How to buy tickets, what's on board the trains, how to use the stations, plus tips for making the most of the journey
When travelling between most cities by train there is only one logical option, though on other journeys there is a choice between different trains or alternative routes. If different options are available you can use the info to decide which is best for you.
from 7hr 5min to 7hr 45min (approx)
up to 4 x optimum connections per day
ShowMeTheJourney earns a small commission on Trainline ticket sales. It can be a particularly good option for: Comparing different train services; Booking international journeys with connections; Travelling between the UK to destinations beyond Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris - and for international travellers who don't reside in western Europe.
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 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
At St Pancras:
Eurostar is currently suggesting that Standard Class And Standard Premier ticket holders should be at the Eurostar departure area in St Pancras International 90 mins before departure; and that Business Premier ticket holders should be there 45-60mins prior to departure.
The departure gates will close 30 mins prior to departure for Standard Class And Standard Premier ticket holders; and 15 mins prior to departure for Business Premier ticket holders.
Our guide to taking a Eurostar from London is here.
Note that London is in a different time zone to mainland Europe, it is one hour behind; hence what can seem like a discrepancy between the journey time and the interval between the departure and arrival times.
Departing from the Gare De Lyon
This guide explains how to make the transfer between the two stations by RER train.
What's good to know is that the journey from stepping off the Eurostar to being on the concourse at Gare De Lyon will typically take 25-30min - depending on how long you will have to wait for an RER train.
Though the end-to-end journey options, with a total end-to-end travel time of around 7hr 35mins to 7hr 45mins, will allow more than 1hr 30mins between arrival at the Gare Du Nord and the departure on from the Gare De Lyon.
The alternative options
When looking up this journey on the ticket booking websites, you will see additional, alternative connections with 2 x changes of train.
Because there are also journey options will typically involve travelling via Geneva and connecting there for a train on to Lausanne.
Due to the timings of the arrival and departure in Paris, those alternative connections can be faster than taking the direct train from the French capital to Lausanne
Geneve station isn't a particularly awkward location in which to change trains and tickets will be valid on any train between there and Lausanne.
So if the price and/or timings suit, those journey options that involve travelling via Geneve are definitely worth considering.
Most departures will be by the e320 trains, but the e300 trains can also be used.
It's not a scenic journey, but it is a journey with SIX distinct phases and highlights:
1: For most of the first 8 mins of the journey the trains use tunnels to exit London (Stratford International station is located between the tunnels).
2: Then from the right of the train, there are views of the River Thames marshes and of the Queen Elizabeth II road bridge.
3: The third tunnel that the train will pass through is the tunnel under the River Thames.
4: Shortly after Ebbsfleet International station (can only be seen from the right of the train) is the scenic highlight of the journey - the crossing of the River Medway.
5: The train will slow down as it approaches The Channel Tunnel.
Announcements are no longer made that the train is about to enter the tunnel.
The journey through the tunnel will take around 22 mins.
6: There is little of note to be seen from the high speed lines in France.
Final Destination: Lausanne
If you're heading to stations on the route between Geneve and Brigue/Brig, including Montreux, Martigny, Vevey, Sion and Visp - then the optimum journey is to take these trains and make connections in Lausanne, rather than Geneve.
Which of two routes the trains take from Paris, via Frasne or via Geneve, doesn't impact on the availability of the onward connections - though if you take the trains which travel via Geneve, you'll have only 6 minutes to transfer into the onward trains towards Brig.
The direct trains from Paris to Lausanne take two different routes:
1 - Travelling via Frasne:
Around seven minutes after departure, the train will move on to the high speed line south from Paris and it will then travel at more than 270 km/h for around 1hr 10mins.
The video was taken from a train travelling in the opposite direction, but it give an idea of the journey experience on this part of the trip.
The train switches to conventional tracks for the remainder of the journey north of Dijon.
2 - Travelling via Geneve:
The first two thirds of the journey is on the same high speed line, but the trains to Geneve leave it farther along
The train will inevitably slow down when it leaves the high speed line, but the journey the becomes a lot more scenic once the train has passed through Bourg-en-Bresse.
Though the views are pleasant rather than amazing; this isn't a route to single out because you want to take a scenic rail journey.
If your reserved seat is on the right of the train (when facing the direction of travel) and you're on the upper deck , there are views of the river valley to be enjoyed, once the train has departed Bellegarde; and some glimpses of Lake Geneva for the final 25 minutes of the journey.
Book Early And Save: Yes
Online bookings open: up to 6 months ahead of the travel date
This booking period tends to be shorter when looking up journeys between mid August and mid October.
Eurostar does not sell tickets for this journey.
Seat reservations are automatically included when booking tickets for both trains.
Your ticket will not include the RER train across Paris from the Gare Du Nord to the Gare De Lyon.
Eurostar train's general ticket terms:
'Customers can exchange tickets for travel in Standard and Standard Premier class multiple times without paying an exchange fee, as long as tickets are exchanged 7 days or more before the departure time of their individual journey
Though if the new ticket option is more expensive the difference in price will need to be paid, but if it is cheaper the price difference won't be refunded.
But make the exchange within 7 days of the individual journey and an admin fee of £30 will need to be paid, along with the price difference
Tickets to travel in Standard and Standard Premier class are not refundable.
In contrast tickets to travel in Business Premier Class can be refunded and they can be exchanged to alternative departures without paying the admin fee, or the price difference'.
Eurostar's full ticket terms and conditions are here .
Making the connection in Paris:
There is relatively new E.U. legislation which protects travellers against financial loss in the event of missed connections due to train delays, but it only applies to 'through tickets'.
The Eurostar terms and conditions specifically state that when booking journeys which combine Eurostar + Thalys trains 'through tickets' will be issued.
'However, 'for all other journeys that combine a Eurostar Service and a service provided by another carrier (such as the Lyria train on from Paris) including when purchased in a single commercial transaction, those tickets will be separate contracts and issues regarding delays, missed connections, cancellations, compensation, and the management of aftersales will be handled accordingly'.
But SNCF /SBB, which operate the train on to Lausanne, have both signed up to Agreement on Journey Continuation (AJC) policy for when a traveller holds separate transport 'contracts' for an end-to-end journey involving more than one train.
So this agreement applies both when 'a bundle' of tickets / contracts is issued as the result of a single transaction - and if travellers have bought several different tickets for their journey, even from different sales channels/ticket providers.
As long as the passenger had planned enough connecting time to change trains (called “reasonable connecting time”), the AJC will apply.
So in usual* circumstances, if a delay to a Eurostar has caused a booked connection on to Lausanne to be missed, replacement tickets/reservations should be issued at the Gare De Lyon.
*= But that new E.U legislation specifically states that in exceptional circumstances, the train operators do not need to issue replacement tickets - and the terms and conditions on the SNCF Connect website reiterate this.
These exceptional circumstances specifically stated in Regulation (EU) 2021/782 of the European Parliament include:
Using Rail Passes on Eurostar:
Avoid this combination of trains if you will be travelling with a Eurail or InterRail pass, the rail pass reservation fees to travel by the Lyria trains are comparatively expensive.
Help keep us advertising and paywall free!Donate
This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.
We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.
Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.
So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please consider saying thank you.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.