Connection time at Gare du Nord

Oct 31st, 2008, 09:55 AM
  #1  
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Connection time at Gare du Nord

Hi folks -

I'm trying to decide how much time to allow between an arrival at Gare du Nord from Brugge and a departure to London on the Eurostar. Has anyone had experience with the Brugge-Paris trains running late? Probably talking about the routes that connect through Brussels or Lille, not the nonstop that departs Brugge at the crack of dawn. IIRC, Eurostar wants you checked in half an hour before departure, and the train station doesn't have left luggage service. I usually err on the side of allowing more time for a connection, but I hate to be stuck at the station for three hours (or to have to drag luggage around if we were to leave the station to kill some time). Thoughts?
lennyba is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 10:15 AM
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There is a left-luggage at the Gare du Nord, right under the Eurostar area in the basement - lockers inside after you put your bags thru a screening machine.

If trains are on time the connection is just a few minutes - TGV trains from Lille or Thalys trains from Brussels all arrive in the main station (Grandes Lignes) area within sight of the escalator up to the Eurostar check-in. the Gare du Nord is a huge labyrinth with all the RER and suburban trains a floor down but the main station is a snap if you arrive there as you will.

Whether trains always arrive on time is not certain however.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 10:17 AM
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Thanks, PQ. Don't mind overestimating time needed in case of delays if we can drop our bags and get out of the station for a bit.
lennyba is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 10:23 AM
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And some low-cost eurostar tickets are changeable, subject to availability - such as senior and youth fares and passholder fares - other ones like the Leisure fares are not i think. So if over 59 or under 26 try for a senior or youth fare - but since you are going back to Paris for the Eurostar instead of from Brussels i guess you may have some return Leisure fare, usually the cheapest fare available - if not why not go from Brussels to London. Book eurostar fares ASAP for the best fares which can go quick. check www.eurostar.com for fares in pounds or euros and always check, if in the U.S. fares thru Raileurope.com as they actually can be competitive and even lower sometimes - seems no rhyme or reason between the two IME. I always recommend having someone do a manual search for Eurostar fares if in the U.S. and i always recommend Byron at www.budgeteuropetravel.com as he's an expert and someone you can talk to - raileurope.com IME does not always list the cheapest fares that can be booked thru them - folks also complain that they sometimes get an e-mail saying the fare will be higher, etc. You can also talk to someone at RailEurope to do a manual search but it will i believe cost you +10% to do so and then they do not always IME know that much. But check www.eurostar.com as with the pound and euro dropping they may well be cheaper. But check both. And sometimes a Leisure fare, non-changeable, etc. may not cost that much less than two one-way youth or senior fares, which can be changed without penalty up until the time of the train in Europe and you would also be able to return from Brussels, saving the cost of the Brussels to Paris or Bruges-Lille-Paris train it could be cheaper even. and of course you'd save a load of time as well.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 10:36 AM
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We aren't eligible for the senior or youth fares. I was looking at a $98 one-way Paris-London, but now I see that for Brussels-London on our date as well. So that's an option too.
lennyba is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 10:44 AM
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that's probably a day return but there are no controls ever that i've seen on whether you return or not. With most eurostar fares you get an ABS or All Belgian Stations fare that lets you go free on any Belgian train to Brussels within i think 24 hours of your Eurostar ticket.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 10:52 AM
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I'm entering one-way requests, no day returns, on the raileurope site for those $98 fares.

Would that ABS deal be the 24 hours *before* your Eurostar itin as well, I wonder? The original plan was a few days in Paris, train to Brugge, spend two nights, return to Paris and on to London. Now I'm thinking of adding a night or two in Brussels thanks to you.
lennyba is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 11:28 AM
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Yes the ABS goes both ways - 24 hrs before and after. But if the $98 is a day return as it seems to me i'm not sure the ABS fare would apply - probably but not sure. Byron at BETS i referenced above would be the one to ask - i do when i need to know something like that - they may not have RE's mailing fee either on orders under $399. So you are only going one way and not coming from London - then i see no reason to return to paris - the expense and time, etc. The ABS conditions are probably on the raileurope.com site somewhere too. $98 is a great one-way fare IMO - one reason for going from Brussels IME rather than Paris is that Brussels Eurostars are not quite as packed as Paris-London ones are becoming so cheaper fares are more often more available i think. If you do the Thalys to Paris i think some fares also have the ABS fare on that. And it is only Belgian stations, not French for the ABS fares.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 12:47 PM
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Eurostar requires a 30-minute minimum check-in time.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 31st, 2008, 09:17 PM
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One more alternative would be to take IC trains from Brugge to Lille and the Eurostar from Lille to London. For example, you could leave Brugge at 07:34 and arrive at Lille Flandres at 08:54, giving you plenty of time to get to Lille Europe where you would catch the 10:16 Eurostar to London.
TimS is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 06:24 AM
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It would be cheaper however i think to do the ABS fare to Brussels as fares from Lille are about the same as from Brussels

but perhaps the Bruges-Lille fare is not much but one complicating factor is that the Bruges-Lille train goes into the Lille Flandres station, about a half-mile or bit less walk from the Lille europea station eurostars stop at.

But if you can't find a cheap fare from Brussels check Lille as i think they save some seats for Lille customers on the Brussels-Lille Europe-London trains.

With the change of stations in Lille - always a hassle to me - i'm not sure that route would be that much quicker
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 08:49 AM
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Hi PQ - I've been clicking around on a bunch of sites and can't find much on the ABS fares. I think I will call budgeteuropetravel and see what they can tell me. Do they charge a fee if you book through them, or how does that work? Would prefer to avoid charges to send tickets and just pick them up at the appropriate station if possible.
lennyba is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 10:02 AM
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Once and for all, there is just a wide pedestrian plaza separating the Lille-Europe station from the Lille-Flandre station.
kerouac is online now  
Nov 1st, 2008, 03:11 PM
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lennyba, not to be alarmist but do keep in mind that boarding he Eurostar in Paris requires going through passport control and security screening just like at an airport, and sometimes the lines can be long. Last time (June08) we did this there was a perfect storm of mishaps - both elevators to the upstairs Eurostar departure area were out of order and the resulting excess demand brought down the escalator. We were literally running down the platform as the train was pulling out of the station. That's probably an unusual occurrence, but I would allow a good cushion of time if you choose to connect in Paris.
Seamus is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 04:08 PM
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Hi Seamus - yeah, that was one of my thoughts and why I didn't want to cut it too tight. We've taken the Eurostar twice before without problems, but you never know and I sure don't want to pay walkup price to replace a ticket for a missed departure.
lennyba is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 05:35 AM
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It's always a good idea to arrive in plenty of time for your Eurostar train. I find that I am often so early that I'm offered a seat on an earlier train, departing in only 15 minutes. They like to fill up empty seats close to departure time, to allow maximum flexibility for those holding flexible tickets who might turn up for a later train.
Londonres is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 05:43 AM
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Why is the OP even considering backtracking all the way from Brugge to Paris to catch a London-bound Eurostar??

The most logical place to connect is Brussels Midi, followed by Lille. The post by TimS already mentions this.

Hope this helps,
Andre
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Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:37 AM
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Two of my posts state that we'll most likely go through Brussels.
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Nov 2nd, 2008, 07:20 AM
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Oops, my bad. Then why not just go to the Belgian Railways' website and book a ticket for EUR 75? You can pick it up any larger train station once you arrive in Belgium. No middlemen, no hassle.

http://www.b-rail.be/int/E/

Hope this helps,
Andre
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Nov 2nd, 2008, 08:11 AM
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Thanks Andre! I saw a 66 euro option there...if the exchange rate stays down that's cheaper than the eurostar.com rate.
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