TGV vs. Thalys

What's the Difference?

TGV and Thalys are both high-speed train services in Europe, known for their efficiency and comfort. However, there are some notable differences between the two. TGV, which stands for Train à Grande Vitesse, is a French service that operates within France and connects major cities like Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. Thalys, on the other hand, is an international service that connects several countries including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. While both trains offer a smooth and fast ride, Thalys is often considered more luxurious with its modern interiors and amenities like onboard Wi-Fi and power outlets. Additionally, Thalys offers a wider range of ticket options, including different classes and flexible fares, making it a popular choice for both business and leisure travelers.


Photo by Barthelemy de Mazenod on Unsplash
Operating CountriesFrance, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, SpainFrance, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany
RoutesExtensive network within France and international connectionsPrimarily connects France with Belgium and the Netherlands
Train ClassesStandard, First, Business, PremierStandard, Comfort, Premium
Onboard ServicesWiFi, Power Outlets, Catering, BarWiFi, Power Outlets, Catering, Bar
Train FrequencyHighHigh
Train StationsMultiple stations in major citiesMultiple stations in major cities
OwnershipSNCF (French National Railway Company)SNCF (French National Railway Company)
Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to high-speed train travel in Europe, two prominent names that often come to mind are TGV and Thalys. Both of these train services offer efficient and comfortable transportation options, connecting various cities across the continent. While they share similarities in terms of speed and convenience, there are also notable differences between the two. In this article, we will explore and compare the attributes of TGV and Thalys, shedding light on their unique features and helping you make an informed decision for your next journey.

Speed and Efficiency

One of the primary reasons travelers opt for high-speed trains is the ability to reach their destination quickly and efficiently. Both TGV and Thalys excel in this aspect, offering impressive speeds that significantly reduce travel time. TGV, operated by the French national railway company SNCF, is renowned for its remarkable speed. It holds the world record for the fastest conventional train, reaching a speed of 357.2 mph (574.8 km/h) during a test run. Thalys, on the other hand, is slightly slower but still impressive, with a top speed of 186 mph (300 km/h). While TGV takes the lead in terms of sheer speed, Thalys is no slouch and provides a swift and efficient journey for passengers.

Network and Destinations

Another crucial aspect to consider when comparing TGV and Thalys is their respective networks and the destinations they serve. TGV has an extensive network that spans across France and connects to several neighboring countries, including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. This vast coverage allows travelers to explore a wide range of destinations, from the bustling streets of Paris to the picturesque landscapes of the French Riviera. Thalys, on the other hand, primarily focuses on connecting major cities in four countries: France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. While its network is more limited compared to TGV, Thalys offers convenient connections between popular destinations such as Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne. The choice between TGV and Thalys largely depends on the specific cities and regions you plan to visit during your trip.

Comfort and Amenities

Both TGV and Thalys prioritize passenger comfort, ensuring a pleasant journey for all travelers. TGV trains are known for their spacious and comfortable seating arrangements, providing ample legroom and adjustable seats. The interiors are well-maintained and offer a clean and modern ambiance. Additionally, TGV offers a variety of seating options, including standard, first-class, and business class, catering to different preferences and budgets. Thalys, on the other hand, takes comfort to the next level with its premium service called "Thalys Comfort 1." Passengers in Comfort 1 enjoy extra legroom, power outlets, complimentary meals, and access to the Thalys Lounge at select stations. While both TGV and Thalys prioritize passenger comfort, Thalys' Comfort 1 service provides an enhanced experience for those seeking a touch of luxury during their journey.

Ticketing and Pricing

When it comes to ticketing and pricing, both TGV and Thalys offer various options to suit different budgets and travel needs. TGV provides a range of fare categories, including Prem's, Loisir, and Pro, each with its own set of conditions and benefits. Prem's tickets, for example, are available at discounted rates but come with stricter conditions, such as limited availability and no refunds or exchanges. Thalys, on the other hand, offers three fare options: Standard, Comfort, and Premium. Standard tickets are the most affordable, while Premium tickets provide additional flexibility and benefits, such as free exchanges and access to the Thalys Lounge. It's worth noting that both TGV and Thalys often have promotional offers and discounts, so it's advisable to check their websites or consult with a travel agent to find the best deals for your journey.

Onboard Services and Catering

When it comes to onboard services and catering, both TGV and Thalys strive to enhance the travel experience for their passengers. TGV offers a range of amenities, including onboard Wi-Fi, power outlets, and a bar buffet where passengers can purchase snacks and beverages. Some TGV trains also feature a dedicated family area, making it a family-friendly option for those traveling with children. Thalys, on the other hand, takes onboard services to the next level with its "Thalys Welcome Bar." Passengers can enjoy a selection of hot and cold drinks, as well as a variety of snacks and light meals. Additionally, Thalys offers a unique service called "Thalys Welcome Services," where a dedicated staff member assists passengers with luggage, provides information, and ensures a smooth journey. These additional services make Thalys an attractive choice for those seeking a more personalized and attentive travel experience.


Both TGV and Thalys offer exceptional high-speed train services, connecting various cities and regions across Europe. While TGV boasts incredible speed and an extensive network, Thalys focuses on connecting major cities with added comfort and amenities. The choice between TGV and Thalys ultimately depends on your specific travel needs, including the destinations you plan to visit, your desired level of comfort, and your budget. Whether you opt for the lightning-fast TGV or the luxurious Thalys, both train services guarantee a memorable and efficient journey through the heart of Europe.

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