Did you know that you can take a direct Eurostar train from London to the South of France in the summer? Not only is it a more eco-friendly way to travel from the UK than flying, but it is pretty quick too. I was amazed to discover that the journey time from London to Avignon is about the same as the train or car from London to Penzance in Cornwall! It takes around 5 hours 30/45 minutes. Trains can be delayed of course but so can planes and cars.
What time does the train leave?
For a villa holiday in Provence in July 2020, it’s an early start as the train leaves around 7am from London St Pancras. You arrive in Avignon by 2pm. On the way back you leave Avignon around 4pm and arrive in London around 10pm.
How much does it cost?
For a family of 4 travelling in July 2020, the price is about £350.00 return in total (when I looked today, January 2020).
How does the train compare to flying?
In my experience, there is less rigmarole by train. On the way out, you go through one passport and luggage check (this may change in future but that’s the way it is for now!). The platform is a few steps away, then you’re on the train and you’re done. Your luggage stays with you and there is no safety procedure or seat belts. On the way back, there is a further passport check at Lille which is a hassle, but it should run smoothly and it does break up the journey.
If travelling with children the train feels less restrictive than the plane. Book seats at a table, share a picnic and play a game of cards instead of being belted in, all in a row on an aircraft. On the train there is no waiting for a trolley to appear as you can visit the glamorous Eurostar bar – what a bonus! I like watching the changing landscapes, towns and cities from the train too.
When you arrive at Avignon station, unlike Marseilles airport, you simply walk off and out of the station without going through a further passport control or waiting for your luggage. It can be a liberating experience if you have ever queued at the slow passport control at the budget airline end of Marseille airport.
Travelling from Avignon station to your villa
You can easily hire a car or take a taxi to your villa from the station, arriving by 3 or 4pm in time for a glass of wine on the terrace, a siesta and swim in the pool! The station is closer to places like St Remy which is about 25 minutes drive from Avignon TGV station, whereas it is a one hour drive from Marseille airport.
What is Avignon and the surrounding area like?
There are gorgeous villas available for rental within easy reach of Avignon. The surrounding countryside is beautiful at the beginning of July because the lavender fields are in full bloom. The markets are brimming with fresh local fruit, vegetables, cheese and crafts. July is my absolute favourite time to visit Avignon for the Festival d’Avignon. The medieval centre is buzzing with street performers and there are hundreds of shows to see.
For ideas about where to stay near Avignon, please contact me with your dates and I’ll source you just the right villa. Read more about my favourite villas in Provence. My Top 5 Provence Villas with pools