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Eurostar's London to Avignon tickets go on sale

Posted by Richard Hammond at 10:12 on Tuesday 20 December 2011

French Travel Service organises a 4-night city break in Avignon for £385 pp (based on 2 sharing) including standard class rail in a 3 star central hotelFrench Travel Service organises a 4-night city break in Avignon for £385 pp (based on 2 sharing) including standard class rail in a 3 star central hotelTickets for Eurostar's direct summer service from London St Pancras to Avignon in the South of France are now on sale.

From 7 July to 1 September 2011 inclusive, Eurostar runs a weekly direct service to Avignon from St Pancras International and Ashford International and back every Saturday (the latest return journey leaves Avignon on Sat 8 September).

The journey takes just less than 6 hours. Trains leave London at 07.17 and Ashford at 07.55, arriving right in the heart of Avignon at 13.47. Return journeys leave Avignon at 16.27, arriving at Ashford at 20.37 and St Pancras at 21.11.

Tickets are available from £109 return in standard class and £249 return in Standard Premier. Connecting fares are also available from over 200 towns and cities across the UK, including Cambridge from £131 return, Birmingham from £133 return, Bristol from £139 return and Newcastle from £149 return.

>> Book train tickets to Avignon

>> Holidays in Provence reachable by train

Tickets for Eurostar's service to Avignon have gone on sale slightly earlier this year to cope with increased demand. Nick Mercer, Commercial Director for Eurostar, said: “Our direct Avignon summer services grow in popularity each year, as people across the country see how easy and enjoyable it is to travel across Europe by high-speed rail. By opening sales to Avignon earlier than usual we are giving customers even more flexibility when planning their summer trip to Provence. Journeys with Eurostar avoid the summer scramble at the airports and increasingly, passengers see their journey as part of the holiday itself."

Here's our short 3-minute video on how easy it is to take the train from London to Avignon in the South of France:


(copyright Greentraveller Limited, uploaded via Vimeo)

How to travel from London to Avignon

There are three ways to travel by train from London to Avignon:

3. London to Avignon direct service (summer only)
From 10 July to 11 September, Eurostar runs a direct service from London St Pancras to Avignon on Saturdays only. It departs London St Pancras 7.17am, arrives Avignon 2.08pm. A return ticket costs from £109 return.
For timings and details of how to plan the journey, see our rail journey planner:
Train from London to Avignon Direct Service (summer only)   

1. London to Avignon Direct Service on Eurostar (takes just 5 hours 30 minutes and is the quickest route, but it only operates in summer, outbound departures are from 7 July to 1 September, on Saturdays only, inbound departures, ie Avignon to London, are from 14 July to 8 September, again, Saturdays only). It departs London St Pancras at 7.17am, arrives Avignon 1.47pm - the train station is just outside the city walls, from where it's a two minute walk into the city. A return ticket costs from £109 return in Standard Class (returns are also Saturdays only). For timings and details of how to plan the journey, see our rail journey planner: Train from London to Avignon Direct Summer Service (summer only)

2. London to Avignon via Paris (just over 6 hours, requires a short transfer across Paris by metro): Take the 8.55am Eurostar from St Pancras arrives in Paris at 1217, giving you time to make the 1315 from Gare de Lyon and be in Avignon by 3.56pm. NB. Unlike for Eurostar's direct service in summer, the arrival train station for the SNCF train from Paris is a few miles out of town, but there is a shuttle bus that takes about 15 minutes to get into the Avignon town centre and costs just a couple of Euros. The costs of the train travel is from £119 return (though you can sometimes find cheaper deals, especially if you book early). For timings and the low down on how to plan the trip, see our guide to: Train from London to Avignon via Paris

3. London to Avignon via Lille (just under 7 hours, but a simple change of platform at Lille):
Take the 9.53am Eurostar from London St Pancras, which arrives in to Lille Europe at 12.24pm, then it's just a quick change of platforms to catch the 1.33pm high speed TGV, which arrives in to Avignon  at 5.48pm. NB. Unlike Eurostar's direct service in summer, the arrival train station for the SNCF train from Lille is a few miles out of town, but there is a shuttle bus that takes about 15 minutes to get into the Avignon town centre and costs just a couple of Euros. The cost of the train travel is from £119 return (though you can sometimes find cheaper deals, especially if you book early). For timings and the low down on how to plan the trip, see our guide to: Train from London to Avignon via Lille

Dining alfresco in the centre of Avignon. Photo © Avignon TourismeDining alfresco in the centre of Avignon. Photo © Avignon TourismeWhat to see in Avignon:

The ancient city of Avignon is regarded as one of Europe’s loveliest medieval cities: flanked by the Rhône and approached through tall stone ramparts, it has cobbled, shady squares, covered markets and quirky museums, the famous Palace of Popes (home of medieval popes), as well as the twelfth-century Pont St-Benezet, the fabled bridge featured in the French children’s song Sur le Pont d’Avignon. 

Getting around the city
By bike: As featured in the video (see above), there's an excellent city bike hire scheme - they're free for the first half hour, then it costs a Euro for every hour.

You can also hire bikes at Provence Bikes (website is in French only) on Boulevard St Roch (tel. +33 (0) 490 279 261).

If you take the year-round TGV to the TGV train station 3km outside Avignon, you can pre-order bikes from Holiday Bikes (tel +33 0810 808 609)

Where to stay in Avignon and surrounding region
While there are plenty of places to stay in the city (see www.ot-avignon.fr), the surrounding region of the Ardèche is home to some hidden gems. Canvas Chic is a large yurt camp in a stunning setting near Mas de Serret above the Ardèche Gorge. There are twelve yurts: nine designed for families (with access to a conventional tent with a kitchen) and three intended for couples, a short walk into an oak forest in a more secluded part of the camp. The yurts provide the novelty, but the main feature here is the setting: a trail from the camp leads down the side of the gorge to an opening in the forest and out on to La Chataigneraie beach, where there’s an idyllic natural bathing area surrounded by towering limestone cliffs.

For higher views of the Ard
èche, stay at Les Roudils, a renovated three-room guesthouse near the village of Jaujac in the Ardèche Hills. The house is built of chestnut wood and stone, heating is solar-powered and you can enjoy views of the Tanargue Range from the terrace over a breakfast of poached eggs, pancakes made with chestnut flour, honey cakes and home-made jams. There are lots of walks available to work off that breakfast: in the valley, along the riverbank or higher up in the hills.

Relevant newspaper articles:
The Guardian has a section dedicated to Avignon.
The Independent has a City guide to Avignon and Provence
The Times has an excellent article by Paul Mansfield: Sur le train to Avignon
The Telegraph has published an useful guide to Avignon, The rail way to explore Avignon

Travelling in the Ardeche and beyond: Avignon is a bridge to the south of France: it is well connected by train and is the gateway to Provence and the Côte d’Azur. For B&Bs, holiday gîtes, hotels and camp-sites in the Ardèche as well as suggestions for where to go walking, canoeing and riding and a guide to local restaurants, see Ardeche Tourism.
For a comprehensive guide to Provence see www.provenceweb.fr.

>> Book a train ticket on Eurostar's direct train service to Avignon

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