Fastest journey5hr 31m
It is very easy to travel by train from Ashford to Avignon in the south of France. Avignon is served by a new direct train from London and Ashford to Marseille - which started operation in 2015. The travel time from Ashford to Avignon is just over five hours – a remarkable example of high-speed rail bringing the sunny south of France within easy reach of south-east England.
The direct service from London and Ashford to Avignon TGV operates up to five times each week - that peak frequency is reserved for the summer season. During spring and autumn there are typically three trains per week in each direction. Note that winter services are sparse, with at most one train each week - and then only around Christmas, the New Year and the English half-term school holiday in February. So there are winter periods with no direct train at all. But there are of course plenty of alternative routes to the direct train, with multiple options each day requiring an easy change of train in Lille or Paris.
Bookings for the direct train are presently open until autumn 2017. Bookings for indirect routes (ie. with a change at Lille or Paris) usually open three to four months prior to travel.
Ashford to Avignon
You’ll join the Eurostar train to Avignon at Ashford International station. Shortly after departing, the train dives into the Channel Tunnel. Soon you’ll be in northern France, travelling through Flanders’ fields towards Paris. The train skirts the east of the French capital and then dashes south through Burgundy to the Rhône Valley. You’ll make a stop in Lyon before arriving in Avignon, where the train stops at the out-of-town TGV station. There is a local connecting train to Avignon Centre, which only takes a few minutes.
On the return journey from Avignon TGV to Ashford, there is an extra stop at Lille Europe. The UK Border Force requires this stop in order for the authorities to carry out immigration checks before the train enters the Channel Tunnel.
It is very easy to travel by train from Ashford in Kent to Avignon. Eurostar run a direct service on some days, but if that train doesn’t operate on your preferred travel date, then there’s a good alternative route via Paris.
The journey from Ashford to Avignon via Paris kicks off with a high-speed run on Eurostar from Ashford to Paris, where you will need to change stations. The second leg from Paris to Avignon takes under three hours; it includes some very good scenery as the train dashes south from Paris through Burgundy.
Bookings from Ashford to Avignon via Paris normally open three or four months prior to travel.
Ashford to Paris
Board a Eurostar service from Ashford International to Paris Gare du Nord. There are normally three non-stop trains each day from Ashford to Paris. But note that there are just two departures on Sundays. The journey takes just under two hours. Within 20 minutes of leaving Ashford, the train reaches the Channel Tunnel. Less than an hour after leaving Ashford you’ll already be in northern France, tracking south through Flanders’ fields towards Paris.
Remember to factor in at least half an hour for Eurostar’s airline-style baggage check prior to boarding your train. This is a light-touch security scan, and there are no restrictions on taking liquids on board Eurostar trains.
Paris interchange: Paris Nord to Paris Lyon
When you alight from the train at Gare du Nord look for signs to the Metro and RER. Once you've bought a ticket follow the signs to 'RER D', direction 'Melun' or 'Malesherbes'. So long as you're heading in the right direction, all the trains on this line stop at Gare de Lyon. The actual train journey takes around 10 mins with just one stop on the way at Châtelet-les-Halles. Upon alighting from the RER train at Gare de Lyon, follow the signs to the mainline station. The signs read 'Accès aux trains Grandes Lignes'. The whole journey from the concourse at Gare du Nord to the mainline departure platforms at Gare de Lyon will normally take about 40 mins but we recommend leaving at least 50 mins.
If you are arriving at Gare du Nord from London, bear in mind that you can buy Paris Métro tickets at the Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras and on board the Eurostar train. Similarly, passengers arriving at the Gare du Nord on Thalys trains from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands can buy Metro tickets on the train (at the Thalys Bar). Although universally referred to as Métro tickets, they are in fact valid on RER trains too.
Paris to Avignon
Trains from Paris to Avignon leave from the Gare de Lyon in the French capital. All but a handful of the TGV and double-deck TGV Duplex trains on this route run to Avignon TGV station, which is well out of the city centre. Most of these high-speed trains run non-stop between the two cities.
A small number of trains run to Avignon Centre instead of Avignon TGV. This is much more convenient for the heart of medieval Avignon. Local train services connect Avignon TGV with Avignon Centre station.
Other journeys to Avignon View all journeys to Avignon
- From Arles from £5.50
- From Nice from £31.50
- From Madrid from £86.50
- From Lille from £26.50
- From Nîmes from £7.00
- From Barcelona from £36.50
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Image credits: Bernard Blanc