Destinations,  Europe,  France,  Trains, Planes & Rideshares,  Travel Diary,  United Kingdom

From London to Paris by Eurostar | Overland Europe Travel

I’d been wanting to travel on the Eurostar train for several years, so I took the opportunity to do so this past summer when I went from London over to Paris.

Ticket prices get more expensive the closer you get to your travel date (just like plane tickets), so it’s important to book early. This does take the spontaneity out of things, somewhat, but it’s better than paying full-price for a last-minute ticket. I booked my coach ticket in April for a departure in late August, for about $76 USD. I just booked directly on the Eurostar website, no big deal.

I accidentally booked my ticket for the day after the Notting Hill Carnival which meant a VERY crowded train and train station of French folks going back over to Paris. Not sure how things are normally, but I’d assume slightly less frantic.

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Eurostar Train FAQs

How much does a ticket cost?

Cost varies because they use dynamic pricing, basically. The earlier you can book your ticket, the cheaper it’ll be. The closer to your travel date, the more expensive it is. Generally the cheapest tickets are around $50 USD and go upwards of $150 USD ONE WAY.

What times do the Eurostar trains run?

The earliest train leaves London at 8:01 am and departs every half hour or hour until 8:01 pm. Here’s the complete timetable.

It takes 2 hours 16 minutes to get from London to Paris.

Where can I book Eurostar tickets?

You can book directly on the Eurostar website: https://www.eurostar.com/

Or if you prefer, you can use a website like RailEurope which sells tickets for nearly all European trains and is VERY easy to use. If you’re planning on buying a lot of train tickets at once, using one website for everything would be easier.

Can I use my Eurail pass to book Eurostar tickets?

Yes, Eurostar tickets are included in the Eurail Global train pass! More info on that at the Eurail website here.

Personal experience taking the Eurostar

London St Pancras International Station

The Eurostar leaves England from London St Pancras International station, which is easily accessible via metro.

London St. Pancras is a pretty good train station to hang out in before the train leaves. There’s two floors, with lots of shops, restaurants, and grocery options, plus bathrooms and places to sit. I spent too much money on food and coffee– including an abysmal Starbucks coffee– so I recommend grabbing something from outside the station if you plan to be there for a while.

When I sat down to eat, I met an older solo traveler and had a nice conversation about train travel, teaching English in Spain, and working in libraries (her sister was a librarian like me!).

Inside St. Pancreas Int’l
A tiny tree display in St. Pancreas Int’l

Boarding the Eurostar

To board the Eurostar you have to pass through security and UK/France immigration. This is very similar to going through security at an airport, honestly.

Security

First, my ticket was checked at a pre-security line by train staff. You can only get into security about an hour or 1.5 hours before your train leaves. After that, I got into a big line and went to the British passport check. My passport guy asked no questions and just waved me through.

Next is the luggage scanning part– much like an airport! Luggage goes through the X-ray scanner, and you yourself go through a standard metal detector. Your suitcase HAS to fit onto the scanning bed, and you have to be able to lift it up there yourself. Here’s info on luggage restrictions for the Eurostar. The good news is there’s no restrictions on liquids, so you can take as much water and perfume or whatever as you’d like.

Then it was on to the French passport check. Again, my passport guy asked no questions but DID give me a stamp. There’s a special stamp for the Eurostar, so I was very excited to get it.

A tiny train stamp!

And that’s the end of the security process!

Eurostar Waiting Room

For as many people as can be on a train at once, the Eurostar waiting room was surprisingly TINY. Technically they won’t let anyone in there more than an hour before your train leaves, but since trains leave roughly every half hour, that means two full trainloads of people are crammed into one waiting room at the same time.

The waiting area has (duty free?) shops, a few restaurants, and coffee places, as well as an info desk. Eventually I managed to snag a seat and drank another cup of coffee. I probably had a few too many coffees this day…

The boarding platform is actually upstairs, but there’s ramps to get up there so it’s very easy to get to. Once our train was called to board, another rush of people went up to get to the platform.

Onto the Train!

All Eurostar tickets have assigned seating, so I just needed to find the right car, plop my suitcase onto the luggage rack near the doors, and find my seat.

Head’s up: the luggage storage racks above the seats can NOT fit a suitcase, or even a stuffed daypack. Even the tiny European carry-on suitcases are too big for that overhead shelf, and I saw several people struggle to store their luggage.

My POV from my seat on the Eurostar.

I ended up just putting my daypack near my feet. Since it was a short trip, the lack of foot room didn’t bother me.

The exciting part of the ride is going through the Chunnel, but we got there so quickly I didn’t even notice going in it. And then when we were in the Chunnel it just looked like a tunnel– no sparkles or neon lights or what have you. 😛

Other window views were standard industrial areas + farm lands + junkyard things which tend to show up on train routes that aren’t explicitly tourism-focused ones.

Supposedly there’s a cafe car and some other stuff on the train, but there was no way I could get out of my seat with how crammed everything was, so I just stayed put and read a bit on my Kindle.

Arriving in Paris

The Eurostar stops in Paris at the Paris Gare Du Nord station, which doesn’t have the greatest reputation but which just seemed like a normal huge train station to me.

ParisByTrain.com was very helpful with figuring out which Metro pass to get (for me, a Navigo Easy card with 10 tickets loaded onto it) and how to use the gates, but I still got stuck and had to ask for help from a staff member. They were very nice about it, honestly.

And from there I went to my hostel and got ready to do some sightseeing.

A good view for once!

Final Thoughts

I found the Eurostar slightly underwhelming, as it’s really just a regular train going at high speeds. The exciting part is going in an underwater tunnel, but you can’t even see that part. While I’m glad I tried it out and get to stay “I went on the Eurostar!” I don’t think I’d do it again unless it was significantly cheaper than a flight.


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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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