A guide to the Eurostar (from the perspective of a student based in Paris)

Posted in: Life in the UK

Whether you’re an international student coming from continental Europe or looking to plan a trip, you’ve probably heard about the Eurostar as an alternative to flying. But what is it exactly and why should you consider taking it? Hopefully this blog by Poetica, a third year Psychology student,  will answer these questions.

What is it and how do I take it?

For those who don’t know, the Eurostar is a train that goes under the English Channel to connect the UK with continental Europe. It offers direct trains to Paris, Lille, Brussels, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam. Moreover, they also offer connections to Antwerp, Liege, Aachen, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, and Dortmund. In the winter, connections are also available from Lille to popular ski destinations in the French Alps.

Regardless of your destination, the Eurostar leaves from St Pancras International station in London. To get there from Bath, the quickest way is to take the national rail from Bath Spa to London Paddington. From there, it’s a quick tube trip on the Hammersmith & City or Circle line to get to the stop for Kings Cross/St Pancras.

Why you should take it

  1. Arrival in the city centre

This one can be either a pro or a con depending on your end destination. Most train stations are within city limits and well connected to public transportation networks, unlike airports. This means that if your final destination is within the city or its neighbouring suburbs, you can save yourself 50 euros on a taxi or an hour on the airport shuttle. I can’t speak for other cities, but in my experience it’s definitely easier and cheaper to get almost anywhere in Paris from Gare du Nord station than either of the airports.

  1. Less baggage restrictions

If you’re an international student this is a big one, you probably have a lot of stuff to carry back and forth at the beginning and end of each year. The Eurostar has way fewer restrictions on baggage (both in terms of how many you bring and what you can put inside them) than any airline I’ve ever taken.

  1. Better for the environment (20x better!)

Traveling by Eurostar is drastically better for the environment than flying. A recent report shows that when you take the Eurostar, you reduce your individual carbon emissions by an average of 95%. In other words, taking the Eurostar is 20 times better for your carbon footprint than flying. So, if you’re looking for ways to reduce your environmental impact, here’s a great place to start.

  1. The scenery / travel opportunities

Ok so travelling in a tunnel is not that scenic (that bit only lasts 20-25 minutes), however I find a train journey much more satisfying to watch the countryside go by.  The other real advantage is the ability to break up your journey, fancy a night in Paris on route to Amsterdam? No problem, or want to visit Mickey Mouse in Disneyland? Why not.

Not as easy to do if you are flying but just bear in mind you may need separate tickets for each journey.

Why you shouldn’t 

1.Expensive (or is it?)

By far the biggest deal breaker of the Eurostar for me is its price. Depending on the airline, it can be over a hundred pounds more expensive to take the Eurostar rather than fly (and that’s not counting the train from Bath to London). However, there are ways to minimize this difference. Firstly, if you haven’t already, getting a national railcard in the UK can drastically reduce the train fare to get from Bath to London. Secondly, look out for sales and discounts.

I’ve managed to get Eurostar tickets for £80 a round trip, so it’s definitely possible to get them at a somewhat reasonable price. Look out for deals from as little as £39.

Also there are other potential savings if you’re traveling to the city centre and you don’t have access to a car, you can save a lot of taxi money by taking the train instead of flying. Remember all that luggage we mentioned earlier? The Eurostar might also just mean you don’t ship some of your belongings.

In a nutshell… price up the full cost of your trip before comparing.

  1. Time consuming

Finally, taking the Eurostar can be a lot more time consuming than flying. Flights are typically much shorter than train rides and every time I’ve taken the Eurostar, I’ve ended up traveling for a total of 8 hours if you count the trip to London, going through security and customs, the Eurostar trip, and getting home from the station.


I’ve found that a lot of the time that I save by flying I usually end up wasting, going through security, at the gate, in the taxi queue at the airport or waiting for the shuttle (and then making a billion transfers once I get off). Plus, taking the train means access to data and wifi (even if it’s spotty at times), which means you can use the longer journey to scroll through social media, watch Netflix, or even do coursework.

All in all, there are pros and cons to traveling to continental Europe via Eurostar or by flying. In the end, it depends on where you’re going, how much stuff you’re carrying, what your budget is, and whether you have access to a car. But I hope that if you’re looking for an efficient way to go on your next city break, or haul a dozen suitcases back home at the end of the year, you’ll consider the Eurostar as a more sustainable alternative.

Posted in: Life in the UK


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