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Pre-BOE 14 Question - London to Paris by Eurostar

Husband and I plan on taking BOE 14-day tour this May. We originally planned to spend a couple days in London before meeting up with the tour in Paris. But now, we're considering cutting our time in London short by a day so that we'll have a full day to spend at Versailles. Right now, we have tickets for the Eurostar at 3:30 pm London - Paris.

I can either exchange them for tickets a lot earlier in the morning and arrive as early as 9:30 in Paris. But then we still have to get to our hotel to drop off our bags, then take the Metro/RER to Versailles. From what I've read, we'd end up arriving at Versailles as late as 12:00 pm? (I read that although the actual train time is roughly 45 minutes, we should allow up to two hours for train transfers, crowds, etc.) That wouldn't be worth the trip the palace closes at 6:30 and gardens at 8.

Our other choice is to leave London as late as 8:00 pm the day before (we're staying at St. Pancras, so getting to station in London is not an issue), and arrive in Paris at 11:30 pm. We've never been in Paris before, nor do we speak French. So I'm concerned about arriving at Gare du Nord at close to midnight and finding a legitimate taxi to take us to our hotel. Has anyone gone through Gare du Nord so late at night? What has your experience been, and are taxis still plentiful that hour of night?

Posted by
16878 posts

On the one hand, although it's nice to get an early start at Versailles and feel that you have the whole day at your disposal, I doubt that most people really spend the whole day. You might hear from others who did visit just in the afternoon.

I have not been at Gare du Nord at that hour, but if there are trains coming in, there will be taxis. (The times that I have taken taxis between other destinations in Paris have always been after midnight.) Be sure to let your Paris hotel know the late arrival plan.

Exchanging your Eurostar tickets means paying a fee (I see reference to €40 and don't know whether that's per booking or per person) plus any difference between the original fare and the rate currently for sale on your new departure.

Posted by
11 posts

Hi Laura! Yes, you're correct about the €40 exchange fee per person. We're willing to take the hit on that. I guess my main question is given that time of night, is it better to take a taxi or the Metro to our hotel? We'll have our carry-ons, etc. in tow. I'm leaning towards taxis, assuming we aren't duped by a scammer, haha!

Posted by
26398 posts

Just follow the very clear signs to the official taxi rank, don't be tempted to go with anybody who tempts you to skip the line and go with them, no matter how official they may look, and when you get to the signed rank tell the dispatcher what you need (they have heard Americans speaking English before), have your hotel name and address printed out on a piece of paper to give the driver and you will be fine.

Don't get in anything that the dispatcher at the official sign has not put you in.

Posted by
26398 posts

Unless you are staying in the back of beyond, I see no reason that a trip to Versailles would take anything like 2 hours.

Posted by
11450 posts

Ah.. another issue no one has addressed.
Unless you arrive BEFORE Versailles opens in morning.. WITH ticket in hand ( prepurchased online or if you book the Kings Apartment tour online for a timed entry) you will wait for a LONG time in line for ticket and security at Versailles. I would NOT arrive at Versailles at noon with no ticket.

Secondly.. having been to Versailles 8 or 9 times now.. it IS worth more then a few hours.. a full day is ideal. The palace itself takes 1. 5 hours.. the gardens are massive.. simply walking from one end of the estate ( Palace end) .. to Marie Antionettes Hamlet will take at least 30 minutes.. you can however take the little shuttle bus/tram .. but its still time sucking.

Lastly, I would take the Eurstar the night before and simply go to the dedicated well marked taxi stand.. and have. Starting in the morning fresh is a good idea.. you will find Versailles a long day.. lots of walking etc.. and rushing through it you will miss parts of the Estate ( do walk behind the Grand Trianon and visit the flower garden there.. the view up the canal towards the Palace is amazing.. shows you the massive the estate is) .

You do not need to speak French to take a taxi.. simply have the full name and address written down.. give to taxi driver.. no where in central paris should cost no more then 25 or so euros.. and could be a lot less depending on where hotel is.( which hotel are you staying at )

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks, Nigel & Pat, for the great advice. Looks like we're going to leave a day earlier to have a day to devote to Versailles. I imagine we'd easily spend more than a few hours wandering around the palace and its grounds. And we will definitely purchase our tickets in advance - anything to bypass at least one long line!

Before the tour begins, we'll stay at the Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe. (Free nights from hotel points.) Then the first day of the tour, we'll drop off our bags at the tour group's hotel, Tilsitt Etoile.

Thanks again & very much looking forward to our trip!