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.
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.