What Is Ouigo? And Is This Budget Train Worthwhile for Crossing Spain, Catalonia, and France?

Trainline compares all of the budget and conventional options for crossing Spain side-by-side and so generally offers the best deals from point A to B.

Ouigo, put simply, is a French railway answer to the budget airline.

The tickets are cheap, and there are no frills, but you get to where you’re going on lovely high-speed trains while enjoying the beautiful countryside.

In terms of comfort, Ouigo is nowhere near as bad as a budget (or any) airline, though the experience is a bit more cramped than a standard high-speed train ride. Ouigo’s popularity continues to grow — reports show ticket sales increasing over its history and its routes have steadily expanded, including into Catalonia and Spain.

I’ve taken Ouigo a number of times and it’s certainly not as comfortable and carefree as normal (expensive) high-speed trains. But I love it, particularly when I’ve been able to slip across France in a few hours for less than the cost of lunch in a Parisian bistrot.

Here then is a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the system, how to book tickets (including as a foreigner), and what to expect from the ride.

Update History of This Article

This article was first published on May 10, 2019. It was updated with boarding procedures on Sept. 11, 2019. It was overhauled with completely updated information, including on Spain, on Jan 25, 2023.

What Is Ouigo?

Ouigo is a subsidiary of the SNCF, the French national train company. It has been offering rides between major cities in France since 2013. Prices are much lower generally than on standard trains, starting at €10 and going up to around €100.

The offer is simple, assuming that your priority is to get where you’re going as cheaply as possible without much hassle. For the basic price, you’re limited to a personal item and carry-on sized suitcase; regular-sized luggage costs slightly more.

In 2021, Ouigo began offering limited-city high-speed service in Spain as well, through Ouigo España, which operates separately.

Ouigo trains are fast trains, just like the SNCF’s TGV service, running at 270-320 km/hr (160-199 mph). The exception is the few Ouigo Classic train routes, which began in 2022, and run on regular (non-high-speed) routes and hit smaller towns and suburbs.

Ouigo is not effectively marketed to those living outside of France or Spain (the French Ouigo site, for example, is French-only), but in this article we detail how to take advantage of these cheap tickets, whatever your language and your home country, in the buying section below.

How to Purchase Ouigo Tickets and Get the Best Deals

Ouigo tickets are only available for purchase online. There are three main options.

  • The booking platform Trainline is the easiest option for getting tickets for Ouigo. The website is functional and hassle-free, and the routing engine is the best overall for Europe. You’ll see the Ouigo routes for your search as well as other cheap, competing high-speed train routes, traditional train offers, bus routes, and bus+train combos. If you’re flexible, it shows which days are cheapest to travel on. The customer service is decent too. It allows more payment methods, including normal international credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay (this can be useful, as discussed below). The downside is (usually) a small additional booking fee of about %3.
  • The next-best option is SNCF Connect, the French rail company’s official booking site, whose chief advantage is no booking fee. This site undergoes a complete overhaul every few years but never really works properly. I have successfully purchased tickets from it, but just as often gotten error messages and aggravation from the official SNCF site. It is particularly difficult to use if you are in a foreign country, using a non-French credit card, or don’t speak French (the language of the error messages).
  • Taking those problems to another level are the official Ouigo Spain (English, Catalan, and Spanish) and Ouigo France (French only) sites. The good thing is that they are simple and, like SNCF Connect, don’t charge a booking fee. But they have lots of errors, are not designed for foreigners, and don’t tend to be able to handle our information and credit cards. Most crucially for me, they don’t compare route options to traditional trains and competing budget trains, which can lead to missing out on better deals. But if you absolutely want to take Ouigo and nothing else, these sites can help you see filter down to only the Ouigo options.

Note that Ouigo tickets are not available from physical train station windows and shops.

Check for Ouigo tickets on Trainline

Booking tips for Ouigo:

  • When booking in France, pay attention to which train station you are booking to and from. Carefully check which station is best for you; some stations are outside of city centers. This can be great if you’re headed to a specific suburb or to Charles de Gaule Airport. But if you want to go to a city center make sure you’re aware of which train station you’re choosing. Google Maps is useful for determining the additional time and cost to take public transport to/from train stations in France and Spain.
  • Pay attention to luggage options, which are shown as you book. Know the size of your bags and know that your bags will actually be checked and have to conform to the restrictions.

Problems with Ouigo Train Bookings and Foreign Credit Cards

For years, Ouigo would mysteriously reject lots of foreigners’ credit cards, even if purchasing through the official SNCF site or Trainline; a good workaround was/is paying on Trainline with PayPal. In its fine print, Ouigo previously stated that it only allowed purchases from these countries: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, French Polynesia, French Southern Territories, Germany, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Caledonia, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St Pierre and Miquelon, Sweden, Switzerland, United States and United Kingdom. (That said, many people from these countries also complained of being blocked.)

We’re leaving this information and workaround here for now because we’re not sure if this is still an issue and would appreciate hearing from readers in the comments of any failures or successes. We’ve reached out to Ouigo as well for info and will update this if any is received.

Is Ouigo Worth It? Weigh the Pros and Cons

I like Ouigo and I take it. But I know what to expect. Here’s what you should consider.

Advantages of Ouigo

  • Much cheaper: Tickets start at €10 and tend to be very reasonable compared to standard trains.
  • Fast: All Ouigo trains (except “Ouigo Classic”) are modern fast trains (just like France’s TGV or Spain’s AVE), so travel times are quite short and the ride is smooth.
  • Kid fares: There are steep child discounts.

Disadvantages of Ouigo

  • Smaller, less-comfortable seats: They’re not bad; just not as nice as regular high-speed trains. You are usually four to a row with less leg room and a bit less vertical room too, since you’re in a double-decker train car.
  • Luggage restrictions are more limiting and are tightly enforced (unlike in traditional trains), though you can purchase the right to take a large suitcase.
  • You must arrive earlier: Ouigo insists that you must arrive at least 30 minutes before your train, during which time tickets are checked and you’re herded en masse onto the platform.

What the Ouigo Experience is Like, and the Extras

On Ouigo trains in France

  • Child fares: All children 0-11 years old get their own seats for just €5 (or €8 if starting/ending in the center of Paris). Each child ticket also includes its own luggage, with the same size restrictions as adult fares.
  • Large luggage costs extra: You’re allowed to take two small carry-ons (see below for details), and pay €5 extra for large luggage or for a bike (folded/dismantled and in a covering case).
  • There is no dining car or bar; bring cold snacks and drinks.

If booking on SNCF-Connect you can also choose these options in some cases:

  • Use of an electric socket: €2
  • Solo seat: €7

Whether on Trainline or SNCF-Connect, you can buy the options à la carte or choose from:

  • Essential: A standard seat with a personal item and cabin luggage (see restrictions in the next section).
  • Ouigo Plus: The same except you can choose your seat placement and bring an extra piece of luggage.

Previously French Ouigo trains had an optional quiet area (“place tranquille“) for an extra fee; this appears to have been discontinued.

On Ouigo trains in Spain

  • In Spain, children aged 0-3 ride for free on a parent’s lap, and those aged 4-13 ride for €5 with their own seat. Each child ticket includes a free cabin bag. Two child tickets are allowed per adult ticket.
  • There is a “OuiBar” on an upper level with junk food snacks like chips and candy, small sandwiches, a vegan snack box with humus, sodas, beer, wine, other alcoholic drinks, water, coffee, and infusions. Payment is only by card. Don’t count on foreign credit cards working or any particular item being in stock.
  • There are electric sockets for use free of charge at the seats (be sure to have a travel plug converter if using non-European devices).

Ouigo Baggage Restrictions

Yes, staff actually check your luggage on boarding for compliance with Ouigo baggage limits. The wording is slightly different for Ouigo France and Ouigo Spain, but the actual requirements are the same. All passengers (including babies and children) can take, for free, either:

If travelling with a child, you may also take a stroller; it must be declared when making the reservation, and must be folded in the train.

Larger luggage pieces (maximum 2 meters (7 feet) and less than 30 kg (66 lbs)) can be booked paying a bit extra, and each person can take up to two such larger pieces.

It’s cheaper to purchase an additional bag before boarding, if not you’ll be charged €20 at boarding time and, from what I’ve seen, perhaps suffer some minor waits and antagonistic looks from staff.

You can take pets on Ouigo under 10 kilos if they are in a crate measuring up to 60 cm x 35 cm x 35 cm (23.6 in x 13.8 in) for an extra fee. We have a full guide to European train travel with dogs.

Arriving at the Train Station, Check-In, and Waiting for Your Ouigo

You must arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure for a Ouigo train.

There is no check-in process per se as with an airline. You move towards the area of the station with the quai / andana (platform in French and in Spanish/Catalan) for your train and you will generally go through a long line to actually access the platform. Only those with tickets may approach the platform, your friends must stay back.

You show your ticket on your phone or printed out. I recommend printing out tickets when possible, as phones are still a rather funky, unreliable technology compared to paper, and you don’t need to make sure a piece of paper is charged up.

You will also be asked for a valid photo ID or passport; photocopies of these are not accepted.

If you don’t have your ticket or it is deemed “unreadable” you will be charged 5 euros by the staff. You will also be charged an extra 20 euros if you have exceeded the baggage limit.

Thirty minutes before the train arrives, everyone is thus crammed onto the same platform waiting for the train. It can be annoying. The boarding process for Ouigo is in my experience more crowded and chaotic than with a regular train, but thankfully not as tedious and annoying as boarding a plane.

Where Can Ouigo Trains Take You?

Ouigo does not connect between Barcelona and France, unfortunately, nor does it reach Portugal (which is mostly unconnected to Spanish railway). But there are plenty of routes within the hexagon and within the Iberian peninsula.

Ouigo Destinations in France (High Speed)

The Ouigo low-cost, high-speed network’s routes (shown in pink) hit most of the major cities in France.

These are the current cities served by high-speed Ouigo trains in France.

  • Aéroport Roissy Charles de Gaulle TGV
  • Agde
  • Agen
  • Aime la Plagne
  • Aix en provence TGV
  • Albertville
  • Amiens (Gare TGV Haute Picardie)
  • Angers Saint Laud
  • Angoulême
  • Antibes
  • Auray
  • Avignon TGV
  • Béziers
  • Blois
  • Bordeaux
  • Bourg-saint-maurice
  • Brest
  • Cannes
  • Chalon-sur-Saône
  • Chartres
  • Dijon
  • Grenoble
  • Guingamp
  • Juvisy (Gare RER)
  • La Rochelle
  • Laval
  • Les Aubrais (4km from the center of Orléans)
  • Le Mans
  • Les Arcs-Draguignan
  • Lille
  • Lorient
  • Lyon
  • Mâcon Ville
  • Marne la Vallée
  • Marseille
  • Massy TGV
  • Massy-Palaiseau (Gare RER C)
  • Melun
  • Metz ville
  • Montauban
  • Montpellier
  • Moutiers
  • Nantes
  • Nice
  • Nîmes
  • Paris
  • Paris Austerlitz
  • Paris Bercy
  • Paris Centre
  • Paris Est
  • Paris Gare de Lyon
  • Paris Montparnasse
  • Morlaix
  • Narbonne
  • Niort
  • Perpignan
  • Poitiers
  • Quimper
  • Rennes
  • Saint-Brieuc
  • Saint-Raphaël
  • Saumur
  • Sète
  • Strasbourg
  • Surgères
  • Toulon
  • Toulouse
  • Tourcoing
  • Tours (Gare St Pierre des Corps)
  • Valence
  • Vannes
  • Versailles Chantiers (Gare RER)
  • Villeneuve Saint Georges (Gare RER)

Classic (Regular Speed) Ouigo Train Destinations in France

The classic routes are mainly useful for stops in suburbs and smaller cities.

And these are the Classic Ouigo (that is, not high-speed) train destinations. Their main advantage is that they cheaply serve more, smaller stops in between Paris and Nantes as well as between Paris and Lyon. They have several stops in Paris suburbs, so if you’re going to or from a far-flung suburb there is no need to go into the city first only to go back out.

Paris-Nantes Route 1

  • Paris Austerlitz or Paris Bercy
  • Juvisy
  • Massy-Palaiseau
  • Versailles Chantiers
  • Chartres
  • Le Mans
  • Angers Saint-Laud
  • Nantes

Paris-Nantes Route 2

  • Paris Austerlitz or Paris Bercy
  • Juvisy
  • Les Aubrais (4 km from Orléans)
  • Blois-Chambord
  • Saint-Pierre-des-Corps (4 km from Tours)
  • Saumur
  • Angers Saint-Laud
  • Nantes


  • Paris Austerlitz or Paris Bercy
  • Juvisy
  • Les Aubrais (4 km from Orléans)
  • Blois-Chambord
  • Saint-Pierre-des-Corps (4 km from Tours)
  • Saumur
  • Angers Saint-Laud
  • Nantes

Ouigo High-Speed Train Destinations in Spain and Catalonia

Current Ouigo Spanish high-speed routes are solid lines; the dotted lines are but lovely dreams.

Ouigo in Spain serves (station names are in parentheses):

  • Barcelona (Barcelona Sants)
  • Madrid (Madrid Puerta de Atocha and Madrid Chamartín – Clara Campoamor)
  • Valencia (Joaquín Sorolla)
  • Tarragona (Camp de Tarragona)
  • Zaragoza (Zaragoza – Delicias)

Ouigo claims that it will someday soon also serve Albacete, Alicante, Málaga, Córdoba and Sevilla.

Why is Ouigo called that and how is it pronounced?

Yes, there’s reason to this unseemly jumble of vowels.

The word “yes” in French is “oui” so the name for this budget train service is like “yes” plus the English word “go”. Also, “oui” is pronounced like “we”, so Ouigo is pronounced we-go.

Those who wish to mock this corporate naming may call the service YesAllons.

Ready to Get on Board?

Ouigo perhaps requires a bit more flexibility than some other modes of travel, but it can be one of the fastest and cheapest ways to cross France.

Also note that in addition to Ouigo, there are plenty of other ways to snag cheap train tickets for France, including a few other high speed lines that are cheap, described at the link.

Overall, I think it’s well worth it. We always recommend travelling light anyway, and going low carbon wherever possible, so the overall Ouigo experience fits well with our Minimalist.Travel objectives.