The cheapest and most direct way to travel between Venice and Paris is by the Thello sleeper train. The other train plying this similar route is the ever-famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, however it costs way more than I’m willing to pay for this journey.
The leading locomotive of this train.
The coach I’ll be in.
Inside the 4 or 6-berth couchette compartment.
Each compartment can be configured to a 4-berth or 6-berth couchette, depending on the demand and how much you paid for your ticket. I paid for a 4-berth couchette as it was cheaper than a 6-berth at the time of my booking.
Passports are taken by the attendant for immigration and customs clearance when the train passes through Switzerland so they don’t have to wake you up for it at the two borders. It’s a normal procedure, and your passport is tagged to your ticket and berth. Make sure you fulfill the visa requirements of the EU and Switzerland if you are travelling on this route.
I was also told that my passport will be returned to me about 1 hour before arrival in Paris, but read on…
Inside the Bar & Restaurant Car. Unlike the Thello between Marseille and Milan, this is a dedicated dining car with space for both standing and seated diners.
I had the Smoked Ham and Chicory Pasta in microwaved style for €7.50.
The coach attendant converting my seat bench into a bed. The mattress part is simply tilted flat from slight incline of the seated position. As this is a 4-berth couchette, the middle berths are kept folded.
Bedding and a pillow is provided in the couchette.
At this point, I thought that I would have uninterrupted sleep, but I was woken up in the middle of the night by Switzerland immigration officers at the exit border of Switzerland for checks, after which, my passport was returned to me by the immigration officer. Maybe the procedures have changed, as my online searches and what the attendant told me before did not include this part. Oh well.
Due to delays on the Italian side, the train arrived in Paris Gare de Lyon slightly more than an hour late.
From here, I got on the RER to my hostel.
Price I paid from Venezia Santa Lucia to Paris Gare de Lyon: €55 (Offer SMART)
The Thello is an economical and time-effective way to travel between France and Italy with English-speaking crew on board. I felt more comfortable on Thello trains than on TrenItalia’s, but unfortunately they don’t run on parallel routes. Why some may not know about this is because if you book your tickets through SNCF (France) or Trenitalia (Italy), the Thello will not show up as it is a separate private company, so they will give you a prohibitively-high fare on their high-speed trains or a slower train with lots of transfers.
If you are planning such a journey, you might want to consider getting a direct Thello instead of following the slower suggested transfers with higher fares or a stressful flight.