Direct Eurostar to Avignon and the south of France

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Tickets are on sale now for Eurostar's new seasonal service to the South of France - Loco2 takes a closer look.

From May 4 until June 29 2013, Eurostar will operate a new high-speed train direct from London St. Pancras to Lyon and Aix-en Provence in the South of France. The new service follows the success of Eurostar’s seasonal train to Avignon and the direct ski train to the Alps, both of which continue to grow in popularity. Tickets are now on sale for the entire period so book now to give it a whirl!

The new service to the South of France is an addition to the current direct Eurostar to Avignon from London. With a plan to run the train weekly alongside the Avignon service, the new route will allow passengers to travel direct from London St. Pancras International or Ashford International to Lyon, en route to Avignon, last stop Aix-en-Provence. The existing Avignon service will continue running beyond June, until September 13th 2013.

Here’s a look at the new Lyon-Avignon-Aix service alongside the usual summer service to Avignon timetable for comparison:

Route map of Eurostar direct service to south of France

 

The new direct Eurostar service bypasses Paris altogether, slashing the journey time, meaning you could be in Provence in less than 6hrs, good news for those looking for a short break in France beyond the French capital! The outward London – Aix-en-Provence journey will have three intermediate stops (Ashford, Lyon, Avignon) clocking in at 5hrs 17 min, while the return journey will be 7hr 42mins to allow for a mandatory stop in Lille.

Passengers making the return trip from France to the UK will disembark at Lille Europe with their baggage to undergo security and border control, a process Eurostar estimate will take 80 mins. This is a change to the usual check-in service, prior to boarding, which Eurostar will waive as they say it would be ‘logistically complex’ and ‘unrealistic’ to expect checks to be run locally at departure stations for a trial service. As a consequence Eurostar will waive the usual 30min check-in before boarding and will be looking to see how passengers respond to the additional step at Lille.

Tickets for new direct Eurostar

Tickets for the London – Lyon – Aix-en-Provence go on sale on December 11th (that’s today!). As with Eurostar’s other seasonal services, all the tickets for the entire period, from 4th May until 29th June, 2013 go on sale on the same day so there’s no need to wait for the usual 120 day booking period. Better get in there quickly. You can buy these train tickets on Loco2 by searching on Saturdays, from May 4th-June 29th, and searching for trains in the morning.  Search for direct Eurostar tickets now.

Return fares to Lyon will start at £99 while prices to Aix-en-Provence are expected to begin at £109 return (or £71 one-way). In Standard Premier the return fares are £199 and £259 respectively.

Timetable from London to Lyon, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence

There will be once-weekly service to Aix-en-Provence on Saturday mornings, 4th May to 29th June, 2013. So this really is an experiment for Eurostar with only 9 departures for the whole season. Return trains will depart on Saturday afternoons during the same period. This train stops at the TGV station for both Avignon and Aix rather than the main railway station. Avignon is just a couple of minutes from the city centre while Aix-en-Provence TGV is a 20min bus ride away. Hardly a deal breaker, but worthy of note all the same.

Outbound

St Pancras International 0717hr
Ashford International 0755hr
Lyon Part Dieu 1300hr
Avignon TGV 1409hr
Aix-en-Provence TGV 1434hr
Inbound
Aix en Provence TGV 1557hr
Avignon TGV 1621hr
Lyon Part Dieu 1738hr
Lille Europe* 2204hr
Ashford International 2209hr
St Pancras International 2239hr

* Change of trains in Lille Europe for border control checks

London to Avignon direct train, summer services

The timetable for the existing London-Avignon train is as follows: 9 weekly services from London to Avignon by train next summer, operating on Saturday mornings from 6th July – 7th September, 2013*. Return services depart Avignon on Saturday afternoons during this time.

Outbound

St Pancras International 0717hr
Ashford International 0755hr
Avignon Centre 1353hr

Inbound

Avignon Centre 1627hr
Ashford International 2038hr
St Pancras International 2112hr

*No service will operate on Saturday 17th August due to engineering works.

At Loco2 we’re excited to see a broader range of direct holiday destinations by train and a wider choice and flexibility with timetables for planning trips and hope this train makes waves!

Image: Thanks to Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs reproduced with thanks under a Creative Commons Licence
  • Jim

    This is a great first step but not great timing for a short break!

  • Anonymous

    We agree it’s not ideal to have a week between outbound and return trips, but hopefully the trial will lead toward more services further down the line.

  • Lpg Spain

    Travel High Speed from London to Malaga

    The new and latest link in the Spanish AVE high speed train
    network was opened today between Barcelona and Figueres on the
    Spanish/French border. So now you can catch the high speed train from
    London to Paris, change for a train to the Spanish border, hop on the
    next stage to Barcelona, and finally change for the non-stop AVE link
    right the way though to Sevilla, Cordoba and Málaga in southern Spain.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, we’re really excited about the high-speed link between Figueres and Barcelona and we’ll update our Barcelona pages as soon as it becomes available to buy online. http://loco2.com/destinations/spain/trains-to-barcelona

  • http://www.facebook.com/fbager Frederic Bager

    Given that one needs to stop in Lille on the way back anyway, there are plenty of TGV-Eurostar connections daily that would take roughly the same time and cost the same. So one could do a short break that way.