Recently, I took the Eurostar from London to Paris and back, and in this post I want to share my experience with Eurostar, few things you might want to know before booking your train journey.
Eurostar tickets can be purchased 4 months in advance and become more expensive the closer you are to your travel date. I bought my tickets two months in advance from www.eurostar.com and paid as less as 29 GBP from London to Paris and 44.50 GBP from Paris to London! There is also a special price for youth under 24 years of age. Tickets can either be downloaded and printed at home from the Eurostar website or picked up at the railway station. In my case, since I had booked two passengers on one ticket, I was not able to print them at home and could only pick them up at the railway station. This meant arriving half an hour earlier to ensure I had enough time to pick them up!
2. Boarding at St. Pancras Int'l
The Eurostar between London and Paris runs between London St Pancras International and Paris Gare du Nord. Boarding at St Pancras involves scanning your tickets at the automated check-in gates, x-ray screening and passport control. Sometimes the queues are long which is why you need to ensure that you have enough time to check-in before boarding the train. My train's departure time was 8:31 a.m. and I did not have the slightest idea about the check-in process. I reached around 7:40 a.m. to pick up my tickets and meet my friend (who was traveling with me) for breakfast at the railway station. However, when we saw the long queues at the check-in gates, we had to sacrifice our breakfast and get in the queue to make it in time for our train! We eventually did get our breakfast-to-go - hot croissants with cheese and tomato and coffee, which we had in the train! I would give it atleast an hour before the train's departure time for picking up tickets and checking-in for the Eurostar.
3. On board the Eurostar
It takes a little less than two and a half hours with the Eurostar between London and Paris. After passing through the English countryside, the train enters the English Channel tunnel (the underwater tunnel) for about 20 minutes, when you can see nothing outside but darkness! The Eurostar offers three classes: the Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier. I traveled Standard and it was very comfortable. There are also two buffet cars in the train that sell drinks and snacks.
4. Time Zones
You need to keep in mind that Paris is one hour ahead of London. My friend and I were making a day trip to Paris and forgot to set our watches forward when we arrived in Paris. The result was that we almost missed our train back to London from Paris!
Check the Eurostar website (www.eurostar.com) for connections to Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany including special seasonal trains to some of the most beautiful destinations in Europe.