For the last 4.5 years I was working in both London and Paris. This meant commuting a few times a month on average. So what did I find was the nest way to travel between London and Paris? This is also a question I get asked a lot by people visiting Europe and hoping to see both cities.
The short answer is: There is no competition. To travel between London and Paris, the Eurostar train is the best way to get to go.
The main reasons are:
- Getting through the airport these days. With the needed security, it is so stressful, cumbersome and time consuming going through the airport these days (especially Heathrow). You queue, shuffle along and then have the hassle of taking off shoes, belts, laptops in separate trays, liquids in bags and so on. The system is so inefficient and cramped and I still don’t know why they cannot have conveyor belts much longer so as you shuffle along you can get everything set instead of having to do it once you are at the front of the line. On the Eurostar, the checks are less complex and involve passing bags through one screen an yourself through another – with no need to remove laptops etc.
- Check in time. With Eurostar you can check-in 30 minutes before – and with business ticket up to 10 minutes before on the train. This is a boon – nowadays the minimum for flights is 45 minutes but then this is tight due to security etc.
- Central city departure and arrival of the train. There is no unpredictable commute to and from Heathrow and CDG Paris. These can takes ages to get to and from at commuting times. You depart/ arrive from St Pancras Station (next to Kings Cross) in North Central London, and on the Paris side it is Gard du Nord, which is also Central. The travel time to Paris airports can take at least an hour, but usually more, and same with London airports. Traffic is very unpredictable for getting to Paris or London airports.
- Delays. Flights are almost always delayed between London and Paris. The train is not generally – although when there is a problem on Eurostar it is usually a big one and then it can be many hours and hours. But overall it is always on time – and so if you have someone picking you up there is no hanging about for delays and then waiting for bags (which can be as long as the flight)!
- Time (and space) to relax, work and even eat. I get so much work done on the 2 hours 15 minutes train trip. Flying you cannot as you are boarding, taking off, landing etc – and as the flight itself is so short you have almost no time to work, or relax. But on the train once you are on you can relax, walk about and even in standard class you have comfortable amount of space and a table. You have power for laptops in the top 2 classes, but not standard. The Business and Standard Select carriages are especially roomy and all have seat power for laptops with meal service. They are fantastic. But so is Standard which as 4 seats across (2 and 2) versus 3 in Business/ Leisure Select (1 and 2). You also have time to eat and even have a full meal (included on the top 2 classes, or taken on or bought on board of in standard class). On flights now there is limited refreshments offered.
- St Pancras. The new St Pancras station in London is stunning and impressive, as the pictures on this posting show.
When should you consider flying and not using the Eurostar train then?
- If you are not going to be in either city centrally. For example, if you are meeting outside of London in somewhere like Maidenhead or Reading – as you are then closer to Heathrow.
- You are obsessed with collecting your British Airways or Air France miles, and do not want to build up Eurostar points. The program though is pretty good and there are quite generous and flexible redemptions.
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