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Eurostar & Le Shuttle

Also see:  Eurostar London-Paris-London (Paris for Visitors)

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ABOVE: Two Eurostar trains in the Gare du Nord, Paris.

Also see: Eurostar London-Paris-London - a first-hand report

photoIf you saw the film Mission Impossible, you've already seen Europe's "Chunnel" passenger train in action. In that movie, Tom Cruise fended off a helicopter from the Eurostar's roof until the chopper blew up inside the English Channel Tunnel.

Most Eurostar trips are less dramatic. More than two dozen high-speed electric trains (based on French TGV designs) connect London with Lille, Paris, Brussels, Avignon, the French Alps, and the Disneyland Paris resort at speeds of up to 300 km/h or 186 mph.

Travel time can be as little as 2 hours 17 minutes between London and Paris, or 1 hour 52 minutes on the London-Brussels route. (Trains that stop at Ashford, Lille, and other stations take a few minutes longer.)

A handful of London-Brussels trains continue on to Amsterdam. You can also book travel between London and Amsterdam or Rotterdam with Thalys train connections in Brussels.

A few points worth noting:

  • Eurailpass isn't valid on Eurostar. However, you'll get a discount of about 20% off the standard fare if you have a Eurailpass, Europass, France Railpass, BritRail Pass, or Benelux Tourrail Pass.

  • Like the airlines, Eurostar offers a variety of promotional fares. Some of these offer big savings over normal published fares.

  • Travel time through the English Channel Tunnel is only 23 minutes, which is good news for sightseers and claustrophobes.

  • Ride quality is remarkably smooth, even at 186 mph (300 km/h), so nervous travelers should be able to keep their apprehension in check as the train races across the countryside.

  • Pets aren't allowed, so leave Fido or Fifi at home.

  • Special fares to Disneyland Paris and the French Alps are available; consult the official Eurostar Web site (link below).

  • Le Shuttle, the train that carries automobiles under the English Channel, uses the same tunnel as Eurostar but is a separate service. For more information, click the links under "Le Shuttle" below.

Travel planning:

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ABOVE: A Eurostar train speeds around a banked curve in the countryside.

Eurostar London-Paris-London parisforvisitors.com
This illustrated report describes journeys in Standard and Leisure Select Class, with information on check-in on both sides of the Chanel. From Paris for Visitors.

Eurostar.com
The official Eurostar site has a journey planner and other useful information, along with an app that you can download to your smartphone.

Background information and photos:

Wikipedia: Eurostar
The online encyclopedia's article is packed with facts, figures, and trivia.

Le Shuttle (car train):

Eurotunnel: Le Shuttle
Load your car, motorcycle, camper, or caravan on Le Shuttle for a 35-minute rail journey under the English Channel between Folkestone, England and Coquelles, France. (If you're traveling with a group, you can even reserve a spot for your tour bus.)