Any seasoned train travellers?

I have friends who’d like to eventually come over to meet up somewhere accessible by train, between Paris Austerlitz/ Montparnasse & Toulouse.
I’ve looked but am not clued up on trains here ; & don’t really find the SNCF very easy to use.
Anyway, if someone has any train-based knowledge / experience of French destinations, I’d be interested in, & grateful for any information…

Thanks in advance

What sort of place? The easiest is Bordeaux, which is about 2 hours from Paris and 2 hours from Toulouse with quite a few direct trains every day.

The other option for Bordeaux is to get Eurostar to Lille and change there. Saves going through Paris, and probably ends up taking same amount of time. But fewer trains and need to make sure you book from Lille Europe, not Lille Flandres to make connection easy.

Or choose somewhere on the line from Paris to Toulouse, like Limoges…?
Or the TGV line, ie Poitiers, Tours…?

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Somewhere in the chaos that passes for SNCF website you can find overview maps - you need a magnifying glass to read them mind - but its useful for working out what/where and more importantly whats connected.

I find Trainline is better for simple searches - its quicker although its a bit nervy of short connections. Just use Paris never use a specific station - get the wrong one and it’ll send you on weird journeys. Think its Montaparnesse in Paris for Toulouse - but - if you click on any “train” it’ll give you the stops

But plenty

Get the sncf appli (oui sncf) and have a look on there, or possibly better go to your local station and ask them - they tend to be extremely helpful if you are nice and throw yourself upon their mercy. Bordeaux could be good as said above as it’s only 2 hours from Paris and from Toulouse. I saw the most scarily efficient thieves on the train in Toulouse station, without realising until later what I had seen.

Thank you all.
I thought at first that “Limoges” was perhaps a very simple choice…but found nothing to prove me right.
I imagined that any town with a station would be accessible by rail…I just couldn’t find the proof.
I will look again, with different eyes.

Limoges is on the intercity line, not TGV. If you are looking at TGV trains they will not be direct and you will have to change. But there are direct intercité trains from Paris and from Toulouse that take about 3h30 each.

Its why a maps useful… the French rail is a “star” centred on Paris - like the UK and London. I had an “ahhhh …” moment when I saw the map… made sense of what seemed dumb when just searching times/fares

Okay I see now that intercity is what I should be looking at…clue’s in the name in fact.
TGV wasn’t my first thought ; I simply typed in Toulouse - Paris as my starting point.

This might help, can’t do a link as on prehistoric tablet

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Brive, about an hour south of Limoges (IMO a dreary city apart from the wonderful station) is an intermediate alternative to Toulouse. Although viewed from the station the town looks unpromising, the actual town centre down below is lovely with lots of good restos (tho’ sadly can’t guarantee they’ll be open).

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Brive is freezing, mind you I’ve only ever been there for rugby matches and picking up idiot daughters who messed up their trains. Good gentiane shop near the church (Cathedral?) if you like Suze etc, lots of choice.

I googled Brive.
Jury’s out presently.
I drove thru Limoges quite a lot in 2011/12, mostly at night or very early morning.
No idea what’s there though.

I always use the German railways website when i use trains in Europe

This one is useful too

I find omnio to be a helpful app for train travel.

My favourite is Martin Smith, a total train nerd, who has been running the man in seat 61 for years


I LOVE him!

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This is the one my friend pointed me towards.
I think the only sticking point now may be the availability of accommodation…in view of covid etc

Are these friends based in France? As otherwise travel is pretty much impossible/not recommended. Depends when you are talking about…

We are open, and have people booked in for next few weeks, so other tourist accommodation will be too. Recently we have used chambre d’hôtes a lot more than we used to as they are no longer an excruciating evening of having to be entertained by Papi and his war stories but comfortable, modern good value accommodation. Anyway at the moment food is room service only I believe (not caught up as we are not going anywhere right now). Or of course my hated AirBnB which I find is overpriced as they plonk 15% on too, plus cleaning and admin fees.

Can never go wrong with an ex-civil servant…

They’re in the UK.
The plan is to come over in March, once there’s the possibility of more info on restrictions.