The Eurostar Experience
"I have traveled between London and Paris many times – I worked in Paris during university and my best friend lives there, so I’m always up for a visit. Eurostar is incredibly convenient for me, as a Londoner who hates flying. I love the fact that I can take full-size toiletries and a large suitcase, without having to wait to collect my baggage at the other end. Also, I find daydreaming as I gaze out of a train window so relaxing!"
"Traveling on the Eurostar is always something I look forward to – not just because of the destination, but the journey too. I’ve spent many an hour on the Eurostar chatting to old Parisian ladies in French (back when my language skills were up to scratch), sipping cheeky gin and tonics with my gal pals, and getting lost in a good book as the countryside whizzes by my window."
Emma Sparks, Deputy Editor at lonelyplanet.com
At Omio we want to make traveling as fun and as stress-free as possible. That's why we teamed up with travel expert Emma Sparks to see what it's like to travel between London to Paris by train. Read more about her experience traveling on the Eurostar.
FAQ about taking the Eurostar from London to Paris
Purchasing Eurostar Tickets
- Where can Eurostar tickets be purchased? On the Eurostar website, or here with Omio, online or with the App. The Eurostar ticket office is open Monday to Friday - 4:45 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., Saturday - 5:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., Sunday and Bank Holidays - 7:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
- Purchasing ahead of time: Tickets are available for purchase up to 180 days in advance. Generally, the sooner you book, the cheaper your ticket (£29 each way is the lowest price available) although sometimes Eurostar will release extra tickets at bargain prices.
- Round trip tickets: It is often cheaper to purchase a return ticket with Eurostar – although international customers may find otherwise, due to the competitive market outside of the UK. It is always worth checking both options before making your purchase.
- Eurostar ticket types: There are three classes of Eurostar ticket: Standard, Standard Premier, and Business Premier. Besides the Standard benefits (two pieces of luggage plus one hand luggage, easy check-in and an onboard cafe), Standard Premier customers enjoy complimentary magazines and a light meal, plus extra space and comfort. Business travelers may travel at any time, with no charge for switching, and are offered high-quality meals, plus access to exclusive lounges and taxi booking services.
- Eurostar timetable: You can find and download the latest Eurostar timetable at eurostar.com/uk-en/train/timetables. Alternatively, search for specific dates to see the timetable for your chosen travel dates. Eurostar no longer print timetables, to help protect the environment. You’ll also find arrival and departure information on boards at each Eurostar station.
- Where to check-in: Travelers check-in with the Eurostar on the lower level of St. Pancras train station in London.
- Reserving a seat: You may choose your seat when you book or change it later by calling Eurostar customer service or logging in and managing your booking online (subject to availability). If you do not choose a seat, one will automatically be assigned at the point of booking. Pairs and groups will generally be seated as close to each other as possible.
- Arriving ahead of time: Standard ticket holders should aim to arrive at least 45 minutes in advance (or an hour if you’re part of a group)— consider giving yourself extra time when traveling during busy holiday periods or peak times like on weekends. Check-in closes 30 minutes before departure. If you need extra assistance, arrive at least 75 minutes in advance. Business-class travelers can enjoy a swift check-in just 10 minutes before departure.
- The process itself: Taking the Eurostar does involve a check-in process. First, you’ll be required to head through electronic gates, which open when you present the QR code on your ticket (on a phone screen or printed ticket). Next, you’ll put your bags through a scanner, just like you would at an airport. Finally, your passport is checked by both British and French authorities— this means you can depart swiftly when you reach your final destination. A valid passport or a national identity card (for EEA citizens and Swiss nationals) is required for boarding the Eurostar. If you are married but your passport only has your maiden name, then it may be best to bring a copy of your marriage certificate when you're checking-in.
- If you miss the train: If you miss a train due to delays with connecting trains, you will usually be accepted onto the next train available (if you show your travel tickets). Just report to the customer service desk upon arrival. If you miss a train due to unforeseen circumstances or personal error, Eurostar is not legally obliged to replace your ticket. However, staff are obliging and will usually do their best to help you if they possibly can (and if you give them a big smile!)
- Extra Assistance: If you have special travel needs, it’s best to call Eurostar in advance to let them know. They can provide wheelchairs for people with mobility issues and accompany passengers to the train. They can even arrange to have your luggage put on the train for you. Generally, you’ll be asked to arrive 75 minutes before departure so they can provide this service properly. Unfortunately, they cannot assist with connecting journeys but are able to help point you in the right direction when it comes to arranging extra help.
- Handicap Access: Each Eurostar train guarantees space for 2 wheelchairs (soon to be 4, once all trains are updated) and tickets are fixed at the lowest Standard price. Passengers with a wheelchair user fare will be served a meal at their seat and may bring a travel companion at a reduced rate.
- Guide Dogs: Registered guide or assistance dogs may be taken on Eurostar trains— but you must notify the company while booking, and bring any necessary paperwork.
Traveling with Children
- Children: There are no specific family facilities, but baby-changing facilities and pram-friendly luggage racks are found throughout Eurostar trains. Children under the age of 4 can travel for free if they sit on an accompanying adult’s lap. Children and babies must have their own valid travel documentation while traveling on the Eurostar.
- Large Groups: Groups of over 9 people may be eligible for discounted tickets, and meal services may be arranged in advance. Contact Eurostar's customer service for more details.
Food and Drink
- Food: If you want to take snacks for the journey, you can. While the official Eurostar rules prohibit meat, fish, and dairy products, they won’t confiscate your ham and cheese sandwich (and they’re unlikely to bat an eyelid at the French Brie in your suitcase - just don’t stink up the carriage!).
- Drink: There are no restrictions on liquids either, although the amount of alcohol you can take is limited to 12 cans of beer, 6 bottles of wine, or 3 bottles of spirits per traveler.
- At the station: Both St. Pancras and Gare du Nord are packed with cafes and shops and beyond the check-in point you’ll find a handful of outlets for that last-minute coffee/chocolate bar. Every Eurostar train has an onboard bar buffet where you can buy refreshments such as hot drinks, sandwiches, and snacks.
Traveling with Pets
- Pets are not allowed on Eurostar trains except for guide dogs with the proper paperwork.
WiFi and Other Services
- WiFi: The older, original Eurostar trains do not have WiFi, but more and more new trains are being added to the fleet so you have a good chance of traveling on a WiFi ready train. The WiFi onboard relies on 3G and 4G signals, so may drop out from time to time, but is mostly pretty reliable. When you log in on your device, you’ll be taken to Eurostar’s entertainment hub, where you’ll find TV shows, movies, games and more.
- Air Conditioning: All Eurostar trains are fully equipped with air-conditioning.
- Seats: Both the older trains and the refurbished models have exceptionally comfortable yet simple seats with retractable armrests. There are fold-down tables at every seat.
- Leg Room: Standard seats have generous legroom– but if you’re concerned, opt for the slightly more spacious Standard Premier or Business classes. Table seats (four seats around a static table) may seem more restrictive when it comes to legroom, but can be convenient when traveling as a group.
- Luggage: Luggage allowance depends on ticket type: 2 pieces of checked luggage plus 1 piece of hand luggage with a Standard adult ticket; 3 pieces of checked luggage and 1 piece of hand luggage with a Business Premier ticket; 1 piece of checked luggage and 1 piece of hand luggage for children. If you’d like to take extra items, or certain special items (like large musical instruments or bikes that do not fold) you’ll need to pay extra and arrange the details with Eurodespatch.
- Prohibited items: No firearms, no furniture, and no World War relics (more popular as a souvenir than you might think!). Eurostar is pretty flexible on the rest. Most items that are prohibited on airplanes are also not allowed on the Eurostar.
Chunnel London to Paris
The tunnel under the English Channel, colloquially known as the ‘Chunnel’, connects the United Kingdom and France by underground rail. Two types of trains run through the Chunnel, the Eurostar train, which transports passengers only, and the Eurotunnel Shuttle, which transports vehicles and their passengers.
The Eurostar train is a fantastic way to move between the United Kingdom and France. With a train that reaches 200 mph the most popular route between London and Paris takes just 2 hours and 16 minutes. Other key stations on the route include Ashford, Ebbsfleet in England; Brussels in Belgium; and Lille, Euro Disney Paris, and Avignon in France.
The Eurotunnel Shuttle tunnel runs between Folkestone in the United Kingdom and Calais in France and allows travelers moving by car to simply drive on board the shuttle train and drive off to disembark. The trip takes just over 35 minutes, making it much faster than the ferry, plus the usual cost is around £49 including all vehicle passengers. Note that cars and other vehicles cannot be driven through the Chunnel.
The Chunnel itself is 31.4 miles long and at its lowest point it reaches a mighty 250 ft deep. Having begun construction in 1988 the Chunnel opened in 1994 but cost a whopping £4.65 billion upon completion, 80% over budget.