How to Travel by Train in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Train travel in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is fun and easy, however, people usually think a car is a necessity when visiting regions like this. Perhaps because we perceive rural landscapes and remote towns. But isn’t that why we choose to visit such a place?
I suppose it depends on where you choose to stay and if you like to mix things up a bit. For us, a car was not an option. My husband and I really enjoy the train travel experience. Not sure if it’s the romance, the speed, or just being able to stare out of the window and daydream. We based ourselves in Besançon so we had great access to the train network and were fairly central in the region.
One thing I love about France is the fast, efficient and on-time train network. SNCF is the French national railway network and it operates almost all of the railways in France. The high-speed TGV is probably what most people think of when you mention train travel in France.
The local network in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, TER, was one of the most efficient train services I have used. The trains are designed to carry hikers, backpackers and cyclists with allocated areas to store luggage and bikes. The best things about using the train to explore this area are it’s easy and affordable.
Travelling to Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Located in the Eastern part of France on the Swiss border, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté offers picturesque towns, vast green hills and endless countryside.
Dijon, the capital city of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, is only a two-hour train ride from Gare-de-Lyon in Paris. On the same line, 30 minutes along is Besançon. In another 30 minutes, you reach Belfort. All of these cities are served by the high-speed TGV, as well as the local TER.
Travelling around Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
The local train network in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is the TER. It serves nearly all of the places that tourists and travellers might want to go to. Those places that aren’t served by train, can easily be accessed by bus or simply hiking in from the nearest station.
We did just this when we wanted to visit Les 4 Lacs in Jura. We got the train to Chaux-des-Crotenay, and hiked 3 miles into the national park. The first return train home wasn’t for seven hours. So we made a full day of it, hiked for miles around the park and really got to explore the area.
We visited the beautiful town of Arbois, home to the famous scientist Louis Pasteur. Climbed the surrounding cliffs of Poligny. Took part in WWII re-enactments in Belfort’s Citadel. Filled our bellies with Dijon mustard. Marvelled at the UNESCO Royal saltworks in Arcs-et-Senans. All of these incredible places were easily reached by train from where we were staying in Besançon.
Train Travel is affordable with a Carte TER
Individual journey tickets could seem quite expensive. But not if you get yourself a Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Visitor TER Card. It costs €20 and it will cover you and one other for a year. Children under 4 go free, and those aged 4 to 12 only pay €2.
The card gives you discounts of 30% on weekday travel and 60% on weekend travel. It is only valid for the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, but that’s ok because there is plenty to see in this one region. Just head to the nearest train station with your ID card or passport to buy one. It’s that simple.
This card is a great option if you are slow travelling like us. We spent one month in the area and loved it. Having such great access to train transport really let us travel around without the need of a car.
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