Since its first service in November 1994, the Eurostar group has been providing passengers with a high-speed rail option between the United Kingdom (UK) and mainland Europe. Initially only linking London and Paris, Eurostar now connects London with various destinations in France (e.g. Paris, Lille, Lyon and Euro Disney) and Brussels in Belgium. One can also reach major cities in Germany and many train stations in the Netherlands by taking Eurostar and one other connection. With frequent timetables and incredible efficiency, Eurostar offers a wonderful alternative to flying between the above-mentioned destinations.
Three classes are available on the Eurostar: Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier. When we took the Eurostar in January this year, from Gare du Nord in central Paris to London’s St Pancras station, we opted for the Standard Premier, which gave us privileged boarding, a better coach, extra luggage allowance and a light meal. Departing Paris around 5.30pm and arriving at St Pancras two and a half hours later (taking into account the one-hour time difference), whilst enjoying a delicious dinner on-board, couldn’t have worked out better!
It’s probably fairly evident by now that I am a Eurostar enthusiast, but allow me to now share my five top reasons to eschew any other mode of transport in favour of this train.
1. Fast check-in
Firstly, our experience when checking in, going through immigration and passing security at Gare du Nord, was significantly less stressful than that of our airport experiences in Europe. Fewer passengers mean shorter queues and less time waiting. The security measures are sufficient without being tedious and over-invasive. And it’s quick.
2. Super short journey time
Eurostar travels at speeds of up to 300km per hour. This means journey time is super quick, just three hours from London to Paris. Last time I flew, it took a total of nine hours, point to point. With frequent departures (London–Paris is hourly for most of the day), it’s a super-efficient offering.
3. City to city
Part of the reason why Eurostar is so quick is that it is a city-to-city centre experience. So when you arrive, you face much easier access to your accommodation, and are on the spot for local metro connections. Contrast this with arriving, for example, at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris (located 25km from the centre of Paris) and facing a convoluted journey that’s 50-plus minutes by bus, or an €80 taxi fare.
While there are some great airfare deals, particularly since the arrival of EasyJet, the cost of travelling by Eurostar is comparable when you factor in time and additional airport transfers. A regular fare starts around € 75, but you can access some great Eurostar deals if you are flexible about the time and day you travel.
5. It’s fun!
Train travel has a lot going for it. It’s more enjoyable and relaxed than plane travel. There’s much more room, far greater comfort and it’s definitely more social, since it is easier to walk up and down the carriage and strike a conversation.
Lucy Fallick is an avid traveller, saving her pennies at every chance to explore and experience our own backyard and the rest of the world. Rightly or wrongly, she strongly believes she inherited her itchy feet from her travel-writing mother (aka her trip-planning partner in crime).