|Train companies||SNCF, Eurostar, Thalys|
|Main stations||Gare du Nord, Paris Saint-Lazare, Lyon-Part-Dieu|
|Public transport||Trains, metro, trams, regional trains, bus|
|Cheap tickets||Cheap Train Tickets in France|
Catch a Eurostar service to Paris or Lille from London and travel onwards in one of SNCF’s Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) trains to Rennes, Strasbourg, Lyon, Dijon, Toulouse or even to the French Riviera. Watch the French countryside roll by at 186mph with a glass of wine in hand.
As a trusted partner of both Eurostar and France’s national railway company, SNCF, you’ll be able to book your French train adventure entirely through us – hassle-free, with all your tickets in one place.
Planning on travelling onwards in France? Rail strikes will be happening across December 2019 which will affect Eurostar services to France and SNCF services within the country. Check out our France Train Strikes page for more information on how to navigate the disruptions.
Booking train tickets abroad can be daunting. You have to contend with a different language, unfamiliar place names and new train companies. Luckily, we make it simple to find and book trains to any station in France, in English.
Using our Journey Planner above, follow these steps to buy your train tickets to France:
Since the first-ever service left London back in 1994, the Eurostar has transformed travel between the UK and France – particularly to Paris. The Channel Tunnel remains a feat of engineering and facilitates high-speed rail travel at depths of 75m below the seabed. All Eurostar services depart from London St Pancras International station.
The main destination for the Eurostar is Paris but throughout the year services have expanded to run to Disneyland Paris, Lille, and the South of France. Regardless of where you’re going, the check-in process at St Pancras will be the same. Here’s what to expect:
St Pancras station is easily accessible by train or the London Underground if you’re coming from within the city. We would recommend arriving between 45 to 60 minutes ahead of your scheduled departure time – that’ll give you ample time to make it through the customs and security checks.
The Eurostar check-in process happens in three steps. First, your ticket is scanned, second, you pass through a metal detector at security (just like airports), and finally, your passport is checked by customs officers. There are no restrictions on liquids (a definite bonus compared to air travel) and there are no weight restrictions on baggage. You’re allowed two large bags (up to 85cm long) and a piece of small hand luggage.
Eurostar recently updated their onboard alcohol policy. Each passenger can bring four cans of lager or one bottle of wine, with no spirits allowed. Feel free to bring your own food on board; the train’s restaurant carriage (Café Metropole) can be rather pricey.
Eurostar trains have three classes, each of which has a different fare – Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier. When you book tickets with us, we will show you the cheapest option by default – Standard. However, we make it easy to book a Standard Premier or Business Premier seat if you want to travel in comfort!
For travellers on a budget – which is most of us – Standard is perfectly comfortable. You’ll have access to continental 2-pin plugs and UK 3-pin plus and free onboard WiFi. Should you upgrade, the two higher classes have wider tables and seats (they’re the same in Standard Premier and Business Premier) and food served to your seat. The food in Business Premier comes from a menu designed by Raymond Blanc – rather swanky if you ask us!
Departing from London, the Eurostar speeds through the south-east of England, towards the Channel Tunnel at Folkstone. Occasionally the train will call at Ebbsfleet International or Ashford International stations. After about 40 minutes you will reach the entrance of the Channel Tunnel (or the ‘Chunnel’) – and after 20 minutes of travelling underwater, you’ve crossed the Channel into France! Now it’s onwards to your destination: direct to Paris, Disneyland Paris via Lille, or Marseille via Lyon in the summer months.
The direct train to Paris is Eurostar’s most popular route, with tens of daily services departing London throughout the year. The journey time varies from 2h 15m to 2h 25m, depending on whether the train makes a stop at Ashford International or Ebbsfleet International. All Eurostar trains arrive into Gare du Nord (‘North Station’ – serving routes into Northern France). The first train departs from London St Pancras at 05:40, arriving in Paris Gare du Nord at 09:17 and from then on there are trains leaving every 30 minutes until 20:01.
Check out our dedicated Trains to Paris page for more information.
From the French capital, you can either continue onboard the Eurostar to other destinations or change to an SNCF service. SNCF is the national railway company for France, responsible for most of the train services in the country, including high-speed TGV services. TGV trains can travel up to 300km/h and are the pride of the French railway network, perfect for escaping Paris for a day trip. Here are some of the most popular connections from Paris:
|Route||Fastest journey||Distance||Train type|
|Paris to Dijon||1h 34m||260km||TGV|
|Paris to Nantes||2h 01m||342km||TGV|
|Paris to Tours||1h 12m||204km||TGV|
|Paris to Rennes||1h 30m||308km||TGV|
|Paris to Reims||39m||130km||TGV|
|Paris to Caen||1h 51m||198km||InterCity|
Taking the train from London to Lille is a great gateway into France. Lille doubles-up as an untapped tourist destination and a convenient location to catch international and domestic trains too. With an average journey time of under two hours, you can be across the English Channel and at Lille-Europe station in no time at all. There are tens of Eurostar services to Lille every day, throughout the year. Lille services travel onwards to Brussels as their final stop.
As mentioned before, Lille is an ideal place for a city break as it has the amenities of a city but with a small-town pace. It's also close to the Belgian border meaning its Flemish roots and traditions can still be seen and felt today.
Discover Lille and book trains on our Trains to Lille page.
It’s entirely possible to travel from the UK to Nice solely by train – in fact, it’ll be a far more scenic journey than the airplane, and much kinder on the environment! The journey time from London is around 9h 40m and involves a change in Paris. There isn’t a direct Eurostar service to Nice, but there is a direct service to Marseille – more on that below.
There are two legs to the journey – London to Paris on the Eurostar and Paris to Nice on a high-speed SNCF TGV service. Simply enter ‘London’ and ‘Nice’ in the journey planner above and we’ll do the rest. We will send both tickets in convenient e-ticket form. Just keep in mind that the Eurostar arrives at Gare du Nord, and the SNCF service to Nice departs from Gare de Lyon – a completely different station. The transfer from Gare du Nord takes about ten minutes on the RER (Paris’ metro system). Take line D towards Gare de Creil.
Not far from Nice is the beautiful resort town of Cannes – darling of the French Riviera and famed for its international film festival. It’s also possible to travel by train to Cannes from London – simply get the Eurostar to Paris and change on to an SNCF service to Gare de Cannes. The total journey time is just over 9 hours.
Alighting from the train at the Gare de Cannes, you’ll experience a world of chic, boutique streets and beautiful architecture. Take a ferry to the Iles Saint Honorat and visit the Abbey of Lérins and the 15th Century monastery which offer a glimpse into the lives of cloistered monks. Later, return to the mainland and walk to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, a modern building complete with red carpet and Allée des Étoiles – Cannes’ walk of fame.
10 km inland from the Mediterranean is the old city of Montpellier. A combination of Eurostar and TGV trains makes Montpellier accessible in around 7 hours from London. Home to the Gothic Cathédrale Saint, a beautiful church dating back to 1364, the city also has a chic centre in the Antigone district where you’ll have a choice of hotels in which to stay. The Musée Fabre will interest those travellers who have a love of art – funded in 1825, there are extensive works by such painters as Delacroix and Raphael. Alighting from Montpellier St-Roch train station, almost everything is within walking distance. The weather rarely goes below 20 degrees Celsius in the summer months – it’s a perfect city to spend a few relaxing days.
Learn more about Montpellier on our Trains to Montpellier page.
What better way is there to take the family to Disneyland than by train? Luckily you can visit the enchanted kingdom direct from London. There are direct Eurostar services to Marne-la-Vallée–Chessy station (the station serving Disneyland) around four times per week throughout the year, with extra services during school holidays. If a direct service is available, we’ll show you in the booking process.
Otherwise, you’ll need to get to Lille-Europe and change to an SNCF service towards Marne-la-Vallée—Chessy. Switching trains in Lille is quick and easy to do as the station is small and only has four platforms.
Check out Trains to Disneyland Paris for more information.
You have two options to get to Lyon from London. Firstly, you can take the route that goes via Paris. From London St Pancras, a Eurostar train will whisk you away to Paris Gare du Nord. A quick hop onto the Paris Métro or the RER regional train will take you to Gare de Lyon, where you’ll board an SNCF service all the way to Lyon Part-Dieu station.
Alternatively, during the summer months (May to mid-September), Eurostar runs a direct service to the South of France (calling at Lyon, Avignon and Marseille) – no changes needed! The service runs between three and four times per week and takes 4h 45m to get to Lyon, departing London at either 07:15 or 07:19. Once in Lyon, there are plenty of attractions to see including Vieux Lyon (the Old Town), La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière and, next door to that, the old Roman amphitheatre.
Search London to Lyon trains.
Situated in the heart of Provence, Avignon has been home to Popes, French royalty and the like for centuries. At Paris Gare du Nord, transfer to Gare de Lyon and to an SNCF train to Avignon TGV station. If you like wine, good cuisine and tranquillity, Avignon has all three in good measure.
Another option only available in the summer is to take the direct Eurostar service to the South of France, mentioned above. Departing London in the morning, it takes just under six hours to reach Avignon TGV station. The station is about three miles out of the city centre, but you can jump on a shuttle train that’ll take you right to the centre.
For more information on what to do, have a read of our Trains to Avignon page.
Visiting Marseille by train is a great way of accessing the Mediterranean. First of all, you’ll go from London to Lille by Eurostar in no time at all. After that comes the main part of the journey, from Lille Europe station to the magnificent Marseille St Charles train station. As France’s second-biggest city, you can expect plenty in terms of entertainment, places to stay and things to see. The Old Port and the La Joliette neighbourhoods are not be missed on your trip to Marseille.
Marseille is the last stop on the summer Eurostar service to the South of France, so this is another way to get to Marseille by train.
Search London to Marseille trains.
The journey back to London
There’s one big difference on the way back to London from the South of France on the Eurostar. There are no passport checks at Marseille, Avignon or Lyon. Check-in and passport controls take place at Lille-Europe, where the whole train must disembark to go through security upstairs. As such, you can hop right on the train at your origin station, but be prepared to stop and wait for a little while at Lille while the train is thoroughly checked by customs officers and your passport is scanned at border control. There is a departure lounge at Lille-Europe where you can grab something to eat and use the bathroom.
From December to April, Eurostar runs a ‘Ski Train’ service twice a week. The night train (departing St Pancras at 19:45) operates on Fridays and the day train (departing at 09:45) runs on Saturdays. The train runs direct to the Alps, without a stop in Paris, calling at Moûtiers-Salins, Aime-La-Plagne and Bourg-St-Maurice.
Skis go for free on board (a big bonus over air travel, where you’d have to pay to put them in the hold) and you still have a two-bag luggage allowance – as per ordinary Eurostar journeys. For Val-d'Isère, hop off at Bourg-St-Maurice; for Val Thorens, Courchevel and Méribel alight at Moûtiers-Salins.
Hopefully we've given you more than enough travel inspiration, but if not, we've got a helpful 10 Day Itinerary for France. Make your French adventure unforgettable!