Places to visit in Europe

Eurostar - A Paris to London journey

Eurostar train ready for departure at Paris gare du Nord station.

A journey aboard the TGV Eurostar train.
2 hours 20 from Paris to London via the Channel Tunnel and the new high-speed track in England.

Since the opening in late 2007 of the new high-speed line linking, on the English side, the Channel Tunnel to London, travelling by Eurostar from Paris to London has been stepped up considerably. Travellers do appreciate since the fast and comfortable Eurostar train meets a real success. The Eurostar train puts the capitals Paris and London to just over 2 hours of travel only.

When we leave the Gare du Nord, this Saturday morning in January, Eurostar quickly crosses the Paris suburbs and leaves the Ile de France to run at full speed northward toward the plains of Picardy ... After an automatic check-in and passing security checks and police, I grabed the newspaper of the day at the shops in the boarding lounge. A little more than two hours are to spend in the train today. Let's take that as a relaxation time. We are Saturday, and most of the passengers in that carriage are looking forward to a weekend of discovery. Games and magazines replace laptops and files that are usually seen in this train during weekdays.

The speaker touts the bar. So much the better, because to win a little time for sleep, I ignored breakfast this morning. There are two carriages to cross until I reach the bar. The train is almost fully booked. Passengers flocked in search of coffee and croissants. I go for a breakfast tray, but I prefer to eat on the spot. Although the train is surprisingly stable for such a speed, I do not want to take the risk of ruining the weekend of someone with a hot coffee shower! Between a mouthful of croissant and a sip of coffee, I lift my eyes to recognize the control tower at the Lille Lesquin airport. It is only an hour as we left Paris! The train slows to negotiate a large curve on the edge of the Lille metropolitan area prior to heading to the west by speeding toward Calais and the Channel Tunnel.

The time to return to my seat and the train slows down again ... In the cabin, we feel a change of atmosphere. More attention ... Everybody expects the tunnel experience! The train moves on a slowly sinking slope. Suddenly it is night outside. Travellers have abandoned their games and their readings. Looking somewhat fixed, the ear alert, we watch the tunnel and the noise. The speed of the Eurostar in the Channel Tunnel is much lower than on the surface. A small half-hour later daylight appears again and the iron monster resumes its allure. The trip Folkestone - London is now on the brand new high-speed line finally completed almost 15 years after the launch of Eurostar.

The station stop at Ashford is short-lived. Eurostar now climbs north to cross the Thames underground up to a big bridge toll. And we have also a change of course: due west. The train passes at high speed in the industrial wasteland. It runs along the Thames. In the distance we see cargo vessels and trawlers, which are numerous. Soon, the train plunges again into the depths of the earth. At full speed this time. Until the St Pancras station, it would revert to the surface only once, at the halfway point, a bit like the Loch Ness monster, which dates back to resume his breath before diving down again ...

But a few minutes later, London appears. The Eurostar slows down and slides slowly toward the great glassroof of St Pancras newly reopened. This magnificent station from the time of Queen Victoria has been restored and modernized dramatically to accommodate the Eurostar ...

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