By Briana Seftel
How you want to travel is often the second or third question you want to ask yourself when planning your vacation. Luckily, France has many excellent options when it comes to transportation.
Whether you want to get behind the wheel and drive through the Provence countryside or use the metro in Paris, we've compiled the absolutely necessary guide to getting around France.
Train travel in France is considered the best way to get around for its efficiency and ease. You’ll get the chance to see the country’s beautiful countryside without the hassle of driving. Here are few different trains you can take in France.
SNCF: The state-owned Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) takes care of almost all land transport between France’s departments (counties).
TGV: Europe's fastest trains—known as Train à Grande Vitesse, or TGVs—link some 230 destinations in 15 countries in France or Europe, allowing you to travel from Paris to just about anywhere else in the country within hours.
iDTGV: Bookable online only, iDTGV run to and from Paris and serve nearly 30 destinations in France. With prices starting at €19 per person, these trains are a low-cost option with quiet areas, a bar, facilities to watch DVDs and play computer games.
Intercité: Intercité is the classic French rail service linking major towns and cities across the country, with 340 trains serving medium and long-distance routes. Though not as fast as TGV, they have decent facilities including restaurant cars. Intercité sleeper services link Paris, Toulouse, the Alps and the south.
In smaller towns, it’s easy to navigate the city center on foot. However, if you plan on seeing the countryside or several different cities on your trip, renting a car is your best bet.
Renting a car in France requires a passport, a driver’s license, and a credit card, and most rental agents set the minimum age to rent a car at 21. The biggest agencies have pickup spots all over France including Budget, Hertz and Europcar. Book online and well in advance for the best deal.
Taxis can be found at marked taxi ranks, booked online or over the phone, or hailed on the street. In order to determine if a taxi is available or not, you must refer to the illuminated white box on the roof: if it is red, then it's occupied; if it’s green, then it's available.
Major cities like Paris have excellent public transportation that is efficient, comprehensive, and cheap. In smaller cities and towns, you still may be able to get around using public buses and trams.
Subway: There are métros (subway) in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, and Toulouse.
Trams: You will find light-rail lines (tramways) in Bordeaux, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Nancy, Nantes, Nice, Reims, Rouen and Strasbourg, as well as parts of greater Paris.
Less expensive than trains, buses are a good option if you’re on a budget. The most popular low-cost bus companies in France are Megabus, Eurolines, and FlixBus. You can find bus stops at almost any major city in the country, and outside if you plan on traveling elsewhere in Europe.
The city of Paris, just like many larger cities in France, promote the use of bicycles, as well as extending the lanes for cyclists and roller-bladers. Large-scale public bicycle sharing systems are set up in several cities like Paris, Nice, Bordeaux, and Lyon.