What I thought of the Eurostar lounge at Gare du Nord in Paris

After a break yesterday to review InterContinental LeGrand, I have returned to my series of Eurostar product reviews.  See here and here for my review of the London lounge and their on-board food.

The final few photos I want to share are of the lounge at Gare du Nord in Paris.  As I was on a Business Premier ticket coming home I had access automatically.  If I didn’t, though, I could still have used my American Express Platinum card to get in.

Design-wise, it has a lot in common with the London lounge.  Paris is also set on two levels, but is a more traditional square shape rather than the letterbox shape at St Pancras.

DO NOT COME HERE HUNGRY!  This is what they offer in the way of food at 5pm.  It is all cold, crispy, savoury stuff, but I couldn’t identify any of it with certainty:

Eurostar Gare du Nord Paris lounge

The bar is a lot more enticing, although when you look closely at the selection it is less interesting than at first glance:

Eurostar Gare du Nord Paris lounge 2

And another impressive magazine collection:

Eurostar Gare du Nord Paris lounge 3

All in all, it seems a bit of a wasted opportunity.  I have no idea why they do not bother with a half-decent food offering.  Even if you are not a big fan of the British Airways Club Europe offering, for example, you can still pick up something filling in the lounge.  Eurostar lets you down in the lounges and on the trains.

Apart from that, the lounge is perfectly satisfactory and does the job.  The big chairs allow you to relax and the bar and magazine / newspaper selection is sufficient.  There are also a couple of PC’s if you need one.

Finally, before I finish my Eurostar tale, let’s talk about wi-fi. Eurostar has no wi-fi. Full stop. They have it in the lounges, but there is nothing on the trains. This is, frankly, a joke, especially when you are paying £500 for a Business Premier ticket.  A phased refurbishment programme starting this year will change that, and the new trains coming in from 2015 will have it built in.  Somehow the emergence of ‘the cloud’ passed Eurostar by ….

Ironically, whilst the selling point of Eurostar is that you can work on the train without ‘dead time’, the truth is that – if you need to be online to work – you are currently better off flying if you live close to Heathrow. You can work in the lounge and your ‘dead time’ is less.

The reason why you haven't been able to apply for the Priority Club credit cards
Credit Card Reviews 2014 (4): British Airways American Express
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Comments

  1. Moonman85 says:

    Slightly off topic, but has anyone any experience of virgin trains lounge at euston as I will be there this weekend.

    I agree with your summary raffles, Eurostar lounges were very plain yet I find it very odd that they try and make them so much harder to get in to than airport lounges which are far better

    • It has just reopened after being closed for 2 months for a refit – I haven’t been in since it reopened.

    • Kilburn Flyer says:

      Yes, I used it recently when taking the sleeper train up to Fort William from Euston.

      The new Virgin First Class lounge is excellent with an improved amount of seating and the whole re-fit has much more of a “Virgin” feel to it in terms of design. There is a refreshed bar which now includes barista-made coffee (there is also a self-serve machine if you are in a bit of a hurry).

      Breakfast selection included a much better range of pastries/biscuits/snacks.

      They have added a few options to the drinks menu including an “Espresso Martini”, this was pre-mixed but still nice nevertheless. I had a free drinks voucher from when I had travelled 1st Class on virgin and the lounge had been closed. Overall the re-fit is a BIG improvement on the old drab interior they had

  2. Connectivity isn’t quite so bad. A IUI you can get a mobile signal in the tunnel. Can’t do that on a plane

    • Though the train announcements (at least in cheapo Standard Premier) ask you to make your phone calls in the toilet lobby, not in the carriage itself. Maybe it’s different for businesspeople who have paid £500.

    • Waribai says:

      Are you talking about conenctivity on the Eurostar in a tunnel? I’ve never been able to do that!

      • I have. Connectivity in the tunnel should work. But you are only in the tunnel for a short time anyway

  3. They don’t serve food because they do fine without it – so why spend that extra money providing it?

    As to wifi, its hardly a ubiquitous feature on trains, and I don’t think there’s any compelling reason why its a “joke” for Eurostar to not offer it. Does that also apply to BA etc?

    • It’s a joke because they are charging business people £500 for a ticket and, unless they have a tethering deal on their phones which works in both the UK and France (and tethering did not work hugely well when I tried it on the UK section) you are stopping them doing 4 hours of work.

      Not sure what trains you travel on, but apart from First Great Western it seems to be available on all the long-haul trains I take in the UK!

      BA is also rubbish, of course. Emirates has no trouble offering me wi-fi on my flight last week, albeit £5 payment required which was a pain as a) I was in business and b) my wallet was in my jacket which they had hung up in the wardrobe!

    • Callum, Nowadays, wifi is almost ubiquitous on intercity trains. As a supposed premier high speed service, Eurostar ought to be ahead of the curve here, but is actually behind the majority of domestic train companies. They will be fitting it though.

  4. Wifi on trains is very common now, Virgin and East Coast offer it and a lot of commuter services are adding it. It’s never a great speed, but it’s on offer. In fact, even a lot of bus services offer it. So when paying big bucks for a long distance Eurostar train journey I would expect it as standard.

    • Indeed, even Greater Anglia mainline trains have wifi. Paid for in Standard, free in First.

    • Thywillbedone says:

      Virgin may offer WiFi on their trains but my experience is that it is patchy requiring numerous re-logins. And don’t even try to make a phone call from a moving train – apparently the technology to enable a short call is still beyond us!!

  5. Roaming mobile data is available on most carriers now for £2/day in EU, so I don’t see not having wifi a problem on Eurostar trains. If you need internet on other devices as well, most mobiles offer wi-fi or USB tethering, it’s really something you should get setup on your phone if your travel and internet downtime has to be avoided. So there’s no need to avoid the most convenient, and passenger-duty-free way to travel London-Paris! Roaming data packages are normally capped low, but its ok for everything apart from streaming video.

    With the money and time you save on eurostar, you can easily pick up a decent baguette before check-in if the food is really that unappetising in the lounge.

    • Lady London says:

      Unfortunately the £2 per day for data in the EU does depend on your contract with your provider. It is by no means available to everybody. Although I am sure this will relax in the future, currently using a mobile phone to tether is sadly either banned or heavily restricted by several of the networks. Unfortunately some of the restrictions, even if not completely banned, are so low that even reasonable use without downloading or streaming videos can be unreliable. Also depends on the capabilities of the particular mobile phone which can vary. And let’s not go into how many times your signal will drop if you are in a moving train passing between different roaming networks and nodes, as compared to plugging into a wifi that is actually on the train that will eliminate most of these problems.

      Of course these things will all improve in the future but currently a relatively small number of people are able to work effectively without wifi in a moving train even when not roaming.

      • If your contract doesn’t have a decent roaming offering, you can always use a vodafone payg sim in an unlocked phone or usb dongle or ipad etc.., which gives you 25mb for £1.69 in EU. That’s plenty for when your on the train on the French side if you have to work, for most internet use apart from streaming, downloading/uploading large files, which for an hour or so for the paris-calais leg is absolutely fine.

        As for the 3G signal, that’s never been a problem, it drops out occasionally between masts, but reconnects, and for browsing and sending and receiving emails I still got everything done as you don’t to be connected all the time. If you want to stream video/music, or download/upload large files on your journey then it would be an issue.

        If internet is that critical when you travelling, its worth sorting out with the payg option or getting decent roaming contract. Its never that easy in France to get wifi when your out the hotel, so its worth getting something on your phone for not just the eurostar.

    • I think the main point is that for a train ticket costing hundreds of pounds you would expect a bit of wifi to be included.

      There are options for roaming in EU, but often these roaming deals do not allow tethering.

      • As one would expect in hotels, unfortunately expecting and receiving don’t always go hand in hand.

      • It would be nice if wi-fi was included, but for such a small price its such an easy thing to substitute. In my experience even when wi-fi is included, it doesn’t always work. I’ve even been let down in a few airline lounges by the wi-fi. And when internet downtime is such an issue, then having your own mobile data is an essential thing to take when travelling, especially if it means you don’t have avoid the eurostar.

        Wi-fi tethering is also permitted on the networks i;ve used when roaming (EE and vodafone, not tried the others), as roaming bundles are capped, so its not an issue for the networks. They only restricted tethering on unlimited data tariffs at home, as tethering users consumed more data on these unlimited tariffs.

  6. Tethering isn’t really an option on the Eurostar. I find mobile data drops off above 70mph and is impossible over 100mph, especially in built-up areas where my phone can’t jump between the many transmitters one finds densely packed together. At 186mph, even in open countryside, I’ve had very little success.
    YMMV, of course.

  7. Completely O/T – but having read about the Hedge Fund manager who had managed to dodge over £40k in rail fares on his commute, I am wondering if he is a reader of Head for Points? Come on, own up!