Paris-Lyon in Executive on Trenitalia: it makes you want to love trains!

I had two ideas in mind: to spend some time in Lyon and to test the service offered by Trenitalia on this line opened to competition.

Some people often tell us that we only want to travel by plane and this is not true. We like the plane but we can also like the train as long as the service is up to standard. We are fans of the Shinkansen in Japan and we like very much what the Eurostar, the Thalys or the Premium of Renfe in Spain offer. We just have a problem with the SNCF, its quality of service and its sense of customer service which impress us only by their capacity to disappoint.

But as the SNCF has significantly improved its Business Première product on the Paris-Lyon route, I will travel with our good old national airline on the way back to make an honest comparison. I want to believe in it and give the product a chance.

In short, I was eager to test the Trenitalia Frecciarossa service and to discover their famous Executive class.

As a reminder: the articles related to this trip :

1IntroductionPreparing a last minute weekend in Lyon
2TrainParis-Lyon, Trenitalia Frecciarossa, Executive Class
3HotelMarriott Lyon Cité internationale
4RestaurantLéon de Lyon
6DiaryThe essential of Lyon in one day
7TrainLyon-Paris, SNCF, TGV inOui Business Première


I booked my ticket a fortnight before my trip. In Executive class the fare is fixed and not subject to yield: 139 euros one way (142 in Business Première on SNCF).

You can also choose your seat online.


I arrive at Gare de Lyon by Uber and the works around the station do not make the drop off easy. After a little walk I am finally in front of the station.


Not being concerned by the subject I had completely forgotten that it was a weekend of departures on vacations. The station is full, people are jostling in all directions, not very pleasant. And after that some say that airports are a jungle?


Unlike the SNCF, Trenitalia does not offer a lounge in Paris or Lyon.

We can’t say that the departure board makes one dream but my train is well indicated.


The track is not yet indicated but one cannot miss this red train at the platform and the passengers already begin to mass in front of the ticket control gates.


The track is finally officially announced and boarding begins.

Boarding and Executive coach on Trenitalia

Here is the Frecciarossa train (red arrow) that will take me to Lyon.


The Executive class has a dedicated coach which is located at the head of the train.

In front of the door a steward welcomes me with a smile. I enter the train and turn to my right to find the executive cabin. The attendant dedicated to the Executive service welcomes me, also with a big smile.

I then discover the cabin and, for a regular of the SNCF, it is a shock.


A shock but in a good way.

Each seat swivels 180°, allowing you to move in the direction of travel or to create a small lounge area when traveling with others.


There are only ten seats in Executive.

The seat’s adjustments are numerous and allow you to find the ideal travel position.


I join my seat, the 1A (it reminds me of planes), here it is.


So here I am, settled. I have room for my legs.


The seat also has plugs and USB ports.


In the side pocket I find the menu of the day since the meal is included in the ticket price.


If the meal is offered to Executive passengers, all other passengers can order “Buy On Board” meals by connecting to the train’s Wifi and will be served at their seat at the time of their choice.

The attendant comes very quickly to give me water and a disinfectant wipe and asks me if I have found the menu or if I needed her to bring me one.


The seat has of course a removable tray table located in the armrest.

I take the opportunity to ask her for an aperitif before the train leaves.

There is also a meeting room that can be reserved.


A video tour of the coach while waiting for the departure.

We will be only two passengers in Executive for this trip. Bad luck the other one is a moron who will make countless phone calls as soon as he gets on the train (and not professional and vital calls considering the interest of the conversations I heard) as if he was all alone. Fortunately he will calm down during the meal.

The journey and the service

As soon as the train starts, the controller comes to check my ticket. Smiling and friendly.

Shortly after the departure the attendant comes to take my order. At the same time an announcement is made that all Executive and Business passengers will be offered a welcome drink.

The starter will arrive soon. I chose “Salami Napoli” cold cuts and “Scarmoza” cheese. The whole is accompanied by an olive bread and a white bread. I will also take a bottle of Italian wine.


Charcuterie and cheese will be good but the bread (hot) will be a bit dry. The flight attendant suggests that I keep my bottle in the galley because with the vibrations of the car they often tend to spill on the passengers. I gladly accept and will call her every time my glass is empty.

Once the appetizer is finished the tray is cleared and shortly after my dish arrives. I chose the pork tenderloin with spinach and parmesan.


The meat is tender and very good. Spinach and sauce will be delicious. Only one regret: if the meat is well cooked it would have benefited, like the whole dish, from being reheated more.

For dessert I will take the apple cake and its cinnamon crumble. The flight attendant suggested that I have a second dessert to refresh myself and offered me the fruit salad. I will follow her advice.


The apple cake is heavy, dry, almost suffocating. I won’t finish it. I can see why she recommended the fruit salad with it. The said salad is correct, but not more.

A screen informs us about the progress of the journey.


I’ll finish with a real espresso.


The attendant will take a long time to clear the table: normal, she is on her lunch break. Or rather not normal. I want to go to the bathroom but can’t get up while my tablet is cluttered. I’ll put my tray on the unoccupied seat next to me but it’s not ideal. Abandoning the customer in the middle of the service to take a break is rather worthy of the famous Monique from Air France.

The toilets are immaculately clean and open, close and lock at the touch of a button.



On my return to my place I put the seat in ” lounging ” position to finish the trip.


The flight attendant will reappear 15 minutes before arrival to clear the table. 30 minutes after I finished my lunch. She offers me a drink and I will take a small bottle of Prosecco to finish.


Very fresh and pleasant but I would have liked to be served earlier instead of having to empty the bottle in 15 minutes.

In the end a good meal. Not exceptional but good and this is a change from the standards of our national carrier.

The service and the staff

Stewart, controller and flight attendant: all staff are very friendly and smiling.

The flight attendant, the one I interacted with the most during my trip was very friendly, available and helpful. But that doesn’t mean it was perfect.

Her disappearance during her lunch break was a real black mark on the service. Not only did it make it difficult for me to get up to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t get a drink, I had to finish my prosecco in 15 minutes and that leaves a bad impression as the rest was perfect.

In my opinion it is not her fault but it is the organization of the service that is like that but it is a pity.

Arrival and disembarkation

We arrive at Lyon Part-Dieu, my final destination. Same mess as in Paris in the station and congestion in the stairs to leave the platform.


Bottom line

In spite of some slight black spots, it was an excellent trip that makes me want to do it again. The hard product is really exceptional and the soft product rather very good but still perfectible.

But it’s experiences like this that make you want to take trains again.

The slogan written on the Frecciarossa coaches is not an empty promise.


Competition is really a positive thing.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrin
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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