Rail. Paris.


On a recent long weekend Leisure Select trip to Paris we were delayed for about 3 hours.  There had been a complete power failure on our train.  Now had we been running to some important fixed time schedule we would have been getting anxious and upset.  As it happened we were under no time pressure.  That was a huge coincidental advantage.  We sat back and enjoyed the free champagne (until it ran out!).  Then the lights went out.  However the combination of being chilled out (and a glass or two of champagne) meant that even when we were de-trained at Calais and placed on a replacement train (same seat numbers as the initial train, so there was no squabbling) we still enjoying ourselves.  But the best was yet to come.

Eurostar have a pretty reasonable compensation scheme when their trains are delayed.  Because our delay had been so bad (the whole London/Paris trip should only take 2 hours 20 minutes) we were given a full refund for the London/Paris trip that had just occurred … and … compliementary vouchers for another return trip (in the same Leisure Select class) to “any Eurostar destination”.  “Does that include Avignon in the summer?” we asked.  Between July and September only Eurostar operate a direct London/Avignon service.  This is a six hour trip (oh, alright, 5 hours 50 minutes if you want to quibble). And the fares are considerably higher than a straightforward London/Paris return trip. The answer from the Eurostar staff at Paris Gare du Nord was “Yes”.  Goody.  Now we know there is a difference between what people say in one location, and what others will agree to in another location   Reading the blurb on the vouchers it stated that travel could be from London to any of Paris, Brussels or Lille.  Hmmm.  We are not ones to give up lightly.

I phoned Customer Service at Eurostar.  They (rather to our amazement) confirmed that Avignon was indeed included.  To book the actual tickets we went to the Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras.  “Oh.  No I am afraid Avignon is not a valid destination” said the charming young lady at the desk.  “Please would you be so kind as to confirm that” we responded.  5 minutes later a beaming check in lady returned “ … the vouchers are valid for Avignon.  The rules have changed … blah, blah ….”.  We were happy.  Be persistent.  Be charming.  Ask the question.

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