cutting it close with transfer times
February 24, 2009 4:05 PM   Subscribe

How long will it really take me to transfer from Gare du nord to Gare de l'est in Paris?

On an upcoming trip from London to Strasbourg, I'm travelling to Paris on the Eurostar and then transferring to a TGV train to Strasbourg. The Eurostar arrives at Gare du nord, and the TGV train leaves from Gare de l'est. I only have 35 minutes to transfer. Ooops.

Everything I'm reading suggests that it's an "easy 10 minute walk" from Gare du nord to Gare de l'est. My questions are:
1- Is it actually easy? Will it be obvious where to exit the station, and are there signposts?
2- I'll still need to print out my ticket at Gare de l'est. I understand it's from a machine, but should I expect queues/long waits to print it out?
3- Most places recommend 45 minutes minimum to transfer from these two stations. If I'm seated towards the front of the Eurostar, only have light baggage and am a fast walker, will I still be OK?
posted by vodkaboots to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have no experience of changing trains between these stations, but it's certainly easy to walk between them, they are right next to each other. There is one block between the stations and it will take around 5 minutes to walk between them. Consulting a map will show you there proximity, here is an example.
posted by fire&wings at 4:14 PM on February 24, 2009

Just take the metro. Very quick and easy to get from one station to the other, if you're worried. If you walk, bring a map, and you should have plenty of time. It's under a kilometer away, I believe.
posted by Relic at 4:19 PM on February 24, 2009

It's a really short walk. I've walked it fairly often - years ago so I can't advise about recent ticket-purchasing stuff, but truly, it's about a ten-minute walk.
posted by rtha at 4:24 PM on February 24, 2009

Do you speak French? This will determine the speed of your ability to find the appropriate exit and/or get directions.

Also, I took the Eurostar in the opposite direction in 2002 and had to pass through UK customs - I'm not sure what the deal is now, but I'd find out since it will cut into your time.
posted by desjardins at 4:31 PM on February 24, 2009

Best answer: Gare du Nord is a large and busting station. Gare de l'Est is small and fairly quiet. And they are indeed that close to one another. I would plan for a 15 minute walk.

You should be able to find an available ticket machine fairly quickly, although if you are making this change at rush hour, you might be delayed.

35 minutes is mighty tight but given but if you move with purpose and have considered your route before exiting Gare du Nord, I think you can make it.

I would not take the métro I don't know how familiar Relic is with the accessing line 4 of the métro from the Gare du Nord but by the time you get a ticket and find your quai, I would think you would have completed your walk. (I usually am headed to line 2 from Gare du Nord so I am unfamiliar with the route to line 4.)
posted by Dick Paris at 4:35 PM on February 24, 2009

Oh, and direction out of the station from the train? Go in the direction the train was traveling. (This should be evident from the map.)
posted by Dick Paris at 4:36 PM on February 24, 2009

I think you definitely do it in 35 min on foot. I've done it carrying tons of bags and a halfwit brother in less.
posted by jeb at 5:03 PM on February 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks guys! Your maps are so much clearer than the regular Google maps I was looking at. All the advice is much appreciated!
posted by vodkaboots at 5:07 PM on February 24, 2009

Dick Paris is probably right, the metro might not be any quicker. I was thinking it would be easier for you if you're worried about directions, because it's a simple trip, but buying tickets and such might push the time up.

Walking (or even catching a taxi) is probably your best bet.
posted by Relic at 6:04 PM on February 24, 2009

Don't worry about customs at the French end, you pass through it in London, so you should be able to grab your bag and bolt the moment the train arrives.

Good luck. Also, seconding don't bother with the metro, going down, getting a ticket, getting to platform level, waiting for a metro and coming back up at the other end may well be slower than just walking it.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:41 AM on February 25, 2009

I'd say it's probably the same amount of time to walk or take the metro. But if you take the metro, you're guaranteed not to get lost of course. So it's slightly less risky.

Just so you know, you can't pick up your ticket at the electronic ticketing machine unless your credit/debit card has a puce. So if your card doesn't have one, you'll need to stand in line to get your ticket (and have your 6-letter "dossier" code and ID ready to give to the person behind the counter).

If you have to wait in line at the normal counter and you feel like you're running out of time, you can try to explain your situation to the person in front of line and they might let you in front to get your ticket quickly.

If that doesn't work, then as a last resort you can just run to the train and explain your situation to one of the workers standing outside the train. They will often let you on the train anyway with a small fine (like 10 euros). But definitely negotiate this with them *before* getting on the train.
posted by helios at 5:16 AM on February 25, 2009

Comuters use this way.
It's a 5 minutes walk, door to door.
posted by rom1 at 5:47 AM on February 25, 2009

Best answer: As lots of folks have noted, it's a quick walk between the stations.

If you have a TGV Pro ticket, and you miss the train, you can exchange it for the next departure for Strasbourg. If your TGV ticket is Loisir, you can exchange it for a fee up to the departure, but if you miss the departure, it's not exchangable according to the terms of service. Still, if you arrive a few minutes late, a friendly agent might be willing to do the exchange anyway. If you see an empty counter at the Gare du Nord (or if you have a puce on your credit card), you might get the ticket there instead of waiting until you get to the Gare de l'Est; you could also do the exchange at the Gare du Nord if it's clear you won't be able to make the connection.

If you bought a through fare in the UK including the TGV ticket, you should be able to get it at St Pancras:

Even if you didn't, you might check with the Eurostar check-in desk as to whether they can print your TGV ticket with the dossier reference, or find a London travel agency that does business with the SNCF.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2009

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