Traveling to Paris after a UK relocation (Photo credit: www.FranceHouseHunt.com)
I’ve written before about the conveniences of the London Underground and Overground as public transport if you’re making a UK relocation. Yet as I sit here now, typing within the quaint confines of a Montmartre flat rental as the colorful street bustles below and the pristine white Sacre Coeur basilica looms above, I marvel that I’m only a couple hours’ distance from my London apartment. You see, a UK relocation can be just as much about other international cities as it is about London, and it’s thanks to les trains that visiting Paris in particular is so easy!
A UK relocation makes traveling to other countries tremendously simple and affordable, yet even the feasibility of a mere weekend getaway gets taxing when constantly commuting to/from England’s various airports. Example: a 35-minute long Amsterdam-to-London flight still managed to take 7 hours door-to-door. Meh. After enough weekends like that to follow my UK relocation, I’ve become quite taken with rail travel. It’s not as cheap within England as I’d like it to be, but trains have nonetheless made for fast enough stress-free trips to areas like Cornwall, Devon, Durham, York, Brighton, and Southampton. Commuting to a London train station is just a tube ride away versus paying more for an express overground train to an airport outside the city limits. Better yet, you don’t have to keep lugging your bags through security and to a gate where you have to sit and wait some more. And unlike driving, you can just relax and enjoy the countryside smoothly whirring by rather than obtain a UK driver’s license (which you need after the first year of your UK relocation) and deal with driving a rented stick-shift on both the opposite side of the car and road.
But perhaps one of the best parts of a UK relocation is that you can take the train from London’s St. Pancras rail station directly to Paris’s Gare du Nord! Eurostar fares will vary depending on the time of day and day of the week, but, in general, if you avoid bank holidays and weekends when other Londoners like to travel, flexibility in schedule is the key to inexpensive travel. My husband and I, for example, have put off a Paris trip way too long, so we decided to make a week of it so we could depart mid-week versus on the weekend, scoring fares under £70 apiece (whereas at Easter they were going for closer to £200). Et voila! Two and a half hours later, we were here! The Eurostar is best known for its transit to Paris, but did you know that it also goes direct to Brussels, Lille, Ski, Avignon, and Disneyland Paris? Connections to dozens of other European cities are also available.
Granted, you do have to go through security before boarding the Eurostar train; it’s an international commute, after all, so have your passport on hand as well. This process, however, was a lot quicker on a weekday morning than it was at about the same time for my flight out of Chicago O’Hare the other week. And once you’re at Gare du Nord, the metro is right there for getting to your first Paris destination straightaway.
Once your UK relocation finally gets you accustomed to calling the “subway” the “tube,” in Paris it’s time to meet the “metro.” I have to say, I actually think Paris is easier to navigate via public transport than London, just when I thought London couldn’t get any easier. Sure, the Paris metro and RER (which is more of an express train extending to the suburbs) maps might look like a complicated web-work, but it’s because there are more stops between destinations, which could be good and bad: bad in that it’s, well, more stops you have to make while en route, but good because no matter where you are above ground, there’s inevitably a metro station closer by than perhaps a tube station would be. And even when having to stop in transit, the stations fly by in no time. We’ve been taking the metro everywhere without hesitation, and there are city maps inside and out of every station for super convenient reference—something London finally has, too, to make Olympics tourism and, consequently, your UK relocation much easier.
More words of advice for when your London residency brings you to gay Paree: buy the Paris Visite travel pass! One pass will provide you unlimited travel on the metro, RER, and Transilien SNCF trains as well as Paris buses. Its cost depends on which zones (Paris-only 1-3 zones and/or all zones including Versailles and Disneyland Paris) and # of days (1,2,3, or 5) you choose. It further offers price reductions on a number of Paris sites, like 20% off l’Arc de Triomphe or Disneyland Paris—kids at heart, we totally took advantage of the latter! After all this time, I finally learned that, yes, Mickey parle français…
Getting to watch the Tour de France finish in Paris yesterday in time to watch the Olympics in London next week is one of many aspects of living here that continually have us pinching ourselves. So, all aboard! Your UK relocation is about to lay the tracks for expanding your cultural boundaries.