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Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

Cannock
Level Contributor
30 posts
118 reviews
82 helpful votes
Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

We have used Eurostar twice to travel between London to Paris for holidays (with Austria as final destination) and have come to the conclusion that we'd rather avoid Paris for a couple of reasons: 1) Getting through border control in Paris was an awful experience. 2) Transferring to Gare de Lyon with luggage is not ideal. In people's experience - is the border control process in Brussels better than Paris?

13 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
633 posts
1 review
1. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

I don't know what you found "awful" in the border control process. But such border controls come with choosing to leave the Schengen zone/Brexit. So I don't think the border control in Brussels is much different from the process in Paris.

However, it often is a better choice to transfer at Brussels anyway. It makes more sense to take an ICE in Brussels (e.g. to Frankfurt) and transfering in Germany on the train to Austria.

Quainton, United...
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
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10,722 posts
3 reviews
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2. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

It's the same, pretty much.

But London-Austria via Brussels means an easy same-station change.

In Paris, you have to walk 7 minutes from Paris Nord to Paris Est (Paris Gare de Lyon only relevant if you go via Zurich)

Level Contributor
14 posts
3 reviews
2 helpful votes
3. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

Last year we did Eurostar to Brussels ahead of taking the Nightjet sleeper to Vienna and found it really easy to transfer. We had an hour or 2 between trains so were able to grab some food to take on the train with us.

I can't recall border control at Brussels being a major issue as we had cleared it at St Pancras and just walked off the train and exited onto the station concourse.

We will be doing the same again this year

Edited: 22 February 2024, 22:45
Albufeira, Portugal
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for Algarve, Faro, Portugal
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4. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

Border controls for Eurostar are done before you get on the train, not when you arrive. It used to be fairly easy, but now that UK has left Europe it is now a postively disagreeable experience requiring you to be at St Pancras station up to 2 hours before departure and in my case having to stand for most of the time as all seats in the holding pen were taken.

Level Contributor
3,693 posts
9 reviews
2 helpful votes
5. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

I think the OP is referring to the return journey border control...

Which is considered better/easier - Paris or Brussels when going back to London.

J.

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14,399 posts
118 reviews
66 helpful votes
6. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

To be honest, they're both about the same, as you would expect since they're essentially doing the same job!

The basic problem is that they haven't got enough space at either station to have more desks/staff - it's the same at St. Pancras.

It's been estimated (by Eurostar) that the checking and stamping of a persons Passport takes 30 seconds per passenger, so they've had to run the trains with a maximum of 550 passengers per train instead of 900. Needless to say the cost of a ticket has gone up to recoup the lost revenue.

London, United...
Level Contributor
23,831 posts
431 reviews
168 helpful votes
7. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

I never had reason to complain about passport control at any of the Eurostar terminals. Perhaps you could explain why you thought it was so awful.

Wales, United...
Destination Expert
for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
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8. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

Mr Smith has explained the benefits of using Brussels rather than Paris. Immigration wise I don't think there's any difference which is how it should be. As a city I'm not that keen on Brussels but I do like the station for connecting to other services after arriving from London. It's big but I have always found it very easy to navigate, and it beats crossing Paris every time.

Albufeira, Portugal
Destination Expert
for Algarve, Faro, Portugal
Level Contributor
86,492 posts
78 reviews
93 helpful votes
9. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

When I travelled from Brussels to London last April, I was on a connecting train from Amsterdam that was delayed. The Eurostar train was held for us, the 100 or so passengers rushed from the Amsterdam train to the border checkpoint and I think it was about 30 seconds before I was through and on the other side. However, Eurostar still tell people travelling peasant class and boarding at Brussels Midi to report 90 - 120 minutes before departure. Presumably those who can afford Business Premier are less of a threat to national security, because they need only half the time to be processed.

One thing that neither they nor many airports have managed to work out is that people with UK passports but EU residency cards could go through the EU gate. We don't have our passports stamped. That would cut down the queues a bit.

Cannock
Level Contributor
30 posts
118 reviews
82 helpful votes
10. Re: Eurostar Paris vs Brussels

Thank-you for your responses.

To further explain the awful experience in Paris - they simply did not have the capacity to process all of the passengers, the notice boards showed last call for check-in before they even started processing the passengers for our departure time. This lead to many really stressed families. Soon after we got through the notice boards showed a delay of 45 minutes - this should have been announced much earlier. As a result of the delay we had to rush to Euston to catch our connecting train. So not a good experience, and one there is no excuse for (they should not sell more tickets than they have capacity to cater for).

I'm going to look further into catching a nightjet from either Brussels, or Paris Est. Thanks again.

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