A car is a great way to discover the broader corners of France if you are not sticking to big cities. Renting a car is easy, but having a car can be a nightmare when you consider traffic, finding parking, and different traffic laws when visiting large cities. However, outside of the cities, a car gives you the freedom to wander country roads, visit hidden villages, or find lesser-known vineyards. The highly developed highways and roads also make driving easy, especially on long rides, but a train is much more efficient and relaxing.

Buses:

France has a strong and well-developed long-distance bus system across the nation covering approximately 224 destinations. A bus is an excellent alternative for sightseeing in France but lacks the freedom of a car rental and the speed of a train. Intercity buses in France cover most cities, provide friendly service, and offer comfortable seating with a relaxing setting to reach areas a train may not travel. However, depending on the distance you are traveling, it may be much faster and more convenient to take the train or a domestic flight.

Best for Urban Travel: Taxis, Buses, and Ridesharing Apps

Paris Metro sign

Taxis & Local Buses:

Taxis are generally the fastest and easiest way to travel within the borders of a large city like Paris or Marseille. It is easy to hail a cab in the street, drivers are licensed at the local level, and rules are standard across all systems. There are also taxi stations that are noticeably labeled. Certain cities like Paris, Rennes, Toulouse, and Lyon have well-tended metro systems that are easy to understand and access. Beyond a private taxi, the metro is generally the fastest and most efficient way to travel and explore a city.

Ridesharing Apps:

France does have its own ridesharing apps that make traveling in larger cities easier, quicker, and generally less expensive than using a taxi, including cars, bike-sharing, or e-scooters. The majority of ridesharing apps are active in big cities but not outside of those spaces. It’s also important to remember that ridesharing apps are not always cheaper or better than licensed taxis when flex pricing occurs throughout the day.

Best Alternative Travel: Boats

Ferry boat leaving Corsica, France

Travel by Boat

Boats are a great way to travel the coastline of France. For a different perspective of Normandy to Biarritz or the famous beaches of the Cote d’Azur, traveling by boat can be a delight. Ferries also connect France to other countries in Europe, such as England, Italy, and Spain. There is also a ferry to Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean Sea. Traveling in France by boat is beautiful, but it depends on your travel goals, timeframe, and love the water.

More Travel Information & Tips

France has easy transportation options that make exploring the cities and countryside accessible for your schedule and budget. Historic cities, charming towns, colorful landscapes, and famous beaches make France alluring with the best times to visit places like Paris, the wine regions, or the French Riviera different depending on the season. Our France Travel Guide gives you tips on how to travel the country with your goals in mind. If you want to plan a trip, you can speak to a France travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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