Last day of London/Paris 2011!

We woke up at 4 am on our last day in Europe and took the tube back to St. Pancras to catch the Eurostar. The tube resumes service at 5:40 am, and we were on the first train. We arrived at St. Pancras and made our way back to the Eurostar tracks, where we had to go through passport control and had a few minutes to spare before our train arrived.

This train was much different than our Paris to London train–there was a group of rowdy British schoolchildren (probably around age 10) on the train who were likely going to Paris for a day trip (so insane that this is even a possibility!) so we were not really able to rest at all during the ride.

Finally, we got to Garde du Nord, where we changed trains and took the RER-B to Charles de Gaulle (there was no track work being done this way, so we did not have to switch to a bus or anything). This can definitely get a bit tricky: once you get the right train, you have to know which terminal you are going to…which we got wrong. On the RER-B line, there are two stops for CDG: CDG-1 and CDG-2. These do not correspond (exactly) to which terminal you are going to. Also, hold on to your RER ticket as you will not be able to enter the airport/get out of the train station without it (a little piece of information we picked up via trial-and-error during our first trip…more about that later).

The airport has three terminals: 1, 2, and 3. Easy enough, right? Nope. Terminal 2 is the largest: it is broken up into terminals 2A through 2G, and each of these terminals is its own terminal. If you get off the train at CDG-1, you will actually be let off into terminal 3, and you would need to take a tram called CDGVAL to terminal 1. If you get off at CDG-2, you are actually being let off into terminal 2. Historically, terminal 2 was used by Air France, but other airlines use it now. Terminal 3 houses smaller airlines, such as EasyJet. The best website I’ve found is www.paris-cdg.com, which breaks down each of the terminals and which airlines are there.

The airport is so spread out and it’s definitely time consuming to get to another terminal if you are let off at the wrong one (and who needs additional time stress when you’re trying to catch a flight?).  It is ridiculously easy to get mixed up and turned around and to go to the wrong terminal so be careful! Downloading maps of the airport is definitely worth it before you get to the airport so you know where you’re supposed to go.

During our first trip to Paris, we ended up getting off at the right train stop (CDG-2–it’s the end of the line, so you can’t really go wrong if you decide not to get off at CDG-1 anyway) but could not find our tickets to get out of the station. Another group had the same problem, so we ended up throwing our luggage over the turnstile and fighting our way through the closing doors–not pretty (and not legal either)! After all that, our flight was delayed 8 hours anyway…

This time around, we vowed that wouldn’t happen. However, we accidentally got off at CDG-1 and took the monorail to Terminal 3, which happened not to list our flight at all on the monitors, so we realized we were in the wrong place. We found an Information stand and found out that we were supposed to be at Terminal 2C…oops. So we took the monorail back to Terminal 2 and found our airline and eventually were able to check in. Fortunately, our flight was on time (and the vending machine malfunctioned and gave me a free bottle of water to boot).

Our trip had ended–action-packed until the very end! Although it was short, we saw a lot and had an amazing time and are already looking forward to our next European adventure. Our wish list: more time in London as well as another trip to Italy (maybe back to Rome, then south to Positano).

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One thought on “Last day of London/Paris 2011!

  1. I enjoyed your posts very much. We are visiting London and Paris (in the reverse order from you) this year at almost the exact same time (March 31st-April 9th). I was a little concerned about the weather but I hope we get the weather you had! My husband and I also have pretty similar interests as you (pretty jam-packed itinerary with somewhat of a focus on food). Our only difference is this will be our first trip to both London and Paris, so we have to see the main highlights too although thankfully we’ll have slightly more time. Interesting review on Joel Robuchon. We’re still deciding if we have a fine dining meal in our budget and have time for it. I’m pretty sure he has a restaurant in Vegas now too and I’ve been really pleased with the Vegas installments of other restaurants even if they aren’t the ‘originals’. Thanks so much for your detailed reports.

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