In 2020, public transportation in the larger Geneva region is a lot simpler with the Léman Express trains connecting seamlessly to neighboring France including popular day-trip destinations Annecy and Evian.
The Léman Express network is the largest cross-border railway commuting system in Europe. It allows for seamless connections between central Geneva and neighboring French cities including Annemasse, Évian, Thonon, Annecy, Bellegarde, and St-Gervais-les-Bains-Le Fayet. None of the Léman Express trains call at Geneva Airport – for transportation to Genève-Aéroport, change trains at Genève-Cornavin central station.
Léman Express Lines L1 – L4
The Léman Express public transportation network in the Geneva region consists of six railway lines. At the heart of the network are lines L1, L2, L3, and L4 that start from Coppet to the north of Geneva and offering at least four connections per hour with Annemasse in France to the east of Geneva via Genève-Cornavin central station in the center of Geneva.
Each of these lines go to a different destination in France – in some cases, a change to a regional TER train or even bus are necessary in Annemasse:
- L1 – connects Coppet via Geneva and Annemasse with Thonon-Les-Bains and Évian on the shores of Lake Geneva. Traveling to Geneva takes around an hour but Lausanne is still faster reached by ferry.
- L2 – connects Coppet via Geneva and Annemasse with Annecy, which is one of the best day-trip destinations from Geneva. Traveling time is around an hour from central Geneva and 1h30 from Geneva Airport.
- L3 – connects Coppet via Geneva and Annemasse with St-Gervais-les-Bains-Le Fayet. It is a great option to reach the mountains with connections to Chamonix and Mont Blanc.
- L4 – connects Coppet via Geneva with Annemasse. Although for tourists of lesser interest, many visitors may appreciate that hotels and accommodation, especially during trade shows or major conferences, are much cheaper in Annemasse than in Geneva – see Tripadvisor and Airbnb.
Most of the regional express trains running on the northern shores of Lake Geneva, including from Villeneuve, Montreux, Lausanne, Morges, and Nyon, now continue past Geneva main station to terminate at Annemasse in France. These trains usually only stop at Geneva-Cornavin and Geneve-Eaux-Vives and not at all the smaller stations between Copett and Annemasse.
Léman Express Lines L5 – L6
Léman Express Lines L5 – L6 follow a completely different route from lines 1 to 4. Both lines start from Genève-Cornavin main station and stop at Venier, Meyrin, Zimeysa, Satigny, and Russin before L5 continues to La Plaine and L6 continues to Bellegarde (Ain) in France.
Lines L5 and L6 are great for commuters but of lesser interest to foreign tourists. Even visitors to CERN would do better to use tram 18 from Cornavin rather than trying to reach it from the Meyrin stop on L5.
Tickets for the Léman Express Trains in Geneva and France
Tickets for the Léman Express trains are available from vending machines at every stop, as well as any other sales point for Swiss or French railway tickets. It’s also available online and on apps but short-term visitors may find the vending machines a lot simpler to use. The calculation of the fare is according to a complex set of agreements of no real concern to the traveler.
Tickets are valid for any form of transportation (but not the CGN boats) between the origin and destination. Stops and changes are allowed but no backtracking. Depending on the distance, travel is allowed for 90 or 180 minutes.
Day tickets are generally about twice the one-way fare and usually imply a return journey between two zones, e.g. Evian to Geneva, and then unlimited transportation within the destination – e.g. all Geneva’s Zone 10 buses, trams, trains, and mouette boats in Geneva city. It thus does not include unlimited travel between Evian and Geneva for the full day.