What’s it like on the Eurostar from London to Paris?

Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris - Travel for a Living

Have you been on the Eurostar from London to Paris yet? Or maybe on the route from London to Brussels? No? Well you really should. It is good fun.

I do love a good train trip and over the years I have taken the Eurostar several times to Paris and Brussels, both for work and leisure.

So, if the thought of going below the Channel doesn’t freak you out completely, why not give it a try. After all, it is quick and very convenient. Intrigued? Well, let me tell you what to expect when taking the Eurostar from London to Paris. Or Brussels. Or vice versa.

As I have started a new project recently, I am currently commuting from London to Paris pretty much every week. And for that, the Eurostar is a lot more convenient than flying. Especially since my first experience of flying from Paris to London resulted in me being stuck in Paris Orly for an extra night. So yes, I might be a little biased here. But so far (touch wood) I haven’t had any problems with the Eurostar whatsoever. It pretty much departed and arrived on the dot every single time.

OK, quick update: The minute I finished typing the above (whilst on my morning train to Paris), the inevitable happened. Although my Eurostar departed London on time, it got delayed en route, resulting in a 90-minute delay arriving into Paris. The silver lining? I can now also include first-hand information on delay repay options for delayed Eurostar travels.

Whilst I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the Eurostar just yet (give me a few more months of commuting), I am certainly no stranger to Eurostar any more. And I have a rather good idea what to expect when taking the Eurostar.

Therefore, let me enlighten you and answer the most common questions about taking the Eurostar from London to Paris:

How long does the Eurostar take from London to Paris?

How much does the Eurostar from London to Paris cost?

How do I book a ticket for the Eurostar?

How do I board my Eurostar to Paris? Do I need to arrive at the station early to board the Eurostar?

What is the luggage allowance on the Eurostar from London to Paris?

What to expect on board the Eurostar?

Can I get compensation if my Eurostar is delayed?

Is it worth signing up for Club Eurostar?

OK, let’s start with the basics, shall we?

The Eurostar from London to Paris takes roughly 2h 20mins. Times vary a little, depending on whether it is a non-stop train to Paris or has a short stop in Ebbsfleet along the way.

When it comes to the cost of a Eurostar ticket, prices can differ quite a bit. If you book your Eurostar journey early, you can get tickets from as little as 29GBP one way. However, if you book popular times or book at short notice, tickets can easily exceed 150GBP one way. Similar to flights really.

So, to get the best price for the Eurostar from London to Paris, it’s best to book early. And to be a little flexible with both your travel days and travel times.

Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris - Travel for a Living

How do I book a Eurostar ticket?

Booking a Eurostar ticket is fairly similar to booking a flight ticket. You can either book online or at the station. But you will have to make sure you book a ticket in advance before taking the Eurostar from London to Paris. You can’t just show up at St. Pancras station and board the next train.

Unless you have your ticket and your passport, you won’t actually get anywhere near the train. As the Eurostar terminal is a restricted area within St. Pancras, not accessible to the public.

There are three travel classes on the Eurostar: Standard, Standard Premier and Business Premier.

Personally, I have only ever travelled on Standard, so I can’t really give you in-depth information on the two other classes. But if you are trying to decide which travel class to book for your Eurostar journey from London to Paris, it might help to know the main differences.

Standard

basically, just the ticket (including a dedicated seat). No added extras.

Standard Premier

  • You’ll be served a light meal and drinks at your seat
  • You’ll sit in a coach that is a little more comfy and has a little more room (not that there is anything wrong with the standard coaches).
  • Complimentary newspapers during your journey

Business Premier

  • More room and comfier seats
  • Complimentary newspapers
  • A higher luggage allowance
  • Fully flexible ticket with a boarding guarantee (so you can choose any train you want)
  • A three-course meal and drinks served at your seat
  • Business lounge access before departure
Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris - Travel for a Living

How do I board the Eurostar from London to Paris?

Firstly, make sure you arrive at St. Pancras early. Similar to taking a flight, you will need to go through security and passport control before you can actually board your Eurostar train. And this may take a while.

To avoid overcrowding in the departure area at St. Pancras, you aren’t able to go through security until approx. 60 – 75 minutes before train departure. As you approach the security area, staff will announce which trains are ready to go through. If yours isn’t on the list yet, just hang around and wait for it to be called.

Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris - Travel for a Living

At the same time, please be aware that security will close 30 minutes before the train. Meaning, if you don’t arrive in time, you won’t be able to board your train. I am always surprised how many people show up totally oblivious of this and then upset that they can’t board their train. It isn’t the end of the world, if you miss your train, you can re-book to one of the next ones. But as the Eurostar to Paris only runs once an hour, it will result in quite a delay.

Although you have to go through security, it isn’t quite as strict as security at the airport.

Yes, you do have to take off your jacket and empty your pockets. But you won’t have to take off your shoes or take out your electronics. Also, there isn’t a restriction on liquids. So, whether it is your morning coffee or your bottle of water for the journey, you can take it all with you. Piece of advice. If you do bring your coffee to go, you probably want to ask staff for a cup holder, rather than placing your coffee cup on the conveyor on its own (in the interest of everyone’s luggage arriving half clean on the other side of the scanner).

Once you’ve cleared security, the next stop is border control. As you’ll arrive into Paris, you will be able to get off the train and out of the station without any delay. But this means, you’ll be checked twice at St. Pancras instead (once by UK, once by French border control).

Depending on time of day, going through security and passport control can take anything from 5 minutes to half an hour.

Once you’ve cleared border control, you are in the departure area. As mentioned before, this is a rather small area. So, there isn’t much to do. There is a WH Smith, so you can get some newspapers and books. A small duty-free shop and a Pret. So, you can grab a coffee and some food before boarding the Eurostar to Paris.

There are also several seating areas, some even with power sockets (both UK and European plus USB). However, there don’t ever seem to be enough seats to allow everyone to sit down. So, be prepared to stand around whilst waiting for your train. Or grab yourself a seat straight away.

Phone reception is a little patchy in the departure area (probably to do with the amount of steel around you), but St. Pancras offers a free WIFI, which is usually fairly reliable.

Boarding commences approx. 20 minutes before departure and only then are you able to access the platforms. Once the gates are open, you can take the travellator up to the first floor and board your Eurostar. As there are two routes up to the platform, it is worth checking which carriage you are seated in. Coach 1 to 6 can use the first travellator; all others should use the second.

The actual boarding bit is pretty much the same as boarding any other train. You go up to the platform, find your carriage, get on.

At the entrance of each carriage you will find luggage compartments. If you travel with bigger suitcases, it is best to stow them straight away. Smaller suitcases, backpacks and handbags can either be stored below the seat or in the overhead shelves.

What is the luggage allowance on the Eurostar from London to Paris?

Talking of luggage. Shall I tell you how much luggage you can take on the Eurostar? Good news. The luggage allowance on the Eurostar is a lot more generous than it is when flying. Any adult ticket for the Eurostar automatically includes two suitcases (up to 85cm high) and one small piece of hand luggage. And there is no weight restriction for your luggage on the Eurostar.

If you travel as a business premier customer, you can even bring 3 suitcases instead of two.

Although there is no weight restriction, it is probably worth pointing out that you should be able to manhandle your luggage yourself. You will need to lift it into the train and out again (it is two steps up to get into the train). So best to bear that in mind when packing.

Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris - Travel for a Living

What to expect on board the Eurostar?

The Eurostar is a high-speed train with a top speed of over 300 km/h (over 200 miles/h). So pretty fast. Which makes it a rather smooth journey. But when walking through the train, you should probably be a little careful. As the train bends into corners, you might struggle a little to walk in a straight line.

When checking in, you had the option of choosing your seat (or you were allocated one). So, depending on your choice, you will either sit in a row of two (with a foldable table in front of you) or a group of four (with a central table in the middle). If like me you use the time on the Eurostar to get some work done, going for the rows of two is actually the slightly better option. As it gives you more individual room and the foldable table is better for

placing a laptop.

All seats come with power sockets (both European and UK). There is one of each in-between the two seats. So, chances are, you might have to share with your seat neighbour. In an ideal world, one of you uses the European, one the UK (so it might be advisable to have your plug adaptor handy, if you rely on charging your devises during your Eurostar journey from London to Paris.

Eurostar offers complimentary Wi-Fi on all trains. Which is great, as due to travel speed, the phone reception will be rather unreliable. But unfortunately, so will the Wi-Fi. So be prepared to be offline for most of your journey.

Once you’ve departed St. Pancras, it won’t take long to get out of London (sorry to say, there won’t be any stunning London views along the journey, as you’ll be travelling underground for most of this).

It then takes around 30 minutes to reach the Channel Tunnel and approx. 20 minutes to cross it.

The Channel Tunnel is a staggering 50 kilometres long and at its deepest point it goes down 75m below sea level.

Obviously, you won’t actually realise you are below water, as there are no windows in the Channel Tunnel. Well, I say obviously, but I have overheard first time Eurostar travellers asking exactly that.

The Eurostar from London to Paris is non-stop (ok, some do one quick stop at Ebbsfleet). Which gives you a little more freedom to walk around the train without having to worry too much about your luggage. I mean after all, even if you leave your seat, where should anyone go with your stuff? Obviously, I am not promoting you being careless here. All I am saying is, that it is probably safe to nip to the loo without taking all your belongings with you, if you travel on your own (at least I do that).

If travelling in standard class, no food or drinks will be served during your journey. But you can head to the onboard bistro in coach 9 for some snacks and hot and cold drinks. Or you bring your own obviously.

Can I get compensation if my Eurostar is delayed?

Plain and simple. Yes, you can.

And as mentioned in the intro, I can now share first-hand experience on delay repay for the Eurostar.

If your Eurostar is delayed by more than 60 minutes, you are entitled to a partial refund. The amount of this refund depends on the overall delay you accumulated. For 60 to 119 minutes, you are entitled to a 25% refund. For 120 to 179 minutes, you will get 50% of your ticket price back. Anything above 3 hours and your refund is a staggering 75%.

You’ll have to wait at least 24 hours after your journey, before claiming anything.

And don’t be fooled. On the Eurostar website the first option is for you to get an e-voucher as compensation for your delayed Eurostar train. Which is fine, if you travel on the Eurostar regularly. If not (or if you’d rather have the money back in your account), simply scroll down a little further and click on ‘Claim a Refund’ instead. The amount stays the same for delays up to 3 hours (25% or 50% of your ticket price). But for any delay over 3 hours, the pay-out will stay at 50%, not 75% as you’d get with the e-voucher. So, bear that in mind, when you decide whether to claim cash or an e-voucher for your delayed Eurostar journey.

The actual claim process is fairly straight forward. You’ll need your booking reference and your ticket number. Easy if you use a paper ticket, as the number is printed on there. But it might be a little tricky when using a mobile pass. As the number isn’t actually shown on there. When using the Eurostar mobile app, you can find the number within your booking details. But not very obviously positioned; it took me quite a while to find it. Unfortunately, without the ticket number, you won’t be able to proceed.

It can take up to 14 days for the compensation to hit your account (mine arrived in just over one week).

Is it worth signing up for Club Eurostar?

Whether or not it is worth signing up for Club Eurostar probably depends how often you travel on the Eurostar. If you take the Eurostar once in a blue moon, it probably isn’t worth it. If, like me, you take the Eurostar from London to Parisand back every week, the Club Eurostar benefits can add up quite quickly.

Signing up for Club Eurostar is free and you can download the Eurostar app on your smartphone.

With Club Eurostar, you will collect points for your travels. The points equal the money spent on your ticket. So, if your ticket was 59GBP, you will receive 59 points.

So, what can I do with Club Eurostar points?

Firstly, you can use your accumulated points for travel upgrades, money off Eurostar tickets, free Eurostar tickets, purchases in the Club Eurostar shop or convert the points to AccorHotel points.

Upgrading your ticket from Standard to Standard Premier costs you around 600 points.

A single Eurostar ticket from London to Pariscosts 500 points, return tickets costs 1000 points (ok, that wasn’t too hard to guess, was it).

As you collect points, you will move up the ranks in the club. When you first start out with Club Eurostar you will be at the ‘Classique’ tier. Which in itself doesn’t mean much, to be honest. Once you’ve collected at least 400 points, you will move up to ‘Advantage’. Get 1800 points and you reach the highest tier ‘Carte Blanche’. Well actually, from November (2019) these numbers change, and you will need 2400 points to reach ‘Carte Blanche’. Good news for me, I am currently less than 100 points away from the 1800, so I should be able to reach ‘Carte Blanche’ before the end of October. Happy days, can’t wait.

Benefits of Club Eurostar tiers

Classique:

  • You collect points for all your travels
  • You can share those points with others in the club (so with family members for example)
  • You can use your points to book Eurostar tickets or get discounts on Eurostar tickets
  • You get special offers (like discounts at selected retailers in St. Pancras)
  • Upgrade your ticket using your accumulated points

Advantage:

  • All of the above
  • You can use your points on rail travel with Eurostar partners (TGV, Thalys, Lyria)
  • You can use your points for purchases in the Club Eurostar Shop

Carte Blanche:

This is where it gets really exciting.

  • All of the benefits of Classique and Advantage plus
  • Dedicated support from the Club Eurostar Team
  • Access to the Business Premier lounge
  • Fast-track lanes at the station
  • Business Premier ticket office
  • Taxi booking service, so you have a cab ready and waiting when you arrive

You know me. Give me access to a lounge and I am a happy bunny. As mentioned, I am very close to reaching Carte Blanche, so I am already excited to see what the Eurostar Premier Lounge looks like. Needless to say, I will tell you all about the Eurostar lounge, as soon as I gained access. Yes I know, no surprise there.

Tips from a frequent traveller to enhance your Eurostar experience

 

If you are travelling on the Eurostar from London to Paris for the first time, let me share with you some of my accumulated knowledge:

Bring socks and a scarf

With the aircon on, the train can get rather chilly. Similar to an aircraft.

Bring your own picnic

With no restriction on weight and liquids, why not pack yourself a champagne breakfast if heading for a romantic weekend in Paris with your loved one? If your weekend in Paris is a last-minute decision, there’s a Fortnum & Mason at St. Pancras station (just saying).

Position yourself right

For a quick exit at your destination, opt for the higher coach numbers for your Eurostar journey from London to Parisand the lower coach numbers when travelling back to London.

Woohoo, good news. You made it to the end of this ‘short guide on Eurostar travels’. I don’t think I have anything else to add. I hope you find this helpful, should you plan your first Eurostar trip from London to Paris.

And if you have been on the Eurostar before, anything worth mentioning, that I might have forgotten?

Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris - Travel for a Living Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris - Travel for a Living

Leave a Reply

12 Comments

  1. Emma

    I took the Eurostar once and loved it. Such a quick and easy way to get to Paris. I managed to get a business class ticket cheaper than a standard, not sure how, but it was really good and nice little breakfast included

    Reply
    • Travel for a living

      Perfect. I haven’t done a business class trip yet. But if it comes up cheaper, sign me up for it anytime 🙂

      Reply
  2. Kay

    That’s glad that the luggage is more generous on the train! I’ve always wanted to take it! Maybe the next time I’m in Europe!

    Reply
    • Travel for a living

      It’s great. But it is important to keep in mind that you will still have to be able to physically lift your luggage and move it in and out of the train. Only too often do I see people with so many heavy suitcases that then take forever to get on the train and can’t lift their luggage into the racks. But yes, not having to worry about the weight (and liquids) is such a relief.

      Reply
  3. catherinemryan

    I’m from the West Coast of the US, where the country is huge and everything is far apart, so wrapping my head around only 2 hours to get to Paris from London sounds bananas! I’d absolutely consider taking the Eurostar in Europe. I love how efficient trains are in Europe.

    Reply
    • Travel for a living

      Oh yes, I can imagine. But to be honest, even if you need to get from one side of London to the other, it can easily take you two hours on public transport. So even there it seems bonkers that I could get from London to Paris quicker than I could get from my home (just north of London) to Heathrow Airport, West of London.

      Reply
  4. Andrea Peacock

    The Eurostar seems like such a convenient way to travel between London and Paris, and so cool that it goes underwater! definitely want to try it one day.

    Reply
    • Travel for a living

      Yes it is just so convenient. Door to door it is quicker than flying, with the added benefit that you start and end right in the heart of town.

      Reply
  5. Brenda

    Awesome blog post, very clear! I have yet to take the Eurostar but it sounds like a real convenient way of traveling.

    Reply
  6. travelgirlto

    Ive always thought of doing this when I was in Paris. Unfortunately it was always last min and seemed a bit too expensive. I would love to try it someday. Thanks for the guide.

    Reply
  7. Live Love Run Travel

    Thank you for this detailed guide on taking the Eurostar from London to Paris. Those are two of my favorite cities, but I haven’t used the Eurostar to travel between them before.

    Reply
  8. Andi Fisher (@andi_fisher)

    This is a trip I have wanted to do for awhile. We visit Paris often and London not so often, I want to change that a bit by adding a weekend to London from time to time, I hate the flights in between the 2, so the train looks like it would be cool. When I worked in Switzerland I used to take the TGV to Paris and loved it!

    Reply