We took the train from Lyon to London because we have so much stuff that the airline luggage fees would be ridiculous, and we (mostly me) love trains. We’ve taken the train all through the Canadian Rockies, to see polar bars in the tundra, to NYC, in France, Italy, Switzerland. You can read my tips for train travel here.
To get to London from Lyon, you take the just over three hour OUIGO train from Lyon Perrache to Lille. This train is a double decker with bathrooms but without a snack car. We went to a delightful bakery the day before, since our train left at 9 am, and got croissants for the ride.
Our seats were assigned when we booked and we were on the upper deck of the train. While it was a real struggle getting our luggage up the narrow stairway, we were relieved that there were open luggage racks. Literally every train we’ve taken has had a different luggage situation so we never know if we have to sit with our luggage, which is impossible with three suitcases, an overnight bag, a backpack, and a purse.
After just a few stops, including Disneyland Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport, we arrived in Lille with just over an hour until our next train. The train from Lyon arrives in Lille Flandres, and the Eurostar to London leaves from Lille Europe. Luckily, they are next to each other and an easy five minute walk, even with all of our luggage.
To take the Eurostar to London, you need to go through French customs, then UK customs. The French guy barely looked at our passports but the UK lady wasn’t so easy. She asked a million questions about how and why we are here for so long, and even made me show her my bank account to prove we could afford to be there. She finally agreed to let us on the train, but not without first telling us we wouldn’t want a denied stamp in our passport. No kidding, lady. (Side note, my third novel has a travel component, and she’s absolutely going to be in it.)
After clearing customs you go through security and have to put all your luggage and belongings through. Thankfully, we were the only ones there, because it took a while. My yoga mat in my large suitcase was flagged, so we had to open it up and show them it wasn’t a poster (why it mattered, I have no idea). Finally, we made it to the lounge and had a very deserved Prosecco.
When it was time to board, you found the boarding number that coincided with your seat number. We booked first class, so we knew there would be room for our luggage.
The train arrived right on time and we got on the train and settled easily into our seats. The seats were large and comfortable, with outlets and a good size tray table.
Meals come with first class tickets, and we were starving. Thankfully they brought it right away. I ordered a vegetarian meal because I don’t like most meat, and it was a delicious falafel salad with hummus. The Husband had a cold chicken dish. Since we were heading to London and it was the first day of Wimbledon, they had a special tennis ball dessert. The meals also came with wine and soda, and tea and coffee were offered after.
One of the best parts about the train was speaking English again. We’d been in Italian or French speaking countries for three months, and I didn’t realize that I liked small talk until it was gone. Plus it is so much nicer when you can fully express what you need. To everyone who has moved to a country that speaks a different language, I am forever humbled and impressed.
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