Fastest journey6hr 40m
It is an easy journey by train from London to Annecy. On those days when there is a direct Eurostar from London to Lyon, it is possible to use that, changing at Lyon onto a regional express train to Annecy. The more common route, though, is via Paris and that’s the one we describe here. Time it well, and you’ll be able to take a direct TGV from Paris to Annecy. Some itineraries via Paris require an additional change of train at Lyon Part Dieu.
Your journey from London to Annecy takes 7 hours and starts with a Eurostar from London to Paris. In the French capital, you join a TGV which runs directly to Annecy. This second leg is much the longer of the two, but it’s an interesting journey with some great scenery on the approach to Annecy.
Tickets for your journey from London to Annecy normally go on sale three months prior to the date of travel, but there are times when we are able to sell tickets on this route as much as four months in advance.
Alternatively, if you prefer an overnight journey, it is possible to take a night train from Paris to Annecy.
London to Paris
Board a Eurostar service from London to Paris. There are upwards of 15 trains to Paris from London each day with departures at least hourly from the beautifully restored station at St Pancras in London. The fastest trains speed to Paris in just 2 hrs 16 mins, with slower services taking up to 20 mins longer to reach the Gare du Nord in Paris. The first part of the journey from London sweeps through Thameside landscapes and rural Kent to reach the Channel Tunnel. Little more than an hour after leaving London 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. There is a luggage and body scan and you'll be asked to show your passport. 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 Annecy
About six to eight times each day, a high-speed TGV slips out of the Gare de Lyon in Paris for the direct run to Annecy. Most services make three intermediate stops on the 550-km journey. The route follows the Paris-Lyon high-speed line south-east from the capital through Burgundy before turning east and heading into the hills.
Trains then either run via Chambéry or via Bourg-en-Bresse. Opt for the latter if you can, as it includes a wonderful stretch as the train skirts the east shore of the Lac du Bourget to reach Aix-les-Bains. Sit on the right of the train for the best views.