Eurostar train from London to Paris

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What is Eurostar?

Eurostar is the high-speed passenger train linking London with Paris, Lille & Brussels via the Channel Tunnel at up to 300km/h (186 mph).  It's been running since 1994.  Eurostar is 55% owned by SNCF French Railways, 5% by SNCB Belgian Railways & 40% originally by the UK government, but now sold to overseas investors.  Don't confuse Eurostar with Eurotunnel (Getlink) who own the Channel Tunnel and whose car-carrying trains shuttle vehicles across the Channel.  This page explains all you need to know about travel by Eurostar between London and Paris, Lille or Brussels.

UPDATE:  Eurostars will not call at Ebbsfleet or Ashford in 2024.

Planning your trip

small bullet point  Eurostar routes & times

small bullet point  Eurostar fares & how to find the cheapest prices

small bullet point  How to buy Eurostar tickets

small bullet point  Video guide: London to Paris by Eurostar

small bullet point  Eurostar's 3 classes explained

small bullet point  Tips on choosing your Eurostar seat

small bullet point  Eurostar seat numbering plans

small bullet point  Useful Eurostar phone numbers

small bullet point  Interrail & Eurail passes on Eurostar

Check-in, on board, the journey

small bullet point  Check-in procedures

small bullet point  Eurostar's refurbished e300 trains

small bullet point  Eurostar's new e320 trains

small bullet point  On-board facilities, food & WiFi

small bullet point  Luggage, bikes & pets

small bullet point  What's the Eurostar journey like?

small bullet point  Suggested hotels in London & Paris

small bullet point  Ferry alternatives to Eurostar

small bullet point  Eurostar + hotel packages

Other Eurostar routes

small bullet point   Direct Eurostar to Rotterdam & Amsterdam

small bullet point   Direct Eurostar to Disneyland Paris

small bullet point   Direct Eurostar to Lyon, Avignon & Marseille

small bullet point   Direct Eurostar to the French Alps ski resorts

Other Eurostar information

small bullet point  London St Pancras station information

small bullet point  Through tickets from 100+ UK towns & cities

small bullet point  Special connecting tickets from UK towns & cities

small bullet point  UK to anywhere in mainland Europe via Eurostar

small bullet point  Taking a bike on Eurostar & European trains   

small bullet point  Taking a pet on Eurostar & European trains

small bullet point  Crossing Paris by metro, taxi or private transfer

small bullet point  Luggage storage in London, Paris, Lille, Brussels

small bullet point  Scotland to Paris by sleeper & Eurostar

small bullet point  Cornwall to Paris by sleeper & Eurostar

small bullet point  General European train travel information

Eurostar routes

London to Paris

London to Lille & Brussels

London to Rotterdam & Amsterdam

Direct Eurostars to Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, French Alps & Disneyland

Faster & more reliable than flying

Route map

Eurostar route map


Click for larger map

Red = high-speed lines Highlighted = Eurostar route.

Black = conventional lines.  Green = scenic routes

Reproduced from the excellent European Rail Map with kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people. 

Buy a copy of the European Rail Map for your travels at with shipping worldwide.

European rail map and timetable

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Eurostar fares

How to find the cheapest fares

If you have to travel at short notice

One-way & open jaw fares

Children & babies

Interrail & Eurail passes on Eurostar

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How to buy tickets

Buying tickets beyond Paris or Brussels

If your journey starts outside London

Eurostar with an Interrail or Eurail pass

To buy tickets by phone

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Video guide

The video shows a Eurostar e320.  Some journeys are operated by refurbished e300 trains.

Eurostar's 3 classes explained

Standard class

Also known as 2nd class, standard class is comfortable, carpeted and air-conditioned, some seats unidirectional, a few around tables for four, ideal for families or friends.  All seats have an individual reading light and fixed or drop-down table, there is free WiFi and all seats have power sockets.  You'll have access to the two cafe-bar cars, or you can bring their own food & drink on board.  Standard class seats on the e320 and refurbished e300 trains can be reclined slightly, for posture rather than sleeping.

Standard class seats on a refurbished e300 Eurostar   Standard class seats on a refurbished e300 Eurostar

Standard class seating on a Eurostar e320.


Standard class seating on a Eurostar e300.

Standard Premier: 1st class for leisure

Standard Premier offers first class seating with fares aimed at upmarket leisure travellers & budget-conscious business travellers.  The same check-in times apply as for Standard class and there's no access to the business lounge, tickets are all non-refundable and only changeable for a fee.  A complimentary cold light meal and a round of alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks are served at your seat.  There is free WiFi and power sockets & USB ports at all 1st class seats.  All seats adjust from upright to a slight recline and all seats have an individual reading light and fixed or drop-down table.  The word 'Standard' is used its brand name to attract business travellers whose companies don't officially allow first class travel, but this is indeed first class.  Standard Premier replaced Leisure Select in 2010.

Is Standard Premier worth the extra?  Standard class is perfectly adequate and it's only 2h20 to Paris or 2h to Brussels.  There's no need to pay more if you don't want to.  But Standard Premier gives you wider seats with more leg & elbow room, the chance to choose solo seats or face-to-face tables for two, it's usually quieter with fewer families & kids, and of course there's a light meal included with wine, beer, tea, coffee & soft drinks.  So yes, it's a nice experience especially if your journey is for a special occasion!  Check the price difference for your dates, as I've seen Standard Premier cost only £10 more than Standard, given Eurostar's dynamic pricing.

1st class seats on an e320 Eurostar   Standard Premier meal

Standard Premier table for two on an e320.


Lunch with a view:  Standard Premier meal.

Standard Premier breakfast   1st class seats on an e320 Eurostar

Standard Premier light breakfast.


Standard Premier seating on an e320 train.

Business Premier: 1st class for business

Business Premier uses exactly the same 1st class seating as Standard Premier, but in designated coaches and with fully-flexible & fully-refundable tickets, access to Eurostar's Business Lounges in London, Ebbsfleet, Paris & Brussels and a shorter minimum check-in.  The fare includes a complimentary hot airline-style meal, champagne (a particularly nice Monopol brut), wine, beer & soft drinks served at your seat.  There is free WiFi and power sockets & USB ports at all 1st class seats.  All seats adjust from upright to a slight recline, and all seats have an individual reading light and fixed or drop-down table.  The only downside?  It's priced assuming your company is paying!

1st class seats on an e320 Eurostar   Business Premier breakfast

Business Premier table for two on an e320.


Business Premier cooked breakfast.

Eurostar Business Premier dinner   1st class seats on an e320 Eurostar

Business Premier meal.


Business Premier seating on an e320 train.

Standard Premier and Business Premier passengers are accommodated in separate first class carriages but the seating is identical, with a spacious seating arranged 2+1 (2 seats, aisle, 1 seat) across the width of the train.  Eurostar vary the allocation of first class cars on each train between these two classes according to demand.  1st class seats have extra legroom compared to the higher-density seating in Standard class which has a 2+2 (2 seats, aisle, 2 seats) configuration.  See the Tips for choosing your seat section below for a Eurostar seating plan.

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Choosing your seat

  Manage a booking at

The Manage Booking feature

Eurostar seat numbering plans

How to tell if your Eurostar will be an e320 or an e300

Tips for picking the best seats

Tip for the tall:  Extend your seat

On Eurostar's e320 trains in all classes (but not e300), the edge of your seat can be extended 2 inches just by pulling it out.  If you're tall, this is a great feature!

Eurostar seat, edge normal   Eurostar seat, edge extended

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Useful telephone numbers

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Checking-in for Eurostar


Check-in at London St Pancras:  See station guide

The gothic facade of London St Pancras

St Pancras' beautiful gothic facade.  The station building is now a luxury hotel, the Renaissance, accessed from the forecourt via the big archway in the photo above.  See London St Pancras station information.

London St Pancras station, lower level   London St Pancras station, upper level

Lower level:  Entrance from street & Underground.  Shopping & food outlets.  Eurostar departures & ticket office.


Upper level:  Champagne bar, statues, upmarket bars & restaurants, track & trains.

Entrance to departure area at London St Pancras   Eurostar check-in gates

This way to check-in!  This is the passageway off the lower-level retail mall with check-in gates on the left, Eurostar ticket office & ticket machines on the right.


Check-in gates:  You scan your ticket barcode to open the automatic gates, then through security, then a passport check, and you're in the departure lounge!

Eurostar departure lounge at St Pancras

Departure lounge.  The Eurostar main departure lounge, with seats, mobile recharging bar, info desk, cafe, shop, toilets & bar.  In this photo you can see the travelator up to the platform.  The blue bench seating in the centre of this photo has now been improved with more regular seating of the brown type.

Business Premier lounge at London St Pancras   Time to board the Eurostar to Paris!

Business Premier lounge.  If you've a Business Premier ticket (or a European Amex Platinum card) you can use the Business Lounge with complimentary wine, spirits, beer, tea & coffee.


Boarding.  When boarding is announced, staff open the glass doors and passengers go up the travelators to the platform above.  There are six platforms, 5-10.

Check-in at Paris Gare du Nord:  See station guide

  • To reach Eurostar check-in you must go up the escalator opposite platform 17, then walk all the way along the balcony to the Eurostar check-in gates/kiosks at the far end (level with platform 3).

  • Towards the end of the balcony you'll come to staffed check-in kiosks & automatic ticket gates.  To use the automatic gates, place your ticket barcode (on your phone or a printout) against the scanner screen on the gate.  If you want to change your allocated seat (for example, to make sure you're facing forward), use a staffed kiosk.

  • Immediately after the ticket check you enter the terminal and have your passport checked by French police.  Then there's a passport check by UK Border Force, with a choice between staffed kiosks and automated passport e-gates.

  • Then comes the security check with X-ray for your bags & metal detector for you, but this is quicker & easier than an airport.  No need to remove your belt or shoes, no nonsense with liquids (though they don't like you carrying a cup of coffee through!), just put your bags & coat through the X-ray scanner, remove metal items such as keys & coins and walk through the metal detector.

  • You then turn right and enter the departure lounge which is on the first floor alongside platform 3 (there isn't a platform 1 or 2 at Paris Nord).  The lounge has seats, toilets, shops & cafes and an EU sales tax refund section.

  • If you have a Business Premier ticket (or Eurostar Carte Blanche card or American Express Platinum Charge Card) you can use the Business Lounge with complimentary wines & spirits, soft drinks, tea coffee & snacks, and free WiFi.  It also has a cocktail bar, open afternoon and evenings.  It's on the second floor, immediately after the security checks turn left and go up the stairs or lift.

  • When boarding is announced 15-20 minutes before departure, you follow everyone else onto one of two short footbridges (labelled Portes A & B) leading from the side of the terminal over platforms 3-6, and down a travelator onto the relevant platform.

    Porte A is the one closest to the buffer stops, for boarding cars 11-18 at the rear of the train.  Porte B is the far one, for boarding cars 1-10 at the London end of the train.  However, they lead to the same platform, so it's not the end of the world if you use the wrong one.

  • There are no formalities on arrival in London (unless UK customs people pull you over), it's all done before you board.  So on arrival you just walk off the train, simple as that.

Location of Eurostar check-in at Paris Gare du Nord

Above, we're looking across the station concourse with the platforms on the right.  That's the escalator opposite platform 17 up to the balcony leading to the first-floor Eurostar check-in.

Eurostar departure lounge, Paris Nord   Eurostar departure lounge, Paris Nord

Departure lounge at Paris Nord.  Much improved since the early days, there are toilets, shops and cafes.

Business Premier lounge at Paris Nord   Business Premier lounge at Paris Nord

Business Premier lounge, upstairs from the main lounge, featuring this great cocktail bar.  You can use this lounge with a Business Premier ticket, with a Eurostar Carte Blanche card, or American Express Platinum Charge Card.  The lounge offers complimentary wine, spirits, beer, tea, coffee & soft drinks.

Check-in at Brussels Midi See station guide

  • The main concourse at Brussels Midi is a wide and (it has to be said) gloomy street-level passageway running underneath all 22 platforms.  Eurostar trains leave from platforms 1 & 2 (or, if coming through from Amsterdam, platform 3), and the Eurostar terminal opens off this concourse at the platform 1 end.  It's marked Channel Terminal.

  • In the Channel Terminal foyer you'll find a small waiting area with staffed check-in desks and automatic ticket gates.  To use the automatic gates, place your ticket barcode (on your phone or a printout) against the scanner screen on the gate.  If you want to change your allocated seat (for example, to make sure you're facing forward), use a staffed kiosk.

  • Immediately after the ticket check there's the security check with X-ray for your bags & metal detector for you, but this is quicker & easier than an airport.  No need to remove your shoes, no nonsense with liquids (though they don't like you carrying a cup of coffee through!), just put your bags & coat through the X-ray scanner, remove metal items such as keys & coins and walk through the metal detector.  In Brussels I find my belt buckle sets off the metal detector, in London it doesn't.

  • Then comes a passport check by the Belgian police, followed by the passport check by UK Border Force.

  • Then you walk through a vast duty-free shop into the seating/waiting area.  There are toilets and an information desk.

  • If you have a Business Premier ticket (or Eurostar Carte Blanche card or American Express Platinum Charge Card) you can use the Business Lounge with complimentary wines & spirits, soft drinks, tea coffee and snacks.  The entrance is at the back of the main departure lounge.

  • There are no formalities on arrival in London (unless UK customs people pull you over), it's all done before you board.  So on arrival you just walk off the train, simple as that.

  • See more information about Brussels Midi station including station layout, places to eat & drink or buy food.

  • Tip:  All Eurostar tickets to/from Brussels Midi include a free transfer by SNCB (Belgian Railways) train to or from Brussels Central, Brussels Nord, Brussels Luxembourg and a dozen or so other stations in the central Brussels area, see list of Brussels area stations from which your Eurostar ticket is valid.

Brussels Midi entrance to Eurostar terminal

Entrance to the Eurostar terminal in Brussels.

Brussels Midi entrance to Eurostar terminal

Once past check-in, security & passport control, you wait in the Eurostar departure hall.

Food & drink area, Eurostar Business Premier lounge at Brussels   Eurostar business lounge, Brussels Midi

The Business lounge, complimentary drinks area and seating.  You can use the lounge with a Business Premier ticket, Eurostar Carte Blanche card or European Amex Platinum card.

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On board Eurostar

There are two types of train in service with Eurostar, both with similar interiors:

Eurostar e320 trains

  • Eurostar introduced the first of their new e320 trains onto the London-Paris route in 2015 and 17 e320 trains are now in service.  Built by Siemens, the new trains feature free WiFi in all classes and power sockets at all seats.  The designation refers to the train's top speed, 320 km/h, although it can't currently exceed 300km/h on the London-Paris route.  And yes, seat 61 is still the best seat in the house - if you pick seat 61 in the right first class car, that is.  Cars 2, 3, 14 or 15, since you ask.

  • Click here for e320 seating plan.   How to tell if your Eurostar is due to be an e320.

A Eurostar e320 train at London St Pancras   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320.


Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class seats   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.


One the 2 cafe-bars, cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320

Baby-changing facilities in all toilets.


13% more luggage space per passenger.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320

Seat 61?  A table for two in 1st class.


An e320 at St Pancras.

Eurostar's refurbished e300 trains

  • Eight of the original Eurostar trains (TMST) introduced when Eurostar first started in 1994 have been refurbished and designated e300 - a reference to its 300km/h top speed.  This is no mere change of the seat covers, it's a completely new interior, making them almost indistinguishable from the brand-new e320 trains - the much larger cafe-bar area is one difference.  Like the new e320s, the refurbished e300 trains feature free WiFi in all classes, power sockets at all seats, and USB sockets as well as power sockets in 1st class.

  • The seat layout is similar to the original TMST but with a few slight differences.  Notably seats 61 & 65 in cars 7, 8, 11 & 12 no longer face each other over a table, but are both solo seats, face to back.

  • Eurostar's e300 trains were taken out of service and put into storage during the pandemic hit, but several have now been returned to service.

e300 power car   Eurostar e300 1st class seats

The first freshly-refurbished e300.


Standard Premier/Business Premier. Larger photo.

Eurostar standard class seats   e300 cafe-bar car

Standard class seats on an e300.  Larger photo.


One of two bar cars on an e300, larger than e320.  Larger photo.

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Luggage & facilities on board

  Food from the cafe-bar

Chicken tikka massala, wraps & a cider bought from the Eurostar cafe-bar.

Food & drink on Eurostar

Power outlets for laptops & mobiles

Free WiFi, TV shows & movies

  Luggage stack on Eurostar...

You bring your bags with you and put them on the luggage racks.  Large racks near the entrance doors easily take large items.  Anything up to back-pack sized will fit on the overhead racks above your seat.

Luggage on Eurostar

Left luggage lockers at stations

Taking a bicycle

Taking dogs & pets

Travellers with disabilities

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What's the journey like?

This section describes a journey from London to Paris, but the journey from London to Brussels is identical until just after Lille, where the train leaves the Paris route and enters Belgium for the last half hour or so.

The train leaves St Pancras

The train manager makes his announcement that your Eurostar train to Paris is about to leave, the door alarm sounds and the doors then hiss shut.  As you settle into your seat, the brakes hiss off and the Eurostar very gently eases itself out of the magnificent arched trainshed of St Pancras International Station.  At this stage, the train is heading north, but almost immediately it makes a sharp right-hand turn past the huge steel gasometers that have been a familiar sight behind Kings Cross/St Pancras for years and which are now, believe it or not, listed structures.  Within a minute or two the Eurostar enters a covered bridge across the tracks leading out of the adjacent Kings Cross station, which becomes a long tunnel under east London taking the Eurostar east and south.

Boarding in London   Dartford Crossing

A Eurostar boarding at St Pancras.


Passing the QEII road bridge across the Thames.

East London & Dartford Crossing

About 5 minutes after leaving St Pancras, you'll see a glimpse of daylight and the platforms of Stratford International station, only served by the domestic high-speed trains.  Around 8 minutes after leaving St Pancras, the Eurostar train emerges from the tunnel and starts crossing the wastelands of east London, past warehouses and run-down housing estates.  Just 10-12 minutes from St Pancras you'll see the impressive Queen Elizabeth II suspension bridge on the right, which carries the M25 London orbital motorway across the River Thames at the Dartford Crossing.  The Eurostar now plunges back into a short tunnel for its own crossing underneath the Thames, emerging the other side in the county of Kent.

Over the Medway Viaduct

The Eurostar train is now running at its full service speed of 186mph (300 km/h), with traffic on the adjacent London-Dover M2 motorway almost standing still in comparison.  Just 15-20 minutes after leaving London, the train crosses the most dramatic structure on the new high-speed line, the viaduct high over the River Medway.  To the right of the train as it crosses the viaduct, you'll see small boats moored on the muddy riverbanks far below you.  To the left of the train, over the top of the adjacent M2 motorway bridge, you can see Rochester Cathedral and Rochester Castle in the distance.

The river Medway

Across rural Kent

Now at last you're in green and pleasant rural Kent, with villages nestling at the foot of the chalky hills to the left.  A few Eurostars still call at Ashford International station, a major railway junction in east Kent, but most Eurostars now 'fly' over the town on a huge flyover, with the station way below you, the town centre to the left and the old Southern Railway Ashford works to your right.

Into the Channel Tunnel

Just 35 minutes from St Pancras, the fields and hedgerows of east Kent give way to the roadways and check-in lanes of the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal.  This is where cars and lorries are put on the Eurotunnel car-carrying shuttle trains to go through the tunnel to France.  Your Eurostar train passes through the middle of the terminal non-stop, and the train manager announces that you are about to enter the Channel Tunnel.  Passing through the Channel Tunnel takes just 20 minutes, and is something of an anti-climax.  The Channel Tunnel (sometimes called the 'Chunnel', but usually only by Americans) is just like any other rail tunnel, only a bit longer.  As a precaution, the yellow fire safety doors between each pair of coaches are closed during the tunnel transit, but you can still pass through freely if you want.  You still get phone reception inside the tunnel now, with mobile data too.

Entering the Channel Tunnel   Leaving the Channel Tunnel

Entering the Channel Tunnel near Folkestone.


Leaving the Channel Tunnel near Calais.

Welcome to northern France

The tunnel is dark, so nothing to see, and no, you can't see the fishes.  But the Eurostar soon bursts into the daylight again at up to 100 mph, and you're now in France.  You'll see the French terminal for the car-carrying trains away to your left.  If you look to the horizon on the left, you can just see the distinctive clock tower of Calais town hall.  A handful of Eurostar trains call at Calais-Fréthun, a few miles from Calais town centre, but others just start accelerating onto the French high speed line.  Unlike conventional railways, the high speed line follows the contours of the land more like a motorway, and you will feel the Eurostar rising onto the hills and settling into the dips.  The area of Northern France crossed by Eurostar is largely flat farmland, dotted with villages built around ancient stone churches.  The variety of church spires you can see is remarkable!  The Eurostar may call at Lille or simply pass through on the centre tracks.  The line to Brussels curves off to the left soon after Lille.  Paris is now less than an hour away.

Scenery in Northern France

Your train arrives in Paris!

The high-speed line to Paris ends just short of Paris Gare du Nord, and the Eurostar passes seamlessly onto a short stretch of conventional line to complete its journey into Paris Gare du Nord, the historic terminus where the 'boat trains' from Calais or Boulogne used to arrive.  The Gare du Nord is also the station for trains to Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne in Germany, and you will see red & silver Eurostar (formerly Thalys) trains heading to and from these places.

Eurostar arrives at platforms 3-6 at the Gare du Nord, you get off the train and walk forward through the open glass gates off the end of the platform onto the concourse.  Turn right for taxis, forward & veer left for the escalator down to the metro & RER, or just head out into the streets of Paris.  There are no checks or other formalities to go through on arrival, you just walk off the train, it's that easy!  For the taxi rank, walk off the end of the platform onto the concourse, turn right and walk out of the side entrance.  This video may help you know what to expectSee the Paris Nord station guide.

Eurostar arrives at Paris Nord

Eurostars on platforms 3-6 at Paris Gare du Nord.  Those glass gates are open on arrival, you just walk off the train onto the station.  This photo was taken from the 1st floor Eurostar terminal, waiting to board a departing Eurostar back to London.

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Changing in Paris or Brussels

Changing trains & stations in Paris:  See the Paris metro page

Changing trains in Brussels:  See the Brussels Midi station guide

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The train & ferry alternatives

London to Paris: See the train & ferry page

  • You can still travel from London to Paris by train and ferry if you want.  Taking the traditional route via Dover & Calais it now takes 9 hours and is no longer particularly convenient as you have to make your own way by taxi or on foot between Dover Priory station and the Eastern Docks in Dover, and between Calais ferry terminal and Calais Ville station in Calais.  The original train/ferry interchange stations at Dover Western Docks and Calais Maritime closed in the 1990s when Eurostar started.  London to Paris by train & ferry also costs more than a cheap Eurostar ticket booked in advance.  However, train & ferry can be cheaper if you need to travel at short notice when all the cheap Eurostar fares are sold out, and of course you get to see the White Cliffs of Dover on the way.  You can substitute train+ferry+train for Eurostar London-Paris in any of the journeys routed via Paris shown on this website, but you'll need to buy separate train and ferry tickets.  Times, fares & info for travelling from London to Paris by train & ferry are shown here.

  • London to Paris 'sleeper' option via Portsmouth - Caen:  There's an overnight train-ferry-train option where you can leave London Waterloo around 18:00, sleep in a comfortable cabin with en suite shower & toilet 22:45-06:45 on Brittany Ferries' overnight sailing from Portsmouth to Caen, then take a train from Caen to Paris St Lazare arriving around 11:05.  This is good option if you need an alternative to Eurostar.  Times, fares & info for travelling from London to Paris by overnight train & ferry are shown here.

London to Amsterdam, central & eastern Europe, Scandinavia via Harwich-Hoek van Holland

  • If you're heading for northern or eastern Europe and there are major problems affecting Eurostar services, or you need to travel at short notice when Eurostar can be expensive, you can buy a cheap inclusive Stena Line Rail & Sail ticket from London to Amsterdam or anywhere in the Netherlands using Stena Line's overnight Harwich-Hoek luxury superferry, including a comfortable private cabin with toilet & shower, free WiFi and satellite TV.  Indeed, this can be a good alternative even with Eurostar running normally, see the Stena Line Rail & Sail London to Amsterdam page for details.  You can then use to book a separate onward ticket from Amsterdam to Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Prague, Copenhagen, Zurich or Warsaw.

North of England & Scotland to mainland Europe by ferry

  • DFDS Seaways ( sail from Newcastle to IJmuiden (the port of Amsterdam) overnight, and P&O Ferries ( sail from Hull to Rotterdam.  It's then easy to take trains from Amsterdam or Rotterdam to Antwerp or Brussels, to Berlin or Cologne, or direct sleeper trains from Amsterdam to Prague, Switzerland, Southern Germany, Denmark or Poland.

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European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online at (UK addresses) or (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at (shipping worldwide) or at (UK addresses).

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Hotels in London or Paris

A Paris hotel for a romantic break

There's the famous & flashy Paris Ritz in the Place Vendôme (over €500 a night) or the similarly-priced Le Meurice, but if you want a really special hotel for a luxury break or romantic weekend and can afford around €300 a night, I'd recommend the small, sumptuous, intimate L'Hotel.

It's on the bohemian left bank, walking distance from the Seine, the Ile de la Cité & Notre Dame.  Oscar Wilde spent the last days of his life here in room 16, famously quipping, "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.".  Fortunately the wallpaper is now all in very good taste.  The hotel has been used by many famous people since then, from Sinatra to Mick Jagger.  Rooms are on the cosy side, but they are beautifully decorated and have character that bigger and flashier hotels lack.  Book a stay at l'HotelBook a private transfer from station to hotel.

Room 14 at l'Hotel, Paris   Main stairway, l'Hotel, Paris

Room 14 at l'Hotel, next door to room 16 in which Oscar Wilde spent his last days.


The distinctive light well at l'Hotel.  Each floor has its own circular landing.

Hotels near the Gare du Nord & other Paris stations

Hotels near the Gare du Nord with good reviews:  Libertel Gare du Nord Suede (5 min walk from Gare du Nord, 2-star), 25 Hours Terminus Nord (formerly the Mercure Terminus Nord, now refurbished in a decidedly funky style, 3-star, directly across the road from the station);  Art Hotel (3-star);  Avalon Hotel (2-star);  Hotel Cambrai (5 min walk from Gare du Nord, 1-star).

Hotels near the Gare de l'Est with good reviews:  Libertel Gare de l'Est Français (opposite the station, 3-star);  Libertel Gare du Nord Suede (350m from the Gare de

Hotels near the Gare de Lyon with good reviews:  Hotel Terminus Lyon (right in front of the station, 3-star);  Mercure Paris Gare de Lyon (on the station itself, 4-star);   Novotel Paris Gare de Lyon (opposite the station, 4-star);  Mistral Hotel (800m from Gare de Lyon, 1-star);  Hotel 26 Faubourg (5 min walk from Gare de Lyon, 2-star);

Hotels near the Gare de l'Est with good reviews:  Libertel Gare de l'Est Français (opposite the station, 3-star);  Libertel Gare du Nord Suede (350m from the Gare de l'Est, 2-star);  OKKO Hotels Paris Gare de l'Est (2-star).

Hotels near the Gare Montparnasse with good reviews:  Mercure Paris Gare Montparnasse (150m from the Gare Montparnasse, 4-star);  Best Western Sevres Montparnasse (15 minute walk to Gare Montparnasse, 3-star);  La Maison Montparnasse (10 min walk from station, 2-star);  Hotel du Maine (5 min walk from station, 2-star).

Affordable hotels near London St Pancras

These affordable hotels have good or great reviews: Alhambra Hotel, Meridiana Hotel, MacDonald Hotel, Angus Hotel or Crestfield Hotel.

The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.  Click to book

In March 2011 the luxurious, expensive and beautifully-restored 5-star St Pancras Renaissance Hotel opened for business.  Designed by the renowned architect Sir George Gilbert-Scott, it first opened in 1873 as The Midland Grand Hotel, a railway hotel built into the Victorian architectural masterpiece that is St Pancras station.  The hotel closed its doors in 1935, considered too large and outdated to continue as a hotel, and after a period of being used as railway offices, this beautiful landmark building was left derelict and slowly decaying.  However, its fortunes have now been totally reversed.  High-speed Eurostar trains to Paris leave from St Pancras station's magnificently-restored 1868 trainshed designed by William Barlow, and the once derelict Midland Grand Hotel has been reborn as a glorious 5-star hotel, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.  No expense has been spared in recreating and restoring this Grade 1 listed building to its former glory. 

Rooms described using the term 'Barlow' are in the newly-built Barlow House wing at the side, these start at around £250 a night.  Rooms described using the word 'Chambers' are in the original St Pancras Midland Hotel building, where rooms start at around £486 a night, rising to suites costing several thousand. 

You can of course, just have a drink in the bar or meal in the restaurant, accessible from the south west corner of the upper level concourse, the same level as the Eurostar trains.  The bar-restaurant is housed in what was once St Pancras station's booking office, the Grade 1 listed wood-panelled booking windows are still there behind the bar, and it still says 'Booking office' in the stones above the entrance doors.  The hotel lobby has been built in what was once the station's taxi rank.

St Pancras station in London   A suite in the main building of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

5 stars.  The magnificently-restored St Pancras Renaissance HotelAbove left:  A Chambers room.

The Great Northern Hotel.    Click to book

Another classic railway hotel has been re-born, re-opened after refurbishment to top class standards in April 2013.  It's cheaper than the Renaissance St Pancras, and just across the road from the entrance to St Pancras International's Eurostar check-in area, so ideal for an early morning train.  On each floor you'll find a pantry with complimentary coffee, tea, cake and even jelly-babies.  Check the reviews and book the hotel.

Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross   Great Northern Hotel en suite

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

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