The Eurostar train to Paris

The Eurostar train to Paris

In 2023, the French train brand Thalys fully merged with Eurostar, so it’s now a easier to book trains to and from Paris under one provider. This post is dedicated to taking the Eurostar train to Paris from London and Rotterdam (or Amsterdam). The highspeed Eurostar is a great alternative to flying, even if aren’t used to long-distance train travel. Continue reading and let me convince you to travel to Paris by train!

London to Paris

Departure and travel length

For anyone travelling from the UK or Ireland, head to London to board a direct train to Paris. The journey takes a mere 2 hours and 16 minutes, and you arrive right in the city centre of France’s capital. No plane can beat that! Do note that the check-in for the train closes 30 minutes prior to departure. You therefore want to arrive at London St. Pancras International around and hour in advance. Although the Eurostar website recommends being at the departure stations some 90 minutes before the train leaves, the passport checks are usually really efficient, so 90 minutes is a bit excessive if you ask me. If it’s your first time taking the Eurostar, if you’ve not been to St. Pancras Station before, or if you’re travelling at peak times during the summer, 90 minutes may be a good guideline. Otherwise, an hour will suffice. Of course, if you travel from elsewhere to London, it’s a good idea to factor in potential delays.

Cost and frequency

You can travel from London to Paris for as little as €44 or £39 for a single fare. It really helps to book at least 2 months in advance and to choose one of the less popular times of day. There are up to 15 direct trains per day. The earliest (06:01-09:30) and latest (20:01-23:18) are typically the cheapest options. Note that the time difference makes the journey looks longer than it actually is!

You can of course upgrade to Standard Premium or Business Premium for more spacious seats and included drinks/meals. For a short journey like this, I’d say an upgrade is not worth the extra cost. The standard seats are comfortable and you’re always allowed to bring multiple items of luggage. It’s also incredibly easy to change your seat on the website after purchasing your ticket.

My experience

I have travelled with the Eurostar train to Paris from London and back only once, but it was great. At the station in London, everything went smoothly and there were no delays. The station in Paris, Gare du Nord, was less nice. It’s a bit dirty with lots of homeless people wandering around and sometimes even bothering passengers. I’d therefore recommend heading straight to the Eurostar check-in and chilling in the secluded upstairs area. When I went back to London, there was also an issue with the automatic passport checks, so there was a huge queue. But this is of course an exception (and still much better than a delayed flight!). I was still able to get to the train in time and it left without delays.

Upon arrival in London, I actually forgot my backpack on the Eurostar. When I realised this, I couldn’t get back into the train anymore. Fortunately, the staff were very helpful and phoned someone to get my bag from the coach. Within half an hour, I was able to collect my backpack from the Eurostar dispatch desk, which left me with plenty of time to catch my connecting train home. The dispatch centre is a bit hidden, but any staff around the station will be able to direct you there.

Rotterdam (or Amsterdam to Paris)

Departure and travel length

Taking the Eurostar train to Paris from Rotterdam is quick and easy. It takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes (or 3 hours and 30 minutes when you travel from Amsterdam). Because you don’t have to go through any passport checks, there’s no need to be at the platform more than 10 to 15 minutes in advance. It does help to already walk to the space where your carriage will arrive to avoid stress when boarding. Tickets will be checked on the train, but are also needed to access the platform. Once on the platform, there is no check-in like there is when going to London.

Cost and frequency

The connection between Paris and The Netherlands is slightly less frequent (around 12 direct trains per day). The tickets are even cheaper, though, starting from €35 or £30.50 for a single fare. Interestingly, the price is the same regardless of whether you travel from Rotterdam or Amsterdam. These cheap tickets do sell out quickly, so you need to reserve them around 4 months in advance. Especially evening trains usually have a lower price.

Again, I would advice against spending extra money on travel upgrades. The landscape isn’t spectacular, so extra (window) space is not necessary. If you want food, you can buy this in the catering carriage for way less money compared to what Standard or Business Premium would cost you.

My (sister’s) experience

When I did a round journey between London and Paris, my sister travelled to and from Rotterdam to meet me France. Her Eurostar was delayed in both directions, though not more than an hour. Especially when there are delays, the downside of there not being a passport check is the absence of a lounge. In Rotterdam, you can at least wait on the platform (although there is not much seating), but in Paris you’re stuck in the main hall. It also took quite long for the departure platform to be announced at Gare du Nord. This was a little bit stressful, as the atmosphere at the station wasn’t great. However, that cannot be blamed on the Eurostar, but rather on Gare du Nord.

Most important tips

  • Book your train to Paris at least 2-4 months in advance for the best price.
  • Travelling to and from London, be at the station at least an hour in advance, as check-in closes 30 minutes before departure.
  • Travelling within continental Europe, you can arrive at the platform as late as 10 minutes before the train leaves.
  • Gare du Nord is not a pleasant station, especially in the evening, so I’d recommend to avoid spending time waiting there.

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