- I travelled from London to Paris by underwater train through the “Chunnel” (Channel Tunnel).
- Both stations were easy to navigate, and the check-in and boarding processes were quick and easy.
- My whole trip went smoothly, and I found the train much more enjoyable than flying.
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I think the ease of travelling by train is often overlooked, especially where I’m from in the US. But whenever I travel from the UK to continental Europe, it’s my preferred mode of transportation.
I recently took the Eurotunnel Shuttle train â€” commonly referred to as the “Chunnel” train because it runs through the underwater Channel Tunnel â€” from London to Paris.
Here’s how my trip went and why I’ll always choose the train over a plane:
I started my trip at St. Pancras Station, which I found lovely
I started my journey at St. Pancras International Train Station in London, which is also connected to Kings Cross Station and the London Underground, making it quick and seamless to get there from anywhere in the city.
The station is well lit, spacious, and easy to navigate, and there were a variety of places to grab a bite to eat before you board the train.
There were also a number of luxury stores, similar to ones you’d expect to find in a duty-free airport terminal.
I’ve lived in Belgium and swear by this chocolatier. I always recommend the “Suzanne,” a piece of dark chocolate with raspberry ganache.
If you forgot reading material for the trip, you can swing by Hatchards bookstore, situated right across from the Eurostar check-in area.
My check-in process went smoothly and boarding the train was easy
There’s a separate check-in section for Business Premier passengers.
It’s the highest class available, and it offers the option to check more luggage in addition to a warm meal and spacious seating during the ride.
The check-in signs were all bilingual (in English and French), and all I needed to get on the train was my passport and boarding pass.
Once I checked in and made it through security, I found a seat in the waiting area so I could relax until the train arrived at the station.
When the time came, it was easy to get to the platform (even with luggage) via the mini escalators. And there was also an elevator for passengers with injuries or disabilities.
Given that I travelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, there were plenty of signs encouraging social distancing throughout the platform.
After about an hour of waiting, I was able to get on the train.
I found it to be much easier than boarding a plane and much quicker.
My cabin was spacious and clean, and the train offered entertainment and food
I opted for a Premium Economy ticket, which is one level above economy and one level below business class.
Based on the signs, I was actually in a spacious Business Premier cabin, it just didn’t offer the same hot meal and extra luggage options available to passengers at that level.
I purposely chose a solo seat by the window to help with social distancing.
I also wanted to be able to see the countryside around me. The actual underwater tunnel part of the ride is nothing special â€” basically the inside of a normal subway tunnel â€” but I was still hoping to enjoy a few views during the other parts of the journey.
No one was seated across from me due to Eurostar’s new social-distancing policy.
Since the tunnel part of the ride offers no visual stimulation, I took a look at what Eurostar offers in terms of entertainment.
During the ride, you can stream a variety of TV shows and movies via the onboard website.
You can also watch a live map of the journey as it unfolds, which is handy, but the Wi-Fi was spotty under the tunnel, which kind of defeated the point.
The scenery just outside of London was pretty average at first, but eventually, there were some more idyllic views.
I was grateful I opted for a window seat. The glimpses of the countryside were well worth it.
When I checked in online 48 hours beforehand, I was able to choose my dietary preferences for the onboard meal.
I opted for a vegetarian meal, which included a cold vegetable pastry with cheese on top and an onion salad on the side.
After the light meal, tea and coffee were served to passengers throughout the cabin. This was a wonderful treat since I was still jet-lagged from my trip from the US to London.
After eating, I made my way through the cabin to check out what else it had to offer.
The train’s design felt sleek and clean in comparison to others I’ve travelled on in Europe.
My cabin had a handicapped-accessible bathroom that offered a good amount of space to move around.
If you ever have to change while travelling into Paris, this bathroom definitely offered enough space for a wardrobe switch.
Gare du Nord in Paris was much busier than the station in London
We reemerged from the brief time in the underwater tunnel â€” which only lasted about 35 minutes of the entire two-hour trip â€” and I was finally able to see bits of quaint French towns passing me by before we pulled into Gare du Nord.
The platform in Paris felt a lot more crowded than the one in London.
When I hopped off the train with my bag, I quickly found myself in the bustle of the terminal.
The inside of Gare du Nord Station was a lot smaller and less impressive than London’s St. Pancras. However, it still offered spots to grab a quick bite to eat and smaller newsstands for books and reading material.
Finding an Uber outside of Gare du Nord is difficult unless you walk a bit further away from the station. So if you’d rather be picked up right outside, you can opt for a Taxi Parisien, the official Paris taxi company.
I walked a few blocks away from the station and found a ride, grateful to be back in the bustle of Paris.
I’d choose the train over a plane for this journey any day
The trip from one city centre to the other made travel between the two countries a lot easier and faster than travelling via plane since airports are usually on the outskirts of cities and require extra travel time.
For this ease of access and quicker travel experience, I’d choose the train over plane travel for this trip any day.
- I visited The Standard in London, and I don’t think I’d stay at the 5-star luxury hotel again
- I flew business class for 9 hours, and it made me wish I saved my money and bought an economy ticket
- You can stay in vintage railroad cars that have been converted into cosy bedrooms surrounded by nature
- Tokyo’s subway system is one of the best in the world. Here’s what it’s like to ride it.
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