Eurostar travelers can avoid transfers in Paris by changing in Lille to TGV Lyria trains heading to Aigle, Martigny, Visp and Brig in the Valais valley in Switzerland.
Skiers using Eurostar trains from London or Brussels en route to Switzerland can now bypass Paris and travel by TGV Lyria trains from Lille to the Valais valley. This TGV Lyria train runs on Saturdays from mid-December to mid-April. Travel time from Lille to Brig is 7 hours (6 hours return). The TGV Lyria train connects well with Eurostar trains arriving from London and TGV trains from Brussels. Tickets for the TGV Lyria train from Lille to Switzerland (or all the way from London to the Valais) can be bought from Rail Europe UK or any other regular train tickets vendor.
TGV Lyria Trains from Lille to Switzerland
Train passengers traveling from destinations to the north of Paris to anywhere south of the French capital usually have to deal with schlepping luggage through Paris on the Metro or RER from one Parisian train station to the other. Transferring between Parisian stations, e.g. from Paris Gare du Nord (Eurostar) to Paris Gare de Lyon (TGV to Switzerland and the Alps), is reasonably easy but time consuming and involving long walks.
Skiers from London and Brussels en route to the Swiss Valais valley can join the lucky few passengers who can transfer in Lille rather than in Paris. On Saturdays, from mid-December to mid-April, TGV Lyria trains connect Lille with Brig without passing through Paris. This weekly train on Saturdays will also provide a fast connection to Geneva (but no stop on the way back).
TGV Lyria Schedule from Lille to Switzerland
The new TGV Lyria service from Lille to Switzerland will run on Saturdays from mid-December to mid-April. For the current winter season, trains will operate from December 22, 2012 to April 13, 2013.
The TGV Lyria timetable from Lille to the Valais is as follows:
- 10:02 Lille Europe
- 14:16 Geneva
- 1547 Aigle (transfer to Leysin, Champéry, Villars)
- 16:13 Martigny (transfer to Verbier, Mt Blanc / Chamonix)
- 16:38 Sierre / Siders (transfer to Crans Montana, Leukerbad)
- 16:57 Visp (transfer to Zermatt, Saas Fee)
- 17:08 Brig (transfer to Riederalp, Upper Rhone Valley resorts)
The 06:57 Eurostar from London and 08:18 TGV from Brussels connect well with the TGV Lyria departing for Switzerland. This is also a fast way to travel to Geneva without having to transfer in Paris.
The return TGV Lyria timetable from Brig to Lille:
- 12:51 Brig
- 13:02 Visp
- 13:41 Martigny
- 14:01 Aigle
- 18:55 Lille Europe
Eurostar passengers can take the 20:30 train to arrive in London at 21:06 while a TGV will arrive in the Belgian capital at 20:43.
Note that the Brig to Lille TGV Lyria train does not stop in Geneva.
In contrast to the Eurostar, the TGV Lyria trains have no check-in times.
Trains are generally the main mode of transportation for transfers to Swiss ski resorts from Geneva Airport. The stations in the Valais valley have excellent links to the ski resorts in the mountains. For skiers in France, the Eurostar ski train provides a direct through service from London to Moûtiers and Bourg St Maurice.