The roof of St Pancras
The train departed on time, as expected and was quite comfortable. We booked in November and had managed to secure one of the only two tables available in our coach. There was one couple that was quite vocal about this fact! They were very unhappy about not having a table - where were they supposed to put their champagne! Oh dear! Map of Paris Metro
One thing to note if you are taking skis onboard a regular Eurostar service (not the ski train) - there is no separate space to store your luggage. However, we did find that the ski bags (and even a snowboard bag) will fit quite nicely in the overhead racks. This had its drawbacks though for your fellow passengers who wer struggling to find luggage space themselves.
We arrived into Gare du Paris Nord ontime and had about two hours to get across to Gare d'Austerlitz for our next train to Veynes-Devoluy. The cheapest way across was to use the Paris Metro.
It didn't turn out to be that bad. We had a straight run to Austerlitz without having to change trains and arrived with plenty of time to spare. Our couchette compartment
We bought single tickets for the journey and wondered afterwards if it would have been cheaper to buy the carnet of tickets? They were selling them in St Pancras for about £11 for 10 tickets (2009). Something to look at for future trips perhaps.
Paris Austerlitz was not a large station. It had one large hall with nowhere to sit. You had the choice of the floor or your luggage! At the end where the platforms are, is a large electronic board listing all the trains. The platforms were not displayed until the trains were ready for boarding which was about 30 minutes before departure. Once the platform was displayed, there was a mad rush forward, only to find around the corner, out of sight of the main hall, that you were joining a rather long queue!
We were travelling with Corail Lunea in couchettes overnight to Veynes-Devoluy and our coach was number 12. I was a little worried that we would have a long walk to reach it but I need not have worried - the first coach on the train was number 9, so ours was only another three coaches further down. Not sure what happened to coaches 1 - 8 though!
Most of the couchette coaches have 6 berth compartments, but because we had children under 12, we were able to get a 4 berth compartment to ourselves. Normally a 4 berth compartment is reserved for 1st Class travel, but I believe this whole service was standard class.
The compartment was very comfortable, you might even say 'cosy' with all of our skis and luggage in as well! We settled down in our little quilted sleeping bags and were soon leaving Paris.
I found it quite soothing, listening to the train going along and we were soon fast asleep. When we woke up next, we would be in the Alps!
Here you can see us in our 4 berth couchette. The blue and green packet in the bottom left is the thin quilted sleeping bag and pillow that is issued along with a bottle of water and a care box, containing a pair of ear plugs, some tissues, a small bag for rubbish and a 'baby wipe'.
This is a write up of our family ski trip to Devoluy, France in January '09. It was a trip of many 'firsts' for us - our first skiing trip to France; our first long distance holiday without flying; the first time that we had planned a skiing trip as an independant!
The whole journey was researched extensively on the internet and most of it was booked on the internet as well. Only the train journeys were booked over the telephone. If you are prepared to spend the time, then there are significant savings to be made travelling as an independant - just remember to make sure that your travel insurance covers you for independant travel. This is usually an optional extra but doesn't cost much more and gives you peace of mind!
The Departure Clock in St Pancras Station, London
We started out journey on Friday 16th January and travelled by train from Doncaster to London Kings Cross. Currently, the train company that we used is called East Coast (since Nov 2009). The lounge at London St Pancras Station
From London Kings Cross, we crossed the street to London St Pancras International Station, where we were to catch the Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord.
We had a couple of hours to spend at London St Pancras and decided to get something to eat before boarding the train. We could find no suitable placed to sit and eat our KFC (from opposite the station) [note: as of 2012 this no longer exists] Our Eurostar train
Our train was due to depart at 1620 and we were able to start boarding half an hour beforehand. This mean't there was no rushing, with plenty of time to find your seat and get settled, take a couple of photographs and generally enjoy the experience. Platforms at St Pancras
Once thing to consider if you are travelling as a group or a family though - there were only two tables in the whole of our standard coach. All of the other seats were of the 'airline' style (with a fold up table).
Have you ever considered upgrading to first class? If booked in advance, some of the prices and be quite competitive. In the first class coach, all the seats are table seats and a meal is included. There is also alot more legroom, and generally, it is a much quieter coach and therefore a much more pleasurable experience! Something to think about?
The platforms at London St Pancras International station are above the concourse and you have the impression that you are the only people around. It is quiet and totally different from other mainline station that we have been to before. It was quite surprising! All the hussle and bustle of the station, the shops, ticket office and Eurostar check-in are all downstairs.
If you visited St Pancras before it's refurbishment, you would not recognise it now. It is light, airy and clean.