Our Anniversary to Italy: Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg

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Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks.  It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited!  In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.

Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich.  We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!

Train From London To France

Emily and Daraius on the Train From London to Paris

Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:

Getting to Strasbourg

After we ate and showered in the Virgin Atlantic lounge, we took the underground train from London, Heathrow airport to King’s Cross/St. Pancras station.  The Eurostar which travels from London to Paris in ~2.5 hours leaves from King’s Cross/St. Pancras station.

We booked the train journey from London to Paris on loco2 which lets folks in the US pay the best price for train tickets.  We booked the trip to France at the last minute, so the train tickets cost us more than it usually would have.

See this post from The Man in Seat 61 for the best tips on booking train tickets!

If you use Google to search for train tickets, you will likely be directed to the raileurope website, which doesn’t show folks in the US the cheapest tickets!

We paid ~$600 for both tickets because they were a last minute addition to our plans.  We booked a Standard Premier class fare instead of the cheapest Standard class fare.  There weren’t any non-stop flights to Strasbourg from Heathrow and airfare was expensive.

The train was the quickest and cheapest way & we could have saved some money by buying tickets in advance.

London Underground

There were lots of signs at the airport directing us to the Underground.

Train From London To France

Clearly Marked Signs to the Underground

It was very easy to get around.

Train From London To France

Emily Getting Ready for Train Travel!

We took the Underground (metro) to King’s Cross St Pancras station, which took ~1 hour.

Train From London To France

Emily Pointing to our Destination – King’s Cross Street Pancras

We bought our Underground tube tickets from the machine which accepted our US credit cards without a fuss!  Each ticket cost 5.5 UK Pounds (~$9).

Train From London To France

Our Tube Tickets Bought From the Machine

Fortunately, there were lots of escalators & elevators which came in handy with our luggage.

Train From London To France

Emily at one of the Many Elevators in the Underground

Folks with luggage were directed to the larger handicap turnstiles which meant that it was easier to clear the automated gates.

Train From London To France

Handicap And Stroller Turnstiles Made it Easy to get Around

We also saw a train map and located Greenwich, which is where Daraius proposed.

Train From London To France

Daraius Pointing to Greenwich

There was a place for our luggage on the train.

Train From London To France

Luggage Area on Train

We were riding the train in the morning and it was soon packed with commuters.

Eurostar

After an hour, we arrived at St. Pancras and walked to the Eurostar train station which was clearly marked.

Train From London To France

A Sign Directed us to the Eurostar Train

Everything looked very well maintained.  I was surprised by how clean the station was.

Train From London To France

Emily Enjoying the new Feel of the Train Station

Daraius had reserved the tickets online, and all we had to do was print out our train tickets at the station.

Train From London To France

We Picked up our Tickets From Here

We entered our ticket number and selected the tickets to print.

Train From London To France

Enter Your Confirmation Number to Retrieve Tickets

We confirmed our itinerary.

Train From London To France

Confirm Your Itinerary and Print Tickets

It was very easy and took just a minute…

Train From London To France

Emily Holding our Train Tickets

…to get our tickets.

Train From London To France

Eurostar Tickets From London to Paris

We then went to the waiting area for the Paris train.  We went through security, which doesn’t take as much time as the US security checkpoints.

Once through security, we found a seat and relaxed before our train.  There were lots of cafes and restaurants, as well as clean restrooms.

Interestingly, American Express Platinum personal cardholders get free access to the Business Eurostar lounge in London, Paris, and Brussels.  The terms seem to exclude business cardholders from free access, but I don’t know how closely that is enforced.

Train From London To France

There Were Lots of Places to sit in the Eurostar Waiting Area

Boarding begins 20 minutes before the departure time, and closes 5 minutes before departure time.  So you don’t want to be late!

Train From London To France

Easy to Read Eurostar Departure Monitors

Our train left right on time.

Train From London To France

Emily Getting Ready to Board the Train

There was space for our luggage…

Train From London To France

Luggage Area on Train

…and magazines to read.

Train From London To France

Emily at the Magazine Rack on the Train

The train ride was nicer than a flight because the seats were larger and you could freely walk around.  There was a separate car with food and drinks.

Train From London To France

The Train had Large Seats

We were served hot food because we had booked a Standard Premier ticket.

Train From London To France

The Train Serves Hot Meals in Standard Premier!

The seats were also very comfortable.

Train From London To France

Emily and Daraius on the Train to Paris

Train From Paris to Strasbourg

Once we arrived in at the Gare du Nord station in Paris, we had to walk to another train station (Gare de l’est) for our train from Paris to Strasbourg.

Daraius had been drilling into me that we only had 30 minutes and had to walk all the way to the station so we had to be fast!  He had mapped out the way and was walking fast.

We quickly walked through the streets of Paris and I noticed the elegant architecture and people on the streets and marveled at being able to transport myself here in just 1 day!

There were no elevators going down to the station, so pack light!  There is another route which avoids the stairs, but takes more time.

Train From London To France

Emily at the Stairs Leading Down to the Paris Train Station

We made it to the station and found our train.  We got on and realized we had 10 minutes to spare!  It was close, but we did it. Whew!

This was in-spite of printing out a map and walking fast.  I doubt we would have made our train if Daraius wasn’t prepared.

Train From London To France

Our Train to Paris – Would we Make it?

Our seats on this train were a little larger and more comfortable than the last train because Daraius booked them in Business class.

Train From London To France

Emily Relishing in Eurostar Business Class

There was also wifi on the train but we didn’t pay for it so couldn’t check how fast it was.

Train From London To France

Eurostar WiFi Rates Start at 5 Euros

I had not eaten at the lounge, so I ordered a Croque Monsiour (grilled ham and cheese) at the bar, along with a Lipton peach iced tea.

Train From London To France

Emily at the Train bar

The sandwich took just a few minutes to heat up.  But I had trouble paying with a credit card.  I tried two cards and neither worked.  Luckily, Daraius had euro so we paid with cash.

The sandwich was very good (or I was very hungry) and we both finished it pretty quickly.

Train From London To France

Emily Eating her Croque Monsiour

Before we knew it, we had finally arrived to Strasbourg!

Train From London To France

Sign Pointing to Strasbourg Train Station Exit

But before leaving the station we tried to buy train tickets to Zurich from the kiosk.

Train From London To France

We Tried to Buy Tickets From the Kiosk

But the machine would not accept our chip card.

Train From London To France

Train Ticket Kiosks Accept Credit Cards

So we wrote down our proposed train in case the attendant couldn’t understand Daraius’ 2 years of high school French!

We made sure to write the date in the European style with the day first followed by the month and year.

Train From London To France

Written Directions to Zurich in Case Daraius’ French Failed

The Strasbourg station design seemed to clash with the old world style of the buildings outside.

Train From London To France

Outside the Strasbourg Station

We walked 10 minutes to our hotel and learned that hauling bags on cobblestones isn’t as romantic as it appears!

Bottom Line

It is often cheaper and quicker to travel short distances in Europe by train, than to take a plane.  Getting to France from London was very easy!

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32 responses to “Our Anniversary to Italy: Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg

  1. While the rich European food may well have made you bilious, nonetheless the station in London is St. Pancras, not St. Pancreas. ;-)

  2. Why did you guys only have 30 minutes in btw the two trains? Sorry it was a bit unclear – could you have just as easily been on a later train or the lon-cdg-strasbourg was all one pkg?

  3. Great post. This is exactly the type of post I like to read. Full of details that will help me travel. Thank you!

  4. We took the same London-Paris-Strasbourg trip this past May, and I had booked the train tickets online in the US. For the French trains, you’re supposed to be able to print out pre-purchased tickets from the TGV machines in France, but we were not able to because our credit card was chip and signature, which does no good in Europe. You need a chip and pin, and our large banks here don’t issue those, that I know of. Bottom line, if you reserve online and pickup in the destination country’s train terminal, leave time to go to the ticketing office and use a lot of hand signals so they can print all your tickets out (unless you’re lucky enough to speak French or Italian!). Eurostar, on the other hand, worked beautifully, but the lounges were packed.

  5. @LarryInNYC – Point taken. Thanks for pointing it out!

    @tri n – We could have taken a later train, but didn’t want to wait for hours after the station! It was our first day and we just wanted to get to the hotel.

    @Scott – Glad you find it useful!

    @ Linda – Unfortunately, most US credit cards are Chip & Signature, which don’t help much when you use them in automated machines.

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  29. I enjoyed your report as David and I will be traveling from Paris to Strasborg this June. You made it sound as easy as we hope it will be!

    You might want to double-check your spelling, though, as I think the delicious croque monsieur is spelled like this rather than monsiour.

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