A Travellerspoint blog

November 2020

April 19, 2010 - We leave London for Paris, not Toulouse

We'll figure out Toulouse when we get to Paris. Right now just having Eurostar tickets to Paris is a miracle.

Corner of Waterloo Place and St. Charles II Street

Corner of Waterloo Place and St. Charles II Street

Day 6 — April 19, 2010 (Monday)

I’m writing this in Paris! What a day we’ve had. We had breakfast at the Thistle City Barbican, our hotel in London, courtesy of British Airways. Finished packing and checked out to discover British Airways covered the entire bill. We didn’t have to pay anything which was nice since we’re already paying for a car and house in the Dordogne.

We left our luggage with the very helpful Thistle Hotel people and left for the London Visitors’ Bureau on Regent Street to book a train from Paris to Toulouse. When we arrived, the line waiting for exactly the same thing went around two blocks. Ed stood in line for over three hours and was only halfway. I had gone inside to use their pay Internet connection and when I checked on Ed, everyone was asking why the line had stopped moving. I returned inside and asked a few questions and discovered the SNCF web site for booking trains in France was overwhelmed and had gone down. We gave up and returned to our pub for lunch . . . excellent. We retrieved our luggage at the hotel and treated ourselves to a taxi to St. Pancras Station. The taxi was a Mercedes . . . my first ride in one . . . and the driver chattered the entire way. It was fun and he only charged 10 £ so Ed gave him a big tip.

Line for tickets out of London

Line for tickets out of London


Lobby of the Thistle City Barbican in London

Lobby of the Thistle City Barbican in London

Arrived at St. Pancras Station and Ed zipped down to turn in our Oyster cards. We tried to check in for our train but it wasn’t open yet so we walked across the hall to Paul’s and got coffee and two seats until they opened the check-in. They announced; we checked in and went through Security and Passport Control and into a lovely waiting room with hardwood floors and polite people. It was like airports used to be!

We boarded right on time and didn’t have seats together but a French family traded with us so we were together and they were together. The Eurostar train is very comfortable and quiet . . . much nicer than an airplane. The trip zipped by, across England, under the Channel and across France to Paris. I thought the tunnel would be oppressive but you hardly know it is there. You are above ground until you get to the Channel and then underground for twenty minutes. The minute we came out, I knew we were in France. It looks so different.

St. Pancras Station in London - Ready to go to Paris

St. Pancras Station in London - Ready to go to Paris


View from the Eurostar between London and Paris

View from the Eurostar between London and Paris


View from the Eurostar between London and Paris

View from the Eurostar between London and Paris


View from the Eurostar between London and Paris

View from the Eurostar between London and Paris


View from the Eurostar between London and Paris

View from the Eurostar between London and Paris

Arrived at Gare du Nord just as the SNCF ticket offices closed for the night so we got a carnet of Metro tickets and headed for Metro line #4. One suitcase got stuck in the gate and the girl behind us put her Metro ticket in which released Ed’s suitcase but then she couldn’t get through. Over the gate, I passed her another ticket from our carnet while a nice black family helped her friend get her luggage through. We all eventually got to our trains. It was kind of a community experience.

We rode to St. Germain and walked to Hotel Clement hoping that despite the volcano chaos, they would have a room for us. Thankfully, they did and we are in a lovely room papered in French toile fabric. We're on the top floor with a view of the Pantheon dome (lighted) and St. Sulpice Church (lighted). It is heavenly.

View of Saint Sulpice from our room at Hotel Clement in Paris

View of Saint Sulpice from our room at Hotel Clement in Paris

We’ve met people we never would on an ordinary trip. Two young people offered me seats in various places. The crowd in line were all advising and helping each other. We chatted at length with an Aussie and a young Israeli trying to get to Sophia for his new job. I met a French woman from La Jermay and a British lady trying to get to Paris.

We sent a couple people to STA Travel where we got our Eurostar tickets. We left STA cards with our hotel concierge and gave them to the Canadians we’ve eaten with at the hotel. The hotel manager thanked us for the cards and the staff all wished us a good journey. It’s been quite an experience and we’re not quite there . . . but closer!

Posted by Beausoleil 15:18 Archived in France Tagged london paris france uk eurostar_train Comments (4)

April 18, 2010 - Still in London. Will we ever leave?

Much better day. We found a working travel agent, got train tickets and British Air announced they are paying for our London stay. Hooray!

Barbican Center - Early Morning (even the ducks aren't awake yet)

Barbican Center - Early Morning (even the ducks aren't awake yet)

Day 5 — April 18, 2010 (Sunday)

Slept until seven o’clock and went down to breakfast where the hostess said we could save about 6 £ by getting a voucher at the desk. Breakfast was 16.50 £ and the voucher brought it down to 10.50 £. We quickly decided to go to our pub for a better breakfast for 4.79 £. We did and it was great.

After breakfast we walked to and through the Barbican Center taking photos and ending at the Museum of London. Walked back to St. Joseph’s Church for Mass. Tiny but very diverse congregation.

The Barbican Centre - London

The Barbican Centre - London


The Barbican Centre - London

The Barbican Centre - London

Ed with Union - Horse with Two Discs by Christopher Le Brun

Ed with Union - Horse with Two Discs by Christopher Le Brun


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City Wall - London

City Wall - London


Saint Giles at Cripplegate by the Barbican Centre

Saint Giles at Cripplegate by the Barbican Centre


The Barbican Centre - London

The Barbican Centre - London


The Barbican Centre - London

The Barbican Centre - London

Back to the London Museum where we got directions to the nearest tube station to get our Oyster cards. No ticket office (Sunday) so we walked over to Liverpool Station and got the cards.

Used our new Oyster cards to “tube” to St. Pancras International Station where they were not selling any Eurostar tickets. You couldn’t even get in line unless you had a confirmed reservation. On to British National Railways who also could not help. AAAGH.

We passed a Vodaphone store and decided to go in and see if we could buy minutes for Edie’s cell phone. As we talked to the fellow, we decided the French cell phone wouldn’t be practical here . . . but another customer listening told us about a nearby travel agent (STA Travel) who could get us Eurostar tickets. We happily got directions, hopped back on the tube to Russell Square Station and out to STA Travel on the opposite corner.

Joy! We have tickets to Paris tomorrow at 5:30 PM. We arrive in Paris Gare du Nord at 9:00 PM and will deal with getting to Toulouse from Paris. At least it’s on the right side of the English Channel.

Back to St. Pancras and printed our tickets. We are ready! We found a Paul’s in St. Pancras (there are two of them) and had a croissant and Badoit. Went back to our hotel to the delightful news that British Airways is paying our entire hotel bill, dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow.
Rested until dinner and tried to e-mail the kids to give them the news but we’ve run out of Internet time again. Ten dollars to send three e-mails seems expensive so it will have to wait.

Posted by Beausoleil 13:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (7)

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