The Eurostar Check in Procedure at Paris Gare du Nord is Easy and Painless:
Our recent trip to Europe was an interesting one from a luggage perspective. Apart from our mobile office and camera equipment, we had clothing and shoes for the cold weather in Paris, smart clothing for our two-week boutique river cruise, walking boots and rain gear for our Cotswold walk and to top it all, we had formal wear for a family wedding. Needless to say, our baggage weight wouldn’t pass any airline allowance for a cattle-class flight from Paris to London. This is where the Eurostar came in handy. No weight limit for our travel from Paris to London!
Eurostar Check-in Procedure
We have not travelled the Eurostar for a few years now, so weeks before our trip to London, we went to Gare du Nord to investigate Eurostar’s check-in procedure, especially to see how easy it is to manage our overweight bags. The Eurostar ticket office, check-in area and border controls are a level up from the ground floor of Gare du Nord station, but luckily there are two lifts that you can use. Problem solved!
While we were there, we asked a Eurostar staff member about the check-in procedure as we had booked our Eurostar tickets on-line. She advised us to go to the ticket office to get our boarding pass printed that day as it would speed up the process on the day of travel. This turned out to be very good advice. We also picked up a landing card which non-EU passport holders like myself have to complete.
On the day of travel, there was a long queue of people, hovering around the check-in area, some a bit confused about what they were supposed to do. As we already had our boarding pass, thanks to the young lady who advised us weeks earlier, we walked straight to the turnstile, fed our boarding pass through the machine and voila, we were checked in!
Border Controls and Security
Once you’ve cleared the Eurostar check-in, you have to go through border controls and baggage checks as follows:
- First stop was the French border control who will take a look at your passport
- Next the UK Border Control officers will check your passport and the completed landing card for non-EU travellers
- Next you proceed to baggage x-ray, where you have to lift your own cases onto the x-ray belt
Eurostar Departure Lounges
After immigration and baggage check you proceed to the rather cramped departure lounges where there are cafes, sandwich bars, news agency, gift shops etc.
- Porte A is for those booked in coaches 7 – 18
- Porte B is for those booked in coaches 1 – 6
Porte A was very crowded (see picture above) and during the hot weather, the area was quite stuffy as well. There aren’t many seats here.
Porte B was much better. The area had some air-conditioning and there were seats in this section.
You wait in the departure lounges until your boarding is announced – this is by coach numbers.
Boarding the Train
Just when we thought we had conquered our heavy baggage issue, it was time to board and we found that we had to wheel our bags back down to the ground level where the Eurostar train platform is. There are no lifts here, but at least the travellator takes people down to the ground level and you don’t have to go down by steps. Once on the platform, there are attendants to guide you to your carriage. We found that we had to walk almost the length of the train as our coach no. 5 was at the front end of the track. Lesson learned – next time I book a Paris to London Eurostar trip, I’ll be selecting a rear carriage.
Overall, the Eurostar checkin-in and boarding process were quite painless and although they say on-line that the Eurostar check-in time is 30 minutes before your trip, I would be more inclined to allow one hour. Unlike the rather swish Eurostar terminal at St Pancras in London, the Eurostar station at Gare du Nord is pretty ordinary. But the most important thing is that our Eurostar 9025 left Gare du Nord promptly at 11:43 for our 2h 17min. journey to London.