New Spain-France train routes: What you need to know

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
New Spain-France train routes: What you need to know
Spain's national railway company will start to operate trains between Lyon and Barcelona on July 13th, 2023. Photo: OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP

Spain’s Renfe launches a new train route between Barcelona and Lyon on Thursday July 13th, with another one between Madrid and Marseille set to hit the tracks on July 28th. These are all the stops, the prices and more useful information.


For the first time in its history, Renfe will operate high-speed trains outside of Spain’s borders.

Spain’s national rail provider, which until recently had a monopoly in the Spanish rail market, is branching out with two new French connections in July and another one to Paris planned for 2024. 

The first high-speed AVE train will connect Barcelona with Lyon in approximately five hours.

It will leave Barcelona Sants train station at 8.22am and stop at Girona, Figueres Vilafant, Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier-St-Roch, Nîmes and Valence TGV before reaching Lyon Part Dieu. 

The return connection from Lyon to Barcelona leaves at 2.30pm. 

The second route Renfe will operate in France is Madrid to Marseille, starting on July 28th.

The AVE will leave Madrid at 1.25pm and reach the southern French city at 9pm.

It will stop in Zaragoza, Tarragona, Barcelona, Girona, Figueres, Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier, Nîmes, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. 

train spain france renfe Map showing the new Renfe train routes between Spain and France, including all the stops. Source: Renfe


Renfe plans to put 9,700 weekly tickets on sale and operate 28 connections every week. Tickets are already available on Renfe's website.

Prices are more low-cost than usual for the Spanish main rail provider. Travelling from Madrid to Marseille or Barcelona to Lyon will cost as little as €29, and for shorter trips to intermediary stops one-way ticket prices start at €19. 

For routes within France between Marseille, Montpellier, Avignon, Béziers, Aix-en-Provence, Lyon and Narbonne it’s possible to get tickets for €9. 


Renfe’s next international objective will be to reach Paris by the summer of 2024 to coincide with the Olympic Games in the French capital.

In recent years, Spain’s national rail provider has been forced to adapt its business model due to the arrival of foreign low-cost operators Ouigo (owned by SNCF) and Iryo (owned by Trenitalia), spurring Renfe to launch its own subsidiary train operator Avlo as a means of offering more competitive prices. 

Its latest decision to operate in France is overall good news for travellers as up until now the furthest Renfe has taken passengers was Perpignan just past the Pyrenees, meaning that there are now direct routes from Spain reaching more and farther destinations within the French territory.

In 2012, Renfe and SNCF jointly operated train routes between Spain and France (with each operator managing their country’s route) but this alliance ended in 2022.



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