How to take the train to the regions of France via Paris or Lille.
How to book
You can book up to 60 destinations in France with Eurostar. The prices are the same, but the websites work differently, so be prepared to use some intuition. For many destinations, like Avignon for example, you can change trains in Lille Europe which allows you to simply change platform instead of hauling heavy bags around Paris. Going via Paris does however work out quicker in most cases.
If you live in the USA or Canada, you will need to use the US Rail Europe website to book. It would probably work out cheaper, and you can get your tickets shipped to your home address. Bear in mind Eurostar now have e-ticket facility on their site, which means you can book and print off your tickets at home.
Checking in at St. Pancras and other stations
So you’ve booked your tickets and the day of travel has come. Whatever you do, don’t be too cool about getting to the station on time. London traffic, and public transport in general is notoriously unpredictable, so allow plenty of time before departure to get to the station. Checking in can take half an hour with all the security checks so we advise getting to the station at least 45 minutes before the time of your departure.
There used to be no restrictions, but you can now only take two main pieces of luggage and one hand piece of hand luggage. On the train there are storage compartments at the end of each carriage. Don’t take large pieces of luggage with you to your seat as all you do is block the gangway and annoy other passengers. Smaller pieces of luggage can be placed above the seat.
If you have excess luggage, you are likely to be charged for it these days, so travel light.
Facilities at the terminal
In case you’re wondering there are useful facilities at each of the stations, including left luggage facilities, luggage trolleys, informations desks, currency exchange, porter services, snack shops, and cash machines.
At the time of booking, plenty of time will be given for you to connect with your onward train. It’s not possible to book an onward train with less then an hour to transfer. However, if you are nervous about changing stations in Paris (which you will mostly have to do), then try and book a journey via Lille, where you only need to change platforms. They are less frequent, and can take longer, but very easy to figure out. There are some occasions where you need to change stations in Lille, but the two are close to each other and within walking distance.
Changing Stations in Paris
The connecting station will be stated on your ticket, so you need to know where you are going before getting to Paris. The hour will pass very quickly if you end up on the wrong Metro line, so to avoid mishaps, plan your journey. You can get an RER and Metro map on the right hand side of this page.
There are seven main stations in Paris:
Gare du Nord – Where the Eurostar arrives in Paris and departs for London.
Gare de l’Est – Walking distance from Gare du Nord, and the departure point to head towards the east of the country to places like Strasbourg and Reims, and to Luxembourg, Germany, and Switzerland.
Gare St. Lazare – On a direct metro link from Gare du Nord.
Gare de Lyon – Take the RER direct, but sometimes the Metro can be quicker with one stop. If you are heading to the south of France you’ll be using this station.
Gare de Bercy – One metro stop from Gare de Lyon and a short walk from the metro station. Users of the Autotrain will be using this station.
Gare d’Austerlitz – Direct from Gare du Nord with the Metro without changing.
Gare Montparnasse – The furthest station from Gare du Nord, but on a direct Metro line. If you are headed to Bordeaux, then this will be your station.
What if there’s a delay on the Eurostar? Worry not, if Eurostar is delayed en-route to Paris, get the guard to endorse your ticket, which you should then take to the SNCF / TGV desk at your respective onward station to get it changed for the next train.