The World’s Cheapest Train? Avignon, France to Portbou, Spain for Just 1 Euro!

Take a four-hour-long train ride from Avignon, France all the way to Portbou in Spain for just 1 (yes, one) single euro in what must be the cheapest train journey in the world!

From the Provence to Catalonia

The four-hour-long direct regional train takes you from the French city of Avignon to Portbou on the Franco-Spanish border.

After admiring the Papal Palace and the Pont d’Avignon in one of the most famous cities of the Provence region, you could hop on a train for the 188 miles (303 kilometres) journey to Spain for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

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The rail journey from Avignon to Portbou takes just over 4 hours. ©Rome2rio

Ticket quota

The regular (fully flexible) ticket price on this stretch is 44.80 euro. However, on each train there is a small quota of tickets which just cost a single euro.

If you book this journey a few weeks out in advance on reliable international rail booking websites like Rail Europe, you are likely to find such one euro tickets for travel between these two cities.

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If you book a few days or weeks in advance, it is easy to find the 1 EUR fares. ©Rail Europe

More cheap railway journeys

According to Hidden Europe, which first posted about this ‘hidden secret’, this is a legit deal and not for example some special discount only available to local citizens or pensioners.

Everyone can book these 1 euro train tickets – and it makes for a scenic and awesome ride from France to Spain. Although it may not be as fast as the TGV, these regional trains certainly make for a comfortable way to travel.

There are reportedly many more regional trains in and around the French city of Toulouse which can be booked for just a single euro, although according to Hidden Europe this 4-hour-long journey is the longest one they could find.

By all means, play a bit around on the Rail Europe website as well with different pairs of station!

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Several years ago, I hopped on a train to Portbou as well. ©Paliparan
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View from the regional train on the stretch between Argelès-sur-Mer and Portbou. ©Paliparan
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A French SNCF regional train having just arrived at the French side of Portbou station. ©Paliparan


Despite being a small town of about 1,000 inhabitants, the Spanish town of Portbou has a large and magnificent station. It used to be a busy interchange station due to the break-of-gauge between the rail network of the Iberian peninsula and that of France and the rest of Europe (Iberian gauge is 1,668 mm / 5 ft ​5 21⁄32 in, while standard gauge is 1,435 mm or 4 ft ​8 1⁄2 in).

Being located right on the Franco-Spanish border, customs formalities were also handled at this busy station on the Barcelona to Montpellier line. Even though border controls are mostly a thing of the past within the Schengen Zone, it is not uncommon for irregular passport checks to still take place here.

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Portbou Station has a lovely old-fashioned feel of a bygone era. ©Paliparan
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The “Spanish platforms” of Portbou station with broad-gauge tracks. ©Paliparan

On to Barcelona

Although Portbou marks the northern end of Spain’s Costa Brava and there are some lovely coastal towns in the area, most travellers will probably want to continue their journey deeper into Spain.

This one euro ticket deal is ideal to combine with a cheap Spanish regional train. You can buy a ticket from Portbou to Barcelona with prices starting at just 13.50 euro, which means you can travel between Avignon and Barcelona for just 14.50 euro! You can check train timetables and buy tickets on the website of Spanish train operator RENFE.

There are plenty of interesting places to see as well between Portbou and Barcelona, such as Girona and its magnificent old town or Figueres which is famous for its Salvador Dalí museum.

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A ticket on a regional train from Portbou to Barcelona costs 13.50 EUR. ©Renfe

Another cheap European train ride

There are several other booking tricks for European trains to get dirt-cheap prices.

On the Brussels to Prague train route there is a neat little trick which will allow you to book a high-speed train ticket for a cheap 29 EUR in second class (or 43 EUR in first class) on pretty much every travel date possible – even if you book just a day in advance!

That’s a big saving compared to the normal train fares between Belgium and the Czech Republic which run well over 150 euro

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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