From Paris to Lyon: 3 Best Ways to Get There
Lyon ranks high on the list of France's best cities, thanks to its top-notch museums, world-famous gastronomic scene, and charming historic quarters. Since Lyon is one of the most important French cities, public transportation from Paris is widely available and surprisingly rapid, even though the distance is 426 kilometers.
The journey by high-speed TGV train takes only about two hours. By taking the TGV train, it would be possible to visit Lyon as a day trip from Paris.
Besides the TGV train, there are other ways to get to Lyon from Paris that make sense in certain circumstances. If you would like to visit other places on the way to Lyon or in the city's surroundings, driving to Lyon would be a good option.
For those on a tight budget, taking the bus instead of the train helps to save on travel costs. However the journey takes much longer by bus, so this only works for those who have more time.
Read our guide to learn about the best ways to get from Paris to Lyon and choose the right form of transportation to suit your travel preferences.
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1. From Paris to Lyon by Train
The train provides travelers with the quickest and most efficient way to get from Paris to Lyon. SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français) operates TGV trains from the center of Paris that travel directly, with very few stops and without any transfers, to the Lyon city center. TGV stands for "train à grande vitesse" ("high-speed train"), as this model of train travels at 270 kilometers per hour.
An extremely busy train station, the Gare de Lyon in the 12th arrondissement of Paris provides train service to locations in southern and eastern France, as well as to international destinations (in Italy, Switzerland, and Spain). For first-time travelers, this train station can feel overwhelming. One thing to keep in mind: The platform number (where you will hop on the train) appears on the station's monitors 20 minutes prior to departure.
The TGV train takes only two hours and four minutes from the Gare de Lyon station in Paris to arrive at the Part Dieu station in Lyon. Another TGV train departs from the Gare de Lyon in Paris and arrives at the Perrache station in around two hours and 10 minutes.
The Part Dieu station is about a 15-minute taxi ride or a 30-minute bus ride to the city's historic quarters (Vieux Lyon), including the Quartier Saint-Jean north of the cathedral and the Colline de la Croix-Rousse neighborhood. Slightly closer to Vieux Lyon, the Perrache station in Lyon is just a five-minute taxi ride or 10-minute Métro ride from the Place Bellecour in the Presqu'île district.
Another advantage of taking the TGV train: SNCF runs the trains frequently on a daily basis. Trains departing from Paris to Lyon are available several times every hour throughout the day, from around 6am until 8pm Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, the earliest TGV train from Paris to Lyon departs at 7:50am.
For those who enjoy fine dining, the Gare de Lyon offers the chance to experience the legendary Le Train Bleu. This opulent gourmet restaurant welcomed a high-society clientele when it opened in 1901 as part of the Universal Exhibition and still appeals to gourmands seeking a refined ambience. Listed as Historical Monuments, the restaurant's Belle Epoque dining rooms, with their parquet floors, magnificent paintings, gilded moldings, leather-upholstered banquettes, and sparkling chandeliers, have been used as film sets for numerous movie productions.
2. From Paris to Lyon by Car
In between Paris and Lyon, the beautiful Burgundy region awaits travelers who have the time to stop and explore the area's picturesque villages, quaint historic towns, and serene medieval abbeys. For those interested in this type of travel itinerary, driving to Lyon makes the most sense.
The drive from Paris to Lyon takes about five hours without any stops. The best travel itineraries include stops along the way, either half-day visits or overnight stays.
Some of the highlights of the Burgundy region are found directly on the A6 highway driving route from Paris to Lyon, including the charming town of Beaune, with a 15th-century Hôtel-Dieu (hospital) and Romanesque basilica, and the riverside town of Mâcon has an excellent fine arts and archaeology museum, the Musée des Ursulines, which occupies a 17th-century convent.
Other top destinations in Burgundy are just slight detours off the A6 route. The riverside port town of Auxerre, with an 11th-century Romanesque church; Semur-en-Auxois, a medieval hilltop town; and the woodlands of the Parc Baturel Régional du Morvan, can be reached by taking 20-minute or less detours from the route along the A6 highway.
Famous for its mustards, the elegant city of Dijon is a must-see destination in Burgundy with a UNESCO-listed historic center that's packed with cultural attractions. As the most important city in the region, Dijon merits the 35-minute detour from the A6 route (turn onto the A38 highway just after Pouilly-en-Auxois).
After reaching Lyon by car and having a chance to visit the city, travelers may want to continue their sightseeing itinerary in the countryside outside of Lyon. Having a car really helps to see these nearby sights because driving is often much faster.
The top destinations near Lyon include Vienne, a lovely town brimming with ancient Roman monuments and centuries-old churches; Pérouges, an enchanting hilltop village enclosed within medieval walls; and the Domaine de Lacroix-Laval estate, which has a "Jardin Remarquable" ("Remarkable Garden").
3. From Paris to Lyon by Bus
For budget-minded travelers, taking the bus provides a less expensive public transportation option. The cost of the bus ride from Paris to Lyon is usually at least half the price of the TGV train fare.
However, the bus ride takes over five hours, more than twice as long as the train ride, and some bus trips are over six hours. Plus, travelers should keep in mind that the buses usually depart from the Paris Bercy station, which is less central than the Gare de Lyon.
FlixBus provides reasonably priced bus transportation every day from Paris Bercy station or Paris Pont de Levallois station to Lyon Perrache station in Lyon. The FlixBus departures from Paris are available about once an hour starting around 9am and until 1am. The bus arrives in Lyon 5.5 to 6.5 hours later.