I first made this journey as the final leg of my 40th birthday trip around Europe in July 2016. The Eurostar departure point is at Gare du Nord, that famous station in the 10th arrondissement. By number of travellers it’s the busiest station in Europe and the 24th busiest in the world.

You certainly get that impression as you walk up to the station, the streets nearby thronged with tourists and commuters heading to and from the impressive building. The main concourse allows access to the Eurostar departures lounge on the upper floor, with escalators down to the Metro and RER (suburban train) platforms.

There’s plenty of places to eat and drink in and around the station – but they’re all busy and tapping into the captive market of the many tourists who pass through here. Better to walk 5 or 10 minutes away from the station and find one of the many back-street cafes for refreshment.

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Gare du Nord, Paris

Back at the station, you head upstairs and pass through check-in and security (I’d arrive an hour ahead of departure, it seems a bit slower than in London or Brussels) before heading back down to platform level once boarding begins.

The Eurostar speeds through the northern suburbs of Paris and into the north of the country before it reaches Lille not far from the Belgian border. The train passes through Lille non-stop before following the same route as the Brussels to London trains to London – journey time from Paris to London is around 2 hours 20 minutes. More details on the Eurostar experience at St Pancras and the journey to Brussels can be found here.

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