The cheap way from London to Paris - via Lille!

Discussion in 'Rail options & offers' started by Gagravarr, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. Gagravarr

    Gagravarr Active Member

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    For those who don't know, Eurostar have two main routes they run from London to mainland Europe. One goes to Paris, the other to Brussels. Both go through Calais and Lille. However, generally only the Brussels services stop in Lille, at Lille Europe station.

    On the whole, the Paris services are more popular, so the cheapest fares on those sell out first. Moderately last minute, there can be only expensive tickets left for Paris. At this point, on the whole, cheaper Lille tickets still remain!

    So, what you need to do is first buy a ticket from London to Lille Europe on the Eurostar. Single or return, as you need, but be aware that two singles is more than a return. Next, using your favourite non-evil rail booking website (eg loco2.com or captaintrain.com), book a ticket from Lille to Paris. These can be had for about €20 in advance, slightly more last minute. If the train is a Lille Europe to Paris train, great! If it's a Lille Flandres to Paris, then you've a 5 minute walk. The walk is fairly well signposted from both ends, head to the middle of Lille Europe station, down the escalator, past the giant plant sculpture and the Euralille shopping centre, and into Lille Flandres. There's a metro too, but it'll probably take longer...

    Coming back, be aware of the 30 minute checkin deadline for Eurostar when deciding what train to get from Paris to Lille! If you have time, there's a big park outside the station, a large shopping centre with a supermarket where you can stock up on French wines / beers / cheeses, and you're a 15 minutes walk from the great restaurants and bars of old Lille (Vieux Lille)

    Booked 120 days out, a London to Paris ticket is cheaper than changing. Closer in, a London-Lille Eurostar and Lille-Paris TGV can save you money, so price both up before booking an expensive London-Paris ticket!
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
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  2. GnarlyOldGoatDude

    GnarlyOldGoatDude Active Member

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    Great tip. I'd say that Lille is not really worth a visit on it's own, but there again, it has got more to offer us than Ashford or Ebbsfleet have for UK-bound Europeans.
     
  3. Gagravarr

    Gagravarr Active Member

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    Personally, I would suggest Lille for a weekend break!

    Culture and Museums wise, you've got the great Palais des Beaux-Arts, and for more modern stuff you've got Tripostal and Gare St Sauveur. A short metro ride gets you to LaM and la Piscine at Roubaix, which is a great building as well as the art!

    For those into Architecture, there's some nice old buildings in the centre which are a must-see, including La Vieille Bourse. The town hall has a tower you can climb for great views. Then, there's pretty much the whole of the old town (Vieux Lille), with loads of interesting Flemish style buildings. Oh, and the Citadelle, which you can walk round and see the earthworks, though most of the castle bit itself is gone.

    Shopping is fairly well catered for too. There's a big mall (Euralille) right by the stations, then a lot of interesting boutiques in the area between the main square and Vieux Lille. Other interesting shops dotted about too, including out towards Wazemmes. Finally, there's a number of large markets. Oh, and not to forget, every September Europe's largest open air market La Braderie, which takes over the whole city!

    Food wise, loads of options! You've all your usual great French food, along with the local options which fuse Flemish and French influences. Look for an Estiminet for a restaurant specialising in local food. The old town (Vieux Lille) has loads and loads of great restaurants and bars, you could spend weeks trying new places without running out of good options. Plenty of other good places dotted around the city too. Being so close to Belgium, almost everywhere has great Belgian beers, and those that don't it's only because they're serving local ones instead! And being France, great wine abounds as well :)

    If you haven't been to Paris before, I'd say do Paris first. However, if you've visited Paris in the past, and now want a calmer weekend away somewhere nearer and cheaper, very much go for it!
     

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