In this environmentally-aware age, there are new considerations when planning your trip to France – the Eurostar probably is the winner London-Paris in terms of both time (city centre to city centre) and lack of hassle. Even on overall cost it probably wins especially if you can book ahead.
But, on a longer journey to the Mediterranean coast and the Cote d’Azur? The dash between rail terminals in Paris (e.g. Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon) can be a significant disincentive for the train and adds time on an already long journey.
Sheila took the journey from London to Antibes (06 Alpes-Maritimes, PACA ) by Eurostar and TGV, and here are some of her observations:
We were advised to go 1st class as it was a long journey…. St. Pancras to Antibes, changing at Lille – definitely worth the extra for the wide comfortable seats. Toilets on both the Eurostar and the following TGV were disgusting – but fine on the return journey. Food on Eurostar was good and pleasantly served. The staff were very obliging and efficient. Food on the Lille/Antibes train was just from the buffet car and not at all interesting – just sandwiches and snacks.It seemed that most people brought their own and ate on the journey but, being French, they did this at lunch time – not grazing constantly as the British seem to do.
Even in 1st class the TGV was full, and people tend to anticipate their station and prepare (with huge cases and luggage) several minutes before arrival at the station. The train does not stop for very long.
The train is very fast, but very smooth – it is a long journey so very necessary to have reading matter, ipod, or whatever to pass the time – scenery in the North rather flat, but becoming more interesting as it progresses through to the South.
We were on the top deck on the way out and it was a single decker on the return journey, but not really any noticeable difference except when coming in to a station and people’s heads were below eye level, only the stairs made it more difficult to get the luggage ready by the door when preparing to leave the train.
Despite the horribly early start, I think I’d do the same again rather than the alternative flight from Heathrow.
As of 2018 the cheapest fare London t0 Antibes is under €80 with a fastest journey time of 8h 34m – check out Rail Europe for current fares