The Eurostar is my favourite train and I travel on it every other month of the year. Paris is plainly a destination in itself and all the more so with the forthcoming Olympic Games. One can easily cross the City to the Gare De Lyon and take a double decker train down to Barcelona or the South of France. The Eurostar also serves Brussels and Amsterdam.

Flying to Paris means getting to an airport and having to be present long before departure. Check-in at St Pancras is ideally 45 minutes before leaving. All passport checks are carried out in London so on arrival at the Gare Du Nord one walks straight out into the city. Contrast that with Charles De Gaulle airport where my daughter queued for 40 minutes to pass through security followed by a 35-minute metro ride into the city.

One takes luggage onto the train so there is no nonsense with baggage carousels and the occasional lost case.

Every passenger is allocated a seat upon booking but one is then given the opportunity to scan the seating plan and swap to a different seat. Most seats are airline style. There are some tables with two seats either side and I much prefer those seats because there is more space to spread out.

If you are making an onward journey it is smart to be seated as close to the front of the service as possible. Platforms are narrow in Paris and those at the rear face a slow shuttle to the exit with hundreds of passengers disembarking at once.

There are three classes of travel. Standard is fine for a journey that only takes 2 hours 20 minutes to Paris. Next step up is Standard Premier with solo seats on one side of the carriage and two on the other. It is much more spacious and one is served a very light meal with a wine and tea or coffee. Business Premier is £325 one way. Those on unlimited expenses would adore the flexibility with passengers being accommodated when turning up 10 minutes before departure and able to switch reservations at will.

The earlier one buys tickets, the cheaper they are. It is cheaper to travel midweek than at weekends. The company will occasionally release thousands of discounted tickets, and this always happens in early January. Snap them up as quickly as you can.

If you are travelling into London to take the Eurostar ask at your local station about a London International ticket which no machine will dispense! These are discounted from the normal fare, permit travel at any time of day and the return is open for two months.

The oracle on train travel is Mark Smith who runs the Man in Seat 61 website at Here you will find a free and complete guide to rail travel across Europe and beyond.

There is a buffet on the train. Note that it is cheaper to pay in sterling rather than Euros. The canny bring their own drinks and nibbles. There is no ban on liquids.

My top tip at the buffet is to buy a Paris metro ticket. Massive queues form at the machines at Gare Du Nord. With a ticket in your hand, you can head off to your destination and buy more tickets with ease when you get there.

The taxi sign directs one to take a right turn when coming onto the concourse. Ignore it and turn left walking to the distant end of the station passing perhaps 16 platforms. Exit through the massive doors and across the street you will see a rank right outside the Hotel Richmond. Taxi drivers love it because they can pick passengers up and take off at once. The main rank is always congested.

My only serious warning in Paris is about pickpockets, often teenage girls. They work the metro, tourist sights and busy museums. Never carry anything in a back pocket. Beware individuals asking you to sign a petition attached to a clipboard. At best, they will solicit a donation to their ‘charity’. More often, they get unimpeded access to your pockets and possessions because your hands are full.

Finally, when paying for something by card you will often be given the option to pay in pounds or Euros. Always pay, as a local would, in Euros. The catch is that the vendor can set their own exchange rate for pounds. The Euro rate will always be less expensive.