Fastest journey9hr 12m
Travelling by train from London to Figueres became easy with the opening of the high-speed rail route that dives under the Pyrenees to link France with Spain. At present there is really only one viable connection each day on this route, leaving London around 9am and reaching Figures in the evening. It's perfectly possible to have breakfast in London and be in Spain in time for dinner.
The first leg of the rail journey from London to Figueres is with Eurostar to Paris. There you’ll need to change stations for the onward journey with an early afternoon French TGV train to Figueres. Bookings for this journey generally open 120 days prior to travel, and that’s the moment to get a cheap ticket.
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 Figueres
Direct TGV Duplex trains depart Paris from Gare de Lyon station. Book a seat on the upper level of this double-decker train for the best views. In Figueres, TGV services arrive at Figueres Vilafant, a station slightly outside town that serves high-speed trains using the new cross-border route from France to north-east Spain. Buses run from Figueres Vilafant station regularly into the town centre.
Speed is the essence of this journey, so there are not a lot of stops along the way – from three to six depending on the train you take.