Fastest journey6hr 50m
It is a very easy journey by train from London to La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast of France. The journey starts with a high-speed run on Eurostar from London to Paris. In the French capital, it’s necessary to change stations, connecting in Paris Montparnasse onto a TGV direct to La Rochelle. The leg from Paris to La Rochelle is by no means a high-speed journey throughout. Once beyond the Loire Valley, you’ll travel for more than two hours on traditional rail routes where only slower speeds are possible.
At times when there is no convenient TGV direct from Paris to La Rochelle, additional connections are possible with an extra change of trains at Poitiers.
Bookings for the journey from London to La Rochelle normally open three months prior to the date of travel. However, at certain times of the year, Loco2 may be able to sell tickets for this route as long as four months in advance. Book early for the best fares.
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 Montparnasse
Cross Paris by Métro from Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse. To do so, head underground and follow the signs from the Eurostar platform to Métro line 4. Take the Métro in the direction of Porte d'Orléans or Mairie de Montrouge, which will get you straight to Montparnasse Bienvenüe in about 25 minutes. You should note that there's a 700m walk, along a moving walkway and up stairs and escalators, between the Métro at Montparnasse and the mainline station. We recommend allowing at least 45mins for the entire transfer.
If you arrive 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 Métro 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 La Rochelle
There are six to nine high-speed TGVs each day from Paris Montparnasse to La Rochelle. The train journey starts with an impressive high-speed dash, with most trains covering the first 218 km in less than an hour. Thereafter the pace slows, as the train follows traditional railway lines south-west via Poitiers to the coast.
Most trains from Paris to La Rochelle take just 3 hrs 15 mins for the 468-kilometre journey. Services on this route make between three and five intermediate stops on the journey. These TGV services all run to la Rochelle Ville station, just a 12-minute walk from the Vieux Port in the heart of La Rochelle.
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Image credits: La Rochelle © Raphael Chekroun