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Getting to Grenoble from Leeds

(or elsewhere in the UK)

Lots of people have asked me the easiest way to get to Grenoble from the UK. There's not a straightforwards answer to this. So I have put this page together to give some pointers for people wanting to come and visit...

The short version of the story is - you probably want to fly to Lyon, Grenoble, or Chambery if you can, and Geneva if you can't get a flight to one of these. You can do Lyon from Manchester most of the time, and Chambery from Leeds during ski season. As usual, travelling via London gives you tons more options. Details of airlines, schedules, etc. are all below.

There are three sections to this page. First the airports in France in rough order of convenience for getting to Grenoble by public transport. Then there are the airlines and the days they fly - during ski season, which is late December till April, there are loads more flights. Out of ski season, it's a bit of an arse.

To research train times in France, use the Deutsche Bahn site (no, really - the German rail site is 100% more usable than the French, and covers all of Europe). http://www.bahn.de/international/view/en/index.shtml is the English search page. For flight search and flight comparison, skyscanner and kayak are good options.

But first, the green option

Eurostar takes a long time but if you like trains that's not a problem. I travelled this way early October and I think it's now my favourite route, but with a few caveats. Firstly, you don't get supplied with paris metro transfer tickets and the queues at the machines can be a nightmare. So if you can buy metro tickets in advance (I think they sell them on the eurostar, or email me, I usually have some spare as I get them in 10s and can post some out) that will be easier. Also I have had delayed trains which have left me racing across paris with luggage, so next time I book I will try to go for a train with more than an hour for the paris transit. I reckon that killing time whilst sitting in a caff is nicer than running through a station.

Journey time is usually made up from...
about 3h Grenoble - Paris Gare de Lyon;
2.5h Paris Gare du Nord - London St Pancras;
2.5h London Kings X - Leeds,
+ transfer times. If you're coming from elsewhere in the UK you can probably work out how long it'll take by factoring in how long it'll take you to get to St Pancras.

Getting across Paris can be problematic, and it's worth noting that Gare de Lyon has two sets of platforms and the Grenoble trains go from the "Yellow" ones, which are to the left of the main concourse. It's probably also worth noting that the restaurant upstairs at Gare de Lyon is supposed to be amazing, if you've got a really long connection!

I figure once you add in travel to the airport and sitting around for 1.5 hours drinking overpriced lager before getting on the plane then having half an hour of waiting for bags then getting from the airport you've probably got to add at least 3-4 hours to flight times though so it's not so bad. And TGVs are super-cool.


The airports "near" Grenoble

Lyon

This is probably the easiest flight option from most places in the UK. Lyon airport is about 100 kilometres from Grenoble, and is served by a regular bus (every hour, pretty much, 30 euros return, takes about an hour) and trains direct to the city centre. The bus timetable can be found here: http://www.faurevercors.fr/pdf/SAT_RS_HORAIRES.pdf. The bus stop is outside terminal 1. I think you need to get the ticket before boarding, from just inside the terminal building, and I think the bus ticket office is fairly near the bus stop and labelled either Faure-Vercors (the name of the current bus company) or Satobus (the name of the old bus company). This is a proper airport with, like, more than one terminal and shops and bars and stuff.

Note: if you want to hire a car from Lyon, I have a "driving directions from Lyon" thing I wrote, email me and I'll send it to you. And apparently the Europcar office are really friendly (several visitors report), and one of the guys is really cute (one group of visitors report).

Note: if you're getting the BMI flight from Manchester, it is worth checking both skyscanner.net and kayak for the cheapest prices (they can differ by 30 quid).

Chambery

Chambery is about 70 kilometres from Grenoble and after a short taxi ride (you may actually go mad waiting for the taxi though) you can get a train direct to Grenoble from the centre of Chambery that takes around an hour. Chambery airport is more of an airstrip than an airport. Top tip: if your flight home is delayed, the duty free shop sells cans of stella much more cheaply than the (one, very expensive) bar. Take a pack of cards, because the (one, tiny, extortionate) shop charges 5 euros for a pack.

Grenoble

The nearest airport is Grenoble (airport code GNB). This airport is actually 45 kilometres from Grenoble and served by an infrequent bus taking 45 minutes. Outside of ski season, it's a bit rubbish and you can only fly to London Stansted or Dublin. I cannot comment on the facilities as I have not used this one yet, but I expect it to be similar to Chambery...

Geneva

Geneva airport is about 150km from Grenoble. Trains can be good, but they seem to have cancelled many of the direct ones, which leaves you with travelling via Annecy/Aix-le-Bains etc. If you can get a direct train, it's about 2.5 hours (10 mins into Geneva, then a 2hr direct train from there). The indirect train, whilst taking an age, does have some of the finest scenery I have ever seen, so if you like trains it's a good option even if you can't get the quick one.

There are also 3 buses a day. You can download the bus timetable here: if the timetable suits your flight time it's easy. Recent guests report that the bus ride was lovely, clean and efficient, with surprisingly informative commentary on local sights and history along the route.

If you're hiring a car there's a new toll motorway from Geneva pretty much all the way to Grenoble and you can do it in about 1.5 hours - make sure you have some euros or a credit card for the tolls though, as the cashpoints in Geneva Airport will give you Swiss francs not euros! The toll road takes you near Annecy, Aix-Les-Bains and Chambery and there are plenty of opportunities for stopping off for alpine tourism. As motorways go, it's bloody gorgeous.

The additional advantage of flying via Geneva is that you get proper duty frees.

Paris

Paris is about 3h by TGV from Grenoble. The Grenoble trains leave from Gare de Lyon, and if you fly into Charles de Gaulle you probably want to leave 1-1.5 hours to cross Paris. This option is really only useful if you fancy a bit of time in Paris, or you can't fly to anywhere nearer. The obvious advantage is that you can fly to Paris from pretty much any UK airport. If you don't mind killing time in Paris, of course, it's easy.

Torino (Turin)

Turin airport is about 250km from Grenoble, and might be worth considering if you're hiring a car and fancy a drive through the alps... Train from central Turin takes about 4 hours but again I have no idea where the station is in relation to the airport.

Other regional airports

Avignon

Avignon has a TGV to Grenoble that takes about 1h50 and seems to run around every 2 hours. I have no idea how far the TGV station is from the airport though. Avignon airport to Grenoble is about 230 kilometres.

Marseille

Trains from Marseille airport to Grenoble take about 3 hours. It's about 300km driving distance.

Montpellier

Trains from Montpellier to Grenoble take about 2.5-3.5 hours. I'm not sure where the airport is in relation to the station though. About 300k driving distance. When looking this up online, make sure you put 2 'l's in Montpellier otherwise you'll end up with the one near Bristol...

Nice

Trains from Nice (centre) to Grenoble take ages. Like, 5-6 hours. According to mates in Grenoble you can drive to Nice in about 2.5 hours. According to Google Maps it's nearer 4-5hrs.... but the drive does look interesting if you take the mountain route!


Out of ski season

Flying from Leeds

Paris is pretty much the only place you can fly to direct from Leeds. www.jet2.com. You can get indirect flights to Lyon but they're expensive. Jet2 used to do an out-of-season Geneva flight, but they seem to have stopped that from September.

Flying from Manchester

BMI fly Manchester to Lyon, but it's unclear how long this service will be running as I can't find times past mid October on their site. Kayak.co.uk is offering 125 quid return for dates in November though so this is probably still a goer.

Easyjet fly Manchester-Geneva most days, but it doesn't look like they fly that route in November (!?).

According to Manchester Airport, Saudia fly Manchester-Geneva on Mondays and Fridays. The Saudi airlines website isn't that hot on search facilities though so I am not sure how real this flight is!

You can get indirect flights to Geneva and Lyon; Swissair are good for both.

Flying from London

Easyjet fly Gatwick-Grenoble sundays, and to Lyon from both Gatwick and Stansted on most days.

Ryanair fly Stansted-Grenoble on Sundays and Wednesdays.


During Ski season

Flying from Leeds

Chambery

Saturdays and Sundays, starting 19 December, and finishing 17 April. www.jet2.com

Geneva

Mon, Thur, Fri, Sat and Sun, starting 19 December, finishing 17 April. www.jet2.com

Paris

Every day, multiple flights - www.jet2.com again.

Flying from Manchester

Grenoble

Manchester to Grenoble, Saturdays only, late Dec - April: http://www.bmibaby.com/

Chambery

Saturdays and Sundays, starting 19 December, and finishing 13 April. www.jet2.com

Snowjet fly to Chambery on Saturdays

Lyon

BMI fly Manchester to Lyon most days.

Geneva

Easyjet fly Manchester-Geneva most days.

BMIBaby fly Manchester-Geneva fridays, saturdays and sundays.

Swiss fly Manchester-Geneva during ski season on saturdays and sundays.

According to Manchester Airport, Saudia fly Manchester-Geneva on Mondays and Fridays. The Saudi airlines website isn't that hot on search facilities though so I am not sure how real this flight is!

Flying from East Midlands

East Midlands to Grenoble, Fridays and Saturdays only, late Dec - April: http://www.bmibaby.com/

Flying from London

Easyjet fly Gatwick-Grenoble most days, and to Lyon from both Gatwick and Stansted.

Ryanair fly Stansted-Grenoble most days.

British Airways fly Heathrow-Lyon most days

Snowjet fly to Chambery on Saturdays and Sundays from Stansted and Gatwick

Other UK airports

Snowjet fly to Chambery on Saturdays from Bristol and Birmingham.

Flybe fly to Chambery from Southampton and Exeter and Birmingham, Jet2 from Edinburgh and Newcastle

Easyjet fly to Grenoble from Bristol, Luton and Birmingham; Bmibaby from Cardiff and Birmingham, Air Southwest from Plymouth and Newquay.