High-speed TGV Lyria trains transport travelers in three hours from Paris-Gare de Lyon in France to Basel and in four hours to Zurich in Switzerland.
TGV Lyria trains often provide the fastest and cheapest transportation from Paris-Gare de Lyon to Basel and Zurich in Switzerland. Six trains per day travel from Paris to Basel in three hours and continue to reach Zurich in just over four hours total. Cheap deals and special tickets are often available for advance reservations while standard fares offer the flexibility to change travel plans without penalty. One-way fares can be as low as €50 from Paris to Basel or Zurich with even cheaper deals often advertised. Early reservations are not only sensible to secure the best prices but also to secure a seat – these trains frequently sell out and standing is not allowed on TGV trains.
TGV Lyria Trains from Paris to Basel & Zurich
TGV Lyria trains connect Paris with Basel and Zurich six times per day (five times on Saturday). The new TGV Rhone-Rhine link opened late in 2011, allowing trains from Paris to Switzerland to follow a faster routing than the previous route via Strasbourg.
All TGV Lyria trains for Switzerland depart from Paris-Gare de Lyon, whether the destination is Basel, Zurich, Bern, Lausanne, Geneva, or mountain resorts. This is unfortunate for British and Eurostar passengers, who previously enjoyed the fast transfer between Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est when traveling to Basel or Zurich. See Fast Transfers from Eurostar to Paris Train Stations on transferring between Paris-Gare du Nord and Paris-Gare de Lyon – the process is simple enough but time consuming.
TGV trains from Paris to Basel and Zurich use two routes:
- Three trains stop en route in Dijon Ville and Mulhouse Ville.
- Three trains stop en route at Belfort-Montbéliard TGV and Mulhouse Ville.
TGV Lyria trains on the Paris to Basel / Zurich route are modern, new trains and all coaches now have power sockets. Most trains are single-decker TGV trains in the Lyria white, red, and silver color scheme but in the mornings double-decker Euroduplex TGV trains are sometimes used as well.
TGV Travel Times from Paris to Basel and Zurich
The travel time for TGV Lyria trains from Paris to Basel is 3.03 and to Zurich 4:03 to Zurich. Trains generally run every two hours during the day with connections at night limited.
The first TGV Lyria train of the day leaves Paris just after 7 am with the last direct train of the day departing for Switzerland shortly after 6 pm – the last train split in Basel with a direct link to Bern in addition to Zurich.
The first TGV train of the day leaves Zurich at around 7:30 am and Basel at 8:30 am to arrive in Paris shortly before noon. The last train leaves Zurich at around 5:30 pm and Basel at 6:30 pm. One of the morning trains offer a direct connection from Bern too – otherwise many connections from Bern via Basel are possible.
Further connections requiring transfers are of course available, and may even be slightly cheaper, but takes generally at least an hour longer. Train changes are usually required in Strasbourg or Mulhouse. Such connections are more sensible from Basel than from Zurich and can be useful to get travelers from Basel to Paris by 9 am in the morning.
Traveling later at night than the last direct TGV train is very cumbersome in both directions and best avoided.
Buses from Paris to Basel and Zurich
Flixbus intercity coaches offer an alternative to the trains for travel between Paris and Swiss cities. Direct buses are rare meaning long detours and time consuming bus changes are often required. The occasional direct Paris to Zurich bus takes ten hours but is usually much cheaper than the train.
Buying TGV Lyria Tickets for Travel between Paris and Basel & Zurich
Tickets for TGV Lyria trains can be bought from all the usual outlets. Seat reservations are obligatory on TGV Lyria trains and included in the advertised fares. Standing is not allowed and these trains often sell out during busy periods. Print at home tickets are now usually available and by far the simplest choice, especially when not resident in France or Switzerland. However, carefully note the delivery options when buying tickets online – some outlets are not allowed to sell in all countries and if tickets have to be delivered by mail, a true postal address is required.
Train tickets for travel in France and across border to direct destinations in Switzerland are available for print at home from the official English websites of French Railways – Oui.SNCF (Europe) or RailEurope (USA & Rest of the World). Similarly, TGV Lyria train tickets may be bought directly from Swiss Railways (SBB). Full-fare prices should be the same but different special savings deals may be available on occasion making it often worth comparing. Trainline is a very easy to use site that makes price comparison easy, even with buses.
The standard, full-fare on TGV Lyria trains from Paris are in first class €184 (CHF215) to Basel and €216 (CHF242) to Zurich and in second class €148 (CHF131) to Basel and €156 (CHF147) to Zurich. However, for advance reservations, second-class fares may occasionally be as low as €25 one-way with fares around €50 fairly easy to book.
See also TGV Lyria Trains from Paris to Geneva and Lausanne for details on fast trains to the French-speaking parts of Switzerland.