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The Bemuddlement Travel Guide To...........
EUROSTAR/Gare du Nord/Ashford International

 

GDN: 6pm Oct 16th 2003. Just be thankful we're going back to the UK.

 

1
Going to France try to get a high numbered coach on the Eurostar. You'll be first off the train at GDN avoiding the French-Anglo stampede for the Metro/RER.

Note our Bemuddled traveler is in prime "high coach" position and waiting for the Eurostar for the journey from Ashford to GDN. Should we tell him this is platform 3 and the train is due at platform 4?

 

2 Going to Ashford, get a coach number near Coach 7. Coach 7 stops right by the entrance to the arrival/departure hall in Ashford. You'll be first off the train and into the area where you get your parking validated.

 

3 Buffet/Bar Coaches are 6 and 14. If you don't want to be disturbed be people walking back and forth going to the bar for the 2 or 3 hour trip, get a coach number 17+ or less than 2.
4 Seats 41-48 have proper tables, not the fold-down things that barely hold a laptop.

 

5 Never ever travel on Eurostar
  • Half Term
  • Any School Holiday
  • Friday Evening
  • Saturday Morning
  • Sunday Night

Euro Disney has a lot to answer for.

 

6
If you can, go from Ashford, at least until they finally get the fast link completed between London and Ashford. 
London > Ashford = 50 miles = 40mins
Ashford > Paris = 180 miles = 2 Hr

Sunrise over Ashford. It's some god awful time in the morning and our poor Bemuddled traveler is about to embark the train to GDN.

 

7 Bring own food, the selection in the buffet car is limited and pretty grim.

 

8 Bring own wine or buy 250cl bottle from bar in Ashford departure lounge. Choice in Ashford is wider than the train and non-French is available.

 

9 At Ashford car park, park on Level 3. The entrance to the terminal is on Level 5. The lifts are notoriously slow. Two flights to climb is OK and coming home two flights to descend by foot is a breeze. You'll be off and out before you know it.

 

10 Going from Paris > London/Ashford, get to Gare du Nord at the earliest check in time. Eurostar has approximately 1600 seats, the waiting area at GDN has approximately 400 seats... result is that 30 mins before the departure, GDN Eurostar area is like a refugee camp.

 

11 Don't think access to the business lounge will help... at GDN the food is woeful (salty snacks, small cakes, fruit) when compared to what British Airways provide at Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester.

At Ashford the Business Lounge is a small daylight starved box.

 

12
At GDN and hungry? Eat in the bars BEFORE check-in. Bemuddlement recommends L'Aliza on the upper floor near the Eurostar desk... good food... good wine... and they leave you alone if you just want to sit and read. Even has an English waitress.

It's late, Eurostar have lovingly cancelled the 19:20 out of GDN that stops at Ashford, for the winter timetable, leaving the choice of the 18:15 or the 20:45. Still good opportunity to take this speldid desolate shot after a pleasant few drinks in L'Aliza.

 

13 Need a connecting RER/metro train from GDN? Make sure you have Euro coind handy... queues for Tickets from booths at GDN can be horrendous (especially mid-morning). Auto-ticket machines at GDN ONLY take coins.

 

14 Bemuddlement can confirm that a hand held GPS does work if sitting next to the window on Eurostar. Bemuddlement only recommends usage on the way back to the UK.

 

15 Passport control at Ashford. Beware of the the Police waiting after the luggage scan, they seem to take great joy in watching you re-load yourself with your luggage, coat, keys, wallet, coins, mobile phones... to stop you 6 feet later ti ask for the passport which usually tucked at the bottom of the rucksack you've just struggled to re-haul onto your back. The French customs at Ashford are rarely there (unless there is a strike, in which case the "work to rule" policy, means they have to be there).

Passport control at GDN. The British are always there AND sometimes at Ashford, just to irritate you.

16 Coaches 1 and 18 have NO seats numbered 1-17.