With international travel taking a backseat to staycation escapes (thanks to the current COVID-19 pandemic), Londoners should consider travelling by train from London to France.
Not only are there carbon cost savings to be made versus flying (France recently voted to cut some short-haul internal flights that could be achieved via train), but rail passengers can enjoy the picturesque views of France’s undulating landscapes.
London to France on the Eurostar
The easiest way to travel by train from London to France is to hop aboard the Eurostar at either St Pancras Station in London or pick up the service just outside the capital at Stratford International. Some Eurostar services stop in the centre of Calais as well as Paris Gare du Nord so you have the option to pick up local services from SNCF and TGV and travel across France without changing in Paris.
London To Lille – I hour 22 minutes
Cultured, colourful and compact, Lille ticks all the right boxes for a short getaway. Just 20km from the Belgian border its cobblestoned streets and historic red brick buildings are full of Flemish influences. Take a stroll around the Grand Palace at Vieux-Lille, rummage through the second hand book market at the Old Stock Exchange, or sample the delectable delights at Aux Merveilleux de Fred’s in the gilded interior of the Meert.
London to Montpellier – 7 hours 5 minutes
Bathed in Mediterranean sunshine and just 10 minutes from the beach, Montpellier is a destination that will delight young and old. Wander through the splendid Place de la Comédie and on into the old town to admire the former wine merchants’ mansions with beautiful courtyards. The city’s superb Musée Fabre contains one of France’s richest collections of European art.
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London to Les Mans and the Loire Valley – 4 hours 25 minutes
Best known for its classic 24-hour car race – the circuit is worth a visit even if you’re not a motor-racing fan, Les Mans sits at the heart of the famous Loire Valley wine region. Consider basing yourself here and exploring the many vineyards and chateaux that surround the city as well as the cultural sights on offer within; Les Mans is home to an impressive Gothic cathedral and the 13th-century Royal Abbey of Epau.
London to Bordeaux – 5 hours 50 minutes
The wine capital of the world is easy to reach by train from London. Take a stroll along the banks of the broad, idle Garonne river, stop in at the Gothic St Michel church, whose free-standing spire is the tallest and most elegant building in Bordeaux; the views from the top are incredible. You could also consider a day trip to the beautiful town of Médoc which is home to a clutch of famous Bordeaux wine châteaux including Latour, Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild.
London to Marseille – 6 hours 28 minutes
Marseille is one of the Mediterranean’s most vibrant cities, as a major fishing port and commercial hub, it’s a place influenced by many different cultures since the Greeks founded it around 600 B.C. Today, it’s a colourful concoction of European and North African culture, famous for its fishy bouillabaisse stew, incredible Moorish architecture, and electric nightlife. Direct travel from London via the Eurostar is only available between June and August.
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