The Eurostar is twenty years old with the first channel tunnel crossing having taken place on 14 November 1994. To celebrate there have been some usually rare deals to be had on the site including return journeys from just £59 per person. Not one to miss out on a bargain (and having a couple of days holiday to take carried over from last year’s allowance) my best frex Matt and I bought tickets for a whirlwind visit to the French capital last week.
While the tickets were a bargain to make the most of the short time we had we to set out at the ludicrously early hour of 6:30am to make it to the station in time to check in for the 7:55am train.
You need to check in at least 30 minutes prior to your trains departure but thankfully security for the Eurostar is a lot less hassle than that at an airport. Simply scan the barcode on your e-ticket at the gate, pop your belongings on the belt so they can be x-rayed, zip through the scanner and you’re done.
Upon boarding I was very impressed with the space available, even for those of us travelling in standard class. You also get the choice when you pick your seats between having a UK or EU socket at your disposal and can change your seats in advance without paying any extra.
Journey time should be just under two and a half hours from the centre of London to the centre of Paris (and just over two hours to Brussels-Midi) but unfortunately for us we travelled the day after there was a fire in the tunnel and only one of the two was operating at the time meaning we were an hour late in arriving. While this was a bit rubbish at the time the Eurostar’s amazing delayed journey policy means that we can book a one-way ticket another time completely free of charge within the next year as compensation.
I was a bit like an excited kid as it was my first time taking the Eurostar and using the channel tunnel so I stayed awake for the experience but there really is no reason to do this. You only actually spend 20 minutes inside the tunnel itself (and even after that the views aren’t exactly the prettiest) so I’d recommend make the most of the time to catch up on some snoozing. Especially if you’re on an early morning journey like we were!
The train arrives in at Gare du Nord station which is well within walking distance of the majority of tourist attractions. If you’re headed somewhere further afield you can also easily find a metro, bus, taxi or even motorcycle to take you to your destination.
Taking the Eurostar is much less hassle than flying so I’d definitely recommend it if you’re planning a trip to Paris or Brussels. It’s fast, cheap, there are far less security restrictions and the baggage allowances are much better than airlines. From the 1st May you’ll also be able to take the Eurostar directly to Avignon and Marseille in the South of France so there’ll be even more choice in where you can get to. Matt and I are hoping to visit Brussels later in the year to make the most of that free one way ticket we’re owed!