I've checked the costs of first class travel by high speed train in France and to UK. According to pictures, first class seats in the Eurostar and TGV look similar in terms of legroom and width, while fares are not. I am not a business traveler but a tourist looking for extra comfort.

I did a comparison of full-fare ticket prices on two trips that are similar in distance and travel time.

For instance, a trip from Paris to Lyon, which lasts 2 hours and covers 500km, costs about €100 full-fare in first class. Using the Eurostar between Paris and London, for a trip that is about the same length and duration, full fare in Standard Premier class is about €200.

Eurostar first class is far more expensive than TGV first class. Does the Eurostar first class offer services that are worth the extra cost?

  • Be aware that the Eurostar is a UK sized train, due to the smaller loading gauge standard class seats on UK trains are noticablly smaller than on the TGV. Aug 12, 2019 at 13:33

3 Answers 3


First Class on the TGV means a wider seat, power sockets, fewer people (so a generally quieter environment), and that's about it.

Standard Premier on the Eurostar is pretty much the same, except you get a small cold dish and a cold alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage.

The difference in price is more due to demand than the actual cost of the service.

Whether it's worth it is up to you. The choice is not between Eurostar Standard Premier and TGV First Class, the choice is between Eurostar Standard and Standard Premier.

If the price difference between Eurostar Standard and Standard Premier is small enough to you that it's worth it to spend those two hours with more space, a power socket, and a small free meal, then go for it.

note: carriages 5 & 14 have power sockets on the Eurostar, so if you book a seat in one of those and buy yourself a nice meal from M&S to take on the train, the difference comes down only to the difference in seat size.

  • 9
    I hope this comment isn't 'illegal': I think that Eurostar 1st class is a bit of a waste of money - they charge a lot more than standard class (I think they like to think of it as being like airline first class), and unless you're doing Avignon/Alps-London or the trains have trouble, you're never on the train long enough to benefit. The food's no better than standard class airline food, and, unlike TGVs where trains can take passengers without reservations, Eurostar seats are always reserved - you're rarely in a crush. It's not worth the extra money.
    – Rich
    Jun 22, 2011 at 18:42
  • 6
    It should be noted that there are actually two kinds of "first class" on Eurostar. There's Standard Premier, and Business Premier. They both get the same kind of seat (2+1), but in Business Premier you get a hot meal (cold in SP), a wider choice of drinks, a lounge before boarding, fast checkin queue, and 10 minute boarding. There's a hefty price difference between them though!
    – Gagravarr
    Jul 21, 2011 at 19:42
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    @Rich: TGVs can not take passengers without reservations :) Only TERs and Intercités do. Evidence (FR).
    – MattiSG
    Nov 1, 2011 at 12:24
  • 1
    @Rich I wish I was in this region, then! Last time I took a TGV without reservation from Nice to Antibes, I was fined 64€…
    – MattiSG
    Nov 4, 2011 at 22:27
  • 1
    @Rich if you use the "frequence" subcription, maybe you don't have to buy a reservation but it's not the usual case.
    – francois
    Jun 25, 2012 at 21:00

Basically it boils down to the fact that Eurostar can move you between Paris and London, whereas TGV cannot. It's not about the “extra cost” of Eurostar versus TGV or what Eurostar comfort is worth as this is not a choice available to anybody.

Speculating a bit, there are many things that might contribute to make Eurostar expensive:

  • Use rights for the tunnel (not sure about the terminology in English but train companies have to pay to use the train network and Eurostar is regularly complaining about Eurotunnel prices)
  • Demand and competition with other means of transportation (it seems there is no shortage of customers ready to pay Eurostar prices so with a more-or-less fixed capacity and high costs there is no reason for them to compete on price)
  • Regulation/policy (I don't know all the details and I don't think it's as true today as in the past but for a long time, SNCF was somewhat constrained regarding domestic prices but could set prices on border-crossing high-speed trains freely – so-called “prix de marché”; Most of these trains are operated by subsidiaries like Thalys, Lyria, or Eurostar and have always been more expensive than TGV)
  • Cost of the extra security/boarding procedure at Paris Gare du Nord (not sure who pays for that actually)

Now, if you are looking for a great high-speed train to spend time on, no matter the journey, I don't think TGV is particularly good value either. Germany's ICE are my personal favorite but there are many I didn't try yet!

  • It's not that TGV are constrained about domestic prices, but that the French government subsidises SNCF to domestic fares low. It is illegal (under EU law) to subsidise international rail fares, so they have to be market-priced (“prix de marché”) - so international trains are generally more expensive than domestic ones. May 28, 2014 at 11:14
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    @RichardGadsden What makes you think that? AFAIK, there are almost no subsidies for TGV operations and most (all?) TGV have “prix de marché” today. I also think the SNCF has long been keen on these “prix de marché” and they considered the old price-per-km as a constraint.
    – Relaxed
    May 28, 2014 at 11:40
  • Guess I'm out of date then! May 28, 2014 at 12:17

I think these answers are missing the most important benefit: savings of time and flexibility with respect to time. If you have a business premiere ticket, there’s a special ticketing queue and it’s open up to 10 minutes before departure.

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