London & Paris Day Trips with Eurostar

June 18, 2008

Eurostar train in stationWhen you have only a short time to visit Europe, day trips can mean the difference between fitting in all the good sights or feeling like you missed out. 

It's often difficult to squeeze in multiple European cities with hotel stays in one trip. That's why Eurostar is such a good thing, particulary if you have your heart set on seeing London and Paris.

What is Eurostar?

Eurostar is the high-speed train from London to Paris via the Channel Tunnel.  It travels above ground for part of the trip, then under the English Channel via the "Chunnel" for the other. With Eurostar, you can travel between London and Paris in just 2 hours 15 minutes, easily making either city a day trip from the other.

For time-starved travelers, the Eurostar allows you to tack on an extra city to your trip without the hassle of switching hotels. For instance, you can stay in London and see a matinee performance at the Paris Opera. Or stay in Paris but catch a musical in London's West End. Visit both cities but stay in only one hotel. The Eurostar also travels to Brussels and Disneyland.

Faster than Flying

The Eurostar train, which runs every hour, is the fastest way to cross the English Channel. When you add up the commute to the airport, check-in, security, boarding, landing, baggage claim, and taking a transfer into the city (airports are usually about an hour away), the train saves you a lot of time and hassle over flying.

The train stations are in the city center and you only have to check in 30 minutes before the train leaves. Plus security won't confiscate your water bottle and shampoo.

In London, Eurostar uses the beautiful and historic St Pancras, which just completed a total restoration in 2007. In Paris, Eurostar arrives and departs from Gare du Nord. Both stations, which are expansive, offer shopping, restaurants and comfortable waiting lounges. There's also a new hotel located at the station which retains much of its historic, Gothic architecture.

How to book Eurostar tickets

You can book Eurostar tickets online or in-person at the station. However, the longer you wait, the higher the price goes for tickets. One-way tickets tend to be the most expensive. Travelers who require only a one-way ticket often purchase a round trip (return) ticket and just use the outbound part.

Another option is simply to take a day trip with a small group and expert guide to ensure you make the most of your time in London or Paris.

How's the Ride?

With a dining car, laptop plugs and large comfy reclining seats, the Eurostar offers a clean, comfortable ride. Also, the views of the Paris green countryside during the trip are fantastic.

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