From 3 March, summer bookings open for high-speed rail between France and Spain, including the flagship Paris to Barcelona train.
On Thursday 3 March, booking for high-speed trains to Spain will open for summer, letting you buy tickets for travel from 3 July until 28 August 2016 to destinations including Girona, Figueres and Barcelona.
If you haven’t already, set an alert to be notified as soon as booking opens. Our robot slaves will be up at the crack of dawn on the day booking opens to send you a link to your search results.
The summer sale includes all of Renfe-SNCF’s high-speed trains including the flagship Paris-Barcelona service. But that’s not the only route to the Catalan capital by rail. We take a look at three ways to take the train to Spain from the UK.
The classic - high-speed train from Paris to Barcelona
TGV Duplex, all rights reserved SNCF.
Frequent and fast, the most obvious way to travel from the UK to Barcelona by train is via Paris. The high-speed, double-decker train from Paris to Barcelona takes just 6 hrs 20 mins and can be easily combined with a Eurostar from the UK.
The direct services depart twice a day year-round, increasing to three times daily in June and four in July and August. The summer timetable change gives additional options for travellers in the UK, making it possible to make the entire journey in one day from stations outside of London.
The trains are modern TGV Duplex which promise a comfortable ride as they travel south through historic cities of Montpellier, Perpignan and Girona. The journey south from Perpignan has good views of the Pyrenees. And keep your eyes peeled between Narbonne and Perpignan - the lakes (L'étang de l'Ayrolle) at the Narbonne Natural Park are home to a flamboyance of flamingos (and the occasional skinny dipper!).
From London, tickets from £90.00 one-way in Standard Class.
Avoid Paris - London to Barcelona by train, via Lyon
Eurostar, all rights reserved.
A more relaxing way to take the train to Spain is to hop on the direct Eurostar from London to Lyon and pick up an onward train to Barcelona. Though not possible every day of the week, this option means you can avoid changing trains in Paris, which can be a hassle if you’ve got lots of bags (or kids!).
The direct Eurostar runs three times a week off-season (April - June, September - October), and five times a week during July and August. It arrives at Lyon with plenty of time to change onto a high-speed AVE train from Lyon to Barcelona, which departs every afternoon, year-round. The entire journey from London to Barcelona by this route takes around 11 hrs.
From London, tickets from £83.00 one-way in Standard Class.
Travel overnight to Barcelona by rail, via Toulouse
AVE all rights reserved, Renfe.
Though many travellers are still mourning the loss of the Paris-Barcelona night train that was discontinued in 2013, it is still possible to travel to Barcelona overnight. It’s a good choice for those starting their journey outside of London who might struggle to catch an early morning Eurostar that is an integral part of the daytime journeys.
For this option, you’ll leave London mid-afternoon, and have time for dinner in Paris before boarding the direct Intercités de Nuit night train from Paris to Toulouse which delivers you there bright and early the next day. Here, you’ll have time to grab a cup of coffee which you can enjoy with a view of the Pyrenees on board the once-daily AVE train from Toulouse to Barcelona. The direct service takes just 3 hrs 15 mins, arriving in Barcelona mid-morning. Taking this route, the journey takes around 16 hrs.
From London, tickets from £106 one-way in Standard Class with a 6-berth couchette.
For more ideas of where to visit in Spain and how to book, check our guides to trains to Spain.