Fastest journey7hr 25m
It is an easy journey by train from London to Zurich. The route favoured by most travellers is via Paris. The journey takes 7 hrs 30 mins and starts with a 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 Zurich. It’s a pleasant journey, one where the scenery becomes progressively more interesting as you approach your destination.
Tickets from London to Zurich 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 Zurich
The opening of new high-speed rail routes in eastern France has halved the travel time from Paris to Zurich. Six trains each day (five at weekends) now make the 616-kilometre journey in just over four hours. The direct TGV Lyria trains to Zurich all depart from the Gare de Lyon in the French capital. In Zurich they terminate at the Hauptbahnhof (which is shown as Zurich HB here on Loco2).
The route runs via Burgundy and the Franche-Comté region, using the new Dijon to Belfort line which opened in late 2011. Trains on the Paris to Zurich route all make two intermediate stops in France before crossing the Swiss border at Basel (Bâle in French) where all trains stop. From Basel, they run non-stop to Zurich.
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Image credits: Zurich © Sborisov