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Trip Report London - Paris - Florence in less than 24 hours on the Eurostar and Thello

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We were training down to London from Edinburgh with our daughter with a two night stay in London that included dinner at the Fat Duck in Bray (amazing). Through AirBnb we booked a tiny studio directly opposite King Cross/St Pancras. Rather than fly from London to Pisa we decied to train it as we had a lot of luggage. We run a cooking school in Lucca and this time we were adding on a road trip through Scotland beforehand and a Mediterrean cruise afterward with a three night stopover in Dubai on the way home to Sydney. Hence we needed to bring very warm clothes for Scotland, lots of stuff including my husband's chef knives for the school and both formal and casual gear for the cruise and Dubai. This part of the trip was the only one that we had to worry about lugging bags.
On Jan 13th we booked the Eurostar (2nd class) and the Thello for the May 3rd. The Eurostar was 78 pounds for the two of us. We booked 2 couchettes in a 4 berth on January 13th departing Paris for Florence at 192 euro - we had missed the cheapest fares. Our tickets from Edinburgh were 33 pound each - we had a group booking as DD was traveling with us on that leg.
It was a very very easy walk across Euston Rd to St Pancras for our 9.17am dept. One thing we hadn't thought about was my husband's knives. It cost an extra 14 pounds to check them into the baggage car. It was an uneventful trip to Paris. After retrieving our knives at Gare du Nord we taxied across to Gare de Lyon - less than 10 euro. We checked our luggage and had lunch directly opposite at d'Brasserie L'Europeen. All brass and mirrors. Absolutely fantastic. For 30 euro each, we had an amuse bouche, kir royale, half a dozen belon oysters, steak or duck confit, a great cheese plate, creme brule, coffee and a half litre bottle of wine each. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours. Afterwards we wandered down the Seine to Notredame, across to Blvd St Michel & then through the Île Saint-Louis. Nice to revisit some of our favourite Parisian haunts and stumble on a few new place. The weather was so nice.
One thing we didn't find was a place to pick up food for our picnic on the train. In the end we bought a couple of very average baguettes at the station. Luckily we were stuffed from lunch. The platform wasn't announced until a few minutes before our departure. Of course our carriage was a long way down the platform. We dragged our bags on. We were able to heave them up into the void above the corridor.
The couple sharing our cabin were lovely. They were from Chartres and he had worked on trains for 40 years. He was very unimpressed by the state of the train. It was definitely a little tired. I was glad we booked the 4 berth. The 6 berth would have been claustrophobic.
We didn't check out the food or bar facilities. As many people have commented, the train was very hot. They provisoned the cabin for six people - so 6 lots of linen and 5 bottles of water. There was power, so my husband was able to charge his ipad. I think we arrived an hour late in Florence. It certainly wasn't a good sleep but adequate. I think we were up around 5.30 as the Bologna passengers started getting up. The cleanliness of the toilets deteriorated over the night. I don't know if we would do it again. DH says no. Also there was a definite lack of taxis outside the Firenze Campo Di Marte station. The Thello does not stop at the main Florence station. Our cabbie told us that as there were so few intercity trains stopping there and the thello arrival time was so erratic, they don't bother waiting.
When we return in August, we are flying into London and then taking the Eurostar and TGV to Avignon, spend a night then we will pick up a car and drive across to Lucca. We're returning the car in Lyon.

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