To Besançon by train

Like a number of other medium-sized French cities (such as Reims and Avignon, for example), Besançon has two railway stations: the traditional one near the center of town and a new TGV station on the outskirts.

The TGV train in my photos has just arrived from Frankfurt am Main, Germany (with me on it, by coincidence). After a very brief stop it will continue southwards in the direction of Lyon, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.

Leaving the station

Here it is leaving the station. Its next stop will be Chalon-sur-Saône.

Four tracks

Like most of these new TGV stations, the station Besançon Franche-Comté has four tracks. The two in the middle are for TGV trains that don’t even stop here but just barrel on through at three hundred and some kilometers per hour. The two outside tracks have platforms for those trains that stop here.

319 km/h

Inside the TGV trains there are screens in each car which show how fast the train is going (319 km/h in this case) and how much of the distance to the next station has already been covered. The word Wagen on the display is German for coach. The display cycles continuously from French to German to English. It happened to be in German when I took the photo.

I love the way they say “km/h” in French: kilomètres-heure all in one breath, as though to show how fast it is.

319 kilomètres-heure is just over 198 mph, for those who are still heroically resisting the metric system. (Victor Hugo would be proud of you, by the way.)

Shuttle train

Since the TGV station Besançon Franche-Comté is located way out in the countryside, there is a shuttle train (navette) to get us into Besançon.

As of 2014, the shuttle train ran nineteen times a day in each direction, with the journey taking an average of thirteen minutes. Usually there was one stop along the way.

“Compost” your ticket

Some long-distance tickets include the shuttle train, others don’t. This should be clear from the final destination given on your ticket, but if you are unsure you can ask the TGV conductor before you get off. If you need a separate ticket, be sure to “compost” it at this yellow machine before boarding the shuttle train. (Just shove it in until you hear a clicking noise.) This will validate the ticket for immediate use, but invalidate it for any future times.

This “composting” sounds funny to us Anglophones, because it makes us think of re-cycling things by throwing them onto a compost heap.

The shuttle train at the TGV station Besançon Franche-Comté

My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2019.

See more posts on Besançon, France.
See more posts on train travel in Europe (and Vietnam).

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