Fastest journey4hr 25m
This is one giant leap across France, but it’s easy on a direct high-speed train from Lille to Aix-en-Provence. This journey spans nearly 1000 kilometres from Flanders to Provence, but it can be done on a comfortable TGV in under five hours. The journey is a magnificent transect across France from north to south. If we have reservations, it is merely that the train often travels too fast to really gain any appreciation of the passing landscape. But this is high-speed travel showcasing the very best of French railway engineering.
For the cheapest fares, book when tickets are first released for sale. That’s normally three months prior to travel, but for journeys in the peak summer season bookings may open four months or even longer in advance.
Lille to Aix-en-Provence
Six high-speed TGV trains each day run directly from Lille Europe to Aix-en-Provence TGV station. The latter is not the city centre station in Aix, but a dedicated new station for high-speed trains south-west of the city. There is a regular bus link from the station into town.
Trains from Lille to Aix-en-Provence make four or five intermediate stops. The route tracks south from Flanders through Picardie, before skirting the eastern suburbs of Paris. Then it’s south through Burgundy to the Rhône Valley where all trains stop in Lyon and then at either Valence or Avignon before arriving in Aix.
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Image credits: filtran