Fastest journey5hr 17m
It is a very easy journey by train from London to Nantes in the lower stretch of the Loire Valley in France. The journey from London to Nantes starts with a high-speed run on Eurostar from London to Paris. Then you take the Métro to Montparnasse, connecting there onto a French TGV train direct to Nantes. That run from Paris relies in part on a new high-speed line which opened in July 2017.
The route with the best choice of departures is that via Paris, where a change of stations is required. The journey from London via Paris right through to Nantes takes about six and a quarter hours. There is an alternative to the Paris routing, with usually just one or two itineraries each day, requiring a change of trains at Lille Europe (instead of Paris). That route via Lille gives a remarkably quick journey time of under six hours from London to Nantes.
Bookings for the journey from London to Nantes normally open three months prior to 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 Nantes
High-speed TGVs to Nantes depart from Paris Montparnasse. The fastest trains dash non-stop to Nantes in under two hours - the timing was much improved in July 2017, with the opening of a new stretch of high-speed line. Other trains from Paris to Nantes make up to four stops along the way, and may take as much as two-and-a-half hours for the 390-kilometre journey.
The train follows a modern high-speed line south-west from Paris and then diverges off onto a traditional line for the final stretch to Nantes. These direct trains from Paris all run to the city centre station in Nantes, from where it is just a short walk west to the château and cathedral.