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LONDON TO VENICE BY TRAIN

Skip the plane and take the train from London to Venice instead – cross mountain ranges and borders, stopping to stretch your legs in some of Europe’s most beautiful cities on the way

@OliSmithTravel

PHOTOGRAPHS JUSTIN FOULKES @justinfoulkes l ILLUSTRATION NIK NEVES

DAY 1 LONDON–PARIS

One summer morning in 1994, I did something historic. Aged seven, carrying a Game Boy and a headful of nits, I travelled through the Channel Tunnel on a family holiday to France. The tunnel had opened just two weeks previously, and much of my journey was spent waiting for the ceiling to crack, at which point I would reach for my infatable armbands as cod and eels peered through the window.

St Pancras station, completed in 1868 as the London terminus of the Midland Railway, now home of the Eurostar; a Eurostar train awaits passengers at St Pancras;

It wasn’t long before we disembarked at Paris’s Gare du Nord station at the end of a seminal journey. We were among the first people since Stone Age hunter-gatherers to travel from England to France without leaving terra frma; they had walked the Channel before it filled up with saltwater, some 9,000 years earlier.

Boarding a Eurostar service one summer’s morning 20 years later, it’s clear that this journey is no longer quite so extraordinary. Commuting businessmen and French tourists carrying Beefeater teddies shuffe en masse beneath the cathedral-like ceiling of St Pancras International. Britain is now hooked up to the great cobweb of world railway lines. We are part of an everevolving network that makes it possible to travel from the UK to Vietnam, Tibet and even North Korea without leaving two rails. You can catch trains from Peterborough to St Petersburg or from Barry Island to Bari, and from London to Venice.

Jules Insian at Le Train Bleu
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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - October 2015
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