How to travel to Brittany in France by Eurostar
– by The Brit.
This has been a question that has been raised a few times in the “how to travel to Brittany” section of this site, so I thought I’d share my experience.
I have just travelled from the UK by ferry and plane and for a change I thought I’d try the Eurostar rail option, travelling from St Pancras London, to St Brieuc in Brittany.
I have to say that the whole experience was relatively pain free. Booking a train via the Eurostar website was simple, I just logged onto Eurostar.com and chose the times and dates for my journey. The prices varied, but if you are quite fluid as to when you wish to travel, there are some bargains to be had.
My journey was a single from St Pancras to St. Brieuc and bearing in mind that the journey took me via Paris and Rennes, I thought it was good value at £69.
The journey was to St. Pancras, then onto the Eurostar to Paris, where I would get the metro, (the French equivalent to the underground) and then get the train from Montparnasse to St. Brieuc.
I arrived at the international train section of St Pancras with an hour to spare before the train departed, very important as you have to go through security, just like any airport, and then through passport control. You actually go through two sets of passport control, one leaving the UK and one entering France, even though you are still on British soil at St Pancras, but this saves time later.
The Eurostar waiting area is quite large and is a bit like a flight departure lounge, there are indicator signs stating which train is on which platform and there are various eateries, café and, bar etc and toilets. The eateries sell hot and cold snacks and you can get sandwiches at reasonable prices to take on the train with you.
When my train came up on the screen I made my way, armed with take-a-way tea and sandwiches onto the train and found my place.
When you book your train on the internet, you can pre-book which seat you prefer for the UK part of your journey.
The seats are quite comfy and make it easy to doze, and when the train left St. Pancras, many passengers had already shut their eyes.
The Eurostar is fast, around 300-330 kilometres per hour, and after a few spells going underground followed by one that lasted a bit longer, we were in France – less than 50 minutes from leaving St Pancras! I strained my eyes to see which side of the road the traffic was on in the distance to make sure that I wasn’t mistaken!
The train arrived at the Gare du Nord and because we had done the ‘double passport control’ at St Pancras we walked straight off the train and out of the platform gates.
Finding the Metro is easy because it is clearly sign-posted with an ‘M’ inside a circle, and there are machines from which to purchase your ticket.
TIP. The first of these ticket machines normally have queues of people waiting to purchase tickets, if you walk nearer to the Metro there are other machines which are less busy. The machine gives various options of destination and amounts of tickets, I bought one ticket for around one euro eighty cents.
The Metro goes from Gare du Nord directly to Montparnasse, (Line 4) and although there are around a dozen stops, it doesn’t take long – I think around 20 mins. After which there is a bit of a walk through tunnels and up escalators and then you are in the mainline station at Montparnasse.
The train from Montparnasse to Brest is not Eurostar it is TGV, but it is also a comfortable ride with bar and snack facilities. The only stops between Montparnasse and Brest are Rennes and St. Brieuc.
Important note, both the Eurostar and TGV trains normally have useful electric plug sockets to charge up phones and laptops.
The whole journey from London to St. Brieuc was hassle-free and painless. This might become my new way of travelling to and from Brittany for a while, as I felt quite rested when I arrived at my destination.
TIP. Make sure that you have a book with you. Or music. Or both.