I need to get from Frankfurt or Stuttgart Germany to Marseilles France this summer. What is the most direct train route to take for this itinerary?
The Bahn.de website or The Man in Seat 61 are foolproof places for answers on your question.
Daunne, If you're going from Frankfurt to Marseilles, I would suggest doing this as a long day ride instead of at night. Take the early ICE train Frankfurt-Paris Est, which gets in at 1237. From there you have to get over to Gare de Lyon for the train to Marseilles. If you're not familiar with the connections from Gare de l'Est to Gare de Lyon, I would suggest giving yourself plenty of time...you'll just arrive in Marseilles later. Two ways to get to Gare de Lyon: the metro or Bus #65, which you catch in front of the hotel. With luggage I prefer the bus, which should take ca. 20-25 mins. The TGV leaves Gare de Lyon at 1446, arriving in Marseilles at 1758. It's direct. For both these legs there are mandatory reservations, 2nd class Frankfurt-Paris is 10 Euro. The 1st class reservation is 25 Euro....a bit pricey. If you go via Cologne, you'll have to transfer twice and pay for 3 reservations, one of them being on a Thalys train, which is much more expensive than the ICE and TGV...avoid that. The only advantage is that you arrive ca. 1.5 hrs earlier.
Frankfurt-Paris-Marseille or Stuttgart-Paris-Marseille are the most direct routes. If you don't mind getting up really early, you can leave Frankfurt at 06:00, connect in Paris, and arrive in Marseille at 14:35. From what Fred wrote about buying reservations, I think he assumes you will have a railpass. Booked well in advance on the German Rail site and the French Rail site, you can get discount fare point-to-point tickets that will be much cheaper than a pass. Seat reservations are included in the price of the tickets.