Eurostar celebrated the opening of ticket sales for its new year-round service to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille today (Friday, 12 December) by converting one of its carriages into a Provencal lavender field.

Tickets for the intercontinental rail service’s new service to Lyon start from £89 return and the first service leaves St Pancras International on 1 May 2015. 

Eurostar boasts that passengers can look forward to a seamless journey, from the heart of London or Ashford to the centre of Lyon, the French capital of gastronomy in just over four and a half hours, the sunny Provencal lavender fields in under six hours, or the bright lights of Marseille in just over six hours.

With the new route come some 2 for 1 offers for entry to temporary exhibitions and permanent collections – including the MuCEM in Marseille, a national museum dedicated to Mediterranean cultures, and the Musée des Confluences in Lyon (opening 20 December 2014), a science centre and anthropology museum.

Lyon, with its Fête des Lumières (one of the biggest festive gatherings in the world), cuisine, museums and UNESCO World Heritage site status will no doubt be making a new bid as a favoured city break destination. 

The other good news is that passengers travelling from France back to the UK can board their train without the need to arrive 30 minutes before departure, because check-in, security and immigration checks will take place at Lille Europe, where customers leave the train before continuing the journey to Ashford and London.