Paris to Geneva by train
If a few days in France’s capital have left you with a craving for mountains, fondue, and a beautiful city set on a brilliant blue lake, it’s time to head straight from Paris to Geneva by train. Switzerland’s French-speaking hub, known for its immaculate, clean streets and safety, is home to a giant clock made of flowers, and to Lake Geneva.
Geneva is also an excellent base for hiking, skiing, and exploring the mountain scenery in Switzerland and nearby France. Paris is an easy starting point for reaching Geneva.
How to get from Paris to Geneva by train
There are two train routes from Paris to Geneva: either take the direct TGV high-speed train, or travel by regional train with a connection in Lyon.
The TGV train takes approximately three hours from Paris to Geneva. The main benefits are the high speed and direct route. The TGV trains do require a reservation fee – 9 Euros for second class, 25 Euros for first class – and keep in mind that these trains have a limited number of seats available to Eurail pass holders.
The regional train takes approximately five hours from Paris to Lyon and two hours from Lyon to Paris. These trains require no reservation, and you get the chance to stop off in Lyon. Be sure to take food and drinks with you as there is no restaurant car on the Paris-to-Lyon train.
Getting to Gare de Lyon, Paris
Gare de Lyon is conveniently located along the 1 and 14 Metro lines, as well as the A and D RER lines. This is one of Paris’ largest stations and is filled with shops and restaurants. The international ticket office often has a long line; plan on at least a 30-minute wait.
Alternatively, some local trains depart to Lyon from Paris Bercy train station. It’s located on the 6 and 14 Metro lines (one stop from Gare de Lyon on the 14), or a short eight-minute walk from Gare de Lyon itself.
Arriving at Geneva train station
Genève-Cornavin train station, also known as Gare de Cornavin, is easily situated from the main sites in the city. A 15-minute walk can take you to the shores of Lake Geneva. The train station is also conveniently connected to several tram and bus routes that run all over the city. The station is home to Amo Cafe, which offers free wifi.
Connecting in Lyon
Lyon is a wonderful, quintessential French city. The cuisine here is world-famous, and the town is beautifully located on not one but two rivers: the Rhone and the Saône. If you have a few hours to spare on your journey from Paris to Geneva, it makes a wonderful stopover.
Luggage storage is available at Lyon Part-Dieu train station. The easiest way to get to the city center is by public transportation. Lyon has several trams and funiculars running to its first and second arrondissements, which make up the city center.
Be sure to check out Place Bellecour and ride the ferris wheel for a great view of the city. Le Fresque des Lyonnais is a nearby mural featuring famous Lyon residents. Sample local delicacies such as andouillette, a meat-and-cheese spread best served on toasted bread, and tarte de pralines, a delicious praline desert.
If you have a few days, be sure to check out the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) in December. The city is filled with astounding light installations that meld the architecture of the past with futuristic technology.