Fastest journey7hr 23m
It is an easy journey by train from London to Berne in Switzerland. The route favoured by most travellers is via Paris. The journey takes 8 hrs 20 mins and starts with an early afternoon high-speed run on Eurostar from London to the French capital, where you change stations. At the Gare de Lyon in Paris, you join a TGV Lyria train for the onward journey to Berne, giving a late evening arrival in the city. If you want to travel earlier in the day, your best bet is to travel via Paris and Lausanne, from where it is just one hour on a Swiss domestic train service to Berne.
Tickets from London to Berne via Paris will normally be available four months prior to travel. If you are keen to get a good deal, then it is wise to book as soon as tickets are released for sale.
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 Berne
Fast direct TGV Lyria trains to Berne leave from Paris Gare de Lyon. In Berne, these trains arrive at the main station, from where it is a short walk east into the Old Town. There is only one direct train each day from Paris to Berne and back. It leaves Paris early evening, returning from Switzerland to Paris the following morning. Additional options, all requiring a change of train, are available via Lausanne.
The direct trains from Paris to Berne make four intermediate stops, two in France at Dijon and Mulhouse, and two in Switzerland at Basel and Olten. The route follows a high-speed line south-east from Paris, cutting through Burgundy to reach the Franche-Comté region, where the train traverses pleasant hill country to reach the Swiss border. From Basel, the pace is slower as the train follows winding valleys south towards Berne.
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Image credits: © Sergiyn