Fastest journey8hr 44m
The train from London to Perpignan is a very straightforward journey, with two stages. Take a Eurostar train from London to Paris, then a high-speed TGV to Perpignan. A change of stations is necessary in Paris, but that's a hassle-free interchange. Most days, you'll find a choice of four different departure times on the London to Perpignan route. There are certain peak travel days (normally Fridays and Sundays) when an early afternoon departure from London with one easy change of train in Lille Europe is also possible, but by and large the route via Paris is the best option.
The journey is an interesting one, crossing much of France along the way. On Eurostar, you'll sweep through Picardie. Later, as your TGV speeds south, you'll clip the western edge of Provence. This really is 'France in a day'. Bookings for this route usually open three months in advance, and that's the moment to book if you are keen to get the cheapest fares.
There are several other options for taking the train to Perpignan.
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 Perpignan
The high-speed TGV train from Paris to Perpignan takes just under 5 hrs, generally leaving Paris Lyon at about 2-hr intervals. These TGV (or double-decker TGV Duplex) trains speed south from Paris, skirting Burgundy and the Rhône Valley, then running west along the coast beyond Montpellier. There are generally half a dozen stops between Paris and Perpignan. You'll arrive in Perpignan at the main station which is about a 20-min walk west of the city centre.
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