We needed to get to Paris for my partner to run the Paris Half Marathon so we looked at various options, with cost being the main criteria. I had seen Eurostar's £69 offer advertised but expected, like airlines, that going to try and find them would be either a challenge, or impossible. I was wrong, there were numerous £69 returns available on our dates (going Friday, coming back Monday) which were almost 3 months ahead. The cheaper ones were early or late times, but this suited us, wanting to get there as early as possible and make the most of the fourth day too. Consequently, this worked out significantly cheaper, and a better choice of times than flights, even factoring in the cost of getting to London. I liked the idea of not needing to arrive hours beforehand, airport car parks, waiting to board, waiting to get off the plane, luggage claim, and transfer to Paris centre. So I booked on line, which was effortless, and tickets and information was emailed immediatel so that I could print the boarding cards for both journeys ahead of the trip. There are no luggage restrictions so there's no stress about how much your luggage weighs, what size a bag measures, or whether this bag will fit inside that bag etc! It seems to be - if you can carry it, you can take it!
Arrival / Check in
The Eurostar departures area is clearly signed at St. Pancras rail station and the literature / ticket clearly states that check-in opens 45 minutes prior to departure. True to this, check-in was not possible any earlier, but the problem here is that there's literally NO seating in the area beside the check in desks, just open space. I don't know if this is poor design, or to deter people from arriving early but it seemed odd, and is something to bear in mind. It wasn't through choice we were early, it was simply down to our connecting train, so in my opinion this was a bit of a nuisance. There are clear screens all around, however, showing when your particular train check-in will open.
When the time came, check in couldn't have been more straightforward. You simply place the barcode against the waist-high scanner on the gate to activate the opening. There were also staff around should you have had any problems, and I did see a few people having problems with the scanners, so it's obviously not entirely without fault.
Once through the gate there is immediately a security area similar to an airport where you place your luggage, coats, bags, belts etc on the conveyor belt and it's scanned whilst you walk through one of the doorway-style metal detectors. There was no queues here and no problems. Passports were checked and again, no queues, more or less straight through. Our whole check-in process from being in the waiting area before the gate to sitting down waiting for boarding was no more than 5 minutes.
Waiting / Boarding
Once through security, the waiting area is very spacious. There is plenty of seating, including high seating at a bar-type shelf which had power points if you needed them for laptops etc. There was a café and a kiosk as well as toilets and an information point with information about destinations as well as selling tickets for transport, which could be handy if you don't want to be bothered trying to sort that in France. The travel tickets were slightly more expensive, though, but the gentleman on duty was quite open about that, so we decided against it.
Again there are screens all around showing departures, and 20 minutes prior to departure the boarding was announced. Despite it seeming to us like a tight schedule to board in, there was no rush or stampede and it was clearly signed where you needed to join the platform according to what your coach number was. Getting onto the train was easy - two steps, and immediately inside the carriage is a compartment for large luggage. Small bags and trolley cases go in overhead racks, ours went in there no trouble at all.
The travel experience was infinitely better than flying in my experience and opinion. I am comparing to budget airlines, as that was my direct choice for this trip. The seats are much larger and feel roomier and more comfortable than standard airline seats. We had seats at a table, and the front edge of the table folded back, so that if you weren't using the table you had more freedom in front of you.
The toilets on board were spacious and clean. Again, an infinitely better experience to using a toilet on board a budget airline.
Also on board is a shop/café. This was serving hot and cold drinks, including wine/beer and snacks as well as hot pizza. Within this carriage were 'pillars' with shelves around them so you could stand to eat your pizza or have a coffee there, or just stretch your legs. The shop was selling travel tickets for Paris, and you could buy these using either Euros (at the face value in Paris) or Sterling. As it happened, this meant that the exchange rate gave us a good deal by buying in Sterling, so we purchased a couple of carnets and had the added bonus of being 'good to go' on the metro as soon as we arrived.
Overall, the on board experience was an absolute pleasure, no seatbelts or feeling cramped in a seat needing to ask someone to excuse me to leave my seat or anything like that. Announcements about the shop, the train manager etc were regular but not intrusive. It was easy to move around the train and stretch your legs or spend time in the café car.
The only 'problem' I had during the journey was the speed of the train sometimes troubling my ears. Obviously thats a personal thing, and was usually only momentary. The actual 'tunnel' part of the journey again my ears went a bit strange when we entered the tunnel but soon settled down, and you are through the tunnel in 15-20 minutes. That part was particularly amazing to me!
Arrival in Paris
Arrival was simply a matter of gathering your belongings, stepping down off the train and walking off the platform. No formalities or checks, no waiting for luggage or transfers, we were in the heart of Paris and our break could begin. Gare du Nord is naturally pretty hectic but it was still easy enough to locate the Metro and we were soon on board and heading for our hotel.
Check-in at Paris was as straightforward as London in terms of holding the barcode against the scanner to operate the gate. Here they were less strict about what time you could check in, again we were early but this time could go straight through.
Again luggage is scanned and passports were checked twice this side, by British and French. There was a small queue here for the luggage scanner but only a minute or two. Seating in Paris is much more minimalist, and less comfortable that London. Therefore, I'd say early arrival is again not a good idea. There are pitifully few facilities either, only one small set of toilets, a pricey gift shop and not much else at all. Nowhere to get a snack, for instance. Now knowing how easy and organised the check in process is, next time I will spend the extra time outside grabbing a last-minute coffee and arrive to check in a little later.
However, once boarding was called, the process was fairly straightforward. Not quite as smooth as London - more jostling somehow, it just didn't feel quite as organised. There was also a very long walk along the platform (4-5 minutes) to reach our carriage, so bear this in mind depending on your carriage number.
Arriving back in London, again it was simply a matter of gathering your things and heading off. No checks or admin to go through.
I will have no hesitation whatsoever in travelling with Eurostar if I am going back to Paris, rather than booking a flight. Door-to-door (bearing in mind we had to travel 1.5 hours to get to London) I believe that it still worked out quicker than flying. Obviously if you live closer to London then it would beat it time-wise hands down. For comfort and lower stress levels, travelling by Eurostar also wins easily. The price was (as ever!) the decisive factor in this particular decision, but having now travelled with Eurostar I would happily pay a higher price for the ease, comfort and convenience.
I recently booked a trip by Eurostar from London to Brussels, as I was looking for a fast but reasonably priced option. Flying was out of the question as getting to the airport just added up travel time and travel costs.
I booked through Eurostar.com website, which was fairly easy. Often they do special £69 return fares but these sell out very fast, and as such I was unable to book one (2 months in advance).
I browsed a lot of different dates and fares, and found that to travel mid afternoon cost a lot more, but morning and early afternoon trains were cheaper. I opted for an early afternoon train for my outward journey, returning 3 days later on a very early morning train. The total cost was £109 for Standard Seats. An additional fee for insurance (about £11) is optional, but I chose not to have this, as I obtained travel insurance elsewhere. Standard seating is non refundable or exchangeable, so if you cancel your tickets you will not get your money back! And you also cannot change the date or time of your tickets - even for the same day!
When booking, you also have the option of choosing your seats, as they do tend to pack up the carriages full, but leave some carriages half empty. So i changed both my outbound and return seats to a quieter carriage. However there was one problem with this - on my return during check-in, the staff were unable to find my booking and said my seat had already been taken. After 5 minutes on the phone, however, I was then told my seat was fine and it was all ok. And upon boarding, all was fine.
I opted to print my tickets at home which was easy enough, although next time I will pay the extra few pound for them to be sent to me by post if i buy again, as you have to scan in your tickets at check-in, and both times, my tickets did not work, despite being printed high quality. But this was easily resolved as they also have a manual check-in desk with staff.
With Eurostar before travelling they advise you to get a doctor's letter for any medication in case they want to verify it. However, I was no prepared to spend £20 for a letter which I might not even need, so upon contacting Eurostar, they advised that I take along a prescription with those medicines, and or the original boxes, with the pharmacy label to check against my passport. Needless to say, on both journeys, none of my medication was questioned, but I would advise to have those things above just in case.
At London, Check-In is very easy to find at St Pancras in the lower concourse about halfway down. Check-In opened 1 hour and 20 minutes before my train was due to leave, so plenty of time. As mentioned above, you scan in your tickets at the barriers, however mine refused to scan, so I was sent to a check-in desk where they did that for me with no hassle whatsoever.
After this, you join one of 3 queues for security checks, where like at an airport, you must place all your bags, coats, scarves etc onto a conveyor belt for inspection, and you'll go through a body scanner. All easy enough, you collect your things at the other side and go through to Passport Control. After this and in front of you is the Eurostar Lounge. Once in the Euostar Lounge, there are lots of seating areas and places to get drinks and snacks. There are departures boards all over the place so there's no worry of missing your train! There are 6 platforms (numbered 5-10) on which the Eurostar leaves.
In Brussels, Check-In was straightforward (besides my ticket not scanning at the barrier and a glitch in sorting out my seats). Brussels Midi is a large station, however to find Eurostar departures, you want to be heading right. The main concourse (with platforms 7-22) will be on your left. You want to head in the opposite direction towards Sam's Cafe, and just a little further up opposite you will find the Eurostar departures. Here you will check in with your Eurostar Ticket, then you will go through the same Security checks as in London, then onto Belgian Passport Control, UK Passport Control and finally into the Eurostar lounge, which has a cafe and the usual facilities. There are only 2 platforms at Brussels, but I recommend llistening out closely for boarding announcements as I found these very quiet, and I was only able to realise that boarding was taking place when people started to move in the direction of the Platform. I think the announcement is made via a small screen in front of the 2 platform entrances and by very quiet vocal announcement.
All announcements are made in English, French and Dutch.
When your Eurostar starts to board, an announcement will be made 20 minutes before the train leaves, so that passengers can board in time. All platforms are clearly signposted and flat escalators (London) take you straight up to the platform and Eurostar train.
I found my coaches very easy to find and upon getting on the train it looked like any other standard train, with a bit of extra luggage space. I only had 1 piece of handluggage and a holdall. The luggage racks are situated above seating, with a large rack at the top for small to medium bags (can easily put a large holdall up there or a small case), and the smaller racks underneath were ideal for smaller bags, coats etc.
ON BOARD EUROSTAR
Well I can say that with changing my seat online, I had a quiet coach and on both outward and return journeys the seat next to me was empty. There was no 'food trolley' service brought to your seats, however there was a buffet carriage about 2 carriages away from me. I had not been to either of these as I took my own food (to cut down costs). As said above, all announcements were made in English, French and Dutch and were very easy to understand.
My Eurostar made 1 stop on the outward journey at Lille. On the return journey it made 2 stops at Callais and Lille.
When going under the Eurotunnel, this took about 20 minutes. I was really amazed at the speed of the Eurostar as well, it was fantastic. Sometimes it did make my ears have that 'pressure' feeling, like when you go by plane, but it wasnt anything unpleasant!
Brussels - Upon arriving at Brussels Midi, you walk onto the platform and down to the bottom and turn left. Here you will be met with lifts, to the left of the lifts a staircase, and to the far left another walkway. I decided to take the stairs - not many at all, and this was the quickest way to get down into the main station area as a lot of people were waiting for the lifts.
London - When arriving back into London St Pancras, I had to walk along with everyone else down to the front of the platform, where you go down a flat escalator. We were advised to have our passports and tickets ready for inspection, however once we were off the escalator, you turn left and out the doors into the lower concourse of St Pancras (Arrivals, to right of M&S), and there was no inspection.
Overall, my experience of Eurostar was very easy, straightforward and I would happily do it again. I was lucky to have purchased cheaper tickets, but I have seen standard tickets for up to £200 for 1 way and there is no way I would pay that much considering that the Standard seating in Eurostar is of a very standard quality. However, for £109, this is perfectly reasonable as it IS taking you from London to Brussels in just 2 hours!
I had naively thought that the Eurostar would be a dream.
France and England getting together to build a super train.
I rode 2nd class from Paris to England and back.
The air conditioning was minimal in most of the cars.
The air quality was passable but really unpleasant.
In the bathrooms, they were out of soap and more often than not the thing that blows hot air on your hands to dry them was broken. You had to use toilet paper or dry your hands on your clothes.
If you attempt to sleep, you will be disappointed. You will be continuously awakened by announcements over the loudspeakers telling you of the latest things available in the buffet car. I was awakened out of a hard-won sleep by an announcement that the buffet car had ice-cream to sell. Great.
The outside of the cars are filthy.
The inside is noisy.
The seats do not recline at all. Not at all.
The procedure to get on the train from Paris is a travesty.
We got to the station an hour early and, by the time they checked everybody's passports - very very slowly - we barely got on the train before it left - 4 minutes to spare. A nightmare.
I have ridden France's TGV and Thalys trains. They are beautiful by and large.
So I really was shocked and saddened to have this dreadful experience on the Eurostar.
I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like for those folks unlucky enough to have been stuck for eight hours in that can.
If you plan on getting the flu this winter I strongly suggest you buy one of their cheap return ticket (£300+) otherwise you'll lose it. They rather have you contaminate other travellers than being flexible...
Being interested in visiting both Brussels and Paris, a journey on Eurostar seemed to be a probability, especially as I have always enjoyed travelling by train. As I live on the south coast, the prospect of getting to St Pancras station was less attractive than the original departure point at Waterloo. That wasn't enough to stop me going, of course. In the end I travelled to London by coach, arriving at Victoria, so a journey on the underground was inevitable.
The trip to Brussels was planned for a weekend early in January 2010, as a generous combined Christmas and birthday present from one of my sons. He had made a visit there by Eurostar about eighteen months before and was enthusiastic about sharing the experience with me. The harsh weather conditions with snow and ice, however, played havoc with Eurostar services. The company was begging travellers who did not have to make the journey to either postpone or cancel their bookings; they did of course offer a full refund. We were in no doubt about postponing when I managed to fall on the ice and sprain my wrist the day before we were due to travel.
Our trip actually took place almost exactly seven months later. My son made the bookings though Eurostar's website a good two months in advance, including one night at a hotel in central Brussels. We could have booked travel insurance through Eurostar, but I was able to get insurance for a single trip for about half the price through the Post Office. We chose a departure time of 8.57am on Saturday morning, arriving in Brussels at 12.15pm (Brussels being one hour ahead of BST).
On the day, we arrived at St Pancras at about 8 o'clock in the morning. After you make your bookings on their website, Eurostar send you an email confirming your reservations and giving details of your journeys plus the hotel if you have booked it through them. You need to have this email with you as well as the credit card with which you made payment for your trip. At the Eurostar ticket office at St Pancras, you can use a machine to print out your tickets, but we chose to go to the counter to request ours. If you have booked a return journey, tickets for this will be issued at the same time. The number of the carriage and the seat is clearly shown on all tickets.
My son seemed to think that we needed to go and check in about half an hour before our train was due to leave, so we decided to go and have some breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. There are several eateries to choose from, including Costa, but I wanted to try somewhere new. If you are pressed for time there is a Marks and Spencers' food shop where you can buy drinks and snacks for the journey, and there are two buffet cars on the trains. Among many other shops at St Pancras are Hamleys, Foyles and W H Smith.
At about 8.30am we duly went to the check-in area and were horrified to see endless queue upon endless queue. There didn't seem to be a particular queue for a particular train, so I tagged on the end of the nearest one while my son went off to see if there were any shorter queues. He soon came back, not having found anything better. After a couple of minutes, Eurostar officials started walking around, asking if there were any passengers for the 8.57am to Brussels or the 9am to Paris. They indicated a shorter queue at the far end which we were to join. It didn't take long to pass through check-in, but then we had to join up with another queue of passengers waiting to go through security. Time was ticking away. After security came passport control, where once again we were ushered along to a short queue. Even then, we had to join a family of four who were being taken up in a lift to the platform, and we were only just in time. We had to board the train and walk through countless carriages until we found our seats. Admittedly we could have foregone breakfast and gone to check in earlier, but my son had travelled with Eurostar twice before and had not experienced any long queues. I couldn't understand why passengers for a particular train were not from the outset asked to go to a particular check-in desk rather than having a free-for-all. This does, by the way, apply only to standard class passengers.
It was a relief to finally find our seats and settle down. I can't say, however, that I was overly impressed by the state of the Eurostar carriages. The upholstery on the seats was starting to fray in various places, and the carpeting was quite badly stained. The seats themselves were comfortable enough, except for the armrests which had hard metal sides. I did appreciate the free magazine, 'Metropolitan', which has articles in several European languages, as I hadn't wanted to carry a book with me. The journey was very smooth and the train was extremely punctual. I can't complain at all in that sphere.
The toilets were reasonably clean, but it took me a while to work out the sign showing that the tap was turned on by a foot pump. On another journey I overheard a woman about my age complaining that she had not been able to get any water out of the tap at all, so perhaps a written sign rather than just a pictorial one would be helpful. The toilet paper reminded me of the awful 'Bronco' stuff we had when I was a child - I couldn't believe Eurostar didn't have something a little softer.
As I said, we arrived in Brussels bang on time and it was very straightforward to leave the terminal there and find a taxi to take us to the hotel. I wish it had been as easy to return to the Gare du Midi the following day, Sunday afternoon. We allowed plenty of time to avoid the last-minute rush of the previous day, but the taxi driver explained that there was a market by the station on Sundays. He had to drop us a little distance away and we had to pick our way through the market. Thankfully we didn't have too much luggage, or it would have been very difficult. As we came out of the market, there seemed to be signs everywhere for the Tour du Midi but none for the Gare du Midi. Finally we did recognise the building we had arrived at the day before. We were able to go straight to the check-in area, then through security and passport control. There was even time to browse a stationer's (which also sold lots of beer) and buy bottles of water from a machine in the departure lounge. Seating was generous in this area, so we sat and waited until our departure was announced.
I was impressed at the Gare du Midi in Brussels that they had posts on the platform indicating the number of each carriage of the train. This did make it easier, and I am a little surprised that this is not done at either St Pancras or the Gare du Nord in Paris. Once again, the journey was smooth and uneventful, with the train arriving punctually at St Pancras. On leaving the platform, passengers descend a sloping escalator and there is then a short walk through customs. It is easy to find the underground, but we seemed to have an extraordinarily long walk to the Victoria Line.
It was only two and a half weeks later that I made a trip to Paris by Eurostar, this time alone. I had booked it before we rebooked our Brussels trip, thinking that we would be going to Brussels about a month before we did. As it happened, I was glad that I had gone through the process recently and everything was still fresh in my mind. I arrived at St Pancras more than two hours before my eleven o'clock train. I was able to get my tickets, go to Le Pain Quotidien again, buy a bottle of water from M & S and still get to check in by about 9.30am. As on the previous occasion, the area was full of horrendously long queues. I knew I had plenty of time, but as I was waiting, once again Eurostar officials came round calling passengers for the ten o'clock departures to Brussels and Paris.
I eventually got through to the departure lounge, which I hadn't had time to see on my journey to Brussels. I was disappointed to find that there was nothing but cafes and a bar; not even a bookshop or a newsagent's. Then I noticed an information desk and decided that I would enquire about tickets for public transport in Paris. As it turned out, I was able to buy a 'carnet' of ten tickets for the metro and Paris buses for £13, which saved me time on my arrival at the Gare du Nord. By this time the departure lounge was so full that I couldn't find anywhere to sit. Fortunately, a few minutes later an earlier departure than mine was announced and crowds of people vacated the lounge. I then managed to find a very comfortable seat.
I count myself very lucky that all four journeys I made on Eurostar passed without incident and they were all on time. The woman I sat next to on the journey from London to Paris complained that she had asked for a forward-facing seat whereas we were both travelling backwards. I remembered being asked whether I would like a window or an aisle seat when I made my booking, but I couldn't remember being given the option of a forward-facing seat. She also told me that on a previous journey back from Brussels they had picked up some passengers from Euro Disney at Lille. She told me that the children had been incredibly noisy and had been throwing drinks at each other. Once again, I felt lucky that I hadn't experienced anything like this on any of my four journeys.
Arrival at the Gare du Nord in Paris involved a long walk down the platform but was otherwise very straightforward. When I came back the following afternoon for my return journey, however, I can't say I was impressed by the Paris terminal. Again I made sure to arrive in plenty of time, but there was just one brasserie and no other seating this side of check-in. As I had just come from a cafe I didn't want the brasserie so I went back downstairs in search of the ladies' toilets. These took quite a while to find, and then I had to ask for change to find the seventy cents to get through the turnstile. Back upstairs I was one of the first passengers to check in and go through security. There were rows of shops in the departure lounge, but I was glad that I didn't let myself be tempted by them and instead grabbed a seat. Within a few minutes there seemed to be crowds of people standing in every available space.
I don't know the exact cost of our trip to Brussels, but my return trip to Paris with one night at the Holiday Inn Gare de l'Est was £145. This seems an excellent price for Paris in August, but I did make the booking three months in advance and I think the price would have been higher had I booked a month or more closer to the time.
I'm sure I shall travel on Eurostar again in the future - at least I hope I will. A day-trip to Lille would just about be possible and is very tempting. I have been put off planning winter travel for the future, but there are interesting possibilities for Eurostar journeys in the summer. These include Avignon, Cologne, Amsterdam and perhaps the Swiss Alps.
Overall I enjoyed my journeys with Eurostar, but I do think the check-in process at St Pancras station could be better organised. The problem of Sunday markets by the Gare du Midi needs addressing, as taxis have to be able to drop passengers right by the station. In Paris, the facilities in the Eurostar area upstairs were disappointing, and there is a definite need for more seating both prior to and after check-in. If these improvements were made I would consider Eurostar worthy of a five-star rating, despite the fact that the carriages are now a little tatty. I would definitely recommend travelling by Eurostar, bearing in mind that the earlier you book the lower the price should be.
Also posted on other sites.
The eurostar is extremely convenient and definitely, my preferred choice to use it to enter Paris/Brussels over an airplane anytime.
Barring all the problems over winter, I took it this Easter to Brussels and back. It was a 2 hour pleasant journey (each way) with enough leg room for me. The dining carriage was well stocked with a selection of sandwiches and I could also carry in my own coffee before I board the train. (something which is indefinitely better than drinking airplane coffee)
While the tickets may not be as cheap as the budget airlines (depending on when you book your tickets), it is possible to get a single ticket for 59 pounds with unlimited luggage allowance and liquid capacity. As I live in Central London, it works out better in terms of time, than paying the extra to get my baggage checked in and going to a far away airport.
The tickets can be collection in person at the Eurostar terminal, mailed to you or printed out online. I find check in and security a breeze compared to the airport. The customs do tend to be friendlier and the queues also not as horrendous.
From Paris/Brussels, it is easy to change to a high speed train to get to the rest of Europe. This does take longer than flying though. If I am going beyond Benelux/France, I will recommend flying but otherwise. Eurostar is a great service to use!
After all the bad press Eurostar has been getting lately, I thought I would share my experience of traveling with them last week.
The Eurostar is a high speed train that goes from London, Ebbsfleet and Ashford to France and Brussels. I have used the Eurostar many times, it is a fantastic option for me as I live only 15 minutes away from Ebbsfleet and less than an hour from central London. My review is based on my journey last week from Londons St Pancras to Marne-la-Vallé - Disneyland Paris.
St Pancras terminal - This is a modern and bright station, there are loads of signs throughout the station giving directions to Eurostar departures and arrivals, so you can't get lost.
At the check in gate, you simply pop your ticket in the machine and the gates open for you, from here you need to go through the usual security checks, bags, coats etc go through the scanning machine and you walk through a metal detecting arch, the alarms went off when I walked through and so I had to go over to a lady and have a body search, this was quick and easy and we established that it was my belt setting of the alarms. You then proceed to passport control, and then you are free to relax in the terminal until your train is ready to board.
There is loads and loads of seats within the terminal so even though it was very busy, we found somewhere to sit down easily.
There is a small W H smiths, this was so busy queues of about 30 people and two people serving I would suggest you buy your paper and drinks before you go through. There is also a coffee shop this was not busy at all, probably due to the high prices. There are lovely big and clean toilet facilities which are in between the cafe and W.H Smiths.
We had booked the Disney Express train service and the children receive a little travel pack, to get this you need to go to the customer service desk in the terminal as it is not advertised or given without asking.
There are many screens in the terminal explain what gate your train will depart from and at what time, so wherever you are sat you will not miss your train.
When the train is ready to board there is an announcement and it was like a rugby scrum to get through the gates, we had seat numbers and two children so we decided to let the crowds go first and then make our way to the train, this saved us getting squashed and there was still loads of room for our luggage when we got on the train.
The train - The train is huge, it has 766 seats on board and our train was fully booked both ways. The train is divided into three 'classes'. Standard, leisure select and business premier. There are only two wheelchair spaces per train so if you need space for a wheelchair you would be advised to book early.
We were in the standard coach, the seats are comfortable with flip down tables and movable armrests.
There are two buffet coaches on the train serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and even alcohol. When you begin to move someone comes along and gives you a price list, the prices seemed reasonable although we didn't buy anything so can't comment on service or quality.
There are toilets at the end of each carriage, when the door is locked a red light comes on in the carriage so other people know the toilet is engaged.
The train journey was very pleasant, it went very quickly and there were no problems on route. There were Eurostar staff walking up and down the coaches to see if you were OK or had any questions, they were friendly and helpful.
As we had the Disney express service, someone from Disney came and gave us our park tickets, hotel information and luggage tags, you put these on your bags and then when you get off the train you pop them in at a counter and they deliver the bags to your hotel, leaving you free to enjoy the parks. It is the same on the homeward journey, you leave your bags at the hotel luggage room and then can spend the rest of the day enjoying Disney as your bags will be waiting for you at the station. There is only one Disney direct train a day it leaves at 9:50 a.m from St Pancras and the homeward train leaves Paris at 7:37 p.m.
Arrival - When you get off the train, you are in the middle of Disney, the two parks are right in front of you, the Disney village is next to you and the bus shuttles are behind you. It is fantastic.
I would highly recommend Eurostar, it is so quick and easy and within two hours or so you can be in another country having a fantastic time.
I used the Eurostar to travel to Paris, which, although more expensive than a flight, takes you directly to Paris and im much more comfortable than a flight. It is also a lot less hassle than going through an airport. The journey on the Eurostar itself was very comfortable with minimal jogging or bumps, it was only when I got up to go the bar I could feel just how quick the train is moving. The system is very efficient, nearly always arriving on time. Although this was a preferred choice from London to Paris, I think some of its other destination take a lot longer than by flight, for example the train to Amsterdam is around 6 hours and the flight is only 50 minutes and around the same price. But for those who can't fly, It is ideal. I think the Eurostar is slightly overpriced due to the fact it is not as popular as was estimated after people favoring flying cheap airlines, but for a London to Paris trip I'd say it was better than a flight.
we were travelling on 13 Feb train 9132 London to Brussels.then Amsterdam train was delayed (it was 12u57) 10mins before displayed -on time, then 13u27,then 13u57 finally train left 14u05.every one was disappoint there service.there is no reason for delay--just late arrival(they already know the delaying time ?? just keep adding the time by 30 mins. Train manager inform us delayed time is 1u10mins.train arrived in Brussels 17u15 (arrival time was 16u03)almost 72mins delayed .i called for compensation for delay ,they said delayed was 50mins BIG LIES- when i was check with the train manager he promise me i will get compensation because it delayed more than 61mins.
Dear customer, please really get written time arrival from the Train manager otherwise you can't get compensation .(we can't prof the arrival time)
If the train was on time i can be in Amsterdam 19u02
due to the delay i was 22u02.
When booking my suprise trip to paris for my girlfriend for her 21st from expedia (please check that review out) i chose to go there by Eurostar instead of the plane. And what a great choice that was.
They eurostar runs to only two european spots at the moment if travelling from England. They are France (Calais, Lille, Paris) and Belgium (Brussels). The stops at England are Kings Cross St Pancreas, Ebbsfleet and Ashford International. They used to go to Waterloo but that changed when St Pancreas was revamped. The trips to France also have limited stops to more southern locations and also right to Disneyland too.
Our tickets start from Kings Cross. Getting to Kings Cross was easy, quick tube from London Bridge and that was it. It was abit of a walk to the actual terminal but as we were travelling light (well i was) it wasnt a problem. As we got there it looked like a mini airport, spaced out and very bright. As i had booked my tickets online and not really trusting the machines i went to the desk to get my prints. The lady was very helpful and very friendly. After a few clicks, the prints came out and we were on our way. She gave me a quick brief of my carriage number and also the seats.
They do the usual checks like its an airport, afterall you are leaving the country. Checking passports, travel documents, once thats done your are then taken to the terminal via a travelator (floor moving escalator) which was quite cool. Upon arriving on our terminal we saw the machine. It was huge and verrry long. Looking for the right carriage wasnt a problem as it was clearly numbered (either on the train or on the floor, i cant really remember) and was greeted by a gentleman as we stepped in. He checked our tickets to make sure we were on the right carriage and wished us a enjoyful journey.
Upon entering we came to our first but only obstacle, baggage area. It wasnt as big as we hoped it would be. Maybe that was because the suitcases in there already were huge. Thankfully because of our relatively small suitcases we found a little spot and went to our seats. Word of advice, do not travel heavy, no huge suitcases please.
The train itself is quite wide and spaceous, not like the normal trains we have here! The seats were numbered so it was easy to find them and they were also very comfortable and not cramped at all. If only all trains were like this! The journey itself was very very smooth, it hardly made a sound. We even had a little nap on the way there and back. Before we knew it, we were at Paris main train station. This is so much better than a plane right now. Then we were all set to go to the final destination, disneyland. Again that part was also quick and smooth.
We didnt try out the food on the train on the way to france but on the way back to St Pancreas we decided to give it a go. It allocated nicely between two carriages and is also spaced out nicely. The prices for me were abit steep and so we dully stuck with a hot drink and a small tin of pringles! My advice would be to eat before you board as it will probably be cheaper.
Overall i would definately recommend the eurostar for paris, i would say for brussels aswell even though i havent been. Its so much easier that plane as your dont have to get there 2hours before your flight leaves, go through the whole baggage control and the long repetitive questions (did you pack your own bag?). You'll probably get there quicker by train! Also they dont charge you a hidden baggage fee either and also it can be so much cheaper. Also you wont end up a million miles away from your hotel either as the stops are located in very good areas and its a great way to take your children or mates to disneyland as it will stop right outside it!.
Now and again they do great deals such as return tickets for only £70 etc so check out the website for a good deal and a great journey. They are also planning to go Amsterdam and Rotterdam to but they are not sre yet, but if they do, they are going to be very busy!
I didn't know what to expect from the eurostar when we went to Paris recently. Would it be just like a normal train? A bit more like a plane on wheels? So a little apprehensive, we boarded at St Pancras Station in London.
Upon arrival at the station, we had to locate the automatic ticket machine so that our tickets could be produced. Surprisingly, they weren't located in the 'today tickets' area of the eurostar section, but the next one along, where you can book future trips.
Anyhow, once we got our tickets from the helpful machine, we had a wander around St Pancras, then made our way to the check-in area.
Through security checks and passport control, it was a reminder that you were leaving the country. There wasn't much in the departure lounge, the mandatory WHSmiths and another shop or two. After we were called to board, we went up the "escalator". I put this in inverted commas because it was more a moving floor that went up hill.
Up on the platform, each carriage was marked by number - but on the floor. Interesting. On board, it quickly became obvious that there is a serious lack of sufficient luggage storage. Whether that is because people were using larger suitcases than the designers had anticipated, or whether the travellers were stashing smaller cases in the area instead of the overhead racks, I'm not too sure.
The seats, tho all numbered, don't appear to go in order. We were sat in 81 and 82 for one leg, which were found in front of 65 and 66! The seats themselves are wider than normal train seats, comfy with a lap tray in front, and head rests that come forward at the sides to encase your sleeping head. Clever. Above there are two racks. One is perfect size for your jackets, the other for smaller cases (like carry on luggage sized)
In all, the journey was comfortable. Even a trip to the cafe carriage didn't break the bank, although surprisingly a hot chocolate (highly recommended) did cost more than a coffee and kitkat combined!
The travel was comfortable. Not much rocking, not much noise, comfortable seats and resonable prices for refreshments. In all, I'd recommend using the eurostar to reach the continent.
I recently went to Paris on the Eurostar, I choose this method due to its convenience although price obviously helped. I live on the main line train route that goes straight in to St Pancras in 20 minutes. So getting off the main line train and walking a few yards to the Eurostar terminal was ideal and very easy.
The Eurostar terminal is actually in St Pancras station, not the underground bit (or Kings Cross). It is easy enough to find, and is signed posted throughout the station.
On arrival there is a ticket office and notice boards displaying times of arrivals and departures. It is very much like an airport.
There is also the check in gate, this is unlike an airport, rather than have a person on a desk checking you in, you use your electronic ticket and scan the barcode, then walk through with your luggage. There is no opportunity to load extra luggage, you take your luggage on to the carriage with you.
You can check in up to 30 minutes before departure, and at a push you can check in later than that. On our return journey we changed our tickets for an earlier train (which our non flexible ticket did not allow but hey, we had a nice man who also wanted us to get home on the ticket desk), and we ended up going through check in 10 minutes prior to departure.
You can take bicycles that they do load separately for an extra cost of £20. I believe you can also load buggies and prams this way.
London (St Pancras)
Euro Disney, France
As I said we went to Paris, Gare Du Nord, and the journey took 2 hours 20 minutes. You are given your tickets via email and this has your allocated seats and carriage on.
The Eurostar is like an airport, you go through check in, and then security. Once through you are in a departures lounge. There are a few shops and cafe type places where you can pick up a book or magazine and a drink and some food.
As with any form of travel (plane/boat/train) the prices are ridiculously expensive. I brought a pack of mini cookies for £1.00 - it contained 6 mini cookies - for £1!
The terminal is all new and departures is spotless, it is all wooden and glass and very clean and airy. I liked it. There are a number of gates and when called you go to the gate, show your ticket and go up the long flat escalators to the platform above. This is where the train is, you then find your carriage, get on, secure your bags by the door, where there are baggage racks, and go through the glass doors in to the carriage itself and find your seat.
The seats are slightly bigger than your average economy seat on an aeroplane. They are wider and feel more spacious, I don't think there is much more space when it comes to leg room (but then I'm short and leg room is never an issue).
The one thing that is quite different on the Eurostar trains in comparison to aeroplanes is you could have a seat with a table, and while I like this idea, I don't like sitting, not facing the way I'm travelling. I'm not a great traveller and when you book your tickets, you don't get a say in this. Luckily on our return journey, when we found we were in these seats, the nice guy opposite offered to swap with me, which I graciously agreed to.
This also helped as I was then sitting opposite my sister and it didn't matter how often I kicked and hit her legs. That is the other draw back to the table seating situation, if you are opposite a stranger then that uncomfortable feeling of 'I can't move my feet' overcomes me - I don't know about anyone else. Then even worse, if you are sitting opposite a bloke who has no concept of shutting his legs or at least trying to confine himself to his side, and space but completely invades yours - it makes me angry!
Anyway enough of that, the Eurostar also has a food carriage, where you can buy food and drinks at again an inflated price. I choose to avoid this. You can get up and walk around on the Eurostar trains, and there are toilets in each carriage. The only problem with the baggage racks is that if everyone on your carriage has large luggage it can be a struggle to find somewhere to put it.
The Eurostar operate 5 tier tickets, there is Adult (26-59), Senior (60+), Youth (12-25), Child (4-11) and Under 3's.
We paid for a youth ticket which was £24.50 each way, so £49 return each. I think this is really good value for money and so much cheaper than a flight with so much less hassle.
At the moment all I hear on the radio is the £59 return to Paris, for an adult ticket. I still think this is good value, I also think that you have to be flexible to get these prices and luckily for us, we were.
I would go on the Eurostar again, and have been on it before, it is a great way to travel to Europe, I can't wait for them to extend it as planned, and this will open Europe up for people who don't like flying and generally for everyone.
I didn't realise that the Eurostar offered a 'youth' ticket option, but I would recommend taking advantage of this while you can, unfortunately for me; it will probably be my last time as a youth.
The trains are spacious and clean. The service is easy and very simple. I like the option to book online or at a ticket desk. I like the terminal and how easy and accessible it is for me, I wasn't a fan of Waterloo.
I would recommend this service to people who don't like to fly, you don't know the train is going as fast as it is, and it is a very comfortable and smooth ride.
I think there should be a luggage system, where perhaps someone who works there should make sure all baggage etc fits in.
I rate this mode of transport.
There is also the option to travel business class, I'm afraid I have no information on this other than, you sit in the first class carriages, which I'm afraid I've not been in.
For more information check out: www.eurostar.com
The Eurostar is a high speed railway passenger service connecting London with France and Belgium. All its trains cross under the English Channel via the channel tunnel, owned and operated separately by Eurotunnel. The official opening took place in May 1994. In England the train has stops in Ashford, Kent and St Pancras London, in France, Pairs and Lille with some stops at EuroDisney and in Belgium, Brussels.
To me, this train is just a fantastic way to get to Europe, a different choice from the ferry or flying and one that it convenient, quick and quite fun in my opinion.
I have actually only been on the Eurostar once but am going on it again to Paris at the weekend. My first and only experience so far was a very good one. Firstly I found booking on the Eurostar very easy. I used their website at Eurostar.com which is easy to use and gives you all the choices you need in terms of train times, schedule etc. I was lucky that I booked early enough to get their £59 per person return to Brussels. I also paid £59 return for my Paris tickets too which I think is a great bargain. You do need to book early though as these are probably advertised about three months before the departure date and sell out quickly, especially at the weekends. Once you book you can either request for your tickets to be sent to your house, you can pick them up at your departure station or you can receive an e-mail and print them yourself at home. I printed mine at home as this was the most convenient way for me but I have booked other tickets for people at work for business and the other options have worked well too.
I must say that when I first travelled on the Eurostar I was expecting something a bit more romantic. I'm not sure why but I think I had this image in my head of old style train travel, like on the Orient Express where people dress up, you have lovely carriages and the journey is more like an adventure than a shuttle. Unfortunately this was just a train, like any other cross country train except for the fact that you cross into another country, that's all. There's nothing wrong with the train, it serves it purpose well but it was not as exciting as I thought it would be. You also don't really realise that you are going through a tunnel under the channel. All of a sudden after leaving London it was dark outside the window and then we were in the countryside with foreign signs popping up now and again. I was actually very surprised at how quickly we crossed into France as it seemed to take no time at all. I guess the channel is only 21 miles (34km) at its shortest point from Dover to Calais so it really shouldn't take that long. At no point did I really realise that I was under water so those of you with a phobia really have nothing to worry about, I did not feel claustrophobic at all!
We left from the St Pancras terminal. This is a great leaving point as it was redeveloped and reopened as an International Terminal in November 2007. The departure section is wide and easily accessible and very easy to use. The station itself is great to leave from because they have built various shops and restaurants which are nice to visit before your holiday. St Pancras dub it as the most romantic place to meet, drink and dine in London. I wouldn't go this far perhaps but there is something fairly romantic about train stations and travel and so I can see how this is a good marketing ploy for them. They have added various attractions at the station to stake claim to this such as The Champagne bar, Europe's longest champagne bar and The Meeting Place, a 9m high bronze statue of a couple locked in an intimate pose by the world renowned sculptor, Paul Day.
The barriers to get through to the trains are easy to navigate. You just get out your ticket and flash your bar code in front of the reader and then you are in the departure section. As you are going to another country you do need your passport which will be checked by passport control as well as putting your bags through the security scanner. Even though there were quite a lot of people going through this did not take too long. I think because there are trains departing fairly frequently they do not have the same bottle necks that say an International Flight would have at an airport. The departure lounge was fairly small but you are not in there for long. The train opens about half an hour before departure so you don't need to leave hours like you would a flight. Inside the departure lounge there was a Café Nero so we picked up a quick coffee and then got on the train.
You have assigned seats on the train and are given a carriage number on your ticket so it's easy to find. There are places in the door ways to put your luggage and you can also put them over head. This does get used quickly so I would advise getting on the train early so you can store your luggage where you like. On board was clean and sufficient for the journey. There are toilets which were fine, basically just regular train toilets, clean enough. They also have a snack cart where you can purchase teas/coffee, snacks etc. They take both Euros and Pounds but only cash so you do need to have some money on you if you want a snack.
The train left on time and arrived on time, departure and return and only took us about 2 hours to get to Brussels which I thought was great. To get to Paris takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes with the train going at up to 186mph. The trains run 7 days a week excluding Christmas Day and depart approximately every hour. In my opinion definitely the best way to travel to the Continent!!
Eurostar is a fab way to travel: after you've travelled to London, in just over the time you would normally spend waiting around in airport lounge, you're already in Paris! It doesn't take much longer to get to Brussels either.
For Disney, try getting a normal to Paris, then getting the Metro from there if no special deals are available direct to Disney. If you don't mind changing, it may save you some money.
What's really good is the fact you end up right in the centre of places and not on the outskirts as you often do with airports. I also love that way travelling by Eurostar feels someswhat exculsive; there's a person outside every carriage as you board at the station, you can take as much luggage as you like without it being a set size, or weighed, or likely to be lost, the lounges are intimate and cosy, it's peaceful. Serrvice on board is good, very professional staff and food and drink (when included) is of a really high standard.
What really makes the difference is that it is just to EASY, get off your National rail service, easily find the Eurostar lounge, casually board, sit and enjoy - that's it. No rushing around, no not knowing where you going, no walking miles.
Bargains to be had if booked in advance online too! Although these prices increase even by later in the same day if demand is high, so don't put off booking once you've decided your dates and destination.
Eurostar offer high speed rail service between London, Paris, Brussels and Lille connecting to the onward rail networks throughout Europe. It is absolutely fantastic that you can do this without taking a plane and often works out just as cheap as flying and in terms of saving money it is quite good too.
This service is enabled due to the magnificent construction of the Channel tunnel which is the longest tunnel in the world under the sea. There are two tunnels that take trains in each direction with a central service tunnel which can be used in an emergency such as a train break down or fire as has happened in recent years. The Eurostar service is also shared with the Eurotunnel car and freight trains. There are two control centres either side of the channel one at Ashford Kent and the other in Coquelles near Calais, France.
It took seven years to complete. I remember when they brought the giant drilling machines which were offloaded at Dover Docks and transported at about 3-4 miles per hour up to the service tunnel just past Aycliffe in Dover then down to the construction site at Samphire hoe below Shakespeare cliff. These drilling machines were massive and took up the whole road on their journey which was about 2 miles and took about 3 hours to transport it. Samphire hoe is a wildlife nature reserve which has been created by the 59 million tons of marl chalk excavated from the tunnel. Samphire is a green leaf plant only found in this area that has grown wild for century's and is used as a vegetable. So some environmental good has come out of this too encouraging rare plants and birds to the area.
Recently they have opened the new Station at Ebbsfleet Kent which is just off the M25 at Dartford off the A2 thereby making it accessible to many people without having to go into central London to St. Pancras station. There is also another station at Ashford in Kent.
Destinations. Average Journey time.
London - Paris 2 Hours 15 Minutes
London - Brussels 1 Hour 51 Minutes
London - Calais 0 Hours 59 Minutes
London - Lille 1 Hour 20 Minutes,
London - Euro Disney 3 Hours 55 Minutes or 2 Hours 56 Minutes December
& January direct.
There are three classes of service offered.
There are various combinations and permutations of seat including singles twins facing forward or backwards and single or twins with tables in between.
These are the most expensive tickets and offer flexibility in changing departure times allowing you to check in 10 minutes before departure. You can use the extra space to work and use electronic equipment in the carriage. There are power points available. A two course meal is offered depending on the time of the day i.e. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. A choice of drinks wines and champagne are also served. Access to a premium lounge at the terminal with free wifi access. Complimentary newspapers. A chauffeur driver service is available at an extra cost.
Similar service to Business premier but check in is 30 minutes before departure. It offers a meal dependent on the time of day slightly different from the above but of fairly high standard and complimentary drinks wine and champagne. Complimentary newspapers are available. The seating arrangements are the same as in business premier and there is more leg room than in the standard service.
The seating plan is somewhat different the seats are either facing forward or backwards and there is about ten centimetres less leg room. There is a small table in the back of the chair in front. No food is offered but you can opt to visit the buffet carriage.
There is a wide range of cold food available from the buffet car including sandwiches craps, cold and hot drinks. Beers, water, pop and champagne. For example it costs about £6 for a sandwich, bag of crisps and a can of coke. They also offer travel cards for each destination for example the Oyster card for London; Carnet de billets for Paris and for Brussels the Jump Ticket.
The station terminals.
Check in is quite simple and straight forward you just put your ticket into the machine and off you go. At the UK terminals you have to go through French immigration and then security checks and depending how early you are you can board the train more or less straight away. The terminals are quite user friendly and have café, and toilet facilities. On the return journey you have to go through UK immigration in Paris and customs on arrival at London.
The start of the train is practically unnoticeable and the train glides out of the station silently and smoothly. There is a gradual increase of speed reaching speeds of up to 186 miles per hour. Actually going through the tunnel takes approximately 20 minutes there is nothing to see although you can feel your ears pop as you reach the lowest point through the tunnel. The train gets through the tunnel and then depending on your destination the train accelerates to reach speeds again of 186 MPH. Before you know it you reach your destination. If travelling with friends the general chit chat usually entertains you but if travelling alone a good book or reading a news paper is enough entertainment or just watching the countryside whizz past your eyes is entertaining enough. I have always found travelling by Eurostar stress free and no worries about delays at the airports and in fact it can save you more time especially if you are within the locality of Ebbsfleet or Ashford.
Euro star = 2 x 30KG suitcases plus one hand baggage.
Air France = 1x 20KG suitcase plus one hand baggage.
Prices are quite competitive and if you book your tickets well in advance you can take advantage of return tickets to Paris for £59. Often the various broadsheet papers offer two for one fare deals so they are worth looking out for even if it means you have to buy the newspaper for five days for approximately £5 you can save yourself £54.
For example in a couple of weeks time I have booked a ticket directly through to Strasbourg for £109. The whole journey from door to door will take me approximately 6 and a half hours. This includes transferring from Gare du Nord and Gare du Est.
The same journey by Plane will take 9 hours and 50 minutes and the airfare is £416.80. This includes an hour transfer from home each end and 2 hour pre flight check in.
So you can see not only can I do the journey faster it is considerably cheaper and less stressful.
If travelling to Europe I would seriously consider using Eurostar services not only for convenience but also for time saving, saving money reducing stress levels and saving the environment.
I booked my journey directly with Eurostar at the following on line web address:-