Getting to Paris or Lille from London is easy and very fast by Eurostar. Trains go from St. Pancras International in central London to Gare du Nord in central Paris, or to the heart of Lille which is the main interchange point for the French TGV (trains de grande vitesse or high speed trains). Eurostar is fast, cheap if you book in advance, and with Eurostar championing a whole lot of ‘green’ initiatives, is becoming by far the best way to travel for the environment.
The advantages of taking Eurostar
Trains to Paris can take as little as 2hrs 15 minutes (a little longer if there's a brief stop at Ebbsfleet or Ashford in the U.K.)
Trains to Lille take 1 hr 20 mins
Trains go about every hour every day except December 25th
Fares start at £69 return on 2nd class and from £149 first class but you must book well in advance
There is no restriction on luggage either in numbers of cases or in weight
Check in is only 45 minutes before departure
Security procedures are very fast
You go from city center to city center
You can now book on Eurostar on to most major towns and cities in France, like Avignon, Strasbourg, Troyes, Antibes , Nice and Bordeaux.
Details and bookings on tel.: 08432 186 186 or www.eurostar.com.
Other Eurostar services
Environment Issues and 'Tread Lightly'
In April 2006, Eurostar launched their ‘Tread Lightly' initiative, aiming to make all Eurostar journeys to and from St Pancras International carbon neutral. They also have an ambitious programme to reduce overall carbon emissions by 25% by 2012. They are working towards reaching zero waste being sent to landfill and 80% of all their waste being recycled.
Take a look at the bags used by Eurostar managers in the UK, France and Belgium. They’re created entirely from recycled Eurstaff raincoats, lining material from suits and antimacassars.
A little history and some fascinating facts
Eurostar runs through the Channel Tunnel (also popularly known as the Chunnel), a 50.5 km (31.4 mile) undersea rail tunnel which goes from Folkestone in Kent in the UK to Coquelles in Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France. 75 metres (250 ft) deep at its lowest point it has the distinction of having the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world.
The Tunnel takes high-speed Eurostar trains as well as roll-on, roll-off vehicle transport and international freight via the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. The tunnel, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, has become one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, along with:
It was way back in 1802 that the idea of an underwater tunnel was first put forward by French mining engineer, Albert Mathieu. It was an ingenious plan, envisaging a railway that would use oil lamps for lighting, horse-drawn carriages and a mid-Channel stop to change the horses. But fears about Napoleon and French territorial ambitions put a stop to that idea.
Another French plan was proposed in the 1830s then the English put forward various schemes. In 1881 things were looking up with the Anglo-French Submarine Railway Company digging on both sides of the Channel. But once again, British fears stopped the digging.
There were numerous other proposals from both countries over the next century, but it wasn’t until 1988 that the politics were settled and serious construction started. The Tunnel finally opened in 1994.
Given the history of the two countries, and the byzantine politics in both parliaments, it’s a miracle that the tunnel was built and now operates so successfully.