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Lyon to Strasbourg itinerary.

I will fly to Lyon and depart from Strasbourg.

I would like to visit Lyon, Dijon, Marsaille, Avignon, Strasbourg and Geneva, Switzerland.

This is the itinerary I have drafted and I'd like feedback on whether it's doable or needs to be changed.

Day 1, arrive Lyon (late at night), travel to hotel.

Day 2, explore Lyon

Day 3, day trip to Geneva by train

Day 4, day trip to Marsaille and Avignon by train. I've been to Avignon but never been to Marsaille. I've read mainly negative comments on the later so I'd skipped it last time I was in this part of the France. I was thinking of head to Marsaille for the morning and exploring the Old Port area then heading to Avignon in the early afternoon. In order to save time, I'd grab a meal to go and eat it on the train when travelling to Avignon. I found Avignon to be charming but small. I was going to stroll around then head back to Lyon in the evening. What time do things close in Avignon? Is Marsaille and Avignon in a day realistic?

Day 5, explore Lyon.

Day 6, Lyon to Dijon, stay overnight in Dijon or make a day trip from Lyon. Which is best? I'm thinking a day trip would be better as my next destination is Strasbourg and I get better connections (and fares) from Lyon. Either way, this is a Saturday and some things might be closed. I am also interested in short visit to Beaune from Dijon.

Day 7, Dijon or Lyon (depending on whether I visit Dijon as a day trip or stay overnight) to Strasbourg. This will be a Sunday and All Saints Day to, so many things will be closed making it an ideal travel day.

Day 8, Strasbourg . Unfortunately, I'll be there on a Monday. I understand in France some attractions are closed on Mondays.

Day 9, depart Strasbourg.

How does this itinerary look? I'd like suggestion on how to improve it and whether Dijon is best as a day trip or an overnight stop.


Posted by
16890 posts

Marseille will certainly fill up a side-trip day, so there's no time or need to stop in Avignon on the same day, especially since you're already been there. TGV trains on this route take 1 hr 40 min each way and cost about €50 each way, unless booked in advance.

Geneve takes 2 h 15 min each way, with a connection. If your intention is just to get closer to the mountains, then many people prefer the smaller town of Annecy and you could reach it most easily by a direct bus departing at 7:00 a.m. I would also consider skipping giving this direction of travel and giving more time to Dijon/Colmar/Strasbourg.

All this backtracking takes time. I'd be happy to check into a new hotel in Dijon instead of spending another 1.5-2 hours on the train back to Lyon. This can also save 2 more hours on your next travel day toward Strasbourg or Colmar.

We would choose the smaller, more charming town of Colmar. However, if traveling from Colmar to Stasbourg Airport on your departure day, that does add 40 min and a train connection to the trip.

Using a France Rail Pass might be a good value for your whole trip (I'll let you finalize where you're going, first) but also requires advance booking for each TGV; best bet for reservations is to book at the same time as the pass, well before leaving home.

How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it.

Posted by
7175 posts

Your day trip plans are quite long journeys. I would keep moving ...
Day 1 Lyon
Day 3 Geneva
Day 4 Avignon (decide on a Marseille day trip once you are here)
Day 7 Dijon
Day 8 Strasbourg
Day 9 Depart

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you for the replies.

I'm completely confused about train tickets/passes, etc. I understand that I need to make a reservation for TGV trains with a Rail Pass and that costs extra. Once I've made my reservation, I don't have any flexibility and this is the same if I buy discounted point to point tickets.

I did price a journey from Lyon to Geneva, I'm seeing a fare of 56.40 euros, that appears to be the full price and I can't find any discounted fares when I search for random dates in September. I'm not travelling until late October, but I can't price tickets this far in advance so I'm checking fares in September to compare the price of individual tickets or a rail pass. How can I book a discounted Lyon - Geneva ticket? I understand that this segment isn't allowed on a single country French Rail Pass, it that correct? I have a school friend in Geneva, so my reason for the detour there is mainly to meet with them rather than sightseeing.

As for the rest of the places I'd like to visit, it's solely for sightseeing purposes. I've read about Colmar, and didn't think to include it. I appreciate the suggestion of Colmar.

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you for the link.

I'd looked up prices using Captain Train ( I notice on the link you'd provided there is a drop down list of countries. Do I need to reside in one of those countries to buy a French Rail Pass from SCNF? I live in Canada, so I'm not sure where I should buy the pass.

Also, I've reworked my itinerary, I've already got my flight to Lyon booked, but not my outbound flight so I can change a few things at this time. I was thinking of this: Lyon (3 nights) - Strasbourg (1 night) - Dijon (2 nights, including a day trip to Beaune) - Dijon - Avignon (3 nights including a day trip to Marsellie) - Geneva.

I'd worked out the itinerary like this to avoid being in Switzerland over the weekend and to cut down on travel time by train.

Is this itinerary better? What changes should I make?

From what I understand, the train to Geneva won't be covered by the rail pass as that's outside France. From which point in France should I buy a train ticket to Geneva?

Posted by
7175 posts

It doesn't make sense to backtrack to Geneva from Avignon - I'd still do Geneva from Lyon. A more sensible departure plan would be to leave from Marseile after Avignon.

The Rail Pass will have a local selling agent in Canada - here in Australia it's Rail Europe.
This is for Canada ...

Geneva is not far from the French border and I can't recall if your French Rail Pass would be valid to the station.
Basel I know has SNCF platforms at its station. I recall clearing customs France to Switzerland in Geneva. Somebody on this forum may be able to clarify my hazy memory.

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you, djp_syd. I'll contact Rail Europe to inquire about the pass.

I too had though of going to Geneva from Lyon.. The problem is that I arrive in Lyon on a Monday, if I leave for Geneva after spending three nights in Lyon it'll be on Thursday. That gives me one half day (the Thursday I arrive) for sightseeing in Geneva. UN tickets are first come first serve. If tickets are gone on the Thursday I'm out of luck. Friday I'd like to head to Gruyere and Broc (neither are open on weekends), Assuming I do this, that'll put be back in France (probably Strasbourg) on Saturday, and the following day (Sunday) is All Saints day so some sightseeing in France including the EU sights in Strasbourg will have to be put on hold for the holiday.

AFAIK, there are no border formalities between France and Switzerland. Some years ago I'd travelled from Switzerland to Italy and there were no border formalities as Switzerland is now part of Schengen.

Posted by
7175 posts

i'd go back to your original routing ...
1 Monday | Lyon
2 Tuesday | Lyon
3 Wednesday | Geneva
4 Thursday | Geneva
5 Friday | Avignon
6 Saturday | Avignon
7 Sunday | Avignon
8 Monday | Dijon
9 Tuesday | Strasbourg
10 Wednesday | Strasbourg

Posted by
110 posts

I did call Rail Europe today, unfortunately, I was on hold (was told my wait time would be about 40 mins) and then abruptly disconnected. I will contact them later this week.

Thank you for the suggested itinerary. That itinerary would work perfectly if I arrive in Lyon on a Sunday. My flight to Lyon arrives Monday night. So, Tuesday would be the first day I`d start sightseeing.

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you, dpj_syd.

I did contact Rail Europe and spoke with them. Geneva is included in the France rail pass, but I need to pay a supplement for this. The representative didn't know how much it would be and told me that I need to book online to find out.

I appreciate the help I have received on this thread.

Posted by
1631 posts

As you have said and others have mentioned, your day trips from Lyon to your other cities of interest depend on the train schedule and the amount of time to get to and from each city. Personally, I would not do a day trip from Lyon to any of those cities. You are spending too much time on the train when you could be spending that time exploring that city. The only exception might be between Avignon and Marseille. A possible itinerary (dependent upon train schedules) might be Lyon, Avignon/Marseille, Geneva, Dijon, Strasbourg. I have not been to Strasbourg but was in Colmar three weeks ago. Which city to see and explore depends, of course, on what your interests are. One day in Colmar was enough for me. BTW, I was also in Lyon on this recent trip. Hope this info helps.