From London to Pescara (via Paris, Milan, Bologna & Dijon...) by train

Earlier this year, Barny travelled by train from London to Pescara in Italy to visit Casa del Colle, the home of our week-long culinary adventure that takes place in May 2020. Along the way, he jotted down a few notes and suggestions (where to eat, where to walk, what to plan for) for others that might want to follow the same route.
NB Timings and costs were correct at the time of writing but are likely to change over time. Itinerary in brief:

Eurostar London St Pancras - Paris Gare Du Nord Paris Gare de Lyon (GDL) -Milan Centrale - Pescara Centrale

Pescara Centrale – Bologna -Dijon
Dijon - Lille - London St Pancras

And here’s the above journey in more detail with some suggestions for what you might do in Paris and Dijon:

Outward: Depart 9.24 from London St Pancras arrive Paris Gard du Nord 12.05

Go straight to GDL by Metro (10 minutes) and leave your bags in the left luggage (lock-up) at GDL. And then here are three things you could do with 4-5 hours in Paris:

Have lunch. If you want any suggestions – let me know

Walk from GDL to the Musée D’Orsay - which I think is the best art gallery in Paris. It will take about 50 minutes but is worth it; it follows the Seine all the way and for the most part you can walk along the embankment itself.

Or you could just hang out around the Ile de La Cité and see the scaffolding around Notre Dame - which is pretty spectacular somehow - or cross the Pont St Michel and take the first right to the Quartier Latin where there are dozens of wonderful book and art shops and cafes (especially Le Rue St Andre Des Arts).

Also in the LQ, is the 15th Century L’Elise St Severin. Nobody goes there. I can’t imagine why not. It has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows I have ever seen.

If you haven’t had lunch, get back to GDL by 5pm and have an early supper in one of the many brasseries across from the station square. There is one called L’Europeen. And so very Parisienne too. I had oysters and salade composé (with confit de canard) and 2 glasses of Sancerre for €32.00. Brilliant.

Depart 19.15 Gare De Lyon arrive Milan 6am. Coffee and brioche at Milan station. This will be very welcome. Also get a panini or other from for the last leg of the trip - the ones on the train are pretty average.

If you get delayed in Paris as I did, get the 11.15 from Milan to Pescara and spend the wait looking around Milan Centrale station, the largest and arguably most magnificent station in Europe – even if was built by Mussolini.

Depart 7.30 Milan arrive Pescara Centrale 12.39 where you will be picked up.

Return Via Dijon and Lille. Take the sleeper from Pescara to Dijon.

Spend the day and the following night in Dijon, a beautiful city with its legendary cathedral in the heart of Burgundy (so you will also have a lovely dinner in the evening) - and then take the morning train to Lille and connect there with Eurostar to London.

What will it cost?

Of course travelling this way is going to be more expensive than flying. You could probably get a flight to Pescara for 30 quid if you were canny. But if you take into account the fact that the sleeper element of the journey involves a bed for the night, the price of the train trip becomes much more attractive.

They don’t have the schedules for May 2020 listed yet but here’s what I found this morning (11/10/19) if you travelled midweek in March:

Outward London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord £39.00

Paris Gare de Lyons to Pescara Centrale via Milan on the sleeper train In a 6 berth cabin: £87

In a 2 berth cabin: £165

Return Pescara – Bologna – Dijon

Day time train approx £67.00. By sleeper: In a 6 berth cabin £103.00. In a 2 berth cabin £188.00

Dijon - Lille – London

Approx £83.00