Getting to Paris or Lille from London is easy and very fast by Eurostar. Trains go from St. Pancras International in central London to Gare du Nord in central Paris, or to the heart of Lille which is the main interchange point for the French TGV (trains de grande vitesse or high speed trains). Eurostar is fast, cheap if you book in advance, and with Eurostar championing a whole lot of ‘green’ initiatives, is becoming by far the best way to travel for the environment.
The advantages of taking Eurostar
- Trains to Paris can take as little as 2hrs 15 minutes (a little longer if there's a brief stop at Ebbsfleet or Ashford in the U.K.)
- Trains to Lille take 1 hr 20 mins
- Trains go about every hour every day except December 25th
- Fares start at £69 return on 2nd class and from £149 first class but you must book well in advance
- Luggage allowance
- There is no restriction on luggage either in numbers of cases or in weight
- Check in is only 45 minutes before departure
- Security procedures are very fast
Details and bookings on tel.: 08432 186 186 or www.eurostar.com.
Eurostar to Disneyland® Paris
Eurostar runs directly from London and Paris to Marne-la-Vallée during school holidays and at half terms. With the ability to take as much luggage as you want and the quick journey time, it's the best way to give the children a treat.
If you book the Disney Express luggage service you can leave your bags at the station.
From Marne-la-Vallée it's a 2-minute walk to the park.
Eurostar to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille non-stop
Eurostar has now joined with voyages-sncf to offer a fabulous service direct from London St-Pancras International to Lyon (4 hours 41 minutes) Avignon (5 hours, 49 minutes) and Marseille (6 hours 27 minutes).
On the return you have to get off at Lille, go through customs with your bags and join the regular Eurostar to London.
Other Eurostar services
- There's a very good 2-for-1 offer on many museums and galleries which you can take advantage of by just showing your Eurostar ticket and your passport. Click on the Eurostar Plus Culture link on the Eurostar site.
- In Paris there are offers on museums like the Musee d’Orsay, the Grand Palais, and the Jeu de Paume.
- Lille offers include Le Palais des Beaux-Arts, La Piscine in nearby Roubaix, LaM (Lille Museum of Modern Art) just outside the center, and Muba Eugene Leroy in nearby Tourcoing.
- Eurostar also offers Eurostar Plus Gourmet in partnership with top table which gives you up to 50% your bill in certain restaurants. Again just present your Eurostar ticket (and take your passport with you as well) when paying your bill. Check the site for the offers which change regularly. These apply to Paris, and to Lille.
- Eurostar Plus Shopping gives you 10% off your purchases at Galeries Lafayette in both Paris and Lille.
Environment Issues and 'Tread Lightly'
In April 2006, Eurostar launched their ‘Tread Lightly' initiative, aiming to make all Eurostar journeys to and from St Pancras International carbon neutral. They also have an ambitious programme to reduce overall carbon emissions by 25% by 2012. They are working towards reaching zero waste being sent to landfill and 80% of all their waste being recycled.
Take a look at the bags used by Eurostar managers in the UK, France and Belgium. They’re created entirely from recycled Eurstaff raincoats, lining material from suits and antimacassars.
A little history and some fascinating facts
Eurostar runs through the Channel Tunnel (also popularly known as the Chunnel), a 50.5 km (31.4 mile) undersea rail tunnel which goes from Folkestone in Kent in the UK to Coquelles in Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France. 75 metres (250 ft) deep at its lowest point it has the distinction of having the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world.
The Tunnel takes high-speed Eurostar trains as well as roll-on, roll-off vehicle transport and international freight via the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. The tunnel, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, has become one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, along with:
- The Empire State Building, New York
- The Itaipu Dam (Brazil and Paraguy)
- The CN Tower (Toronto, Canada)
- The Panama Canal (Panama)
- The North Sea protection works which include the Zuiderzee Works and Delta Works (Netherlands), and
- The Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, California).
It was way back in 1802 that the idea of an underwater tunnel was first put forward by French mining engineer, Albert Mathieu. It was an ingenious plan, envisaging a railway that would use oil lamps for lighting, horse-drawn carriages and a mid-Channel stop to change the horses. But fears about Napoleon and French territorial ambitions put a stop to that idea.
Another French plan was proposed in the 1830s then the English put forward various schemes. In 1881 things were looking up with the Anglo-French Submarine Railway Company digging on both sides of the Channel. But once again, British fears stopped the digging.
There were numerous other proposals from both countries over the next century, but it wasn’t until 1988 that the politics were settled and serious construction started. The Tunnel finally opened in 1994.
Given the history of the two countries, and the byzantine politics in both parliaments, it’s a miracle that the tunnel was built and now operates so successfully.