Transport in France

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Transport in France relies on one of the densest networks in the world with 146 km of road and 6.2 km of rail lines per 100 km2. It is built as a web with Paris at its center.[1]



France has a system of large, navigable rivers, such as the Loire, Seine and Rhône that cross the country.

The first important human improvements were the Roman roads linking major settlements and providing quick passage for marching armies.

All through the Middle Ages improvements were few and second rate. Transport became slow and awkward to use. The early modern period saw great improvements. There was a very quick production of canals connecting rivers. It also saw great changes in oceanic shipping. Rather than expensive galleys, wind powered ships that were much faster and had more room for cargo became popular for coastal trade. Transatlantic shipping with the New World turned cities such as Nantes, Bordeaux, Cherbourg-Octeville and Le Havre into major ports.


There is a total of 31,939 kilometres of railway in France, mostly operated by SNCF, the French national railway company. However, the railway system is a small portion of total travel, accounting for less than 10% of passenger travel.[2]

From 1981 onwards, a newly-constructed set of high-speed LGV (Lignes à Grande Vitesse) lines linked France's most populous areas with the capital, starting with Paris-Lyon. In 1994, the Channel Tunnel opened, connecting France and Great Britain by rail under the English Channel. The TGV has set many world speed records, the most recent on 3 April 2007, when a new version of the TGV dubbed the V150 with larger wheels than the usual TGV, and a stronger 25,000 hp (18,600 kW) engine, broke the world speed record for conventional rail trains, reaching 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph).[3]

Trains, unlike road traffic, drive on the left (except in Alsace-Moselle). Metro and tramway services are not thought of as trains and usually follow road traffic in driving on the right (except the Lyon Metro).

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