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The Experience

Travel by rail - a relaxing way to reach your activity holiday

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We’ve tried to answer the most common questions in this section, from check-in at St Pancras to changing stations in Paris, and from luggage limits on Eurostar to accommodation on sleeper trains. However, we’re always happy to answer any other questions you may have regarding travelling to your Inntravel holiday by rail, so please contact us.
It's better by rail!
There are very few countries that Inntravel regulars Rowena and Bill Quantrill haven't visited by train. Here, Rowena explains what it is that she loves so much about rail travel, and how to go about planning your very own adventure by train.
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Let the adventure begin

Often, the ‘holiday feeling’ doesn’t dawn until arrival at your destination, but St Pancras International, with its happily animated bustle, is a place that fills you with excitement from the very start. It may be big in comparison to other stations, but compared to most airports it feels small, and the result is a quietly dignified atmosphere, with civilised-feeling check-in and boarding procedures that mean you arrive at your comfortable, reserved seat feeling relaxed and ready for the adventure to unfold.

Across Kent and into the Channel Tunnel

Leaving St Pancras International, the Eurostar passes through (or, more accurately, underneath) east London, sometimes calling at Ebbsfleet in north Kent to collect more passengers. From here, you are whisked through picturesque Kentish countryside at 186mph (300km/h), entering the Channel Tunnel a mere 35 minutes after departing from London.

Other than the fact that it takes 20 minutes to traverse, the Channel Tunnel resembles any other railway tunnel. When you next see daylight, just under an hour into your journey, you are already on French soil.

Accelerating away from the tunnel, the Eurostar speeds through gently undulating farmland dotted with villages and ancient churches. Lille is just 25 minutes from Calais, while Paris is 90 minutes away, making the journey time from St Pancras International to the historic Gare du Nord terminus just 2 hours 25 minutes. Once you arrive, you don’t, of course, have to wait around while your luggage is unloaded onto a carousel – you just lift your cases down from the rack and go. There are no passport checks, either.

Onwards to southern France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy or beyond

The trip by Eurostar is, in most cases, just the first leg of the journey. Many people prefer to travel via Lille for the easier connections, although the advantage of travelling via Paris is that you can break your journey with a night in Europe’s chicest city (you can also stay overnight in Lille to explore its handsome old quarter and sample its excellent gastronomy before continuing your journey).

Wherever you alight from the Eurostar, you can rest assured that we will have allowed ample time to change trains, and we provide full details of all your connections in your personalised itinerary and documentation pack.

Although Eurostar sets the bar high, the French high-speed trains compare very favourably, as do the Spanish, Swiss, Italian and other connecting rail services for holidays further afield. As on Eurostar, we book reserved seats wherever possible, meaning that you can sit back and watch the scenery gradually evolve as you head further south towards the Mediterranean or into the mountains.

All in all, by the time you reach your final destination (where we usually arrange for a taxi to collect you for the transfer to your hotel), you should find yourself in great spirits, your appetite for walking or cycling thoroughly whetted by the views you’ve watched unfold from your window.