London to Marseille by train

How to take a thrilling high speed rail journey from London to Marseille

There are currently two* options for making the journey by high speed trains from London to Lyon:

1: travelling via Paris can be a cheaper option, but you will need to make the transfer across the French capital between the Gare Du Nord, which is where the Eurostar will arrive, and the Gare De Lyon, the departure station of the TGV train.

2: Or if you make the connection in Lille, you can make the transfer within Lille Europe station.

*If the direct London to Marseille train resumes operating in the summer of 2022, taking that train becomes the obvious best option.

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Routes

Option 1: travelling via Lille

Travel Information

Making the connection between the Eurostar from London and the TGV to Marseille at Lille Europe has the major advantage of avoiding the need to transfer between stations in Paris.

You'll have to make your own way across if you choose the alternative train journey option via the French capital.

This guide explains how to make the connection in Lille.

The alternative option via Lille:

Another daily option for a London to Marseille journey via Lille involves taking a low-cost, more basic Ouigo service on from Lille.
The 08:55 Eurostar from London is scheduled to arrive in Lille Europe station at 11:27 and the Ouigo service on to Marseille is scheduled to depart from Lille Flandres station at 13:01.
This route is available as an end-to-end journey when [booking with Trainline]https://www.thetrainline.com/).

Mon-Friday:
2 x options, departing London at 11:04 and 15:04

Saturday
1 x option, departing London at 11:04

Mon-Friday:
2 x options, departing London at 11:04 and 15:04

Changing trains in: Lille

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: 90 days ahead - usually

The very cheapest tickets tend to sell out particularly quickly on this route - they're more likely to be available if you can travel on a Tuesday - Thursday,

The ticket agents listed below will not charge a booking fee when buying tickets for this journey.

The search results for the London to Marseille journeys on these ticket agents, combine this journey via Lille with the alternative connections via Paris.
The journeys which offer the connection in Lille is the departures from London at 11:04.
It will typically have a 36 min connection in Lille into a train on to Marseille; pretty much ideal if the Eurostar arrives from Lille on time, and only very exceptional circumstances will prevent this from occurring.

In the event of a delay tickets can be transferred to subsequent departures by TGV InOui trains, though there won't be another departure from Lille Europe to Marseille for more than four hours.

A plus of booking with Eurostar.com is that you can access a 'Manage Your Booking' facility which enables you to change the seat on the Eurostar, that you will have been automatically assigned when making a booking.
Click on the Eurostar 'train guides’ for more information on how to do this.

The ticketing terms:

If you book Standard or Standard Premier tickets, you can exchange them if need be, to an alternative departure on your booked route; but if you want to transfer your ticket to a new departure less than 7 days before your travel date, you will need to pay an admin fee of £30 for Standard Class tickets, £40 for Standard Premier tickets PLUS the price difference with the new ticket you will be booking.
What's new, in response to the pandemic, is that these £30/40 charges aren't applied if you want to transfer to an alternative departure more than seven days before your travel date.

Business Premier tickets are less restrictive, in response to the pandemic they can now 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

Using Rail Passes on Eurostar:

Rail pass users can now pay reservation fees to travel on Eurostar trains, in a similar manner to other international European high-speed trains.
The new rail pass reservation fees are similar to the cheapest single journey ticket prices, but as those cheapest tickets can sell out quickly, it's likely that the rail pass reservation fees will save money.
You can purchase these online with no booking fees via B-Europe - or they ARE now available on the Eurostar website.

Booking in advance is recommended as it's not unknown for rail pass reservations on Eurostar services to sell out days or weeks in advance, there is evidently limited availability per departure.
You can obtain a rail pass reservations without paying a booking fee at Eurostar stations.
However, if you want to do this on the day of travel be prepared to be flexible re: the train you will take.

If you are a UK resident, your rail pass + reservation is only valid if you take a train from the UK on the first day that your pass is valid for and return to the UK on the final day that you will be using a pass.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Eurostar *

Eurostar Guide

In addition to direct journeys by Eurostar trains, the Eurostar website also sells

  • 'Any station in Belgium' tickets; the key feature of these tickets is that they live up to their name, so how distant your Belgian destination is and the journey time doesn't impact on the ticket price.
  • Journeys to SOME major cities in France not served directly by Eurostar– including Avignon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice, Nantes and Rennes.
  • Journeys to destinations in Germany that are served by direct ICE and Thalys trains from Bruxelles, including these cities; Aachen, Cologne/Koeln, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt (Main).

Eurostar also sells seat reservations to users of Eurail and InterRail passes without booking fees.

SNCF Connect *

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

RailEurope *
Trainline *

Trainline Guide

Omio *

Omio Guide

Omio is an online ticket agency which offers tickets for rail journeys in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.

The three key advantages of using Omio are

  • it offers prices in multiple currencies
  • it usually offers price comparison with other modes of travel including flights and buses
  • when visiting Europe, you can book journeys in multiple countries in one transaction.

The disadvantage of booking with Omio is that it often adds a booking fee to the final price; therefore when it does so without offering a price advantage, SMTJ doesn't tend to offer Omio as a booking option.

Journey Features

High Speed

Good to Know

As a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis Eurostar will be operating a particularly limited timetable for the time being - further information is available on Eurostar.com

Final Destination: Bruxelles-Mid or Amsterdam

Some trains also call at: Ebbsfleet International (07:04 on Mon-Fri; 09:12 and 13:15 daily) or Ashford International (07:28 on Mon-Sat and 18:28 on Sunday) these station calls have been suspended until further notice

Note that London is in a different time zone to mainland Europe, it is one hour behind - so when looking at a timetable the journey will look as though it's an hour longer.

Virtually all of the departures between London and Lille will be by the e320trains.

At St Pancras

Eurostar REQUESTS that holders of Standard Class And Standard Premier tickets check-in a minimum of 30mins before departure, and 45mins before departure on weekends and holidays.

If you have a Business Premier ticket, Eurostar recommends that you only have to check-in 10 mins before departure.

Our guide to taking a Eurostar from London is here.

The trains only call at Ebbsfleet or Ashford International stations to pick up passengers, so these station calls are not included on the departure boards at St Pancras International or announced on the train.

The Queen Elizabeth II road bridge seen from the right of the train The Queen Elizabeth II road bridge seen from the right of the train
Crossing The Medway Viaduct Crossing The Medway Viaduct
On the high speed line in France On the high speed line in France

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 line in France.

Journey Features

High Speed

Good to Know

Final Destination: Marseille

All trains also call at:  Lyon; Avignon TGV; and Aix-en-Provence TGV

Alternative trains:

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.

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: travelling via Paris

Travel Information

The Eurostar will arrive in Paris at the Gare Du Nord, but the TGV train on to Marseille will depart from the Gare De Lyon.

This guide explains how to make the transfer between the two stations by RER train.

Eurostar + TGV InOui:
Mon - Fri = 8 x connections per day
Saturday = 5 x connections
Sunday = 6 x connections

Eurostar + Ouigo
A additional daily connection is typically available which involves departing London at 09:31, but on this end-to-end journey you will be taking a more basic Ouigo service from Paris to Marseille.

Changing trains in: Paris

The alternative journey options:

You can avoid having to make that transfer across Paris if you take one of the two alternative options for travelling from London to Marseille by train.
(1) travel via Lille
(2) taking the direct London to Marseille train IF it is operating on your travel date.

Though travelling via Paris does have the advantages of:

  • more departures to choose from
  • and it tends to be cheaper too.
Tickets

Book Early And Save: Yes

Online bookings open: 90 days ahead

The very cheapest tickets tend to sell out particularly quickly on this route - they're more likely to be available if you can travel on a Tuesday - Thursday, or are happy to set off from London early in the morning.

The search results for the London to Marseille journeys on all of the agents below, combine THESE journeys via Paris with the alternative connections via Lille.

The ticketing terms:

If you book Standard or Standard Premier tickets, you can exchange them if need be, to an alternative departure on your booked route; but if you want to transfer your ticket to a new departure less than 7 days before your travel date, you will need to pay an admin fee of £30 for Standard Class tickets, £40 for Standard Premier tickets PLUS the price difference with the new ticket you will be booking.
What's new, in response to the pandemic, is that these £30/40 charges aren't applied if you want to transfer to an alternative departure more than seven days before your travel date.

Business Premier tickets are less restrictive, in response to the pandemic they can now 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

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Eurostar from £68

Eurostar Guide

In addition to direct journeys by Eurostar trains, the Eurostar website also sells

  • 'Any station in Belgium' tickets; the key feature of these tickets is that they live up to their name, so how distant your Belgian destination is and the journey time doesn't impact on the ticket price.
  • Journeys to SOME major cities in France not served directly by Eurostar– including Avignon, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice, Nantes and Rennes.
  • Journeys to destinations in Germany that are served by direct ICE and Thalys trains from Bruxelles, including these cities; Aachen, Cologne/Koeln, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt (Main).

Eurostar also sells seat reservations to users of Eurail and InterRail passes without booking fees.

Trainline from €78

Trainline Guide

SNCF Connect from €78

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

Journey Features

High Speed

Good to Know

As a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis Eurostar will be operating a particularly limited timetable for the time being - further information is available on Eurostar.com

Note that London is in a different time zone to mainland Europe, it is one hour behind - so when looking at a timetable the journey will look as though it's an hour longer.

When the usual timetable is operating;
The majority of trains have a journey time of 2hr 16mins and these trains are non-stop between London and Paris.
All departures from London after 14:30 are non-stop to Paris.

Depart from London before 14:30 some trains will call at either Ebbsfleet or Ashford International stations.
However as the trains only call at these stations to pick up passengers - these station calls are not included on the departure boards at St Pancras International or usually announced on the train.

At St Pancras International:

Eurostar requests that holders of Standard Class And Standard Premier tickets check-in a minimum of 30mins BEFORE departure, though this increased to 45mins on weekends and holidays.
If you have a Business Premier ticket, Eurostar recommends that you only have to check-in 10 mins before departure.

Our guide to taking a Eurostar from London is here.

The crossing of the River Medway - seen from the right of the train The crossing of the River Medway - seen from the right of the train
The Queen Elizabeth II road bridge seen from the right of the train The Queen Elizabeth II road bridge seen from the right of the train
From the high speed line between the tunnel and Lille From the high speed line between the tunnel and Lille

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.

Journey Features

Scenic - NoHigh Speed

Good to Know

Note that these trains to Marseille depart from the Gare de Lyon in Paris.

Final Destination: Marseille or Nice or Menton

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

The fastest trains of all are non-stop between Paris and Marseille- the trains which are usually scheduled to depart at 08:56 and 10:09 and 14:09.
In terms of distance travelled this is one of the longest non-stop European journeys by high speed trains.

Alternative Ouigo trains:

The low-cost, but more basic, Ouigo trains, now provide a direct alternative to these InOui trains for a journey from Paris to Marseille.
That's because there are now 3 x Ouigo trains per day from Paris Gare De Lyon to Marseille.

In terms of distance travelled this is one of the longest non-stop European journeys by high speed trains and you should be travelling at more than 270 km/h for more than 90% of this trip.
The train will head on to the high speed line around 10 mins into the journey and won't leave it until it reaches the outskirts of Marseille.

The route becomes more scenic on the final 30 - 40mis of the ride, when the train will be travelling across Provence.

On the high speed line between Lyon and Marseille #1 On the high speed line between Lyon and Marseille #1
On the high speed line between Lyon and Marseille #2 On the high speed line between Lyon and Marseille #2
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