St Pancras International
You’ve bought your ticket, got to the station with plenty of time to spare (always a good idea in a capital city). St Pancras International Station in London is not your usual railway station so take some time to enjoy this fantastic example of Victorian Gothic architecture. Check out the statues on the upper concourse and the famous Dent Clock. You will not forget visiting this railway station so allow some time to look around.There is so much to do at St Pancras since it’s restoration that it’s become a destination for many tourists. It has it’s own website! Certainly not somewhere I’d recommend you rush. I can’t think of many transport hubs you can say that about !
Finding Your Train
St Pancras International has two levels. You might see the Eurostar train platforms on the upper concourse but that is not where you check in. Head for the Eurostar check in on the lower concourse where all the shops are.
You will need your ticket for the bar code readers where you check in (paper or mobile phone e-ticket). You can check in up to to 2hrs before departure. The minimum is 30 mins before departure for Standard and Standard Premier ticket holders or 10 minutes for Business ticket holders.
Security Screening and Immigration
Next up is the usual airport style security checks of baggage. Very similar to standard airport security but without the checks on liquids. Probably best not to try and balance that cup of coffee though…
After that you will go through British and then French passport checks which seems a little odd if you’re in London but it means there are no more checks and you walk straight off the train in Paris.
This is in the process of changing following the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. You are advised to check the Eurostar website for any changes that happens following final negotiations due for the end of 2020. There is some basic information on the Eurostar site here.
Once you’ve cleared the check in process you are guided to the waiting area (or lounge if you have a business class ticket) to wait for your train to be called. The waiting area has further shops so you can buy refreshments, magazines etc. for the journey. Departure boards will tell you when your train is ready to board. You can’t board the train as doors prevent access to the departure platforms until the train is ready to leave. Just like flying.
At this point you need to look at your ticket and see which carriage you are boarding. If you’re like me you’ll keep forgetting and have to keep checking. Once there is an departure announcement for your train doors will open allowing passenger to take one of two moving walkways up to the departure platform above the waiting area. It will be a bit of a crush but look out for signs guiding you to your carriage number as you should choose the walkway that goes to your carriage. Don’t worry if you get on the wrong one – you’ll just have a longer walk down the platform. People tend to rush and crowd onto the platform the second the gates open so it can get a bit hectic but there’s plenty of time. Once you’re on the train – get your luggage stowed and find your seats
Arrival in Paris
Your train will arrive at Paris’s Gare du Nord station in the north east area of Paris. At the time of writing (2020) you will have no immigration formalities and simply leave the train and enter the concourse. This will probably change following Brexit. As you leave the platform note the departure area for trains back to London is on the upper floor just above the platforms you have just arrived on.
You can exit the station to the right where the taxi ranks are or head for the Metro station beneath the arrival area and start your Paris adventure !