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Train travel from Spain to France: Everything you need to know

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
Train travel from Spain to France: Everything you need to know
Train travel between Spain and France has a number of routes available for passengers. Photo: AFP PHOTO / RAYMOND ROIG

Train travel is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and fans of travelling overland will be happy to learn that there are several routes between Spain and France. Here's everything you need to know, from journey times to prices.


There are a total of four routes that cross the border from Spain over into France, scattered from the Mediterranean coast to the Basque coast, all varying in time and cost.

Three of these can be reached directly from Barcelona, while the fourth can be reached from San Sebastián. Trains from Madrid and Valencia can directly connect with Barcelona if you want to continue your journey north into France. 

Most of these routes are via slow regional or media distancia (medium distance) trains and there are actually surprisingly very few high-speed routes currently. There are currently two high-speed trains in each direction between Barcelona and Paris every day. 

Spain's state-owned rail network Renfe, however, is to begin running high-speed AVE services again between Madrid and Marseille and Barcelona and Lyon by the summer of 2023, according to the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez.

READ ALSO - GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain in 2023

High-speed trains will initially run between Madrid and Marseille and between Barcelona and Lyon on alternate days, with six weekly return trips on each route.

As the services ramp up, they will then run twice a day, with Renfe aiming for 28 services a week between the two routes.

Renfe trains are also due to run to Paris before the end of 2023. 

It is thought this will be done through Ouigo, which is a subsidiary of the French network that runs services in Spain.

Port Bou to Cerbère

This route runs along the Mediterranean coastline just north of the Costa Brava. The travel time between the two stations takes approximately 11 minutes and runs every two hours. Single tickets cost just €1.20.

It’s likely, however, that most people doing this route will be travelling from Barcelona. The R11 Rodalies train runs from Barcelona Sants or Barcelona-Passeig de Gràcia to Port Bou in approximately 2hrs 30 minutes. It costs €13.50 for a single ticket on the slower regional train and €18.10 on the faster media distancia train which takes around 2hrs 13 mins.

READ ALSO: Spain's Renfe set to expand train services to France by the summer


Figueres to Perpignan

The high-speed route between Spain and France runs slightly more inland than the Port Bou route and crosses from the town of Figueres, famed for being the birthplace of artist Salvador Dalí and home to the Dalí Theatre Museum, to Perpignan in southern France.

There are two trains per day that run from Barcelona to Paris via Girona - Figueres-Vilafant - Perpignan – Narbonne - (Beziérs) - Montpellier-St Roch – Nimes - Valence and Paris Gare de Lyon.

Spain’s Renfe has temporarily suspended its service, which it is looking to resume again in the summer of 2023, but France’s TGV currently operates the route. Renfe's nine-year relationship with France's SCNF came to an end in 2022, but it's hoping to increase its services in the summer of 2023. 


The total journey from Figueres-Vilafant to Perpignan is just 24 minutes and according to the SNCF website costs €79. If travelling straight from Barcelona it will take approximately 1hr 22 minutes and cost approximately €92 – €99 for a single journey.

This means that you’ll have to change trains in Perpignan in order to continue your journey to any larger French cities such as Marseille or Lyon.

Passengers board a Figueres bound AVE high-speed train at Barcelona-Sants railway station, from which they can then go to Perpignan. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Puigcerdà to Latour de Carol

This scenic route takes you straight through the Pyrenees, not far from Andorra, from the small Catalan town of Puigcerdà over the border to the French village of Latour de Carol, also known as La Tor de Querol-Enveig in Catalan.

The total journey time between the two stations takes just 6 minutes and costs €2.15, but it’s more likely that travellers will be coming from Barcelona. From Barcelona Sants the R3 Rodalies regional line can take you to Latour de Carol in 3hrs 20 minutes. Single tickets cost €12.

From here you can take trains onwards towards Toulouse. Direct trains take 2hrs 43 mins with a cost on average €28.10, although you can find some online tickets for €10.


Irún to Hendaye

The Basque Country crossing offers so many trains per day that it’s often used by commuters and is definitely one of the easiest and most efficient crossings between the two countries.

This is the Euskotren, that runs throughout the Basque Country, part regional train and part metro. This section crosses over into France from the town of Irún, just outside San Sebastián, and over the river estuary to Hendaye, also spelt Hendaia or Hendaya in Basque and Spanish.

The journey over the border from Irún takes just 4 minutes and costs €1.85, but it’s more likely that you’ll be travelling from nearby San Sebastián (or Donostia as it's known in Basque). From the central Amara station for example, it takes 23 minutes to get to Hendaye and costs €2.75. Trains run every 30 minutes.

From Hendaye trains can take you further into France to Biarritz, Bayonne and up to Bordeaux.


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