The famous flight of stairs between Marseille St Charles and the city

Lille to Marseille by train

How to take the train from Lille to Marseille by travelling on the more comfortable TGV InOui services

You can only take high speed trains across France from Lille to Marseille, but both the regular TGV InOui services and low-cost, but more basic, Ouigo services share the route.
It's particularly worthwhile to click on the Train Guides below so that you can compare the two train services.

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Routes

Option 1: taking the regular InOui services

Travel Information

Final Destination: Marseille

All trains also call at: Avignon TGV

Most trains also call at: Aix-en-Provence TGV

You can also now opt to travel from Lille to Marseille by Ouigo trains.
They're (much) cheaper than taking these standard InOui trains, but the on-board experience is more basic.

You also need to be at the station 30 mins prior to departure of Ouigo trains, so that you'll have time to pass through Ouigo reception.
Though those Ouigo TGV trains take the same high speed lines as these TGV InOui trains.

Mon - Sat = 3 x trains per day
Sunday = 4 x trains

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings usually open: 4 months ahead of the travel date - but bookings can open sooner when SNCF is running a promotion.

When booking 2nd class tickets only one type of ticket will be available per departure, discounted 'Prems' tickets or 'Seconde' tickets; though the price of Seconde tickets are also typically cheaper when they are first placed on sale.
When booking 1st class tickets there will be a choice of Premiere tickets and Business Premiere tickets.

The two key T&Cs of booking Prems, Seconde, or Premiere tickets are:

  1. Up until two days prior to departure, these types of tickets can be refunded for no additional charge (big tick), but a €15 fee will be payable for making a refund in the two days prior to departure.
  2. It's also possible to exchange tickets to an alternative departure on the same journey, but you will have to pay any difference in price between the cost you paid and the cost at the time of the exchange.

Though if you book Business Premiere tickets, the key T&Cs are that tickets can be exchanged and refunded free of charge up to 30 minutes after departure, so if you get to the station just too late to miss the train you were originally booked on to, you won't lose out financially.

Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for this journey, but rail pass users will need to be pay a reservation fee prior to boarding these TGV trains.

The price is dictated by demand per departure, so book ahead and try and be flexible re: your departure and arrival times, as trains leaving earlier or later can be cheaper.

This is a route on which the most heavily discounted 'Prems' tickets tend to sell out relatively quickly.

Seat Reservations:

Seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets for this journey, but rail pass users will need to be pay a reservation fee prior to boarding.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
SNCF Connect from €49

SNCF Connect Guide

SNCF is the national rail operator in France and not so long ago it recently simplified both the range of tickets and the term and conditions of using them.
Therefore the cheapest tickets also become more flexible too.

Other improvements included a simple integration of travelling with bicycles and rail pass users being able to book reservations for national journeys, without paying booking fees.

And it also recently launched SNCF Connect as replacement for its Oui.SNCF booking service.
You can set up a low price alert to let you know when the cheapest price is available for a future journey.

Something else to look out for is that simplest way of travelling with tickets is to use the SNCF Connect App, as booked tickets can therefore be stored on your mobile device, which can then be shown to the train conductors as proof of purchase.

SNCF Connect on Google Play

SNCF Connect in the App (Apple) store

SNCF also operates RailEurope, which is in effect a dedicated online booking service for making bookings from outside of Europe.
If you reside outside of Europe you may discover that SNCF Connect rejects phone numbers or card numbers, but RailEurope won't do so.
Though RailEurope will add booking fees when making a purchase

Download the SNCF Connect App from €49
SaveATrain from €49

SaveATrain Guide

Happyrail from €49

Happyrail Guide

Happy Rail is a Netherlands rail ticket agency which sells tickets for both national and international journeys within a range of countries including Belgium France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland.

HappyRail doesn't charge booking fees in the conventional sense, but if you're not Dutch you can expect to pay additional transaction fees, which will be added to the total cost.
That's because the most common form of online payment used in The Netherlands is 'iDEAL' and HappyRail doesn't charge a transaction fee for 'iDEAL' payments, but only Dutch residents can sign up to 'iDEAL'.
Other forms of payment include Visa debit cards will incur a fee.

Trainline from €49

Trainline Guide

On this journey

Journey Features

High Speed

Good to Know

On Mondays to Saturdays an additional TGV InOui service is typically scheduled to depart Lille at 06:45, but it diverts off of the high speed route in order to call in Douai and Arras, so it has a longer journey time of around 5hr 45mins.
Though it does depart from Lille Flandres station, which is closer to the city centre.

.

Between Lyon and Valence Between Lyon and Valence
Between Valence and Avignon Between Valence and Avignon
Between Avignon and Marseille Between Avignon and Marseille

Aside from the 40 min detour to serve Lyon station, these trains spend the entire journey on a high speed line, but it is primarily the speed that gives this journey its wow factor.

It's not a particularly scenic train ride, aside from the final 30 mins of the journey through Provence, so having something to watch or read with you is recommended.

Option 2: Save money by taking the more basic Ouigo services

Travel Information

Final Destination: Marseille

When making a train journey from Lille to Marseille, you now have a choice of travelling by standard TGV InOui trains or by these Ougio trains.

So you can now opt to save money, but have a much more basic on board experience, and travel on a Ouigo.

3 x trains per day

Tickets

Online bookings usually open: 6 months ahead of the travel date

Tickets for the alternative service of TGV InOui trains are usually made available 4 months ahead, so if you look up this journey more than 4 months ahead on SNCF Connect, you may only see these Ouigo services, but they are not the only option on this route.

What is particularly worth being aware of when booking tickets for journeys by Ouigo train services, is that:

  • Premiere/1st class tickets are not available.
  • Reservations are included when booking, as they are on the TGV InOui trains, but you can opt to pay additional fess, or book a more expensive type of ticket to select a specific seat (more info is available on the Ouigo 'Train Guide').
  • The more expensive type of tickets also include an additional luggage allowance, click the Ouigo 'Train Guide' to access more info on the luggage allowances on Ouigo trains; they're more restrictive than on a TGV InOui train.
  • You cannot book or collect tickets for Ouigo trains at stations.
  • The two key T&Cs of booking either of the two types of ticket available for journeys by Ouigo trains are:
  1. The tickets are not refundable.
  2. Exchanges to alternative departures are possible until 1 hour before the beginning of the boarding procedure, but they incur a fee of €10 per passenger, with any price difference between the old and new ticket(s) also added to this fee.

Though these factors, and more, are why you can make big savings by opting to travel by these Ouigo trains and not on the standard TGV InOui trains.

Eurail and InterRail Pass Users:

Rail passes cannot be used on Ouigo trains, but if you will be travelling with a 2nd class pass, our guide to using rail passes in France, explains why taking a Ouigo train can be worth considering

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
SNCF Connect from €16

SNCF Connect Guide

SNCF is the national rail operator in France and not so long ago it recently simplified both the range of tickets and the term and conditions of using them.
Therefore the cheapest tickets also become more flexible too.

Other improvements included a simple integration of travelling with bicycles and rail pass users being able to book reservations for national journeys, without paying booking fees.

And it also recently launched SNCF Connect as replacement for its Oui.SNCF booking service.
You can set up a low price alert to let you know when the cheapest price is available for a future journey.

Something else to look out for is that simplest way of travelling with tickets is to use the SNCF Connect App, as booked tickets can therefore be stored on your mobile device, which can then be shown to the train conductors as proof of purchase.

SNCF Connect on Google Play

SNCF Connect in the App (Apple) store

SNCF also operates RailEurope, which is in effect a dedicated online booking service for making bookings from outside of Europe.
If you reside outside of Europe you may discover that SNCF Connect rejects phone numbers or card numbers, but RailEurope won't do so.
Though RailEurope will add booking fees when making a purchase

Ouigo from €16
Trainline from €16

Trainline Guide

On this journey

Journey Features

High Speed

Good to Know

Something not particularly obvious, is that the fastest Ouigo service is quicker than the TGV InOui trains on this Lille to Marseille high-speed route, because it doesn't divert off the direct path in order to call at the main city centre station in Lyon; though this journey time saving will be negated by the need to be at the station 30 mins before the Ouigo train departs.

And that's because you need to pass through 'reception' before boarding a Ouigo train; staff need to verify that all passengers are abiding by the 'rules' of travelling on a Ouigo train, no additional un-booked luggage, no bikes etc.

Though a plus of taking a Ouigo for Lille to Marseille train journey can be that these Ouigo trains depart from the main city centre station, Lille Flandres.
While the quicker of the alternative TGV InOui services depart from Lille Europe station.

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