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Overnight Train from Cannes to Paris

We are planning a trip to both Paris and Cannes in March. In order to not take one day just to travel between the cities, we are considering an overnight train for our family of three. Is this a good idea? Is there a way to get a compartment for the three of us to sleep where we might be able to lock the compartment so other people can't come in? We don't know anything about these trains. Also, whether we do an overnight train or a daytime train, do we need to purchase tickets ahead of time? Whichever train we decide on, we will want to go at that time and not miss it.

We appreciate any advice. We will be also be taking the train from Paris to Cannes, but that will be a daytime train, I think.

Posted by
20802 posts

There's a night train departing at 7:48 PM and arriving at Paris Austerlitz at 7:54 AM. That's over 12 hours; most of the day trains take less than 5 hr. 40 min. I would much prefer to take the 5:24 PM train that gets to Paris Gare du Nord at 11 PM. You'd still have most of the day for sightseeing. A real bed in a Paris hotel would be much more comfortable than a tiny, thin mattress on the train, and if you think European hotel bathrooms are small, wait until you see what you'll have on the train.

Unlike many night trains, this one makes no scheduled stops between Marseilles (9:57 PM) and Paris, so at least you won't be awakened repeatedly by station calls. The train has couchettes (very basic, just padded ledges to sleep on) and sleeperettes, about which I know nothing. If there are not 3-bed cabins, I imagine you'd need to buy all four places to have a private compartment. I don't know whether sleeperettes have their own toilets, much less showers. (Some quick Googling didn't turn up information on sleeperettes, but I'm sure it's available online somewhere.) Most likely the compartment would be lockable. Sleeper compartments and even couchette berths most definitely can sell out, and it could happen quite early, so you might need to make a decision very soon.

Even without a sleeper, it usually makes sense to buy long-distance train tickets early, because bargains can be available early on, but the cheap tickets sell out first. You can explore fares for your travel dates here: https://en.oui.sncf/en/. What you'll see there is just the rail fare for a standard seat. You'll need to get couchette and sleeperette charges elsewhere.

Posted by
2866 posts

It's only about a 5.5 hour train ride at normal times so IMO, it's not really worth it to do an overnight train but the heart wants what the heart wants. I happen to hate overnight trains so I am biased. I can't sleep on them and I get to my destination exhausted and cranky but for others who can sleep through stops and starts, why not. I do see a train on the schedule that leaves 19:48 and gets into Paris at around 8 AM. And it does not look like like you will have to change trains to take that one so, hooray. It is super annoying to have to change trains at 2 in the morning or something like that. You can look at the schedule and price at https://en.oui.sncf/en/results/outward/train?wishId=2881cfce-aeec-40e3-b911-a45af5070eaf. What are you going to do with luggage when you get to Paris at 8 AM? Leave it in a storage locker at the station? Take it to your hotel for storage?

Posted by
3612 posts

I don't mind night trains usually... But the few remaining french ones are very basic. A few years back, the railway experimented with much better Russian sleeper carriages on the Paris-Nice, but after a lengthy suspension of the route I am almost sure that this is no longer the case and that you would therefore be stuck with couchettes. These are a bit spartan even in first class, and showers are not available. No big deal when you are just going home, but annoying ahead of a day of sightseeing...

Posted by
5 posts

This is all very helpful information, thank you. In Cannes, we are visiting someone and they may end up busy most of the daytime, so we may want as much of the evening with them as possible, therefore wanting to leave later in the evening. That may cause us to decide on the overnight train. But we need to figure out their schedule a little better, I guess, along with whether we think we would be able to sleep on the train. If we take the evening train, getting to Paris Gare du Nord at 11pm, what is the best/safest way to get to our hotel on Ile Saint-Louis? Train, taxi, Uber?

Posted by
2866 posts

You will not arrive at Gare du Nord. Depending on which train you take, you will arrive at Gare de Lyon or Gare d’Austerlitz. Take a taxi.

Posted by
20802 posts

For the day I checked, the night train went to Austerlitz.

Posted by
3612 posts

Night train goes to Austerlitz and daytime trains go to Gare de Lyon. Both are a 10€ taxi ride away from Ile Saint Louis, it is quite close!
If you want to spend the evening in Cannes, I would sleep there. The night train leaves less than 2.5 hours after the last daytime train, at 7.48pm so no time for dinner. Whereas the first train from Cannes leaves at 6.24am and reaches Paris at 11.34am, leaving you with a full afternoon of sightseeing. It is a Ouigo low-cost train, but still fairly comfortable - the more annoying aspects of Ouigo being the luggage allowance, and the requirement to be on the platform 30 minutes before departure (which is useless in a station like Cannes...).

Posted by
1747 posts

The other point is: if you arrive in Paris in the early morning, you won't be able to check in to your accommodation till much later, so you'll be wandering about all day, unshowered, possible tired, and with baggage.
I love night trains, but just a couple of things to consider.

Posted by
2866 posts

@ S J, Well, you can store the luggage somewhere but your other points plus my inability to sleep on them are the reasons that I avoid night trains.

Posted by
8195 posts

I can’t sleep on night trains either. It’s not just stops (which yours won’t have) that makes it very unpleasant to me, it’s also the jostling from side to side, the clanging and horns, the flashing lights through the windows, using a dirty public train restroom, etc.
I love day trains and watching the beautiful scenery out the window.

Posted by
5 posts

Great, thanks for all of the help. We haven't made a decision yet, but we are leaning against the night train right now. But we also are not too excited about the train before 7am. Looks like our choice will be either an evening train arriving at 11pm or else a regular daytime train where we miss most of the day in Paris. Since we do want to relax some, that is not too bad an option, I guess. I'm sure I will have more questions as we go, and I appreciate the advice.

Posted by
1767 posts

I’ve taken close to 20 overnight trains where I’ve reserved anywhere from a private sleeping car to a couchette. I recommend that you book a cabin for three. I have never included a bathroom with mine and use the one on the train in the private coach car I’m sleeping in. They’re clean when the journey begins and dirty when you get up.
This is a long train ride compared to what it normally takes. Not everyone sleeps well on an overnight train but I have always gotten some sleep. I took an overnight train from Rome to Paris and it was delayed by two hours but I arrived eventually.

Posted by
68 posts

I like night trains in general and France has started reviving them in a limited fashion after nearly eliminating them entirely. While France's night trains aren't amazing, I sleep easily on them (in a private cabin) and it's not a bad travel option. I would take a night train over a 7 am train, personally, since you're wanting to spend time with someone that's busy during the day. The issue with the night train from Cannes to Paris is that there are 6 bunks in 2nd and 4 in 1st. To have a private cabin you would need to book a date that has the private cabin option - not all dates have this.

On Oui sncf's website, you can see if a private cabin is available by selecting the fare and then seeing if this comes up
'Private Space' "Book an entire compartment (4 seats in 1st class - 6 seats in 2nd class) and travel in peace!". I checked a random date for you and the supplement for 1st class private cabin is 40 euros total. It's harder to find a 2nd class private cabin offering.

You can also take a flight from Nice to Paris.

Posted by
726 posts

We too enjoy a night train. Most of the time I sleep fine. The only time I didn't was when we were traveling with a friend and he snored and tossed and turned and kept me awake. I like them for the experience, but I do understand why others don't like them. The overnight trains definitely need tickets purchased ahead of time, as they sell out fast.