Greentraveller's Guide to taking the train from London St Pancras International Railway Station to Lille, France.
For information about where to stay in Lille, great local restaurants and things to do, see our
Journey Time: from 1 hour 22 mins
Sample timetable: Depart London 3.04pm, arrive Lille 5.26pm
Changes: None, it is a direct train
Frequency of Departures: 15/day
Carbon emissions: 3.68kg (flight would be 23.009kg)*
Car hire at Lille Europe: Yes
What's the journey like?
It's a direct train from London St Pancras International Railway Station to Lille Europe. On board Eurostar, there’s a bar-buffet carriage that sells a range of hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including champagne, as well as snacks and wholesome, hearty dishes. For those with standard premier tickets, light refreshments are served at your table, including a fresh, light, healthy meal, tea, coffee and soft drinks, and a glass of wine or beer. It’s about 30 mins from London to the Channel Tunnel, then, after about 20 minutes, you emerge for the quick onward journey through the beautiful countryside of northern France into the heart of Paris. This direct service is a fast and efficient way to travel from London to Lille, arriving in the centre of Paris in just under an hour and a half.
On arrival at Lille Europe station
Bienvenue à Lille! Onward travel: Lille Europe and the nearby Lille Flanders (just a few minutes walk away, or one stop on the metro line) are major rail hubs in Europe with onwards connections to France, Germany and The Netherlands.
Once the capital of medieval Flanders, Lille is a wonderful collision of cultures. This French city with a (very) strong Flemish accent offers a glorious range of architectural styles with tall gabled townhouses, atmospheric old convents, a 17th-century citadel built by the French military architect Vauban and some fine Art Nouveau and Art Deco flourishes. There’s a striking heritage of industrial buildings too. Lille thrived in the 19th century – and went into grimy decline during the 20th.
And what’s most remarkable about the city today is how it has revived and reinvented itself – with much of its rejuvenation kickstarted by the arrival of high speed rail. Since the building of the sleek Lille-Europe train station in the early 1990s, Lille has become spruced up and reinvigorated. Meanwhile the residents of Lille - called Ch’tis after the local dialect – have become dab hands at devising new uses for historic buildings – medieval hospital to hotel; textile mill to arts centre and so on. What’s more, as the hub of the Nord Pas de Calais region, Lille has impressive transport links with about 60 bus routes serving the greater city area, two tram lines and one of the world’s longest automated metro systems. So it is easy to explore the outer reaches of this enterprising area.
There are lots of hotels near Lille Europe, these get good reviews: Hotels near Lille Europe
Getting around Lille
From Lille Europe station, it’s just a short walk to Lille’s main square and the city’s main shopping centre. Lille Europe has both métro and tram lines as well as a number of bus services. There's a public bike system, V’Lille where you simply pay a deposit of €1.40 for a day’s use at any of the 100-plus V’Lille stations, and you can then take a bike for half an hour with no further cost. Thereafter you’ll be charged €1 per additional half hour.