After a three year absence, the Paris-Nice Night Train is back. The first service ran last night with an important passenger on board – French Prime Minister Jean Castex. He even made the welcome on board announcement to passengers:
Longue vie au Paris-Nice ! pic.twitter.com/POHhMZ51wB
— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) May 20, 2021
The problem though – as you can see in the main picture above and more here – is that this is hardly a night train up to modern standards. SNCF has done some basic renovation of its Corail couchette cars that date from the 1970s and 1980s, and there is only the basic class of accommodation on this service – 4 and 6 berth couchette compartments. No sleeping cars. No mini-compartments. If night trains – even within France – are to be a viable transport means, this needs to be urgently improved. France too would profit from what Trains for Europe is proposing!
Delighted to come across your website today.
I last used the sleeper from Paris to Nice in 2006 and it was decidedly “tired” then. Growing up in Belgium with family in the South of France, these sleeper trains were a feature of my 90s childhood – my mum would put me and a friend on the train and we would be perfectly safe and happy in a double couchette until my family collected us at the other end.
I also travelled all over Europe on sleeper trains in 2005 and 2006. The Italian ones were the most impressive – with spacious and clean cabins. The German cabins were the smallest but also the swishest. The French trains had the best breakfasts. I was once on a night train from Istanbul to Thessaloniki which broke down and I ended up having to spend the night at an abandoned train station in the middle of nowhere, watching an Australian teacher and a German musician play chess which was surprisingly fun. As a woman travelling alone, I always felt safe on sleeper trains and I saved money on hotels as I was travelling through the night.
But until the SNCF provide single couchettes with lockable doors, I wouldn’t consider using the Paris to Nice sleeper train again. Although it would likely be an improvement on the current unreliable and costly option of Thalys, taxi/metro and TGV from Brussels to Nice (since they cancelled the daily direct trains a few years ago).
I persevere with trains and haven’t been on a plane in Europe since 2012 but, compared to travelling by train ten or twenty years ago, it is so much harder and more expensive now.
Thank you for your campaign. A great idea.
Thanks for the comment!
The carriages SNCF is using are being modernised a bit, not least with better sound proofing, but there is no radical change – basically couchettes for 4 or 6 people. I wish SNCF could learn some lessons from ÖBB in this!