Avignon Centre station facadeThere are two train stations serving Avignon, the TGV (high-speed train) station in the suburbs and Avignon Centre, near the town centre. This is a guide to both, and to rail travel to and from Avignon.

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Avignon TGV Station

Where: chemin du Confluent, La Courtine, 84008 Avignon. Website for Avignon TGV station. Click here to view live train arrivals at and live train departures from Avignon TGV station.

Designed by the architects Jean-Marie Duthilleul and Jean-François Blassel, the sleek, elegant contours of Avignon TGV station are intended to evoke the shape of an upturned boat. Located 9 km / 5.5 miles south-west of the city, it first opened its doors on 10 June 2001 as part of the then-new high-speed rail link between Paris and Marseille.

With the exception of some services from Paris and the direct summer Eurostar from London Saint Pancras, which takes less than six hours and terminates at Avignon Centre, most TGV trains will pass through this station.

GETTING TO AND FROM THE STATION

There are two exits from Avignon TGV station. Outside the south exit is a wide choice of car parks (long-term, short-term, subscription only, etc.) offering a total of 1850 parking spots. A dépose minute (kiss and ride) facility offers the first 20 minutes free.

A number of car hire companies are housed in a row of cabins opposite the exit. Most of the major ones are represented, including Avis, Hertz, Europcar, National/Citer, Alamo and Sixt.

Our affiliate partner, carrentals, is a comparison search engine for all grades of hire car from Smarts to 4x4s and limousines. It will instantly compare the current rates on offer from all the suppliers at Avignon TGV station to ensure you get the best deal.

Taxis which have been ordered in advance should (in theory) pull up at the south exit.

Insider tip Avignon taxisExercise caution when picking up a taxi in Avignon. In early 2014 a public investigation found that, in spot checks, 18 out of 19 taxis taken at one of the city's two train stations had overcharged passengers.

Watch out for the illuminated letter "D" on the meter: it indicates you are being charged a higher, night-time tariff which should only apply between 7pm and 7am. Other popular scams are surcharges for non-existent extra baggage or pets. Click here to pre-book a holiday taxi to or from Avignon TGV station with our affiliate partner, Holiday Taxis.

Outside and to the left of the north exit is the bus-stop for the transfer to the Auto/Train Shuttle and a rank for taxis which have not been ordered in advance. Pictured below: the gates to the north exit/entrance of Avignon TGV station.

A new rail link known as the Virgule, or Comma, has opened between Avignon's two rail stations, which were previously connected only by taxi or bus (the shuttle bus is now discontinued). The journey time for the 4 km / 2.5 mile stretch is five minutes and there is a service throughout the day.

Entrance to Avignon TGV stationFurther to the left is the grandly named gare routière (bus station), in fact just a row of half a dozen bus-stops from where you can travel onwards to Apt, Digne, Pont Saint Esprit, Isle sur la Sorge, Cavaillon, Arles and other destinations.

To the right as you go out the north exit are a motorbike park and two car parks, P0 for short term parking and P1 for long-term (pay for the parking ticket at the machine by the station exit).

In terms of road access, Avignon TGV Station is not well signposted. If driving there, the following suggested route from the A7 motorway is not the most direct, but it is by far the easiest to find.

Leave the A7 at exit 23 (Avignon Nord). Follow the signs towards the centre of Avignon. Keeping the river on your right and the walled city on your left, drive past the Pont d'Avignon and two more river bridges. Then the road takes you to the left away from the river. Keep straight on for 1 km / 0.6 miles and you will see the station in front of you

STATION FACILITIES

Inside Avignon TGV station are vending machines, several sandwich bars, and a chain cafeteria called Oh! Poivrier, which sells burgers, salads and other light meals - and (this being France) champagne.

A Relay newsagent has foreign-language newspapers and magazines as well as maps, guide books and SIM cards (une puce in French) for mobile phones / cell phones.

Also in the station concourse are an Avignon Tourism information desk and a Welcome desk (Accueil), where assistance may be requested for disabled passengers. To do this in advance, telephone (+33) 890 640 650 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

There is no left luggage office or lockers, or free wi-fi. For Lost and Found enquiries (Objets Trouvés), try the Welcome desk or Avignon Centre station, tel (+33) 4 90 27 81 69.

Outside the south exit is a post-box and, to the right as you go out, a cash dispenser (ATM or Retrait d'Espèces).

TRAIN ROUTES TO AND FROM AVIGNON TGV STATION

The TGV route from Paris has slashed journey times to Avignon to around two hours 40 minutes. If travelling from London, take the Eurostar and change trains in either Lille or Paris (unless you are catching the direct London-Avignon service that runs during the summer).

The dining roon of Le Train Bleu restaurant, ParisThe advantage of Lille is that the onward TGVs leave from the same station. Paris offers more trains and the total journey time is shorter, but you will need to cross the city, either by taxi or by RER, from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon: allow at least 90 minutes to do this.

You could do the trip in a leisurely style and have a drink or a meal in the incredible Le Train Bleu restaurant (pictured) in the Gare de Lyon. Built in 1900, it is decorated in full Belle Epoque splendour with 41 magnificent ceiling frescos giving Parisian diners a foretaste of their destinations in the South of France.

Another, cheaper restaurant is the Brasserie l'Européen, right opposite the main entrance to the Gare de Lyon. It has a flamboyant interior with Art Nouveau chandeliers and Tiffany lights (and a clock whose hands go backwards), a handy locker room for suitcases and a medium-priced set menu.

The choice is small and basic, but of excellent quality and hot meals are served throughout the day. The set menu might feature "ocean pearls" (aka oysters), steak, duck or fish and a dessert. The house speciality is rum baba. Brasserie l'Européen, 21 bis boulevard Diderot, 75012 Paris. Tel:(+33) 1 43 43 99 70.

Avignon TGV station is just 30 minutes from the centre of Marseille. There are also direct TGV services between Avignon and Aix en Provence, Brussels, Lille, Lyon, Geneva, Toulon and Nice, as well as less frequent ones with Barcelona, Dijon, Frankfurt, Hyères, Madrid, Montpellier, Nantes and Strasbourg.

And a more recent addition is the "Ouigo" low-cost, high-speed train introduced by the SNCF in 2013. You can take this train from Avignon TGV to Lyon or Marne la Vallée, just east of Paris (the station for Euro Disney).

News for EurostarEurostar has confirmed a new direct rail service between London and Marseille starting on 1 May 2015 and operating all year round. The company previously ran a direct summer-only service between London and Avignon.

eurostar trainThe London-Marseille train will stop in Ashford, Lyon and Avignon TGV on its way south. Northbound trains have an extra stop in Lille where passengers must pass through security and passport control before entering the UK. Trains will run "up to five times a week" and tickets are now on sale.

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BUYING TICKETS

There is a ticket office at the station but you can book TGV tickets in advance on the official TGV-Europe booking site. TGV tickets can be printed on your own computer before departure, just like a low-cost airline ticket.

Avignon TGV stationIt is worth checking the first-class fare, which might be little more than the second-class fare for the same journey and is sometimes even cheaper. Look out, too, for trains marked iDTGV when booking trains from Paris to Avignon.

They are exactly the same as other TGV trains except that all the seats are offered below the standard full fares, and can only be bought in advance on the Internet. The iDTGV fares are targeted at younger travellers but in fact there is no age restriction on them.

Like the Ouigo and TGV trains, some iDTGVs are double-deckers, or "duplexes". To secure a seat on the top deck, select the seating zone option "iDzap" when booking online. The lower-deck seats are in the zone "iDzen", which is supposedly quieter though in practice there's not much difference between them.

Avignon Centre Station

Signpost outside Avignon Centre stationFirst opened in 1860, the spacious Avignon Centre station lives up to its name: it's just outside the city walls, a short (five to ten minute) walk from the Place de l'Horloge, the Palais des Papes and the other main tourist areas.

Click here to view live train arrivals at and live train departures from Avignon Centre station. And click here to read about the ZOU! card which offers up to 75% discount on local train travel.

Where: boulevard Saint Roch, BP 175, 84008 Avignon Cedex. Website for Avignon Centre station.

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GETTING TO AND FROM THE STATION

In front of the station is a taxi rank: tel: (+33) 4 90 82 20 20. Click here to pre-book a holiday taxi to or from Avignon Centre station.

You will also find long- and short-term car-parks. You can pre-book a parking spot at Avignon Centre station here. There is a free dépose minute (kiss and ride) facility.

The only car rental company in the station is Avis, which has a desk in the train ticket office in the concourse (note: it's closed on Sundays).

To find the nearest local bus hub, cross the road in front of the station, enter the city gate and take the first street on your left. The bus-stops are in front of the main Post Office (La Poste).

A new rail link known as the Virgule, or Comma, has opened between Avignon's two rail stations, which were previously connected only by taxi or bus (the shuttle bus is now discontinued). The journey time for the 4 km / 2.5 mile stretch is five minutes and there is a service throughout the day.

For the regional bus station (la gare routière), turn right out of the station and right again after the Ibis hotel. It's a five to ten minute walk. From here buses go to Orange, Cavaillon, Carpentras, L'Isle sur la Sorgue, and other destinations. It also has a left luggage facility, unlike the train station (see below).

Slightly to the left as you exit the station is the bus-stop for the transfer to the Auto/Train Shuttle.

STATION FACILITIES

On the left as you exit the station is a cash dispenser (ATM) and a left luggage office, although this has been out of use since the summer of 2011 (its X-ray machine is broken). However, the regional bus station (see above) does have a left luggage facility. On the right is an Ibis hotel, which also has a restaurant offering a slightly wider range of food than you will find in the station.

Eurostar at AvignonInside the concourse you can buy drinks and snacks from vending machines, a sandwich bar or an Irish pub which serves salads and light meals. By the pub entrance is a bank of payphones and a lift / elevator to the far platforms (there is also an escalator).

The Relay newsagent and tobacconist has a selection of foreign-language newspapers and magazines as well as maps and guide-books and should sell SIM cards (une puce in French) for mobile phones / cell phones.

Also in the concourse are a photobooth and a Welcome desk (Accueil), which does double duty as a Lost and Found point: you can also contact them by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone (+33) 4 90 27 81 69.

To request assistance for disabled passengers, telephone (+33) 890 640 650 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A large, air-conditioned ticket office has seating and is more spacious than the rather small and pokey "official" waiting room on the left just before you enter Platform 2. There's no free wi-fi.

The layout of the platforms is somewhat confusing. Platform 2 is the first as you enter through the concourse. The other platforms are accessed via a tunnel. Platform 1 is on the far side of the station and Platforms A-E are sandwiched in between.

WHEN TRAVELLING TO OR FROM EITHER STATION

French train strike cartoonAs on all continental railways, you need to date-stamp (composter) your ticket before boarding the train at one of the yellow machines at the entrance to every platform.

This does not apply to tickets which have been printed on your own computer and are tied to a particular train.

It's wise prior to travel to check for French train strikes, delays, breakdowns and cancellations as the SNCF is susceptible to all of these, often at short notice. Fortunately at least this information is now available in English on the SNCF website.

 

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