Eurostar launches Lyon and Marseilles in May, redemptions priced at Paris rate

Eurostar is gearing up for the launch of its new route to the south of France in May.  Trains will head to Marseilles via stops in Lyon and Avignon – both of the latter have previously benefitted from Summer services but will now be served all year round.

At 6 hours and 30 minutes, Marseille will be a lengthy trip and it will be interesting to see how it succeeds against the airlines.  The city itself has been spruced up over the last decade, Barcelona style, and has a new luxury InterContinental hotel in the old port (below) as I wrote in 2013.

IC Marseille

If you have Eurostar Frequent Traveller points, there is some good news.  Lyon, Avignon and Marseille have been priced at the same rate as Paris – a genuine bargain given the 300% longer journey time!

That means you will need just 900 points for a return trip in Standard class, 1800 points in Standard Premier and 2500 points in Business Premier.  One-way redemptions are available for half the cost.

There are no black-out dates – although the number of reward seats per train is capped – and there are no ‘taxes and charges’ to pay!

If you are a few points short, remember that American Express Membership Rewards points can be converted to Eurostar Frequent Traveller points at the rate of 15:1.  Amex Platinum cardholders also receive entrance to the Eurostar lounge at St Pancras (and indeed Paris) simply by showing their card.  No guests are allowed although if your partner has a supplementary Platinum card then that will get them in.

PS. Remember that you can bypass the requirement to book a £250 Eurostar ticket before you can open a Eurostar Frequent Traveller account by doing an Amex Membership Rewards transfer, however small.  Eurostar will automatically open an EFT account for you when the points arrive.

Special 'part pay with Avios' deal gets you 1p per point (good for cheap tier points)
London to New York in Business Class for £500 return!
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Comments

  1. Nick Burch says:

    One other thing to note is that these journeys are longer on the return. Almost all Eurostar services clear security + immigration before boarding, at Paris/Lille/Calais/Brussels/Bourg etc, but these ones will just board normally and run up to Lille. On arrival in Lille, everyone needs to get off the train with alll their stuff and do the boring bits there. I think it adds about an hour, but does mean you don’t need to get to the departure station as early.

    I know quite a few people who’ve booked onto these trains for cash, pretty much when they were announced, and are now planning out their holidays around it, so there’s at least some demand!

  2. Mr Bridge says:

    900 points is that all? I think you mean 9000 Rob!

    • Mr Bridge says:

      I see what i did there

    • Nick Burch says:

      900 Eurostar points. I expect that with Avios, it’ll be similar to their other “south of France” services and cost 25,000 avios.

      You need to ring up and ask to find the cost of an Avios Eurostar booking, so if someone feels keen and has some time to spare… Best bet is to find 2 dates, one where it’s still the lowest price, one where the cheapest tickets have gone, then ask about those. (They won’t tell you the magic formula, but they will tell you avios prices for any train in reason and you can have the eurostar page up to see the cash prices to compare with)

  3. Richard Johnson says:

    Although it’s 6.5 hours travelling time, it doesn’t compare that unfavourably with flying if you take into account the whole journey time. Particularly for those living on a good train line.

    • Aeronaut says:

      Or of course those living in London, or indeed in or near Ashford in Kent where the train also stops.

  4. Best part of 7 hours wasted on an expensive, poorly catered and ramped train just to get to France?
    Madness

    • …as opposed to 2 hours to airport, 2 hours before departure, 1h45m flight strapped into small seats with young family, nothing to see from the window. Landing, waiting for luggage. Transporting luggage between house, car/train and airport.

      I’d say times are quite similar. Neither option is far better than the other to me. If i did the route, which i do most summers, id take each on its merits, timing, cost, etc.

  5. s33eetpea says: