Greentraveller's Guide to taking the direct train from London St Pancras International Railway Station to the south of France and then ferry across to Corsica.
Routes: Train from London to either Marseille, Toulon or Nice, then ferry across to Corsica
Journey Time: About 24 hours
Sample timetable: (summer only) Depart London 7.19am, arrive Marseille at 2.45pm then overnight ferry departs from Marseille at 7pm, arrives Ajaccio, Corsica at 06.15
Changes: Direct train to Marseille then transfer to ferry terminal for overnight ferry to Corsica
Frequency of Departures: 3-4 times per week
Carbon emissions (train leg): 15kg (flight would be 311.1kg)*
Car hire at Marseille St Charles station: Yes
What's the journey like?
It's a direct train from London St Pancras International Railway Station to Marseille St Charles station in the heart of the city. On board Eurostar, there’s a bar-buffet carriage that sells a range of hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including champagne, as well as snacks and wholesome, hearty dishes. For those with standard premier tickets, light refreshments are served at your table, including a fresh, light, healthy meal, tea, coffee and soft drinks, and a glass of wine or beer. It’s about 30 mins from London to the Channel Tunnel, then, after about 20 minutes, you emerge for the onward journey whizzing down through the beautiful countryside of France, passing picturesque French villages and along the Rhône Valley to Marseille (it stops briefly at Avignon to let passengers off). This direct service is a fast and efficient way to travel from London to Marseille in the summer.
On arrival at Marseille St Charles station
Bienvenue à Marseille! A city without too many airs, Marseille has a life and energy that more manicured destinations lack. The spectacular old port at its centre is surrounded by pavement cafes, restaurants and bars, and overlooked by an iconic hilltop church. Detour into the old quarter of Le Panier or the hippyish Cours Julien and you’ll find atmospheric architecture, bustling markets and some of the country’s most down-to-earth inhabitants. There are lots of hotels near to the station, see: Hotels near Marseille St Charles train station.
Various eco-districts are also in development across the city, with renewable energy, greywater recycling schemes, tree planting projects and bike paths part of the plans. The most high profile of these lies within the Euroméditerranée district; a 480-hectare urban renewal project between the commercial harbour, the Vieux Port (Old Port) and the TGV station.
The city is gradually moving towards a more sustainable future. With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, many public buildings in the city are being equipped with solar panels; it's said there are more roofs here than in any other city in France.
Getting around Marseille
Marseille has an excellent public transport network. From Marseille Saint Charles train station there are trams, metro and buses that take you around the city centre and to the main harbour and port, see: Marseille public transport timetables and routes (French only). Marseille’s handy City Pass is an allin package including free entry to many of the city's museums, a boat trip to the Château d'If, a trip on the Petit Train, reductions on certain other excursions, and unlimited travel on the buses, metro and trams. It is valid for one (€22) or two (€29) days. See Marseille Tourism for more information. From outside the station, you can pick up a bike from the city’s bike hire scheme Le Vélo.
Ferry from Marseille to Corsica
Corsica Linea operate an overnight ferry service from Marseille to Ajaccio, departing at 7.15pm. You can book either a seat or a cabin with beds. The journey takes 11 hours and you'll arrive at Ajaccio at 6.15am.