After spending the night at the Hyatt Regency Paris Charles de Gaulle, I took the shuttle back to the TGV train station at the airport. The shuttle drops you off really close to the station – if you’ve ever transited through Charles de Gaulle Airport, you know navigating that place can be tough. You simply take an elevator down two levels from the drop-off point, then go down the escalator to the ticketing office and waiting area. From there, you can buy a ticket, but the people at the ticketing office work at a snail’s pace and the machines didn’t pull up Calais as a destination, so it’s better to buy your train ticket online and print it out yourself.
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One-way 2nd class train tickets between Paris and Calais cost about $43. I highly recommend visiting GoEuro.com to research transportation options departing from Charles de Gaulle Airport. The website displays a variety of options, including train, bus, and ride shares. The train was the fastest option at under 1.5 hours total. There was a stop in Lille, from where I would have to catch a different train to Calais.
The annoying thing about this whole experience was the lack of direction. I bought my train ticket on GoEuro.com and when I printed it, there were no instructions whatsoever. At the TGV train station, I had no idea where to go and other than the lyrics to Frere Jaques, I didn’t speak a word of French. Eventually I figured out that I should stay in the waiting area on the same level as the ticket office and check the departure board for the platform number shortly before my train arrived. Finding the train platform was another challenge, but that’s CDG for you – if you haven’t had a mild panic attack trying to catch a train that you’ve missed twice before, they haven’t done their job.
TGV Train Station at Charles de Gaulle Airport
When I arrived at the TGV train station, police officers had blocked the escalators and everyone stood nearby, waiting for some clue as to what was happening. I looked over the rails and there were armed guards on each level. Eventually, the officers asked us to back away and a trolly full of bags was brought for them to check. The whole scene was bizarre.
After about 45 minutes of this, a security official loudly rattled something off in French. A large part of the group dispersed, leaving the English speakers stranded and confused. A British man explained that the level below us was still closed off, along with the escalator. We were instructed to take the elevator down to the ticketing office and train platforms. Did I mention he was a fellow traveler rather than an airport employee?
I turned around and was met with the longest line I’ve ever seen. Just a large cluster of people standing around for the next 30+ minutes, elbowing each other for a spot in the elevator every time the door opened. Thankfully, my train wasn’t leaving for another three hours.
TGV Train 2nd Class Seats Paris to Lille
The security fiasco came to an end after a loud thud and the normal bustle resumed. I boarded the train and found the seat to be very comfortable and the cabin spotless.
I enjoyed the 50 minute train ride through the beautiful French countryside. Despite the fact that I was traveling alone, it didn’t feel that way at all because I was interacting with lots of people who were following my experience on Twitter and Snapchat. The scenery was so stunning, that I made a mental note to take the train in Europe more often.
TGV 2nd Class Seats Lille to Calais
Once I arrived at the Lille Europe train station, I had to walk to the Gare de Lille Flanders station about a quarter of a mile away. This is where I was super grateful for T-Mobile because I was able to use my data freely to navigate the way. Once inside the station, I had to walk back outside to an outdoor platform and managed to board the train about 20 minutes before departure. It was a warm day and while the AC was on, the train doors would close every 10 minutes or so to ensure the space didn’t get too warm.
Arriving at the Calais Ville Station
The train ride from Lille to the Calais Ville station took 27 minutes and was perfectly comfortable. I couldn’t spot the elevator at the train station and didn’t want to drag my bag up the steps, so I asked a man who worked there for directions. He gestured for me to follow him and I thought he was joking when he told me to walk across the train tracks to the other side, where the elevator was. Yes, there was a small walkway that went across the train tracks and it was the only way to get to the elevator! I took the elevator up on level and exited onto the street.
Unfortunately, Calais wasn’t Uber or Lyft territory, so I ended up taking the bus to the Hotel Ibis Calais. The fare was normally 1 Euro but it was free on Sundays. I told the bus driver my destination and he notified me when it was time to get off the bus. My phone’s GPS was acting out of whack and after walking around in circles and consulting with a butcher who ran the most picturesque little butcher shop, if you can imagine that, I made it to the hotel. It was great to get here at last and I thought if nothing else, at least this charming little town that looked straight out of the Warner Bros lot was going to be easier to navigate than Thessaloniki.
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