Swoosh: The Fast Train
To Gay Paree
By BeansTalk’s ME
By now, BeanStalk readers know that the managing editor, chairman of the board and a staffer spent spring break across the pond. We could wax rhapsodic about our trip, but that’s for another story. Right now, we’re going to tell you a tale that will likely encite envy in many: we took a day trip to Paris.
Prices on the Eurostar, which leaves from London Waterloo Station and journeys 2 hrs. and 50 mins, to Gard du Nord in Paris, vary greatly, depending on the time you leave and the “class” of ticket. It also depends on how far in advance you order/purchase your tickets. We got, apparently, an extraordinary deal, of only $94 roundtrip. We couldn’t find a similar rate there or now. Roundtrip rates for a single traveler range between $102 (very hard to find) to $800, with the average somewhere in the middle.
Since we were spending only a day there, we left as early as we thought we could stand (especially since we had to be at Waterloo an hour before departure, which was 6:32 a.m., meaning we had to get to Waterloo at 5:30 a.m.). We returned to London on the last train out, which left around 8:40 p.m.
In some ways it seems like you can barely touch the surface, but for our purpose and intentions, it worked very well. We wasted an hour trying to change our return trip to an earlier time, but eventually got on our pre-purchased “L’Open Tour” – which we would not recommend. It featured frequent – but unnecessarily long – stops throughout Paris and also had only an audio commentary, which was hard to follow and never seemed to sync up with the actual sites. If we were to do another, we would choose a tour with a live tour guide (we had one in London and it was superior).
We stayed (freezing) on the open top deck of the tour bus, but did hop out at L’Tour Effiel. We cannot even tell you how long the lines were, but we’ll show you – look at our photo. Those lines were for not only the single working lift (elevator), but for the stairs. Prices vary depending on what level of the tower you want to reach.
Food was fantastic. We stopped for lunch at a little chain patisserie and sandwich shop, on a little street off a main drag. We ate dinner at another chain, right outside of Gard Du Nord, Hippopotamus. We had a lovely dinner of steak and chips (fries for you Americans) and a glass of French Burgundy wine. Yum.
As for the train ride, the three of us were inadvertently bumped up from steerage to a quartet of seats facing each other, a table in between. It was lovely and comfortable. The ride seemed to speed by. There is nothing to see on the evening trip, and if you go on the earliest excursion, you won’t see much either, but we were able to see quite a bit of the countryside of England (including the land of the ancestry of my two companions, Canterbury, Kent).
If you can arrange to spend a night or –obviously-- more in Paris, that would certainly give you more time to explore and experience the history of the gorgeous city (despite the occasional snobbery and mockery we encountered).
Consider the Eurostar. It’s such an un-American (in a good way!) and engaging way to travel.
Photos by BeansTalk